Disney is getting ready to tell the origin story of one of the animation studio’s most crazed villains: Cruella de Vil. Emma Stone is donning the black and white wig for Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, a prequel that will follow the 101 Dalmations baddie as she gets into the fashion industry and becomes the famed character we all love to hate. Since the Cruella trailer dropped last month, the live-action film has been compared to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.
The movie is approaching the early days of the in maniacal character (remember how she skins puppies and wears them as a coat?) with a gritty take on Cruella that will apparently explain how she became the villain we know in 101 Dalmatians. In a recent interview, Emma Stone responded to comparisons to 2019’s Joker with some eloquent modesty:
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.
There you have it. While speaking to Total Film Magazine, Emma Stone humbly took the Joaquin Phoenix Joker comparisons, but insisted her Disney movie is not on the same wavelength as the Oscar-winning drama--even when it comes to her performance. Although she refuses to compare herself to Phoenix, she does have an admiration for the 46-year-old, who won his first Best Actor Oscar for the DC role. Cruella’s director Craig Gillespie also spoke to fan comparisons with these words:
There are some really deep, emotional things that Cruella’s dealing with that send her to the villainous darker side. So in that sense, it is [similar]. But it’s definitely its own thing. Just to sort of reframe Cruella, I thought it was important to show this darker side of her. But there’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of humor in it. There’s a lot of absolutely delightful banter and rhythm to the style of it, which is different from Joker.
In other words, we’re not dealing with the R-rated grit of Todd Phillips’ movie. Cruella recently officially received a PG-13 rating, but it will still have some of the lighthearted humor that one would expect from a Disney film. The movie will be about Emma Stone’s Estella Deville in the ‘90s as she becomes determined to make a name for herself in the fashion industry, catching the eye of Emma Thompson’s Baroness von Hellman. Check out the trailer here:
At the same time, Cruella’s comparisons do seem fair in terms of the movie tracking an emotional journey about a classically-known villain through a more personal journey. It seems to answer the question of why the 101 Dalmatians character is so evil in the animated movie. Both do have an odd hurdle to go over. How do you make an audience care with a character who advocated for murdering puppies?
Joker definitely had its own shares of controversies when it hit theaters in late 2019, including fears from theaters about safety concerns following the tragic Aurora shooting in 2012. So far, the only controversy ahead for Cruella is from PETA, who called for Disney to spread a pro-adoption message in light of the release. Cruella is coming to theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on May 28.