(Portrait) Captain Hook – the villain everyone loves to hate!

Disney Halloween Festival is an opportunity to honour our favourite Disney Villains, and this year, for the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, they have decided to steal the show!

One of the villainous gang’s most iconic members is Captain Hook, who is known for his charming nature, elegant clothes and impeccable manners. But beware – appearances can be deceiving.

Pirates have always occupied a special place in Walt Disney’s heart and work. As an avid reader of Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe, Walt Disney often explored this theme, from Treasure Island (1950), his first live-action film, to one of the last attractions he imagined, Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, when creating the characters for his 14th Animated Classic, Captain Hook received special attention from Walt Disney and made a lasting impression on film history.


According to the song, “There isn’t a boy / Who won’t enjoy / A-workin’ for Captain Hook”.  But why is that? Just how does the captain of the Jolly Roger win over his crew and all those who cross his path?

Firstly, Captain James Hook is probably the most well-mannered of all the Disney Villains. He is as eloquent as he is sophisticated, and his every gesture is choreographed to perfection. He could almost be mistaken for a fine gentleman, like when he tries to charm Tinkerbell by playing the piano and singing in the 1953 Classic. This is no surprise when you consider that this anthology sequence was animated by the legendary Frank Thomas, known for his precise line, his gestural technique, and himself a pianist in his spare time.


Hook is also a skilled fencer, wielding his sword with great dexterity, as we see in the various duels that oppose him to Peter Pan in the film, or in the attraction, Peter Pan’s Flight. The 2004 show Peter Pan to the Rescue in Cannonball Cove, at the heart of Adventureland, was another famous example of epic duels between the two rivals, involving skirmishes and scuffles as Peter attempted to save Wendy and John from the dastardly pirate.


Like a true dandy, our Captain takes great care of his appearance. With his frilly dress shirt, feathered hat and frock coat, he closely resembles the drawings produced by the original illustrators of the work of James Barrie, William Nicholson and Francis Donkin Bedford, who directly inspired Walt Disney’s artists.

And whether it’s in the jungle, on the deck of his ship, or among the colourful crowd at the 2018 interactive show Disney Pirate or Princess: Make Your Choice during the Festival of Pirates and Princesses, the vibrant red that gives him stature and panache is impossible to miss. He also likes to swagger about on the balcony that runs above Captain Jack’s – Restaurant des Pirates and Le Coffre du Capitaine shop.


But beware! Hook is more than just a dashing man with a sharp moustache! Despite his cheery smile, he is a true crook who doesn’t hesitate to bully his crew – and especially his first mate, Mr. Smee – in the animated Classic, or to shoot anyone who gets too close to Neverland in Peter Pan’s Flight! Because of this, he fits right in with his villainous friends at Disney Halloween Festival, with his mischievous side stronger than ever to mark the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris. Don’t miss him in Adventureland or at Peter Pan’s Flight during the day, or at Nightfall with Disney Villains, when the wickedly wonderful crew attempt to take over Sleeping Beauty Castle.


Despite all this, the world’s most famous crook is also a confirmed coward, terrified of the crocodile that once devoured his hand. Every time the croc appears, Hook gives a completely different impression of himself, like in the final scene of Peter Pan’s Flight, where he is almost eaten by the animal. Sometimes, all it takes is the ticking of a clock, a disguise, or even a simple arm gesture suggesting the snapping of a crocodile’s jaw for him to make a hasty retreat, as he did in Minnie’s Pirate Academy (2014), Captain Hook’s Pirate Academy (2013–2021), or in Following the Leader with Peter Pan, during the Disney Magical Moments Festival (2011).

With Hook, first impressions are short lived, and his true nature is quickly revealed, but that’s all part of his charm!

All of these qualities and his extraordinary personality are what make Captain Hook such an unforgettable Disney Villain, and are also what made Jean Cocteau say, during the screening of Peter Pan in 1953 at the Cannes Film Festival, that he deserved the Palme d’Or for best actor!

See you next week for a new portrait…

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