Creating The ‘Delicious Villain’ In Disney’s Wish Was Overwhelming For Writers

Disney fans may love seeing a classic villain return to the big screen, but there’s more to King Magnifico than meets the eye. “Wish” follows a trend of modern animated Disney movies exploring more mature themes, like how “Frozen II” explores colonialism and “Encanto” examines intergenerational familial trauma. “Wish” follows that trajectory, and with the creative team wanting to up the ante, King Magnifico has more depth than being evil for evil’s sake.

Jennifer Lee explained how the “Wish” team knew early on that they wanted to learn more about King Magnifico: “What was so fun about Magnifico was when we’d hear a lot in our story room about people wanting to understand him more. I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s more modern.’ The storytelling’s [like], ‘Don’t just give me the arch-villain — I want to know why he is making his choices.'” In a warped way, Magnifico genuinely believes in what he’s doing and why it’s necessary not to grant every single wish. Asha (Ariana DeBose) explains the flaw in his thinking, but he can’t get over himself; he believes he’s so high, mighty, and above reproach that his way of doing things is the correct one. 

As the protagonist, Asha has her journey, but Lee noted how King Magnifico gets an inverse arc. “We open the movie with [Magnifico’s] face and him at his best. To get to draw that journey of, ‘He could have made different choices along the way,’ and to see the ones he made — once we locked in there, his scenes were the most fun to be a part of.” And now, Magnifico is part of the Disney villain pantheon.

“Wish” premieres in theaters on November 22.

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