Hero Overview

Call me a schemer, call me a freak, how can you say that, I'm just... unique!
~ Mal singing "Rotten to the Core"
We are not our parents!
~ Mal to her fellow VKs

Maleficent Bertha also known as Mal is the main protagonist of the Descendants franchise. She is the daughter of Hades and Maleficent and the love interest of Ben.

She was portrayed by Dove Cameron, who also portrays both Liv and Maddie Rooney in Liv and Maddie.

Appearance

Mal is described as a girl with dark purple hair with highlights of lighter shades of purple that is curly and reaches a little bit over her shoulders. She has green eyes with "flecks of gold" and is of medium height. She mostly wears purple and shades of green during the movie. At Ben's coronation, she wears a lavender dress that is short on the front but long and regal looking on the back. Mal had her hair tied up in a top knot. According to Descendants: Isle of the Lost, she has a dragon-shaped marking on her arm, the symbol of Maleficent.

Personality

In the first movie, Mal is rebellious, determined, sarcastic, manipulative, and indifferent. She is focused on her goal of getting the wand and breaking the barrier. A lot of her character is hinged on, "she's evil because of her mother." Stealing the wand is her only focus, as everything we see her do revolves around getting the wand. She doesn't really care who she has to hurt in order to complete this goal. While her friends Evie, Jay, and Carlos are participating in Auradon activities and making friends, Mal doesn't do that, nor does she support anything that her friends are doingShe manipulates Ben with a spell, causing him to fall in love with her. She also manipulated Jane into thinking that they were friends and that Jane was worthless if she wasn't pretty, all to get information so that she could get the wand. Eventually, Mal decides to rebel against her mother and find her own path in sunny, clean Auradon instead of the poverty-ridden, trash-covered Isle.

In the second movie, Mal is conflicted, manipulative, controlling, flighty, selfish, determined, vindictive, and petty. She likes being in Auradon and being Ben's girlfriend, but not the responsibilities that come with those things. Mal complains about these things to Evie and Carlos without ever thinking about how they're doing. She also invalidates Carlos' trauma from the Isle by rolling her eyes at him. She constantly uses magic for every problem that she encounters, including on her own boyfriend, Ben. There is no way to tell how many times she had erased his memory. After Ben calls her out on her manipulative behavior, she runs away to the Isle without telling anyone, or even having the decency to break up with Ben. She is still determined, as shown with her focus on beating Uma, her old rival. Her fixation on this also shows her pettiness and vindictive nature. Mal still has not let go of whatever grudge she has against Uma. Eventually Mal does return to Auradon, but only because she didn't want Uma coming after her. As soon as Mal sees Uma at Cotillion, she's ready to bolt again, despite the fact that her actions absolutely warranted Ben to leaving her and finding someone else. Mal only seems to care about Ben again after seeing the window, which proved that he "loved the real her."

In the third movie, Mal is irrational, selfish, stubborn, power-hungry, and legitimately homicidal. She decides to close the barrier to the Isle forever, which will hinder any supplies from getting to the Isle, meaning that every person there will die. Closing the barrier doesn't even solve the problem that Mal was trying to solve, that of the musuem theft, which wasn't even perpetrated by an Isle resident. She manipulates her friends and the Sea Three to help her stop the Queen of Mean, and nearly bites Uma's head off numerous times only because Uma wants to make some decisions. At the end of the movie, she "redeems herself" by taking down the barrier only when her lack of compassion is making her look bad. This action actually puts the entire kingdom of Auradon in danger as well as lets Evie, Jay, and Carlos' abusive parents stir up trauma for them.

Throughout the three movies, Mal goes from evil, to "good", to evil, to "good", to committing genocide, to "good" again. It's a fair assumption that she'll return to her evil ways after D3 as soon as an advantageous opportunity comes along.

History

Descendants

Mal is the only daughter of Maleficent, and was raised to be her protege. Mal was surprised when her mother told her and the three other villain kids, Evie, Jay, and Carlos, that they're moving to another school, Auradon Prep. Maleficent eventually convinces Mal to go and steal Fairy Godmother's wand. Mal convinces her friends to come with her.

