Most fans of family films and cartoons have seen the classic Disney cartoons so many times that the infamous characters are burned into our minds. These iconic characters have lasted generations, and we've come to consider them a major part of kids' culture.
These fan artists have envisions the characters in a new and striking light — the characters as they were before their narrative arches in their respective movies. Seeing characters like Ursula before the events of The Little Mermaid is particularly cool, and of course, we'll be visiting many of these children's characters before this piece is done. We have to commend the artists who have done an incredible job interpreting Disney's vision and translating their ideas into a different setting. These fan versions of the characters cover a wide range of different art styles and color palettes. We'll also be seeing a few Disney characters from the newest addition to the Disney family, like Gravity Falls.
There's nothing quite like seeing characters at a time in their life before the main event — after all, who doesn't love a good prequel. With any luck, one day we'll see Disney visist their crucial parts of their characters' lives.
24 Make Your Father Proud, Hans
Hans was a shy lad in the southern isles before he got all power-hungry and creepy. Little Hans hasn't hurt anyone… yet. Fanart like this succeeds the most because it doesn’t simply depict a known villain as a kid; we’re treated to a fresh dimension of Hans. He looks vulnerable. Sympathetic. It's a whole new way to appreciate the character — and we'd love to see a little more of this side of him.
23 Well-Suited Suitors
Art by: deviantart.com/irenemartini
This fanart goes a step further than Elinor and Fergus’ wedding— we time travel Outlander-style all the way back to how they met. They were so gosh-dang pretty in their youth. That big bear— no, not Merida’s mom— Fergus seems to be shy around girls. This image suggests the pair was smitten with each other. It’s ambiguous if their relationship was the result of matchmaking like the type forced on Merida. Either way, they clicked.
22 Enchanting Young Ursula
Art by: deviantart.com/viria13
I’m just going to say it. Young Ursula was fine. But this image of a younger, striking Ursula makes you wonder about the value judgments that go into designing villains. The villains are rarely conventionally good looking. Their outer ickiness represents their inner yuckiness. There’s an assumption that physical qualities— like Ursula’s hoary hair and decidedly rotund figure— are unattractive outer traits.
It would be interesting to see Disney tackle more lovely villains to round out their roster of baddies.
21 A Young Sultan
Hey it’s a young Sultan from Aladdin! And no that’s not an immortal Jasmine— that’s Jasmine’s mom. She looks like carbon copy of her daughter. You can tell the Sultan is young as he’s rocking that brown beard. It may be a simple change, but it works. Kudos to the artist for expertly capturing the film’s aesthetic. I’m not one-hundred percent on how much they changed from the original image, but I know a good old-Disney-person-turned-young image when I see one.
20 Cruella’s College Years
Art by: instagram.com/p/sfR-s4ICA-/
This image of a young Cruella De Vil is from a set by artist Kristen Keeves. She’s young, but still has half-white, half-black hair. I’m not too sure what’s going on there — but it's a cool touch, for sure. As seen in Keeves’ other drawing of Yzma from Emperor’s News Groove, De Vil is rendered with an innocence and vulnerability here. There is no hint of the puppy-flaying attributes she is known for.
19 Before They Were Evil
Art by: deviantart.com/carmenfoolheart
This artist, Carmenfoolheart, was inspired to whip up some younger Disney villainess as an answer to all the young, modern Disney princesses out there. Allow me to elucidate in case you’re not sure who everyone is: (from left to right) Maleficent, Ursula, Gothel, Snow White’s Queen, and the Queen of Hearts. Gotta say, we’re digging this direction. Some of these villainesses look like they haven’t completed their full transformation into morally forsaken creatures yet.
18 Lil’ Villains
Art by: viviannedubois.tumblr
These little evil-doers are just the cutest. What, you think Disney princesses are the only ones who get to be cute? Artist Vivianne Dubois has done a phenomenal job capturing the essence of every Disney villainess and shrink-raying those traits down to bite-size characters. At this stage, they’re likely no more than perhaps a little bossy or manipulative. It makes you wonder if they had to be evil. Were they born that way or was it their environment? In the words of another cute girl, why not both?
