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Mal (Descendants)

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Mal
Descendants character
First appearanceDescendants (2015)
Last appearanceDescendants 3 (2019)
Created byJosann McGibbon
Portrayed byDove Cameron
Voiced byDove Cameron (Descendants: Wicked World)
Information
Full nameMaleficent Bertha[1]
NicknameM
SpeciesHuman
TitleLady of the Court
Queen of Auradon
OccupationStudent (Descendants and Descendants 2)
FamilyMaleficent
(mother)
Hades
(father)
SpouseBen
Age16 years old (Descendants)[2]

Amazon.com Logo.png Search Mal (Descendants) on Amazon.

Maleficent "Mal" Bertha is a fictional character who appears in the musical fantasy adventure-comedy Disney Channel Original Movies Descendants, Descendants 2 and Descendants 3. Mal first appears in Descendants as a teenager on the Isle of the Lost who likes causing mischief and tries her best to be evil. The franchise follows Mal as she is invited by then-Prince Ben (Mitchell Hope) to leave the dreadful Isle of the Lost, which Ben's father Beast (Dan Payne) put all the villains and sidekicks on for their crimes, and study at Auradon Prep among princesses and knights. In Descendants 3, Ben proposes to Mal, which she accepts, making her the future Queen of Auradon. In the franchise, Mal is the daughter of Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth) and Hades (Cheyenne Jackson). She is portrayed and voiced by Dove Cameron. The character's reception has generally been positive and Cameron has received praise for her portrayal.

Development[edit]

Casting[edit]

Dove Cameron portrays and voices Mal

Dove Cameron was announced to be part of the cast in 2014.[3] Cameron stated when she was not told that she was in talks for her role: "When I first read the script for Descendants, everything was top secret. The project was under wraps, so they didn't even tell me that they wanted me to audition! All they said to me was, 'Come to Disney Channel.' To be honest, I was petrified that I'd lost my job. I thought I'd done something wrong. I thought, 'Mickey's going to reprimand me.' But he didn't."[4]

Appearances[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Mal is the daughter of Maleficent and is selected along with Carlos, son of Cruella de Vil; Jay, son of Jafar and Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen to attend Auradon Prep, away from the Isle of the Lost. On the island, Maleficent instructs the quartet to steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand to release the barrier so she can take over Auradon.

Traveling to Auradon Preparatory, the four meet Prince Ben, son of Beast and Belle, and his self-proclaimed girlfriend Princess Audrey, daughter of Aurora. They also meet the Fairy Godmother, the school's headmistress. Evie uses her mother's pocket-sized magic mirror to locate the wand in a nearby museum, and Mal uses her mother's spinning wheel from the museum to put the security guard to sleep, but they fail to steal the wand due to a barrier around it. After learning that the Fairy Godmother will use the wand at Ben's coronation, the four wait it out by attending classes, but start to fit in with the students.

Mal becomes popular, using Maleficent's spell book to improve the looks of Jane and Lonnie, the daughters of the Fairy Godmother and Mulan, respectively. Jane in particular dislikes her looks, especially because her mother won't use her own magic to change them. Learning that Ben's "girlfriend" will be seated close to the wand during the coronation, which is used during the ceremony, Mal bakes a cookie laced with a love potion and gives it to Ben, who falls madly in love with her, much to the shock of his friends, particularly Audrey. On a date with Ben, Mal becomes conflicted with her growing inner goodness and desire to please her mother, unsure of how to react to Ben's feelings towards her. During the school's family day, the villains' children are ostracized after an encounter with Audrey's grandmother, Queen Leah, who hates Mal because Maleficent's curse was the reason she missed Aurora's childhood, prompting an argument that drives Mal to end the beauty spell she used on Jane. While Ben tries to reassure them that everything will be okay after the coronation, Doug tries to remain friendly towards Evie, but Chad forces him to distance himself from her.

At Ben's coronation, Mal gives him a brownie containing the love spell's antidote, believing it is unnecessary to keep him under the spell. It turns out, per Ben's admission, that he was already freed of the spell since their date when he went swimming in the Enchanted Lake, believing that Mal only did it because she really liked him. However, much to Mal's surprise, it turns out Ben has had feelings for her all along. During Ben's crowning, a disillusioned Jane grabs the wand from her mother, wanting to improve her beauty, only for her to accidentally destroy the Isle's barrier. Mal takes the wand from Jane, but torn over what to do, is encouraged by Ben to make her own choice rather than follow Maleficent's path. Mal recognizes that she and her friends found happiness in Auradon and they choose to be good.

