Who Are The Villains In Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio?

Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio" is not your classic take on a familiar tale, as the stop-motion musical fantasy will be tinted with the director's trademark twists. The project has been in development hell for quite some time and has finally been set back on track, allowing del Toro to actualize his unique vision concerning the classic fairy tale. While the original Disney film also had dark elements, del Toro's version is expected to be more complex, as the question of what makes someone "human" is being tackled with great nuance here.

According to an exclusive report on "Pinocchio" by Vanity Fair, the upcoming animated film will be touching on everything "freakish" and "unnatural," which is in line with del Toro's treatment of such subject matters in his offerings, including "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Shape of Water."

Del Toro tells VF about the titular character's immediate comparisons with Frankenstein's "monster," in which both figures are children "thrown into the world ... created by a father who then expects them to figure out what's good, what's bad, the ethics, the morals, love, life, and essentials, on their own." The parallels are fitting, as Pinocchio is more than a wooden child yearning to transform into a human, as there is great pathos in his arc as a whole.

However, what about the real monsters, who aim to take advantage of the boy's naivete for their own ends? Here's a look into the villains in del Toro's "Pinocchio," who share similarities with the classic villains in the Disney version, yet are quite different in their own right.

The cat, the fox, and the puppeteer

In the 1940 animated Disney film, Honest John (voiced by Walter Catlett) and Gideon (voiced by Mel Blanc) are the primary antagonists, who are essentially con men known for running heinous schemes for money. The duo notices a poster featuring an upcoming event by the puppeteer Stromboli and Pinocchio going about his way shortly after, which spurs them to hatch an evil plan which involves selling Pinocchio to Stromboli.

The fox and the cat are as manipulative as it gets, as they use their scheming ways to entrap Pinocchio into thinking that the life of an actor is a glamorous one. Even after their plan was thwarted the first time, they manage to swindle Pinocchio again (and again), eventually succeeding in selling the boy to the puppet master. Even after Pinocchio is able to run away from the cruel puppeteer, the fox and the cat do not give up on their schemes to get rich quickly.

Stromboli is another obvious villain, as he is a cruel puppeteer who treats his puppets poorly, going as far as to lock Pinocchio in a cage and mock his misery. While Stromboli is human, he lacks empathy and kindness, begging the question — is it enough to look like a human to be considered humane at all? The events in the film point towards a "no."

Meet Count Volpe, the mega-villain

The villains in del Toro's "Pinocchio" are more condensed, as the primary antagonist of the film is Count Volpe (voiced by Christoph Waltz), who is described as "a grand aristocrat that has fallen into misfortune." While he is not a fox, his sideburns are designed to mimic a fox's ears, which might be a glimpse into his sly, deceptive nature and his role in entrapping the boy into signing an exploitative contract.

Del Toro tells VF that Volpe is the amalgamation of the fox, the cat, and the puppeteer, and grants insight into the new antagonist:

"The three main villains in the original story are the cat, the fox, and the puppeteer, and we wanted to fuse them into one. This is a puppeteer that has regaled the courts of Europe, and now is traveling in a down and dirty little carnival. In Pinocchio, he finds the hope to be a king, again, you know? To recreate his grand, golden years."

Volpe's dream of rising back to power would obviously entail the cruel treatment of his puppets, which includes his lead puppeteer, a monkey named Spazaturra (voiced by Cate Blanchett), who remains loyal to Volpe despite his terrible behavior.

Minor antagonists also include Rol Perlman's podesta, who sees Pinocchio as a potential soldier. Seriously, leave the boy alone.

Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio" is expected to premiere on Netflix sometime in December 2022.