Amid Disney’s unrelenting new strategy to remake their classic animated features, Cruella seems to be a step in a unique and admittedly intriguing direction. Starring Emma Stone as the titular Cruella de Vil, the upcoming comedy-drama will serve as a prequel to One Hundred and One Dalmatians, depicting the villainess’ origin tale and subsequent fall from grace.
Considering the movie’s PG-13 rating and Disney’s general inclination towards lighthearted narratives, predicting the course of Cruella‘s story and its tone seems to be an easy enough conjecture. Yet, the flick’s promotional content has incorporated many surreal and absurd elements that in no way resonate with the company’s thematic history.
If a tale that revolves around a person of high intellect swept into an unfair life, sinking ever deeper into a pit of madness, with the apparatus of psychological decline in cinematic form, seems all too familiar to you, it’s because you’ve seen it before, and quite recently at that.
Indeed, a lot of people have drawn parallels between the upcoming Cruella and Todd Phillips’ 2019 hit Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. Emma Stone herself was recently about the similarities in an interview with Total Film and while at first the La La Land star laughed at the comparison, she understands why folks seem to notice analogs.
“It’s very different from Joker in many ways… I would never even remotely compare myself to Joaquin Phoenix. I wish I was more like him,” she said.
Director Craig Gillespie also spoke on the matter, acknowledging that despite inevitable connections, his movie does its own thing.
“There are some really deep, emotional things that Cruella’s dealing with that send her to the villainous darker side,” He said. “So, in that sense, it is (similar), but it’s definitely its own thing,”
Ultimately, beyond shallow comparisons, Cruella will heavily lean into comic elements as per the Mouse House formula, which, by every definition of the word, is a far cry from what Joker did.