Disney Characters That Should Get Their Own Spinoffs
Spinoffs are the latest trend in Disney movies, after remakes. The biggest ones to date are the Maleficent films (2014 and 2019), and the newest release is Cruella (May 2021). Looking back, from the classics to the newer offerings, there are many characters whose backstories don’t get fully explained.
This list is a mixture of villains and heroic sidekicks and is entirely subjective. The first two suggestions were made on the original topic posting. All four characters would be interesting subjects for their own films. Selections were made based on unique qualities that make the characters stand out, unanswered questions about their past, and some theories that may lend clues to their backstories.
Warning: Plot details and fan theories below.
Yzma and Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Yzma and Kronk are the iconic villain-sidekick duo who aren’t really that good at what they do. Instead of succeeding at eliminating Kuzco, they deliver many iconic lines and scenes that have become a signature of the cult classic. From “Pull the lever, Kronk…Wrong lever!” to “Oh, yeah. It’s all coming together,” they delight audiences to the extent that they want the villains to win for a change.
What Makes Them Unique: As a comedic couple, Yzma and Kronk are perfect. They embody the stereotypical over-the-top villains, with their not-so-secret lab, convoluted plots, and memorable one-liners. As villains with goals of world domination, they are less than competent.
Yzma may appear to be the brains of the group, with her knowledge of potions and her aspirations of being Empress. However, she takes too much pride in cooking up schemes that don’t turn out well. Take the “flea in the box” scene, where she plans on turning Kuzco into a flea and mailing him to herself to smash, instead of killing him off straight away. It’s not clear what the potions themselves are for, or why so many are to turn people into animals. Finally, if Yzma is so clever, why does she need so many assistants? Or an assistant in the first place?
Kronk, on the other hand, loves cooking…food. He may be bulky and tower over most of the other characters (except for Pacha), but he is incompetent at doing the most basic tasks. He easily picks out the wrong potion, which he should have checked for the right label, and mixes up the drinks when he serves them at dinner. He leaves Yzma to fend for herself in the jungle, at Mudka’s Meat Hat, and at Pacha’s House instead of helping her. Finally, he lets his conscience get the better of him twice, which a good sidekick never does.
In other words, Yzma and Kronk are too HUMAN to be villain-and-sidekick. They are likeable characters who fail at being evil (Yzma) or at trying to help their boss succeed (Kronk). They are also easily underestimated by their supposedly smarter rivals, who don’t seem to be aware that they can actually pull off a coup d’état. Yzma and Kronk are easily two of the funniest characters Disney ever created, and they deserve their own spinoff.
Origins/Backstory: Both Yzma’s and Kronk’s backstories have been teased, with some of their family members shown in the franchise.
In The Emperor’s New School (2006-2008) episode “The Bride of Kuzco,” Yzma is paid a visit by her mother Azma. That episode, and the episode “Yzma Be Gone,” reveal that Azma is a tough mother who pushed her daughter to become evil in order to become Empress. Yzma even now feels the pressure as she laments in “Yzma Be Gone:” “To be honest, it wears on me, too. Every week, another diabolical plan to concoct. I’m not a machine, but my mother, always pursuing me: ‘Are you Empress yet? Are you Empress yet?’”
Of course, since Yzma seems to enjoy coming up with plans on her own, pressures from her mother don’t seem to be the only thing driving her.
Thanks to the sequel Kronk’s New Groove (2005), viewers also learn Kronk’s backstory: he was a precocious child, interested in cooking. However, his father Papi disapproved of his hobbies, wanting him to take on more “manly” pursuits like wrestling. All Kronk wanted was a thumb’s up from Papi, so somewhere along the way he became Yzma’s right-hand man.
Questions and Theories: Both backstories omit one crucial detail: How did Kronk get hired by Yzma? What were the events leading up to The Emperor’s New Groove?
