When it comes to villains, Jafar is bad to the bone. Really. Like, this guy does not have one single redeeming quality.
Okay, his beard game is kind of on point, but that's about it.
You Can't Spell Evil Without Vizier (Okay, Actually You Can)
So what are Jafar's goals in this movie? He tells us right out of the gate: he's looking to get his wicked hands on more power.
JAFAR: Soon, I will be sultan, not that addlepated twit.
IAGO: And then I stuff the crackers down his throat!
Jafar and Iago have evil squad goals, and no one is gonna get in their way. That means no matter what Jafar has to do, he's up to the challenge. Befriend and manipulate the Sultan? Check. Marry the princess? Sure. Find the ancient Cave of Wonders and hunt down a magic lamp? No problem.
This is what makes Jafar especially scary. He's managed to look normal and even-tempered enough to climb the ranks to a leadership position with the Sultan. Sure, Jasmine doesn't trust Jafar, but she also doesn't try to use her influence with her father to get him booted from the palace. She only threatens to do it once she's in charge, which gives Jafar plenty of time to plot against her.
Underestimating Jafar is always a mistake.
Behind closed doors, Jafar is pretty much a sociopath. How bad is this guy? Let us count the ways:
- He gets Gazeem killed in the Cave of Wonders and just shrugs his shoulders.
- He's fine with manipulating—even hypnotizing—the Sultan to get what he wants.
- Using a homeless orphan boy to retrieve a lamp and then killing him is cool, too.
- Is he above murdering his new wife and father-in-law? Nope.
- Seizing power over an entire kingdom and then enslaving its former monarchs is all in a day's work for Jafar.
Throughout all of this, Jafar is totally remorseless. He doesn't have one moment of hesitation or one ounce of sympathy for anyone he hurts. In fact, he seems to enjoy inflicting pain on others. It makes him happy.
But since we don't get any backstory on Jafar, it's not really clear why he wants all this power. Just for kicks? Does he have a vendetta against Agrabah specifically? Does this have something to do with his childhood? Who were his parents? Was he ever married? Surely he wasn't born twirling his evil mustache, right?
As far as the movie is concerned, Jafar is just pure evil, and he must be defeated. Why is he so bad? The world may never know.
So how do you defeat a guy like this? Someone with no conscience, who will do anything and everything to gain power?
You beat him at his own game.
Aladdin knows that Jafar wants to be large and in charge more than anything, so he plays on this in their final confrontation:
JAFAR: You little fool! You thought you could defeat the most powerful being on earth! […] Without the Genie, boy, you're nothing!
ALADDIN: The Genie! The Genie! The Genie has more power than you'll ever have!
ALADDIN: He gave you your power, he can take it away!
GENIE: Al, what are you doing? Why are you bringing me into this?
ALADDIN: Face it, Jafar—you're still just second best!
JAFAR: You're right! His power does exceed my own! But not for long! […] Slave, I make my third wish! I wish to be an all-powerful genie!
Big mistake. Big. Huge.
The Greeks called this kind of mistake hubris, and, boy, does Jafar fall victim to it here. He basically thinks that he can't make any mistakes. His first two wishes have been total winners. Everything is going his way. He's got all the power…now he just needs a little bit more.
It's kind of delicious that Jafar fails to see the irony in the fact that he calls the Genie a "slave" while wishing to be a genie himself. Um, what did you think was gonna happen, dude? In the end, Jafar winds up sucked inside a lamp and trapped in the Cave of Wonders to think about what he's done. Maybe he'll change his evil ways?
Eh, we doubt it. And we really feel sorry for the next person that finds that lamp.