Origin: Cinderella (1950)
Motivation: The stepmother is actually pretty damn sinister. She does nothing in her life except make Cinderella suffer. For most other villains, I'd be complaining how we don't know the motivation for this. But in this case, it kinda works. Vengeance? Jealousy? A bruised ego? Free slave labor? Something to do with her former husband? She has nothing to gain and nothing to lose. It's almost Joker-like in her actions.
Character Strengths: I love it when the light fades out on her after she gets some devious idea. Everything shrouds in darkness except her eyes. Unfortunately, being evil is not really a strength. The guy at Dunkin' Donuts doesn't want to serve you, you don't get headsies in line, that sort of thing. Lady Tremaine does little but act aristocratic. She's like an inverse princess, one who becomes corrupt with money and power and starts treading on the little people. Unfortunately, the only treading is on Cinderella. So... what else is she good for?
Evilness: Lady Tremaine manages to pull off an effective villainy without any powers whatsoever. She doesn't even necessarily need her wealth. I can think of few more evil beings in this world than an abusive parent. That's ninth circle of Hell level. She even uses the same manipulative bullshit on her own daughters when she gets them to tear Cindy's dress apart. It's just pure sociopath.
Why Cinderella stands for all this, I don't know. Maybe Tremaine's got some blackmail on her. They also didn't have women's shelters back then. Nevertheless, if she's that malevolent without powers, I'd hate to see her with.
Tools: I gotta ask a question: who had sex with her? Wait, correction... who had sex with her TWICE in order to produce those two foul little offspring. My only hope that is that he killed himself shortly after he realized what he had done. That or powerful drugs. Anyway, Drizella and Anastasia make effective henchmen, thanks to their blank heads.
She also has a cat named Lucifer who steals the show. It shouldn't BE stealing the show, mind you. He turns the whole movie into a Tom & Jerry cartoon. I can't tell whether it's actually evil or just being a cat, trying to chase and eat the mice. This is why I never liked cat cartoons -- they punish them for doing the thing it's supposed to.
Complement to the Hero: The message of Cinderella seems to be that if you are kind and loving, good things will come to you. I've never much cared for that moral, but this story tells it well. Cinderella's never been anything but nice, and Lady Tremaine goes out of her way to hurt her, in both the short term and long game. In the end, nothing breaks her. Without her toy, I imagine Lady Tremaine spent the rest of her days stewing in a dusty mansion like Miss Havisham, slightly crazy, surrounded by cats and old furniture.
Fatal Flaw: The funny thing is that Lady Tremaine does everything right. She makes all the moves to get one of her daughters in the prince's lap. But it ultimately fails because, well, any idiot can see that Anastasia and Drizella are spoiled, vapid, and selfish. And the prince is just above "idiot", so he finds Cinderella.
I guess stupidity, because how does Tremaine not recognize Cinderella at the ball? She has her hair done and wears a fancy dress, but jeez! At least Clark Kent has glasses. (You could say the same for any character in the movie, but Lady Tremaine has the most to lose).
Method of Defeat/Death: Lady Tremaine makes sure Cinderella is locked away while her daughters shove their tootsies into a foot-shaped jar. Then she gets free. Lady Tremaine manages to trip the Royal Shoe Carrier, but Cinderella pulls out the other slipper (giving the whole scenario dubious legality). She becomes a princess and Lady Tremaine... ends up no worse off than she was before.
Sure, she didn't achieve her goal, but she's still got a sweet house, lots of money, and nothing bad's happened to her. I say pour yourself a cosmo and go to Vegas, sweetheart. You've earned it.
Final Rating: Five stars
Pinocchio's Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)