Former Title: Royal Vizier of Agrabah
Premiered in: Aladdin (1992)
Voiced By: Jonathan Freeman
According to the Disney Wiki, Jara is an amoral psychopath, something that can’t really be argued with certain scenes in the original film never mind the TV series-spawning sequel, which I will try not to talk about too much in this review. From the very beginning, we see that Jafar cares little for anyone else but himself when the thief from who he acquired the final piece of the Golden Scarab, the key that unlocks the Cave of Wonders, was summarily “eaten” by said cave when the man proved to not be a “diamond in the rough.” Jafar’s reaction was a dry comment of the man’s unworthiness to enter the cave before seeking out a means of finding this so-called diamond and procuring the Genie’s lamp for himself.
One rather unique thing about Jafar that makes him stand out amongst most Disney Villains is the fact that he is the only one to change in numerously drastic ways. His sense of character aside, where he goes from being a sneaking vizier to outright maniac drunk with sorcerous power, Jafar goes through three wardrobe changes in the films. He goes from standard vizier wear to ultimate sorcerer to sultan, never mind the actual physical transformations that he undergoes first as a giant king cobra and as a genie.
I should mention that because of said snake-shape shifting, Jafar is responsible for Rule #34 of the Evil Overlord List that states that one shall never turn into a snake as it never, ever helps.
Still, there is a bit of humor to Jafar that most can’t help but chuckle at, particularly his facial reactions to certain things like the mentioning of decapitation accompanied by a fitting “eew” from he and his minion Iago. That and the look on his serpentine face when he realizes that the Genie is far more powerful than he as the blue dude can easily take all of Jafar’s powers away from him with but a single wish.
Speaking of power, contrary to what most may assume, Jafar was never initially a magician of any sort. True, he knew of magic and whatever various lore he could get his hands on but he is, at best, an alchemist given both his means of discovering Aladdin as the “diamond in the rough” and the hypnotic properties of the jeweled eyes of his staff. It isn’t until he wishes to become a sorcerer that he starts throwing spells, and horrendously hilarious puns, all willy-nilly.
Jafar’s goal for the first half of the film was to attain the Genie’s lamp and it isn’t until he gets it that we see what he truly wants from it. Jafar wants enough power to make himself the new sultan of Agrabah though, ironically enough, not the whole world. In point of fact, I’m fairly certain that had he managed to get the lamp right from the start, Jafar would have simply wished himself ruler of Agrabah, the most powerful sorcerer, and kept the third wish as a means of keeping the Genie around, making use of the same loopholes that Aladdin did to exercise the Genie’s power when he needed to.
As to Jafar’s minion… well, Iago is many things but an effective minion is not one of them. I feel that he is more along the lines of an extremely sarcastic and sharp-tongued Statler and Waldorf to Jafar—nay—anyone’s antics be they for good or ill. Honestly, while I may keep the likes of Joanna as an actual pet, I’d have Iago around as both a means of distracting everybody via ticking them off and getting a good chuckle now and again. I did feel rather bad for him when he ended up inside Jafar’s lamp but did enjoy that he, ultimately, changed sides during the sequel.
Taking aside the events of the sequel and the animated series of “Hercules”, Jafar ends up getting tricked by Aladdin into becoming a genie himself complete with all the downsides and once trapped within his lamp, is thrown by Genie into the resting place of the now destroyed Cave of Wonders. If one takes the sequel and series into account however… Jafar was not only killed via the destruction of his lamp whilst still being attached to it, unlike Genie who is free of it, but he ends up being permanently banished to the River Styx via a bad plan gone wrong with the God of the Underworld, Hades.
So anyway, as far as I’m concerned, Jafar is amongst the top of Disney Villains. In point of fact, if Maleficent is not the one running the scheme, it is Jafar himself. Heck, there have been times where I’m sure that Jafar was Maleficent’s “right hand man” and possibly even more if you catch my meaning. Not my, how they say, OTP but hey, I can see it working out more than what they’ve done in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. After all, despite his being tricked by Aladdin, prior to the genie wish he is the most powerful sorcerer on Earth and has held fair ground against the likes of many heroes, one sorcerer’s hat wearing mouse in particular.
By the by, did you all know that Jafar has a twin sister? Voiced by Jodi Benson no less.