Otherwise Known As: A Codfish (by Peter Pan)
Premiered in: Peter Pan (1953)
Voiced By: Hans Conried
Let’s face facts. Before the rise of the popular film franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, there was one particular pirate that we all imagined growing up as kids and that pirate’s name is Captain James Bartholomew Hook. Captain Hook is, I feel, the first of what I like to refer to as the Comedic Disney Villains, villains who are still quite evil but one cannot help but either laugh at them or laugh with them. Truth be told, even if it meant going against the likes of Peter Pan on a daily basis, I think I’d rather be a pirate with Hook if only to have a front row seat to Captain Hook’s theatrics, particularly when Tick-Tock the Crocodile pays a call.
Speaking of the reptilian behemoth, as I’m sure many are aware, it is because of Peter Pan slicing off Captain Hook’s hand and feeding it to the crocodile (as a “childish prank” according to Mr. Smee), that the beast pursues him constantly. Yet… this is not all of the whole truth though it is a large part of what drives Captain Hook to bring an end to Peter Pan. For you see, in the novel prequel to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, wherein we learn the histories of Jack Sparrow, his ship, and his relations to the East India Trading Company, there is a brief but eye-opening cameo by Captain Hook.
In the novel Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom, young Jack Sparrow is eavesdropping on his father talking shop with fellow pirate captains and there is a brief exchange about a pirate by name of James who recently reappeared onto the scene despite many thinking him to have been dead. Everyone was surprised not just by James’ returning with a missing hand but by the fact that though it had been nigh several years since the last anyone saw of him, the man hadn’t aged a day… Admittedly, this could speak of any pirate but for one final act that this “James” committed prior to disappearing from the world again. At the local tavern where James was meeting his fellow pirates, the tavern owner’s son, a young red-haired youth, happened to startle James to such a degree that many a fellow pirate couldn’t help but guffaw at the sight of a pirate captain being frightened of a child.
If there’s one thing that Captain James Hook cannot stand above all else, it is mockery of his character and so began the endless feud…
Funnily enough Captain Hook sets another trend for Disney Villains by way of a minion that is also both a close friend and personal confidant to said villain. We are of course talking of Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s first mate and the most loyal member of his crew though still likely the stupidest of the bunch. Yet, despite many of Mr. Smee’s antics, antics, which often cause a whole lot of ire to Captain Hook, the pirate never once tries to kill Mr. Smee though he does come close to beating the pirate-colors right out of him. Mr. Smee is a bumbler but he means well with his actions and personally, I think he’s the only one that manages to keep the rest of the crew from mutinying because really, who doesn’t enjoy watching how often Mr. Smee “accidentally” hurts the Captain in some way?
As I stated already, Captain Hook’s main motivation is bringing Peter Pan down by any means necessary and while he comes close to it several times over the course of the film… he ultimately fails time and time again. The closest he had ever succeeded was when he tricked Tinker Bell into revealing the location of Peter’s home and promising not to lay a hand, or a hook, on the boy. Of course, Captain Hook used the loophole in the agreement by planting a bomb disguised as a present from Wendy but that’s neither here nor there.
Though Captain Hook fails to have his revenge on Peter Pan, he succeeded where many other Disney Villains have failed. Captain Hook, contrary to the original story, survives and only comes terrifyingly close to meeting his end via Tick-Tock. When it was realized that people would actually grow to like Captain Hook as a character, Walt Disney himself insisted that he be kept alive at the end and went on to say, “Maybe with the crocodile and Hook – the crocodile is waiting for him – then have a funny chase – the last you see is Hook going like hell. That’s better than having him get caught… the audience will get to liking Hook and they won’t want to see him killed.”
Killed, most certainly not. Chased to the ends of the earth by a giant crocodile? Oh, most certainly.