How does any bad bitch become that way? Having her heart broken, of course. In Disney's latest re-imagining of one of their own characters, screenwriter Linda Woolverton (no stranger to Disney after penning the screenplays for Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) humanizes Maleficent as never before. Played by the drag queen who was always meant to lend her that humanity, Angelina Jolie, Robert Stromberg directs her in a way that blends just the right amount of charisma and bitchery.
Contrary to popular belief, evil isn't born, it is created by trying circumstances (you know, like Hitler). Maleficent begins innocently enough as a fairy, separated from the rival kingdom next to hers. She knows nothing of the human world and has no interest in it until a thieving boy named Stefan steps into her territory. After talking to him--and both discovering that neither one has parents--the two bond almost instantly. Maleficent cautions him against coming back, and he shakes her hand, accidentally searing it with his iron ring. She then makes the mistake of revealing her Achilles' heel to him: iron fucks her up.
As Stefan grows older, he becomes more concerned with worldly acquisitions and power, especially power. He has less time to spare for Maleficent, who focuses on ensuring the safety of her domain. After the dying king of the human world announces he'll give the throne to whoever can take down Maleficent, Stefan quickly forgets about any sentiment he ever had for the fairy queen (no gay man reference meant toward Jolie here), drugs her and clips off her wings. Maleficent awakens feeling expectedly violated. After she collects her bearings, however, she is able to concentrate wholly on hate and vengeance. She transmutes into the "Queen of All Evil."
Collecting a crow friend, Diaval (Sam Riley), that she turns into a human in order to save from being beaten, Maleficent is able to gather intelligence from her little spy. She gleans that Stefan stripped her of her wings to become king and is soon about to have a child. She quells her rage long enough to get it together to crash the baby's, Aurora (Fanning), coming out party. The three nitwit fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are also given an upgrade as slightly more attractive pixies named Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistlewit. Their attendance at the fete is interrupted by Maleficent's cursing of Aurora. A nod to Rumpelstiltskin is given when she stipulates that Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel spindle and resultantly be sent into a death-like sleep for all of eternity. Maleficent coldly adds that only "true love's kiss" can break the spell, a clause she adds deliberately to get at Stefan, who once told her that her sixteenth birthday present was his own true love's kiss.
Panicked, Stefan takes measures to protect his daughter by sending her away with the pixies. Maleficent watches over Aurora carefully, eventually growing attached to the girl, much to her annoyance. It is ultimately their platonic love that breaks the spell Maleficent had wrongly cast over Aurora. Not only does Woolverton show us that we've become so cynical as an audience that we can't find traditional representations of true love to be palatable, but she also reveals that maybe romantic love isn't as important or fulfilling as it used to be. And in this way, Maleficent is something truly unique in the Disney canon.