On paper, a Cruella de Vil origin story sounds like an easy way for Disney to continue churning out live-action remakes based on their back catalogue of animated classics, without having to cannibalize their own output after 101 Dalmatians already got an update and a sequel with Glenn Close playing the role back in the 1990s.
However, the response to the recently released first trailer for Cruella was hugely enthusiastic, even though many were quick to reductively label it as the Mouse House’s family friendly spin on Todd Phillips’ Joker. At the very least, Craig Gillespie’s upcoming crime comedy promises a fantastic lead performance from Emma Stone, who looks to be having the time of her life as the iconic villain.
Stone might be an Academy Award winning actress with a reputation as one of the finest talents of her generation, but she’s still got big shoes to fill after Close’s extravagant turn netted her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Speaking of which, a new theory has now put forward the idea that Cruella and 1996’s 101 Dalmations will be linked, with the former acting as a direct prequel.
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As ScreenRant explains:
Disney directly linking Cruella and the 1996 101 Dalmatians would make sense for the mammoth company. It connects Stone’s Cruella de Vil to Close’s highly praised older version, and also serves to revive interest in the live-action 101 Dalmatians movies overall. Making Cruella an official prequel could also serve to setup further installments in the franchise that are designed to connect the two films, perhaps with Close eventually reprising her role in a Cruella movie featuring alternating present and past timelines. The only real issue that plan could face is trying to continue to make Cruella into a sympathetic antihero when her goal is skinning puppies. Still, the dalmatian reference in the Cruella trailer shows that Disney isn’t shying away from that aspect of the character.
On the surface it makes plenty of sense, without even considering Close’s involvement as executive producer on Cruella. The story takes place in the 1970s with 32 year-old Stone front and center, although she could easily pass for younger, while Close turned 32 in 1979. Fast forward two decades and you could certainly imagine the latest spin on Ms. de Vil morphing into the scenery chewing version from 101 Dalmations should the studio be planning to retroactively turn it into a live-action trilogy, and the timelines fit together pretty nicely as well.