Maleficent crashes the ceremony, freezing everyone except herself and the four villain children. When they defy her, Maleficent transforms into a dragon. Mal and her friends use a counterspell, turning Maleficent into a lizard, her tiny size based on the amount of love in her heart. Mal returns the Fairy Godmother her wand as she unfreezes everyone and tells her not to be hard on Jane. While the villains watch the celebration from afar, Auradon Prep's students party through the night. Mal's eyes turn green as she addresses the audience, telling them the story is not over yet.

Descendants: Wicked World[edit]

After Ben's coronation, the villain kids Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay settle in at being good while their villainous parents are still roaming the Isle of the Lost. The story goes deeper at the arrival of new villain kids, Freddie (Dr. Facilier's daughter), CJ (Captain Hook's daughter) and Zevon (Yzma's son).

Descendants 2[edit]

Mal struggles with her new celebrity life as the girlfriend of King Ben, putting a spell on her hair making it blonde, and uncomfortably maintaining a princess-like personality. She confides her issues in her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay, but they are content with their new lives in Auradon and do not wish to return to the Isle of the Lost. Evie scolds Mal for relying on her mother's spell book to solve her issues. Carlos, wishing to ask Jane to the upcoming Cotillion dance, turns to Mal for help with honesty. Mal gives him a sweet that will make him speak the truth, but his dog, Dude, eats it, magically speaking the blunt truth in English.

Ben eventually discovers Mal's reliance on magic, and she comes clean about her insecurities, causing a falling-out. Mal returns to the Isle, now ruled by her former rival Uma, Ursula's daughter, along with Harry and Gil, the sons of Captain Hook and Gaston. Mal visits hairstylist Dizzy Tremaine, Drizella's daughter, who restores her signature purple hair, saying she felt that Mal's blonde hair was unnatural. Harry discovers Mal's return and informs Uma.

Ben, Evie, Jay, and Carlos learn of Mal's departure and sneak onto the Isle to find her, but Gil recognizes them. Ben confronts Mal, who rejects his feelings for what she thought was both his sake and Auradon's. Ben leaves dejected, only to be captured by Uma. Mal and Uma arm wrestle for Ben and Fairy Godmother's wand, which Uma wins. Uma then orders Mal and her friends to retrieve the Fairy Godmother's wand or Ben dies. Carlos and Jay return to Auradon Prep, where they create a replica of the wand using a 3D printer. They are caught by Lonnie, Mulan's daughter, who blackmails them into letting her come, having previously been rejected from Jay's sports team based on her gender.

Uma speaks with Ben, bitter that she and the others were not chosen to go to Auradon. Ben takes this into account and invites her to Auradon, but Uma instead plots to make her own way there. Mal's group return, handing over the fake wand in exchange for Ben, but Uma realizes the forgery. The group flee back to Auradon, but Mal and Ben's relationship is still rocky. The villains' children come to terms that they cannot run from their pasts and agree to be honest with themselves and each other. Carlos confesses to Jane but struggles a little bit, while Jay appoints Lonnie as the captain of his team.

Aboard a ship during the Cotillion, Ben stuns everyone by appearing with Uma, who he declares as his true love and announces he will destroy the barrier on the Isle. Jane unveils a stained glass display Ben commissioned to show his affection for Mal, who realizes he loved her for who she was all along. Suspecting Uma has given him a love potion, Mal confesses her love for Ben and kisses him, breaking the spell. Enraged, Uma leaps into the water using Ursula's magic seashell to transform into an octopus, and Mal fights back as a dragon. Ben intervenes, quelling the battle, and Uma returns the ring that Ben had originally given her when he had declared her as his true love. She leaves, despite his offer still standing. Mal and Ben reunite, Mal surrendering her spell book to the Fairy Godmother.

Under the Sea: A Descendants Short Story[edit]

Mal discovers a glowing orb in a forest. She then meets Dizzy who is wearing a necklace that is possessed by Uma.

Descendants 3[edit]

Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos visit the Isle of the Lost to choose four new villain kids (VKs) to take to Auradon. They pick Dizzy, granddaughter of Lady Tremaine, Celia, daughter of Dr. Facilier, and Squeaky and Squirmy, the twin sons of Mr. Smee. The day the kids are to be picked up, Ben, Mal's boyfriend and the king of Auradon, proposes to her, and she accepts. Ben's ex-girlfriend Audrey seethes with jealousy, and her grandmother Queen Leah admonishes her for failing to secure the family legacy by marrying Ben.

