Otherwise Known As: The Hunter
Premiered in: Bambi (1942)
Honors: 20th Greatest Movie Villain (AFI’s 100 Years…. 100 Heroes and Villains)
Arguably one of the most poetic of the Disney Villains, it is Man who succeeds where all other villains have failed and is amongst the first to die by their own hand rather than that of the heroes or through an act of nature.
In the setting of Bambi, Man is the name applied to the hunter(s) who enter the forest on an annual hunt for the local wildlife. We never once seen Man nor do we ever get a full indication whether Man is a single person or a group though it can be argued that whether Man is an individual or a group, what Man does is unspeakable. As I’m sure many are aware, Man succeeds where few other villains have and kills a main character. More than that, they kill the parent of the titular hero of the tale, in this case, Bambi’s mother in a scene that even to this day, still brings tears to my eye. What I’m sure many people aren’t aware of though is that it is highly likely that Man is not likely a hunter but a poacher for the fact that Man purposefully pursues Bambi and his mother. Hunting does or fawns is illegal in several states after all.
Man does not possess a minion in the strictest sense though they are the closest we see to Man’s character in the film. The “minions” of Man are a small pack of hunting dogs that Man that are, ultimately, killed by Bambi himself via a rockslide. Ironically, while there can be no question of the dogs relentless or savagery, Man’s hunting dogs are not based on any particular breed of dog used for hunting. Though they don’t play too large of a role in the first film, Man’s pets become the primary antagonists in the midquel, Bambi II. By the by, does anyone else but me find it odd to number a film when it, technically, takes place between events from the first one?
Ultimately, Man’s fate is left unknown in the film but in a deleted scene, it is revealed that the very forest fire that Man had accidentally started was Man’s own undoing. This scene was fully animated and showed both the Great Prince and Bambi discovering the remains of Man in the aftermath of the fire but was cut out because the film crew liked the idea of keeping Man as a figure of imagination. Funnily enough though, there was a plan to have the character of Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit to be the “stand-in” for Man and be the one responsible for killing Bambi’s mother but the idea was scrapped.