17 Villain High
Art by: deviantart.com/crescentlady
Who looks at this fanart and doesn’t wish this was a TV show or a movie? A Disney villain, that’s who. Pictured here are some prominent figures from the Mouse House’s pantheon of evil-doers.
Ah, a photo-realistic depiction of the kids I knew in high school.
From left to right: Maleficent, Hades, Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Gaston. Shoutout to the artist for the spot-on characterization. Of course Hades would be a smarmy smooth-talker and of course Gaston would be a jock.
16 Hades Hijinks
Awww. It’s baby Hades. Even as a child, he looks like he’s up to some shenanigans. Gotta love that artist has drawn him with his demon henchmen from birth. Even under ten years old, Hades appears like he’s vexed with them.
These baby images of Gods make you wonder: do Gods get born and age like the rest of us— only slower?
Hercules ages in the film but he’s a demigod. It certainly feels like James Woods has lived forever based on his never-ending tweets.
15 Magnificent Maleficent
Art by: deviantart.com/alizakusuma
Enjoy this magnificent artwork of young Maleficent. It’s a painting of kiddie Maleficent as seen in the Disney origin story starring Angeline Jolie a few years back. It’s the part where she flies around being super nice to every at the beginning so the audience automatically feels sympathy towards her for the rest of the movie. Screenwriting, folks. The film might have been panned by critics, but it’s neat Disney tried to do something original with the old property rather than a paint-by-number reboot.
14 Young Yzma
Art by: instagram.com/p/spqSS4ICAT/
Yzma wasn’t always a teeth-gnashing llama hater. She was once a very beautiful woman. But as we’ve seen, as beauty fades so do morals. In the Mouse House, the uglier and older a person becomes the more evil they are. That’s why Carl’s wife had to go at the beginning of Up. Carl was on track to become a curmudgeon. Old? Check. Gnarly qualities? Check. His wife? Not so much. Oh, right this post was about Yzma.
13 The Queen Of Our Hearts
Art by: pixiv.net/member.php?id=4008192
The Queen of Hearts has enthralled us. Alice and Wonderland’s rabid and frothing Queen of Hearts is a figure of contradictions. She’s supposed to represent passion and love but she’s too busy parting her subjects from their heads. This version of the Queen is slightly more in-line with how you’d expect a lady of love to look. Some may rightly point out that this from a set re-imagining Disney villains as simply good-looking, but as we’ve seen, that means young too.
12 Cinderella’s Stepmom
Art by: deviantart.com/singertobe
What you’ve been waiting for. A young Lady Tremaine.
Don’t know who Lady Tremaine is? Perhaps you know her better under her legal name, Cinderella’s wicked stepmom.
That’s right. Lady Tremaine didn’t enter the world as a sneering old lady. She had to lure in Cindy’s dad somehow. The artist’s inspiration came from a fan fiction that images Lady’s Tremaine’s younger years. It's an interesting idea to follow up on, that's for sure.
11 We Like How She Misbehaves
Art by: deviantart.com/viveehero
For those who may not know her by name, Tala is Moana’s grandmother. Here Tala can be seen in her younger years, bearing a striking resemblance to her granddaughter.
Moana’s grandma— aka the reason you’ve cried enough tears to sink the island of Te Fiti.
Tala’s characteristic mischievousness is detectable at a glance; we can see where Moana got her rebellious streak. Also, Tala loves a good coconut. Or maybe those are bowling balls. Like the song goes, maybe she can roll with it.
10 The Bear And The Maiden Fair
Art by: deviantart.com/teodora85
Artist Teodora85 BRAVELY goes where no fan artist has gone before also I know this is the same sentence but I am so sorry for that pun please keep reading.
Merida’s mom doesn’t have to use the Craigh na Dun to get to Outlander’s Jamie— she just needs to go next door.
Merida’s parents Elinor and Fergus had a decidedly more traditional wedding. Unlike her fiery daughter, Elinor wanted the hubby and the suburban castle. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional life. Just don’t force Merida to walk in your big, bear-shaped footsteps.
