10. Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Badassery: More of a proto-scientist than a witch, but we say once you’ve turned an Incan emperor into a llama, you’re safely in the realm of magic. Manages to take over the entire empire while Kuzco is busy trying to de-llama himself. Develops potions that can turn people into any number of animals – and is herself turned into a cat at the end. Any cat owner can tell you, that’s just a whole new arena of evil for her to explore. Also, Yzma’s voice was provided by Eartha Kitt, and no one has ever been, nor will ever be, as bad-ass as Eartha Kitt.
9. Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Badassery: Gothel really only has one magical trick, which is less about her own power and more about knowing how to harness the rejuvenating power of Rapunzel’s hair to keep herself young and beautiful. But Gothel makes up for her magical shortcomings by mastering the art of passive-aggression; the psychological prison she builds for Rapunzel is scarier than the tower could ever be. “Mother Knows Best” could be the theme song for countless patients in therapy throughout the world.
8. Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Badassery: The archnemesis of Merlin, the most legendary wizard of all time. Almost manages to kill the future King Arthur without even breaking a sweat. Flat-out challenges Merlin to a Wizards’ Duel, which really should have looked more like higher levels of Mortal Kombat. Only loses because Merlin cheats, using his time-traveling ability to learn all about the germ theory of disease about 1000 years early. Not fair.
7. Doctor Facilier/The Shadow Man (The Princess and The Frog)
Badassery: Facilier practices voodoo: Automatic bad-ass. Uses said voodoo in an attempt to take over whatever obscure foreign kingdom Naveen is a prince of: Playing for real stakes. Manages to freak people out in a version of Louisiana where talking, trumpet-playing alligators are somehow considered normal: Not easy.
6. Queen Narissa (Enchanted)
Badassery: Realizes the ultimate curse she can ever lay on Giselle is sending her to New York City with no friends, no money, and no hotel reservation. Sends a henchman after Giselle to kill her, just to be sure – and when that fails, comes barreling into the Big Apple herself. Turns into a dragon, wrecks a skyscraper and crawls out over the skyline like that thing from “Cloverfield,” which probably paralyzed crosstown traffic for days. We’re talking pure evil here, people.
5. The Evil Queen (Snow White and The Seven Dwarves)
Badassery: Before the movie even starts, she’s taken over the kingdom, presumably by killing Snow White’s parents. The Evil Queen apparently never watched “Game of Thrones,” because she takes her own sweet time about offing Snow White too. No doubt the Evil Queen figured she could put her down whenever, given that Snow is more interested in singing to bluebirds than, say, raising a rebel army. So it wasn’t as much virtue that defeated the Evil Queen as much as her own overconfidence. Even her real name is bad-ass: “Grimhilde.”
4. Eglantine Price (Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
Badassery: Took in displaced children during World War II. Acquired incredible magical power by studying witchcraft via correspondence. (Take that, Hogwarts.) Flew through bomber-infested skies in a magical soaring bed. Beat down the Nazis so hard that “Inglorious Basterds” was unnecessary, really. Did this by summoning up an army of the living dead, resurrecting the spirits of knights, cavaliers, redcoats and highlanders. In short, we’re lucky she was on our side.
3. The Enchantress (Beauty and the Beast)
Badassery: Perhaps you’re saying, wait, there was no witch in “Beauty and the Beast.” Yet there is – only in the introduction, when we see her in stained-glass windows in both her “miserable old crone” and “beautiful enchantress” guises. Her punishment is just and severe, her witchcraft impressive, and her lesson ultimately wise. And she gets out of the story the moment her work is done, probably because there are some other arrogant jerks just waiting for her to serve up more justice.
2. Ursula the Sea Witch (The Little Mermaid)
Badassery: She has moray eels for henchmen. She keeps the souls of her past victims as her own personal seaweed garden. She fast-talks Ariel into a totally insane bargain. (“I keep your voice, plus you only have three days to win Eric’s love through charades and semaphore flags”: SOUNDS LEGIT.) And, when true love dares to interfere, Ursula busts loose, turning into a giant sea monster so ferocious it would make the Kraken pee itself.
1. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
Badassery: Laying a century-long smackdown on the entire kingdom only because she wasn’t invited to a party. Kidnapping the hero without breaking a sweat. Summoning up an entire forest of thorns. Then, in the final confrontation, turning into a dragon in what is still – after 56 years and an explosion of animation technique through CGI – the freaky-scariest thing Disney ever animated.
What’s that, you say? Maleficent is a fairy, not a witch? Well, she’s got blue skin and casts spells, so probably she qualifies as both. If you don’t agree … well, you tell her.
Claudia Gray is the New York Times bestselling author of seven young adult novels, most recently, SPELLCASTER, which features witches in a small town. The next in the series, STEADFAST, launches 3/4/14. For more, visit Claudia’s website and follow her on twitter
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