When the barrier is opened for the new VKs, Hades, the god of the underworld, attempts to escape, but Mal beats him back in her dragon form. That night, unable to contain her jealousy of Mal, Audrey steals the Queen's Crown and Maleficent's Scepter from The Museum. The theft and Hades' escape attempt has the citizens panicking. Mal, as future Queen, decides the best way to protect the subjects and restore peace is to close the barrier permanently, meaning no new VKs can come, nor can anyone enter the Isle.

Audrey attacks Mal with Maleficent's scepter, turning her into an old hag. Mal and the other VKs go to the Isle to get Hades' ember, the only thing powerful enough to break the scepter's curse. Mal is restored upon entering the Isle due to the suppression of evil magic there. Celia gets Mal into Hades' lair, but he thwarts their effort to steal the ember. He is revealed to be Mal's absentee father and reluctantly gives her the ember, warning her that it mustn't get wet and will not exhibit its full powers for her. While leaving the Isle, Mal and the others are stopped by Uma, Gil, and Harry, who take the Ember. They agree to help after Mal agrees to release all the children from the Isle.

In Auradon, Audrey attacks Jane's birthday party with a sleeping curse; Chad aligns himself with Audrey, while Jane escapes into the Enchanted Lake. As the entire kingdom falls under Audrey's spell, she offers to reverse it if Ben will marry her; he refuses, so she turns him into a beast and begins turning people to stone. Mal and Uma, vying for leadership of the VKs, return to Auradon with their friends. Despite their bickering, they defeat suits of armor animated by Audrey. Uma finds Audrey's diary and learns that she spends time at Fairy Cottage, a contribution for which Mal thanks her. Evie, nervous to define her feelings for Doug, wakes him with "true love's kiss." After finding Ben in beast form, Carlos calmes him down until Jane restores him with lake water. As Mal and Uma are thawing towards each other, Audrey traps them in Evie's house; they reverse Audrey's spell by combining their magic, and they all reunite there.

At the Fairy Cottage, they find only a shell-shocked Chad. When Mal admits that she plans to seal off the Isle permanently, the group implodes and Celia, learning she can never see her father again, throws the ember in a birdbath, and Uma and Harry leave. After Evie tells Mal how upset she is for lying to her and their friends, they are all suddenly turned to stone, except for Mal. Audrey takes Celia hostage and attacks Mal, who turns into her dragon form. Realizing she is Mal's only hope, Uma combines their magic to reignite the ember; Mal overcomes Audrey, who falls comatose, and the curses are lifted. The ember could revive Audrey, but only in Hades' hands; Ben agrees to send for him, while Uma, Harry, Gil, and Celia plan to return to the Isle. Mal apologizes for lying; her friends and former rivals forgive her as they understood that she was just trying to do the right thing. Hades arrives and revives Audrey, but decries the double standard by which Audrey is immediately forgiven because she is not considered a villain. Mal and Ben apologize to Audrey; in response, Audrey apologizes to Mal.

Mal announces that she cannot be the Queen of Auradon unless she can also be the Queen of the Isle because everyone is capable of being good and bad and with Ben and the Fairy Godmother's agreement, Mal removes the barrier and creates a bridge, and the people of the newly merged society celebrate. Also, Jane and Carlos become official, Mal and Ben are engaged, and Audrey has eyes for Harry (after Uma rejects him).

In the mid-credits scene, Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos are seen looking at the Isle of the Lost; then racing across the bridge to their parents.

Characterisation[edit]

Outward appearance[edit]

In Descendants, Mal has curly bright purple hair[5] and green eyes with "flecks of gold"[6] which glow bright green whenever Mal is feeling strong emotion.[7][8] In Descendants 2, Mal uses a spell[9] to dye her hair blond[10] with purple ombré tips.[11] After she returns to the Isle of the Lost, Dizzy Tremaine dyes her hair back to its original purple colour[10] and restyles it so Mal's hair has bangs and is straight.[12] In Descendants 3, Mal's hair is dark purple and wavy.[13] After taking Hades' ember, Mal's hair has blue streaks.[14]

Personality[edit]