There are some hilarious theories surrounding the two characters. According to one of them, Yzma is actually Megara from Hercules (1997, see below). Meg’s father made potions for Hades, one of them being the mortality potion used on Hercules. Meg maintains her connections with Hades and, when Hercules goes mad and kills her and his kids (see Megara’s Origins/Backstory), is rescued by the God of the Underworld. However, she has become the bitter and evil Yzma, who now focuses on her new goal of becoming Empress. While it could explain how Yzma knows so much about chemistry, the theory is too far-fetched to take seriously, and there are too many clashes with the stories of both Hercules and The Emperor’s New Groove for it to make any sense.
An equally fun but implausible theory revolves around Kronk being a squirrel turned into a human by Yzma. The theory supposedly explains his dim-witted nature and ability to talk to animals (namely, squirrels). However, flashbacks from Kronk’s New Groove and Kronk’s own explanation of his communication skills in The Emperor’s New Groove debunk the theory. (A similar theory suggests Kronk was originally a monkey.”) It could be used for potential gags in a spinoff, though.
What a Yzma-Kronk Film Might Look Like: The film should stick to 2D animation, in keeping with the other movies and TV series. While it would revolve around the meeting and hiring of Kronk, it should also include Yzma’s backstory, possibly around her own appointment to Royal Advisor by Kuzco’s father. However, the film mustn’t take itself too seriously. After all, the original is chock-filled with goofs and gags. Monologues on not being appreciated (Yzma) or loved (Kronk), moody atmospheres, and intrigue around every corner wouldn’t work for this film. Finally, it must appeal to old fans and newcomers. A tricky balancing act that might potentially end in disaster in live action.
Megara/Meg from Hercules (1997)
Megara, or Meg, is one of Disney’s feistiest heroines. She starts out as Hades’ henchwoman, assisting him in his schemes. However, after she meets Hercules, she starts questioning her feelings towards him and what she truly wants for herself. Eventually, Meg decides to help Hercules and even sacrifices her life for him. Make no mistake: in a decade of strong Disney women (Esmeralda from 1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the eponymous Mulan, 1998), she holds her own easily.
What Makes Her Unique: Meg shares a few similarities with Esmeralda. Both characters wear colors traditionally associated with villains (purple for Meg, purple and green for Esmeralda) and attract unwanted sexual attention from various characters. They are both outspoken, quick with comebacks, and not afraid to stand up to the antagonists of their films. Finally, they save male characters (Hercules and Phoebus) that they eventually marry.
A few other things help Meg stand out. According to one source, she is 28 years old, making the age gap between her and Hercules the second largest for Disney couples. As mentioned before, she fights off the advances of the centaur Nessus, a reference to the Greek myths. She later explains to Hades, “[H]e made me an offer I had to refuse.” When Phil, a satyr and Hercules’ trainer, climbs onto her lap and attempts to romance her, she shoves him off; and Hades’ remarks on her “curves” elicits a “Don’t even go there.” In a sexist, men-centric world, Meg makes it very clear that she’s her own woman.
Meg’s role as Hades’ henchwoman, when dealing with Hercules, is as the femme fatale. At her first meeting with the hero, she quickly sees that he is infatuated with her. She finds it cute, teasing him and calling him “Wonderboy” for his not-so-dashing fight against Nessus. When she calls him to the rock where the disguised Pain and Panic, and the hidden Hydra, are waiting, Meg uses an over-the-top voice that is poor acting for a damsel in distress. However, Meg is also adept at seduction, as she tries to wheedle Hercules’ weakness from him in the middle of the movie. She knows she is beautiful and can use it to her advantage. If she wants to, that is.
Despite her orders from Hades, Meg has a soft spot for Hercules. She is worried about him during his fight with the Hydra, and is outwardly relieved when he survives. During her conversation with him after the play, she struggles to keep her feelings under wraps. At the same time, she gives him some advice: “Sometimes it’s better to be alone. Nobody can hurt you.” The turning point, of course, comes in “I Won’t Say (I’m In Love)”, a love song that is both triumphal and defiant and helps her realize how she really feels about him.