9 You Fine, Frollo.
Art by: domclaudefrollo.tumblr
Before he was an old creepy nut, Follo was a young creepy nut.
Hunchback of Notre-dammmmnnn.
It still boggles my mind Disney was game with that one song. You know the one. With the fire? With the subject matter? With the—ahem— the way the fire dances? Props to the magical kingdom for those themes. There aren’t many kids’ movies nowadays open-minded enough as to suggest it’s okay to feel a certain type of love.
8 Young Gothel
Art by: deviantart.com/mregina
Here we have young Gothel from Tangled. She doesn’t look that old normally. Know why? ‘Cuz she a big meanie who uses Rapunzel for her life-sustaining magical hair powers. Here’s an interesting detail from the film: Gothel can be seen kissing Rapunzel’s hair rather than her forehead. I’m not sure if the director or animator came up with that, but that’s a wonderful touch. You can see what I’m talking about right here.
7 Maleficent Was Once The Beauty
Art by: deviantart.com/kowerallen
Here we have another gorgeous painting of wee Maleficent. This one is designed on the kid version of Maleficent as seen in the movie, like the other entry in this list. I’m glad Disney gave Maleficent the Wicked treatment. She’s by far one of the coolest Disney villains. Her name sounds the most malicious, hands-down. Okay well, there’s also the Queen from Snow White — come to think of it, why would she trust her anyway?
6 Where It All Began
In case you want a break from all these fan art dweebs and their bucket loads of talent, enjoy this official version of Cruella De Vil as a kid. I say, official, because it was part of a book that covers some of the film's backstory. Assuming this is canon, Cruella De Vil had black and white hair since she was a kid. Her sick love of puppies was also fostered from a young age.
5 Mini Maui
Art by: deviantart.com/freakylucik
I wanted to take a break from villains, but Maui is looking particularly villainous in this image. Hey, demigods were kids too. Remember that whole rant I had about Hercules? Yeah me neither. That was like several entries ago.
Maui is pictured here with a younger Jermaine Clement.
Notice how Maui isn’t the only one young here? He’s got the shiny crab guy. This was before they had a falling-out and the crab guy got bedazzled.
4 He’s Got A Shot With Esmerelda Now
Art by: deviantart.com/ljaylue
Frolololol. Frollo is one of the best Disney villains. It’s not just because he’s French Megabyte— from Reboot, although it helps.
French Megabyte is the best Disney villain.
Frollo is a compelling villain because he has an innerm struggle. He lets Quasimodo live through a rare fart of conscience. He battles his inner demons over impure thoughts of Esmerelda. Many villains in mainstream movies nowadays don’t have the depth Frollo does and it’s a darn shame.
3 Yzma’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove Yzma was a looker back in the day. Once again, these younger images make you question the value judgments that go into designing the characters. Age is often conflated with villains, since it is seen as an unattractive quality. The heroes are always young and good-looking. These aesthetic are so commonplace they’re used as shorthands. If an animated old person isn’t spouting wisdom and exuding general Joie de vie every second like Moana’s grandma, they’re probably baddies.
2 Young Stan
Art by: deviantart.com/markmak
Here’s one for all the Gravity Falls fans out there. Stan was something of a master of disguise in his younger years. This image is actually a GIF, so I’d recommend hovering a little longer to see the animation. It’s quite chuckle-inducing. In case you can’t be bothered, Stan’s costume doesn’t totally convince the guard to let him through so he makes some on-the-spot changes. Artist markmak has done a terrific job at bottling Gravity’s Falls idiosyncratic comedy.
1 Hans Down, The Saddest One
Poor sweet dumb Hans. He wasn’t always a bad guy. Once upon a time, he was just a kid who liked to play with soldier figures. He had friends. He had heartbreaks. None of that excuses his later actions in Arendelle, but it may put them in context. I would love to see a Hans backstory now. I bet his family pushed him to rise through the ranks at all costs— either directly or through a loveless upbringing.