They first try and steal the wand from the museum without a plan. They almost got caught when Jay activated the alarm, but they escape because of Carlos' quick thinking. The Core Four continue to attend Auradon Prep and try to come up with a new plan to get the wand. Mal decides to befriend Jane, Fairy Godmother's daughter, in order to get information. Jane is very shy and self-concious about the way she looks. Mal wastes no time in exploiting those insecurities to get information. Jane tells Mal that Fairy Godmother's wand will be used at Ben's coronation.

Ben later tells the VKs that his girlfriend gets to sit in the front row at the coronation, so Mal decides to spell Ben into falling in love with her. The spell causes Ben to admit his love for Mal through an elaborate musical number at a Tourney game in front of two schools. Audrey, Ben's girlfriend, is embarrassed and humiliated. Audrey breaks up with Ben and gets a new boyfriend just to cover how hurt she is.

Ben presents Mal to his parents as his new girlfriend, much to their shock, on Family Day, when all the students' parents come and visit. When Mal meets Audrey's grandmother Queen Leah, Leah mistakes her for Maleficent because she looks so much like her mother. Ben tries to defuse the situation at Family Day, but things get worse when Chad gets involved. Frustrated by the mockery, the VKs run away. The next day, Jane and Audrey make some mean comments about the VKs, and Mal removes Jane's magical "makeover" that she had given her.

Ready to carry out their plan, Mal says that she wants to break the love spell. She makes a brownie with her spell book open to the page, "How To Break A Love Spell." However, the anti-love spell that we see is not a potion and has no cooking process, so the brownie might have been a completely separate thing from the anti-love spell. Ultimately it is unclear if the brownie is an anti-love spell, or even if she actually went through with breaking the love spell.

However, Ben reveals that he hadn't actually been spelled since his and Mal's first date at the Enchanted Lake, which has enchanted water that undid the spell. However, the fact that the spell was broken does not absolve Mal of the moral implications of what she did. She was perfectly okay with the idea of controlling Ben and his feelings.

At the coronation, Jane takes the wand to make herself beautiful, because Mal's bullying and toxic/fake friendship convinced her that she was worth nothing if she didn't fit conventional standards of beauty. However, Jane accidentally removes the barrier from the Isle of the Lost, thus making it possible for all the villains to invade Auradon.

Mal then takes the wand from Jane, and Ben believes that she wanted to give it back. However, Mal threatens everyone with the wand. Ben convinces her to give the wand back by telling her that he's following his heart. Mal realizes that she enjoys being in Auradon, and that Ben loves her. Mal gives the wand back to Fairy Godmother, but Maleficent breaks in and freezes everyone, then takes the wand. Maleficent transforms into a dragon when Mal doesn't want to go with her. Mal says a spell and turns Maleficent into a lizard, which would not have been possible without Evie, Jay, and Carlos. At the end of the movie, she celebrated with Ben and all of the other students of Auradon. At the very end, she tells us the story isn't over.

Descendants 2

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 tries to convince Evie, Jay, and Carlos that they should go back to being evil, but they are content with their new lives in Auradon and do not wish to return to the Isle of the Lost and dredge up their trauma. Evie tells Mal that she should stop using magic to solve every little problem that she has. 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, and now magically speaks the blunt truth in English.

During their picnic date, Ben discovers Mal's reliance on magic, and she tries to cast a spell on him instead of taking responsibility for her actions, 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. 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, angry that the Core Four got to go to Auradon while the rest of the Isle kids were left to rot in false imprisonment and poverty when they had done literally nothing wrong. Ben takes this into account and invites her to Auradon, but Uma refuses the exclusive invitation. She refuses to leave anyone behind. Mal's group returns, handing over the fake wand in exchange for Ben, but Uma realizes the forgery. The group flees back to Auradon, but Mal and Ben's relationship is still rocky, and Mal isn't the happiest about being back in Auradon. 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 on her behalf. 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. Evie requests that Dizzy be allowed to attend Auradon Prep; when Dizzy is offered, she excitedly accepts.

