There are some minor spoilers for Zootopia to be found. Plan accordingly.
Of all the random references that occur inside Disney’s Zootopia, one of our favorite’s was the great Godfather send up by way of an organized crime running rodent. If you’re keeping score, Mr. Big was an arctic shrew, and there’s a very good reason that particular animal was chosen to be the mob boss: They’re actually incredibly vicious predators.
If you’ve seen any mob movie in the history of the genre they tend to have one thing in common: Incredible levels of violence. If you want to be the head of organized crime, you have to be willing to kill anybody who stands in your way. As Zootopia director Rich Moore told us at at Q&A event in St. Louis, that’s exactly what an arctic shrew will do. It will kill other shrews if it has to, and it will do worse than that. He said:
We chose the shrew because, through our research that we did about animals, we found out that the arctic shrew is the most vicious predator on earth. It’s true, that little tiny shrew needs to eat three times its body weight to stay alive. So that means, if you put four shrews in a bucket tonight, when you get home, if you cover that bucket, you come back in the morning, you’re going to find one fat shrew. So, find four shrews on your way home tonight, get a bucket, you’re going to love what you find in the morning.
Wow, things just took a very dark turn, though we have to agree that Rich Moore's reasoning makes sense. An animal willing to kill, and cannibalize, others of its own species would certainly gain the respect of other mammals. Who wants to mess with somebody willing to do that? Luckily in Zootopia Mr. Big doesn’t go nearly that far. Although, to be fair, based on what happened, Nick Wilde is lucky he got out with his fur attached.
This is a great example of the work that the filmmakers put in to make Zootopia not only a great story, but also one full of great characters. Zootopia just had the biggest opening weekend in the history of Disney animation, and with this kind of movie, which the whole family may attend, it has a good chance to add to that total significantly over the next several weeks.
What did you think of Mr. Big? Does his back story now add a new level of fear to the character?