Disney Just Quietly Brought a Canceled Animated Movie into Its Official Canon

A little-known abandoned Disney movie concept, concerning the adaptation of the medieval fable Reynard the Fox, resurfaced in an important Disney comic, as Disney Villains: Maleficent #1 brings the Reynard character back within Disney’s Sleeping Beauty lore. Hardcore Disney fans will be pleased with the deep cut making its way into this upcoming comic, paying homage to an obscure idea for a movie that was never to be.

Disney Villains: Maleficent #1, written by Soo Lee, features the character of Reynard the Fox, a folkloric trickster figure, adding him Maleficent’s story, along with a completely original background and story. Originally intended for a film adaptation in the 1930s by Walt Disney animation, the Mouse House’s version of Reynard is finally seeing the light of day, albeit much different than ever planned.

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Disney Villains: Maleficent #1 Makes Reynard Canon

panels from Disney Villains: Maleficent #1

In Disney Villains: Maleficent #1, Reynard the Fox first appears a human named Prince Reynaud. He lies to Maleficent, who is furious when she finds out. As punishment, she transforms him into a devilish fox. Her reasoning for turning the Prince into a fox is because his lying and sneaking behaviors are reminiscent of the sly animal. As a result, this necessitates him having to constantly resort to trickery to survive in his new form. Based on the events of Disney Villains: Maleficent #1, it is clear how Maleficent embraced her petty ways, giving out harsh punishments far outweighing the perceived slights, which is how her fans know and love her.

Reynard The Fox And Disney Have A Long History

Reynard Disney Concept art

Reynard the Fox is finally finding his place in Disney lore with his appearance in Disney Villains: Maleficent #1, after a decades-long unsuccessful battle to get the medieval folklore character to the big screen. The character is from the Middle Ages, where he was characterized as a streetwise prankster that does not hesitate to pull the wool over another’s eyes (via History, Etc.) An appealing property for the Walt Disney Company to use due to its public domain status during the Great Depression in the 1930s, Reynard the Fox would’ve been free to adapt, and the charismatic character would’ve been easy to convert to a likable Disney character.

As a result, a Reynard film was put into development in 1937, but Walt Disney took issue with the development of the Reynard character being seen as a crook, and not kid friendly enough for the studio’s audience (via Cartoon Research.) A version of the film received further attention in the late 1940s, where treatments were crafted for the story options, with Reynard made to be more likable and less criminal-like. It was here that the story was closest to being made, in contention with Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland to be the next animated feature produced by Disney (Cartoon Research.)

Ultimately, Disney’s Reynard never came to fruition. Eventually, financial hardship at the company, and Walt’s death, put an end to the Reynard concept (via Mouse Planet.) However, all was not lost for the Reynard character, as certain ideas that were intended for Reynard were recycled into a different fox character: 1973’s Robin Hood. The scene in Robin Hood where the titular character kisses Prince John’s hand, stealing all the jewels on his rings, was intended for a scene in the Reynard film (Cartoon Research.) Putting a Reynard reference in Disney Villains: Maleficent #1 is a big step for the character, with a film adaptation never entirely out of the question.

Disney Villains: Maleficent #1 is available now from Dynamite Entertainment.

Source: History, Etc

Source:Cartoon Research

Source: Mouse Planet