Descendants 3

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 proposes to her, and she accepts. Ben's ex-girlfriend Audrey is hurt and hurt about this, and her grandmother Queen Leah admonishes her and basically tells her that she's worthless because she failed to secure the family legacy by marrying Ben, despite the fact that none of it is Audrey's fault.

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 overcome her feelings of worthlessness, Audrey steals the Queen's Crown and Maleficent's Scepter from The Museum. The theft and Hades' escape attempt has the citizens panicking. Belle and Beast look to Mal, as future Queen, to decide the best way to protect the subjects and restore peace. Instead of placing Hades in a more secure location or increasing security at the museum and the Isle, Mal decides to close the barrier permanently, meaning no new VKs can come, nor can anyone enter the Isle. This also means that no supplies can reach the Isle, so everyone on the Island will die from starvation in a matter of months. Mal decides that this will solve all of their problems because they won't have to deal with villains anymore.

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 lies to them and says that she will release all the children from the Isle.

Mal lies to Evie about who came up with the plan to close the barrier. Although we don't see it, we can assume that Mal lied to Jay and Carlos as well. Audrey then 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 refuses to let Uma have any power within the group as they all return to Auradon. Despite Mal's stubbornness, 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 calms 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 Ben is about to reveal the fact that Mal has been lying the whole time, she 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, telling Mal that they shouldn't have expected anything other than betrayal from her. 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. Instead of trying to help her friends, Mal sings a song about her life story and how great she is. She begs Uma and Harry for help, but they refuse her because she is still going to close the barrier, so they know she doesn't actually care about them.

Audrey takes Celia hostage and attacks Mal, who turns into her dragon form. Realizing she is Celia's only hope, Uma combines her magic with Mal's to reignite the ember, Audrey is defeated and 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 so that they can protect their people as best they can. Mal apologizes for lying; her friends and former rivals forgive her despite the fact that she is still going to condemn thousands of people, including Uma, Harry, Gil, and Celia, to wrongful imprisonment, poverty, and eventually death. Hades arrives and revives Audrey, but reveals the double standard by which Audrey is immediately forgiven because she is not considered a villain. Audrey apologizes to Mal and Ben; in response, Mal and Ben admit they owe Audrey an apology but don't actually apologize.

Mal announces that she cannot be the Queen of Auradon unless she can also be the Queen of the Isle, despite the fact that she was planning on killing all of the people on the Isle. With Ben and the Fairy Godmother's non-verbal, last-second agreement, Mal removes the barrier and creates a bridge. The people of the newly merged society celebrate.

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.

