Disney has more than one epic fox character in their animated universe, but which is the fox that reins supreme in the House of Mouse?
It’s no secret that Disney has always been very good at creating characters that cast a spell on the viewer, particularly in their feature-length animated movies. Disney is particularly good at creating animal characters who are far more charming than they have a right to be. Two such characters are Robin Hood from the movie of the same name (which is supposed to be getting a remake!) and Nick Wilde from Zootopia.
These fantastic fox characters can both be described as the best Disney fox character, and there are quite a few things about both of them that make them among the best animal characters that have ever appeared in a Disney movie (and, in Robin’s case, that also show why he’s a great hero in general).
Robin Hood: He’s A Master Of Disguise
Throughout Robin Hood, the wily Robin proves that he’s a master of disguise (this is a common trope in movies about Robin Hood). After all, it takes a pretty spectacular thief to convince a prince that he is in fact a female fortune teller. However, he also adopts a number of other disguises during the movies, including dressing up as a stork and as a blind beggar. One has to give him credit for the sheer audacity of the many disguises that he adopts in his efforts to thwart Prince John’s nefarious scheme to take the throne.
Nick: Voiced By Jason Bateman
There’s so much to love about Jason Bateman. Whether he’s appearing in a live-action or an animated movie, there’s something about his performance that has a certain jadedness to it, a sense that this is a person who has seen the worst that the world can throw at him and yet has persevered anyway. He certainly brings this to bear in his characterization of Nick, allowing the viewer to see him as both very funny and cynical and yet also deeply sensitive.
Robin Hood: He Robs From The Rich To Feed The Poor
The most notable thing about the Robin Hood character, both in this movie and in the myth more generally, is his belief in the rightness of his mission. This is the character, after all, whose mission in life is to steal from the rich to give to the poor. One can’t help but admire someone who’s willing to become a criminal–and thus liable to face extreme punishment–so that he can make the lives of the poor people of Nottingham just a bit more tolerable.
Nick: His Bond With Judy
Zootopia, like so many other Disney movies, really is a tale about friendship. In this case, it takes on an added valence because this sort of relationship between a rabbit and a fox is something that would never happen in the real world.
In fact, it’s precisely the bond between Nick and Judy, and their ability to overcome their mutual antagonism, that not only makes this one of the most sophisticated of recent Disney offerings but also makes Nick into a fantastic fox character.
Robin Hood: He Challenges Royalty And Lives To Tell The Tale
Throughout the movie, one villain looms large, and that’s Prince John. Though he might be a bit of an idiot sometimes, he has just enough cleverness, and enough cruelty, to want to inflict as much pain as possible on the people of Nottingham. It would have been easy for Robin to just cut his losses and run, but he goes toe-to-toe with the ruthless usurper and not only beats him but manages to ingratiate himself with none other than the true monarch, King Richard.
Nick: His Suave Demeanor
From the moment that he appears on the screen, Nick makes it clear that he has everything it takes to be a compelling Disney character. He’s a smooth-talker, and he knows it. Given that he’s a con-man, he knows that he has to play up that aspect of his personality, and the animation is such that his gestures and his movements have a smoothness and a grace that is very much in keeping with, and reflective of, the rest of his personality.
Robin Hood: His Bravery
Time and again throughout Robin Hood, the main character proves that he has tremendous bravery and that he’s willing to risk everything, up to and including his life, for the cause of justice. For example, he walks right into the middle of an archery tournament, even knowing that it could very well be a trap.
Even more significantly, he also spearheads a jailbreak and manages to steal quite a lot of money literally right out from under the sleeping Prince John.
Nick: He Has A Touching Backstory
The key to any good Disney character is a good backstory. After all, it’s this background that allows the viewer to understand the character’s motivations, to see them as something more than just a stereotype. Nick has just such a story, for it’s made clear that he was tormented and teased by prey animals as a youth, who refused to see him as anything other than a clever predator. This bit of background helps to add nuance and depth to his character, enabling the viewer to understand why he acts the way that he does. Just like all of those sad Disney deaths, this moment really tugs at the heartstrings.
Robin Hood: Stayed Loyal To Maid Marian
At one point in the movie, it’s made clear that Maid Marian and Robin Hood had actually met quite a long time before the movie began but have since fallen out of touch. While it would have been easy for Robin to move on–and Marian thinks that he has–the truth is that he’s never stopped loving her. There’s something profoundly touching about this love story, a reminder that, as Lady Kluck says, true love does conquer all.
Nick: He Truly Has A Heart Of Gold
Though he likes to pretend that he’s a tough guy without a lot of feeling, it’s pretty clear to the viewer that there’s a lot more going on that he wants to let on. In fact, it becomes obvious that he actually has a heart of gold. The brilliance of the animation and Bateman’s performance is that it allows the viewer to see him as both a scoundrel and a hero, a contradiction that is a key part of what makes him such a great Disney fox.