However, Meg isn’t like Pussy Galore or any of the other Bond girls who join or throw away their lives for the titular spy. Her arc is well-developed, as is her relationship with Hercules. It starts out as an accidental meeting with more exasperation on her part; as Hercules grows stronger and meets every challenge Hades throws at him, Meg becomes more impressed. At the same time, she discovers that Hercules is both naïve and honest, unlike the other men she’s met before. Her friendship becomes a love that Meg is forced to acknowledge when Hades gets closer to putting his evil plan into motion.
She shows her love in three ways: First, she repeatedly refuses to work for Hades any longer, even with her freedom on the line. When Hercules’ strength is taken away from him, she tries to set things right by finding Pegasus and Phil. And finally, when Hercules is almost killed, she takes the fall for him, explaining, “People always do crazy things…when they’re in love.” Her example inspires Hercules to “Go the Distance” and bring her soul back from the Underworld, at the cost of his own life.
To summarize: Meg is sarcastic, cynical, witty, heartbroken, caring, and independent. She needs her own film to explore her character more fully.
Origins/Backstory: Meg is based on Megara and Deianira, who both married Hercules (or Hercules) in the Greek/Roman mythology. Unfortunately, both stories end tragically,
Megara was the Princess of Thebes, whose father Creon gave her in marriage to Hercules after he saved the kingdom from the Minyan army. Together the couple had three or eight sons, depending on the legends being cited. Unfortunately, the goddess Hera struck Hercules mad, and he killed his wife and family.
Deianira was also a Princess, this time of Calydon, and a very independent one at that. She could ride chariots and fight like the other soldiers. Hercules heard of Deianira through her brother, the hero Meleager, who entrusted the then unwed princess to his new friend. Out of all the suitors she had, Deianira chose Hercules, who’d fallen in love with her, and they spent several happy years together. Later on, she accidentally killed him using a shirt smeared with centaur’s blood; out of guilt and grief, she killed herself.
In the Disney reiteration, Meg is not a princess. Little is known about her, except that she sold her soul to Hades to save her boyfriend’s life. The ungrateful boyfriend runs off with another woman, leaving Meg to serve Hades forever.
Questions and Theories: That raises the question: Who was this boyfriend?
According to the 1998 series Hercules, Meg once dated Prince Adonis, Hercules’ rival. The narcissistic prince was not the best of dates. The whole episode is spent trying to get water from the River Lethe so she can “forget the whole thing.” (The mission is a success, with Meg and Hercules forgetting their initial meeting.)
Some fans speculate that Prince Adonis was the unfaithful boyfriend Meg gave her soul for. If the Lethe water wiped her memories of the first date, he would have been able to welcome her back and manipulate her again, since she forgot his true nature. This is definitely a theory that should be considered for a spinoff.
What A Meg Film Might Look Like: This film would benefit from a Maleficent treatment. A live-action feature would see a young Meg navigating through love, facing the heartbreaking betrayal from Adonis (or whoever is named) and eschewing relationships for good. It would also be interesting to see her first encounters with Hades and some of the schemes they get up to. The film should probably also explore the events of Hercules from Meg’s perspective, going more in depth into her rollercoaster of emotions.
Cobra Bubbles from the Lilo & Stitch franchise (2002-)
Lilo & Stitch is a film set in modern-day Hawaii, with more mature and realistic subject matter such as broken families, trauma, and making things work despite difficult circumstances. It’s easy to forget that, though, with the extraterrestrial subject matter and memorable characters such as Stitch, Jumbo and Pleakley, and, of course, Cobra Bubbles.
What Makes Him Unique: From his introduction in the first quarter, it’s clear Cobra is more than just a social worker. His imposing physique, shades covering a scowl, and eloquent but intimidating phrases strike terror into Nani and confuse (but otherwise has no effect on) Lilo. His surprising strength are also on display, when he easily rips open the door Lilo nailed shut.
