Otherwise Known As: P.J. (By Little John)
Premiered in: Robin Hood (1973)
Voiced By: Peter Ustinov
It cannot be question that Robin Hood is more infamous for its use of reanimating scenes from previous Disney animated films, predominately in the “Phony King of England” dance scene that includes not one, not two, but three distinctive dances from previous films. Still, despite this, Robin Hood is one of the more classical Disney films though the same can’t really be said of its villain, Prince John.
Prince John is first and foremost, a momma’s boy. Of that there can be no doubt simply for the fact that almost everything that he does is driven firstly by his greed and secondly by the opinion of his mother. I’m not kidding, aside from trying to step outside the shadow of his elder brother King Richard, any mention of his mother’s opinion in him sets Prince John into a childish fit that typically ends with him sucking his thumb and calling for mommy.
The first time I saw him do that, I couldn’t help but smack myself in the forehead and I was five years old at the time!
If there’s one thing that motivates Prince John more than anything else, it’s his greed. In fact, I’d dare to say that out of the many Disney Villains, he could very well be the personification of it. He all but bleeds Nottingham dry. It gets especially worse he learns of the “Phony King of England” song and he increases taxes to the point where most of the citizens end up imprisoned due to their inability to pay their debts. He even goes so far as to order the Sheriff of Nottingham, his chief minion, to steal from the church’s charity box!
That’s not evil. That’s super evil.
Speaking of the ol’ wolf, perhaps minion is too harsh a word for the Sheriff of Nottingham. True, he never really manages to catch Robin Hood and has been tricked more than a few times by him, but the wolf has gotten more results than Prince John’s true minion, Sir Hiss, a snake. Though Hiss does his best by Prince John, his best just isn’t good enough as every attempt he ever makes to warn Prince John of Robin Hood’s tricks ends up enraging the lion prince due to Hiss… hissing… in his ear constantly.
In the end, with the return of King Richard, Prince John is sentenced to work in the “Royal Rock Pile” alongside his minion and underling. Not a bad end for an otherwise mediocre villain but there you have it. Overall Prince John is just… just too simple for a villain. Honestly, I’d love to have seen how Robin Hood would have faired against the likes of Shere Khan or even Scar, two royal felines whose sly attitudes put them far above even the best of plans made by the phony king of England.