(This article contains spoilers for Disney’s “Cruella” starring Emma Stone)
Disney’s “Cruella” is just different. Not necessarily bad, and definitely a little bit mad — and, just like its fellow villain origin stories, it takes full advantage of its ability to take certain liberties with “101 Dalmations” villain Cruella de Vil’s origin story.
In this story, Cruella is still a bad guy, but not the puppy-killing kind — at least not yet. We first meet her as an infant, born with her infamous two-tone hair. We follow her through childhood, learning that she was — unsurprisingly — a bit of a wild child in school.
And as it so happens, this younger version of Cruella actually has a soft spot for puppies, rescuing one from a dumpster at school and keeping him with her into adulthood.
As she grows up, she is forced to find her way in the world, eventually falling in with Jasper and Horace and becoming a common criminal. But in this telling, Jasper has his own soft spot for Cruella (who he first meets as Estella) and sets her up with a stepping stone to her dream job.
By the end of the film Cruella isn’t quite the terrifying villain we know, but she’s well on her way, and there’s plenty of room for a sequel, should Emma Stone want to play the iconic fashionista one more time. So, does “Cruella” have a post-credits scene that tees up a sequel? Is Disney going to give this famous baddie the “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” treatment?
While we can’t speak much to that possibility, indeed, the movie does have a bonus scene — though technically, it’s a mid-credits scene — but it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to set up another standalone film for the villainess. It actually seems to directly up the events of “101 Dalmatians.”
When the first trailers for “Cruella” started dropping, many questioned how exactly those famous dogs would tie in, if the movie was supposed to tell the story of her pre-puppy killing days. Well, as it turns out, those Dalmatians belong to Emma Thompson’s character, The Baroness. She had trained them to attack on command, siccing them on Cruella’s mother early in the film using a dog whistle.
When Cruella meets the Baroness as a young woman, she spots the necklace that her mother always wore, and had promised would be passed down to Cruella, as a family heirloom. In an attempt to steal it back, one of the Dalmatians swallows the necklace, and so comes Cruella’s first dognapping.
Apparently, the dogs got real friendly with Cruella and Horace’s own pups, and the movie ends with Horace pointing out that Genghis — one of the Dalmatians, all three of which Cruella kept after getting the Baroness arrested — has put on weight. Sweet Horace.
No, Genghis hasn’t put on weight, she’s pregnant. In the post-credits scene we learn that Cruella has gifted two of Genghis’s pups — one to Anita, and one to Roger. Each person gets a card, introducing them to Perdita and Pongo respectively.
And obviously, we know those names. They’re the dogs that eventually bring Anita and Roger together in the park, and kick off the events of “101 Dalmatians.”
So there’s one big catch here: the Cruella we meet here is not really at the level of the mustache-twirling villain that we know from “101 Dalmations.” That implies two big possibilities. First, Disney could be leaving itself room for a sequel that brings Emma Stone’s Cruella more fully in line with the Cruella that we know.
Or they might be setting up a live-action remake of “101 Dalmations” in the vein of “Maleficent.” That film was a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” in which the evil witch is actually just misunderstood and not really the monster that people thought she was, and it’s not too difficult to imagine, in this age of live-action Disney remakes, them trying something similar with Cruella.