Then there’s the revelation that Cobra used to be a CIA agent. Even with his new job as social worker, he maintains a reticence about his work. At his first meeting with the Pelekai girls, Lilo is very confused about his being a social worker. He deflects her questions by being vague (“I’m a special classification”) and then refusing to answer entirely. (“Did you ever kill anyone?” “We’re getting off the subject.”) Obviously, it’s clear that becoming a social worker will be a lot harder after his old job.
For the first half of the film, viewers see Cobra as an antagonist, trying to take Lilo away from Nani. However, it’s important to look at things from his point of view. From the terrible state of the Pelekai house to the disastrous first meeting to Nani’s failures at getting a job and the dangerous situations Lilo gets into, he sees the current living situation as bad for both girls.
The turning point comes after Lilo and Stitch almost drown and Nani tries to explain to Cobra what happened. Cobra finds it difficult to look at Nani as he tells her: “I know you’re trying, Nani, but you have to think about what’s best for Lilo. Even if it removes you from the picture.” He looks sad as he tells her he’ll pick up Lilo the next morning.
The same concern shows when the Pelekai home gets blown up after Jumbo and Pleakley find and chase Stitch. This time, Cobra is angry with Nani, and with good reason. It’s a miracle that Lilo survived the attack, let alone without a scratch. He says to Nani, “It seems clear to me that you need her a lot more than she needs you.”
Finally, Cobra’s relationship with Stitch undergoes a change. Their first meeting starts with Stitch tossing a book at Cobra and ends with Cobra charging Lilo to turn him into a “model citizen.” The tension only increases when Cobra witnesses the havoc Stitch wreaks when Nani goes job-hunting. However, Cobra helps Lilo stop the Grand Councilwoman from taking Stitch back, and the post-credits scenes show that he is now good friends with the little alien.
Despite the laughable name and cool aura, Cobra Bubbles is a rounded character. He does what he needs to do out of concern for the people and creatures involved. He’s not a bad character for trying to break up the Pelekai sisters, nor is he a one-note character with only the CIA background to stand out. An origin story exploring his career would do even more to help audiences connect with him.
Origins/Backstory: Unlike the previous characters on this list, there isn’t much information on Cobra’s backstory besides his previous work for the CIA. No details are given on family or friends or what he may have been like as a child or teenager. And even the exact nature of his old job is pretty scarce.
One incident that is mentioned is “Roswell. 1973.” This probably wasn’t the alleged landing of aliens at Roswell, New Mexico, which took place in July 1947, but a different incident altogether. (Unless the creators moved the dates.) Here, the Galactic Federation was planning to destroy Earth. However, using his quick wits, Cobra convinced them that mosquitoes were an endangered species, and Earth was preserved as a wildlife preserve as a result. That was slick diplomacy, even for Cobra.
Questions and Theories: Most of the questions stem from the lack of details surrounding Cobra’s origins and family. The two key points a film should center around would be: How or why was Cobra recruited by CIA? and Why did he become a social worker?
There are fan theories suggesting that Lilo and Nani’s parents were CIA agents and that they were good friends with Cobra Bubbles. This is a plausible idea that creators should at least consider for a spinoff. Another theory says that Cobra Bubbles was a member of the Men in Black. That would be some crossover.
What a Cobra Bubbles Film Might Look Like: Now this would be a prequel that could work as a live-action. A Cobra Bubbles prequel would explore his first days as an agent and his initial interactions with extraterrestrial beings, culminating with the Roswell incident. It would show an immature, inexperienced Cobra who’s just getting used to the job. Could the creators get Dwayne Johnson for the role?
Ultimately, it’s up to the creators at Disney to decide which characters get the spotlight. Instead of making unnecessary remakes or reboots, they should invest time and money into what viewers want.
A new look at an old face, or digging deep to get to know a new friend. All that’s needed is a bit of magic.
What do you think? Leave a comment.