Mal is a sneaky, smart, and ruthless girl who is a natural-born leader.[15] In Descendants, as the daughter of Maleficent, she wants to be like her mother: pure evil.[16] She tries to prove herself by stealing, vandalising and bullying. Yet whenever she tries to prove herself to her mother, she often disappoints her instead.[17] She isn't fond of beautiful surroundings or anything pink, calling them gross.[18] Her "mean girl" facade is mostly an act as being evil is the only way she is respected by Maleficent, who never cared about Mal. Ben is the only person who sees through Mal's act (including herself), and saw her for who she was: a good person which leads to Mal realising it herself.[19] She also tends to be overly-sarcastic and has a strange love of mud.[20] In Descendants 2, Mal is lost due to her struggles of keeping up her reputation which prevent her from being herself.[15]

Magical abilities[edit]

Mal is able to cast spells like her mother using incantations and recitations which rhyme from her mother's spellbook.[21] Mal is also able to brew potions[22] and transform into a dragon.[23] Additionally, she is also able to use Hades' ember though it "won't do everything it does for [Hades]".[24][23]

Reception[edit]

Cameron also received praise for her portrayal. For example, The Hollywood Reporter said she had "star potential"[25] while New York Daily News praised her "winning performance".[26] Cameron also won a Kids' Choice Award for Favourite Movie Actress for her performance in Descendants 3 at the 2020 Kids' Choice Awards.[27]

References[edit]

  1. Descendants. July 31, 2015. My middle name is Bertha
  2. Descendants. July 31, 2015. I'm 16
  3. "Meet the Cast of Disney's Descendants". D23. June 16, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  4. Barton, Lindsay (June 6, 2017). "Dove Cameron Gets Real On Auditioning For The 'Descendants'". Tigerbeat. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  5. Rearick, Lauren (September 24, 2018). "Dove Cameron's Purple Hair Is Playing Tricks on My Eyes". Teen Vogue. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  6. Descendants. July 31, 2015. Did you ever notice those flecks of gold in your eyes?
  7. Wedemeyer, Amelia (April 19, 2017). "Disney References You Might Have Missed in Descendants". Oh My Disney. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  8. Genzlinger, Neil (July 20, 2017). "Review: In Disney's 'Descendants 2,' the Kids Are on Their Own". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  9. Descendants 2. July 21, 2017. Blond hair spell
  10. 10.0 10.1 Locke, Ashley (May 1, 2017). "11 Questions We Have After Watching the Descendants 2 Trailer". Sweety High. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  11. Freeze, Kellie (July 17, 2017). "'Descendants 2' Star Dove Cameron Answers 5 Questions and Shares Her Celeb Crush". TV Insider. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  12. Fernandez, Rachel (July 4, 2018). "6 Times Dove Cameron Rocked Her Purple 'Descendants' Hair". Tigerbeat. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  13. Gerard, Bella (August 20, 2019). "Dove Cameron Dyed Her Hair Light Purple & I Need To Copy It Now". Elite Daily. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  14. Descendants 3. August 2, 2019. You got a Hades thing going on
  15. 15.0 15.1 Sandwell, Ian (October 7, 2019). "Descendants 3 star Dove Cameron reflects on the end of the Disney series". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  16. Descendants. July 15, 2015. We are evil and vicious and ruthless and cruel.
  17. Descendants. July 31, 2015. Stealing candy, Mal? I'm so disappointed.
  18. Descendants. July 31, 2015. Gross
  19. Dzurillay, Julia (December 17, 2020). "Is Mal From Disney Channel's 'Descendants' a Demigod?". Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  20. "Careful What You Wish For". Descendants: Wicked World. Season 1. Episode 4. October 9, 2015. Disney Channel. Liking mud isn't an isle thing. It's a Mal thing.
  21. Li, Shirley (July 31, 2015). "'Descendants' react: Did the Disney Channel tale about junior villains cast a spell?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  22. Thomas, Angelo (July 22, 2017). "'Descendants 2' Review". Rotoscopers. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Swift, Andy (August 3, 2019). "Descendants 3: Did the Disney Channel Trilogy End on a High Note? Grade It!". TVLine. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  24. Descendants 3. August 2, 2019. You're only half-Hades. The ember won't do everything it does for me.
  25. Amatangelo, Ay (July 28, 2015). "'Descendants': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  26. Hinckley, David (July 31, 2015). ""Descendants" review: Fun Disney TV movie takes up the tale of famous villains' kids". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  27. Dinges, Gary (May 2, 2020). "Kids' Choice Awards: See who took home top honors in major categories". USA TODAY. Retrieved January 12, 2021.


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