Trivia

  • Her name means "bad" in Spanish, French and Portuguese.
  • In the film, it's revealed that her middle name is "Bertha."
    • In the Spanish version, her middle name is "Igna", making her full name Mal Igna, a wordplay for Malign. In Latin, "Igna" also means fire.
  • Mal, Jay, Evie, Carlos, Ben and Jane are the only characters to appear in every installment of the Descendants franchise.
    • She is also one of the twelve characters (Evie, Jay, Carlos, Ben, Jane, Doug, Chad, Belle, Beast, Fairy Godmother and Dude) to appear in all three Descendants movies.
  • Dove Cameron wore wigs during both filming. At the beginning of the sequel, Dove said in an interview that she was wearing a blonde wig in the beginning of the sequel since Mal had spelled her hair to blonde.
  • In the first film, when Mal tries to save Ben from drowning, it is revealed that she cannot swim.
  • At the time of the first film, she was sixteen years old.
  • Mal has the most common sense out of her friends, as she got every answer in Remedial Goodness right by picking the answer that sounded the least fun for villains.
  • During her picnic with Ben, she is shown to develop a fondness of strawberries.
  • She loves the color purple, though in All Hail the New Q.N.L.B. Evie describes it more as an aubergine while Freddie disagrees, saying it looks like eggplant and Audrey states it looks more like amethyst.
  • Mal's main color is purple, symbolizing power, which is a recurring theme with her mother Maleficent.  
  • During the film, whenever Mal is around Ben, her hair seems shorter and lighter.
  • The dress she wears for Ben's coronation appears to be adaptable.
  • In the prequel book, it is revealed she had a dream set near the Enchanted Lake, where Ben and Mal eventually go to on their date.
  • The junior novelization and prequel book reveal some additional details about her.
    • Her full name is Maleficent, like her mother. However, she is called Mal until she can prove to be just as evil as her mother.
    • She used to despise Evie because she was not invited to Evie's sixth birthday party. She even attempted to use Maleficent's staff to curse her.
    • She found her mother's staff locked in the ruins of the Forbidden Fortress. Unfortunately it was no longer working, so Maleficent charged her with stealing the Fairy Godmother's wand to recharge it.
    • She attended Dragon Hall (an evil high school), while on the Isle of the Lost.
    • Unlike Evie, Jay, and Carlos, she does not have a pet. The reason for this is that she was not invited to Evie's sixth birthday party, where the other children received the villain's pets' descendants as gifts.
    • She had a human father, who is regarded by Maleficent with contempt.
    • She steals from the Slop Shop every day since her mother never has food in the kitchen.
    • In the Disney Descendants Yearbook, it's revealed that her "Secret Wish" is to learn how to swim and that her "Not-so-secret Wish" is to have a different middle name.
    • It's also revealed that she wants to be an artist when she grows up.
    • Her favorite class is "Remedial Goodness 101", stating that she just thinks of what her mom would do and pick the opposite.
    • Her "Go-To" Object at the museum is her mother's magic spinning wheel. Stating that even though it's boring-looking, it's spooky that a few pieces of wood could put someone to sleep for a hundred years.
    • In the scene when the gang makes cookies, many questions were asked about how it would work if they added an extra ingredient.
  • In early concept designs of her outfits, she was originally meant to have shorter hair.
  • Dove Cameron, Thomas Doherty and Kenny Ortega came up with a "backstory" for Mal and Harry Hook. However, this "backstory" is not mentioned by any of the characters throughout the film but can be perceived through the character's interaction. In this "backstory", it's revealed that Harry and Mal used to date. Dove and Thomas even drew secret hook tattoos under their gloves. (It's more like a "fanfiction" than a "backstory" that Dove, Thomas, and Kenny jokingly made and should not be taken as being true).
    • Interesting enough, this was the start of Dove Cameron and Thomas Doherty's relationship together.
    • However this "backstory" isn't really true to the story because it directly contrast Descendants when Mal says she doesn't know what love feels like and that they don't date on the Isle.
    • Despite what Dove Cameron says about Harry and Mal being exes, this never happened in the books and it's not confirmed in the movies.
  • Mal never admitted to loving Ben, until the Royal Cotillion nearly six months into their relationship. It is also suggested by Jane and Lonnie that the ascending of Mal to a Lady, deems her and Ben being engaged to being engaged to be married. However, she has admitted that she was excited and couldn't wait until she married Ben.
  • She can turn into a dragon-like her mother, but she didn't know she could. She isn't the only VK with an ability of this nature, for Uma can turn into a sea creature like her own mother Ursula. Mal even uses this ability against Uma's own version.
  • Mal and Ben are each others' True Love being revealed after Mal breaks Uma's Love Spell on Ben by using True Loves Kiss.
  • Mal, Evie, Ben, Uma, Audrey and Freddie are the only characters to have solos.
  • Mal, Ben, Uma and Audrey are the only ones with more than one solo.
  • Mal is technically classified as an evil pixie and is the only non-human out of the 4 VK's - according to one post Dove Cameron made on Instagram.
  • In some media, Maleficent's last name is Faery (another spelling for "Fairy" in some cultures) if this is true then it is possible that Faery is Mal's last name as well.
  • In an earlier draft of the script, Mal's name was originally Claudia.
  • Mal is the only VK who has both her parents (Maleficent and Hades) revealed.
  • Mal's name, along with Ben's, could be a play on the words "malevolent" -- meaning "having or showing a wish to do evil to others" -- and "benevolent," meaning "well meaning and kindly."
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