Magnificent Maleficent: Family Through Blood and Water
By Mauri Lazaro (@darkdeariemauri) and Teresa Martin (@Teresa__Martin)
Maleficent has a rather nebulous past on Once Upon A Time. She died, fans thought, but then it was revealed in Season Two that a spell “sustains her in whatever form she’s in”. How this leads to her return, all are still waiting to see. Until then, an examination of Maleficant’s past on Once and other versions of the tale on which she is based can shed some light on what will be seen in 4b.
In the traditional versions of “Sleeping Beauty”, the character on which Maleficent is based is a “wise woman,” sometimes fairy, of the realm, and the only one not invited to the christening of a new princess. This was indeed a serious matter. A christening is not merely a ceremony. In the traditional sense, it integrates a person into a world-wide family. There are godparents, who have an oath to be the guide to the child both by example and in action. If the parents die, the godparents become the parents de facto. Also, all present welcome the child as their own, and take oaths along with the parents and godparents. So leaving this fairy out of the ceremony was not just a snub. It was a formal acknowledgement that she is not of the family. . . outside, broken away from all. This grave ostracism spurred her to take revenge by imposing a curse upon the child. She is only temporarily successful because the curse is broken with a Prince’s kiss.
On Once Upon A Time, fans first saw the scorned fairy, known now by the name Disney gave her, Maleficent, in “The Thing You Love Most”. She is introduced as Regina’s “only friend.” It is learned that Regina had traded The Curse with Maleficent in exchange for a sleeping potion. Fans also found out that Sleeping Beauty “got the best” of Maleficent when she was around the same age as Snow White. This established that the Charles Perrault version of the fairy tale is being utilized by Once writers. In his narrative the children of the original Sleeping Beauty feature, including a daughter, Aurora. Maleficent’s story on Once might include a snub as in the original tale, but perhaps one less symbolic and more damaging. When her backstory is told, her origins will likely rhyme with the familiar trope “evil isn’t born, it’s made.”
This would be in stark contrast to the Disney cartoon in which Maleficent has no redeemable qualities. She is held in contempt by not only being left out of the christening, but also how she is spoken to by the other fairies. Her curse and determination to thwart Phillip from awakening Aurora is not given any motivation except that of one who does not want her revenge undone. A hint of motivation, envy, is seen in the manner in which she finally appears as a great dragon, traditionally the great enemy of Good; a demon destined for perdition and determined that all should share its fate.
Explore the Arthurian legend surrounding Lancelot, take a trip into the woods to discover the mythology behind Red Riding Hood or learn more about a modern day hero called Snow White. Origins provides unique insights and perspectives from talented writers into the characters we know and love, going far beyond the boundaries of Storybrooke.