Big Bad Wolf

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For other uses, see Big Bad Wolf (disambiguation).
A depiction of the Big Bad Wolf with Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Doré.

The Big Bad Wolf is a fictional wolf appearing in several precautionary folkloric stories, including some of Aesop's Fables and Grimms' Fairy Tales. Versions of this character have appeared in numerous works, and has become a generic archetype of a menacing predatory antagonist, sometimes referred to as the Big Bad.

Interpretations[edit]

Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, the Russian tale Peter and the Wolf, reflect the theme of the ravening wolf and of the creature released unharmed from its belly, but the general theme of restoration is very old.

The dialog between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood has its analogies to the Norse Þrymskviða from the Elder Edda; the giant Þrymr had stolen Mjölner, Thor's hammer, and demanded Freyja as his bride for its return. Instead, the gods dressed Thor as a bride and sent him. When the giants note Thor's unladylike eyes, eating, and drinking, Loki explains them as Freyja not having slept, or eaten, or drunk, out of longing for the wedding.[1]

Folklorists and cultural anthropologists such as P. Saintyves and Edward Burnett Tylor saw Little Red Riding Hood in terms of solar myths and other naturally occurring cycles, stating that the wolf represents the night swallowing the sun, and the variations in which Little Red Riding Hood is cut out of the wolf's belly represent the dawn.[2] In this interpretation, there is a connection between the wolf of this tale and Skoll or Fenris, the wolf in Norse mythology that will swallow the sun at Ragnarök.[3]

Ethologist Dr. Valerius Geist of the University of Calgary, Alberta wrote that the fable was likely based on genuine risk of wolf attacks at the time. He argues that wolves were in fact dangerous predators, and fables served as a valid warning not to enter forests where wolves were known to live, and to be on the look out for such. Both wolves and wilderness were treated as enemies of humanity in that region and time.[4]

Folkloric appearances[edit]

Aesop's Fables[edit]

Grimm's Fairy Tales[edit]

English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs[edit]

Disney's version[edit]

Big Bad Wolf
Zeke midas wolf.jpg
Disney's version of the Big Bad Wolf.
First appearance Three Little Pigs (May 27, 1933)
Created by Larry White
Billy Bletcher (1933-1941)
Jim Cummings (2001-2003)
Sam Edwards (early 1960s)
Tony Pope (1988)
Information
Aliases Zeke Midas Wolf (real name).

The Big Bad Wolf, also known as Zeke Wolf or Br'er Wolf, was a fictional character from Walt Disney's animation Three Little Pigs, directed by Burt Gillett and first released on May 27, 1933. The Wolf's voice was provided by Billy Bletcher. As in the folktale, he was a cunning and threatening menace. The short also introduced the Wolf's theme song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", written by Frank Churchill.

The Wolf normally wears a top hat, red pants, green suspenders and white gloves. He doesn't wear a shirt and is barefoot. The Wolf has a taste for disguising himself, but both the audience and the Practical Pig could easily see through the Wolf's disguises. With each successive short, the Wolf exhibits a fondness for dressing in drag, and even "seduces" Fiddler and Fifer Pigs (who become more and more clueless as to his disguises with each installment) with such disguises as "Goldilocks the Fairy Queen", Little Bo Peep, and a mermaid.

In an interview with Melvyn Bragg in the early 1980s, the British actor Laurence Olivier said that Disney's Big Bad Wolf was supposedly based on a widely detested American theatre director and producer called Jed Harris. When Olivier produced a film version of Shakespeare's Richard III, he based some of his mannerisms on Harris, and his physical appearance on the wolf.

The short was so popular that Walt Disney produced several sequels, which also featured the Wolf as the villain. The first of them was named after him: The Big Bad Wolf, also directed by Burt Gillett and first released on April 14, 1934. In the next of the sequels, Three Little Wolves (1936), he was accompanied by three just-as-carnivorous sons. (These three sons were later reduced to just one who, in contrast to his father, was full of goodness and charm and a friend of the three little pigs.) The fourth cartoon featuring the Three Little Pigs and the Wolf, The Practical Pig, was released in 1939. During World War II, a final, propaganda cartoon followed, produced by The National Film Board of Canada: The Thrifty Pig (1941).

At the end of each short, the Wolf is dealt with by the resourceful thinking and hard work of Practical Pig. In the original short, he falls into a boiling pot prepared by the pigs. In The Big Bad Wolf, Practical pours popcorn and hot coals down his pants. In the final two shorts, Practical invents an anti-Wolf contraption to deal with the Wolf, who is shown to be powerless against the marvels of modern technology. The "Wolf Pacifier" in Three Little Wolves entraps him, chases him with a buzz-saw, hits his head with rolling pins, kicks him in the butt with boots, punches his face with boxing gloves, and finally tars and feathers him before firing him out of a cannon, all accomplished automatically and in time to a version of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?". In The Practical Pig, the wolf falls into Practical Pig's trap and is subjected to the Lie Detector, which washes his mouth out with soap, whacks his hands with rulers, or pulls down his pants and spanks him when he tells a lie. The machine's punishment grows harsher and harsher the more he lies, until it is finally spinning him around, smacking his head and scrubbing his bottom. When he finally tells the truth, he is shot away by a rocket stuck up his shirt. The Wolf also appeared in Mickey's Polo Team, directed by David Hand and first released on January 4, 1936. The short featured a game of Polo between four of Disney's animated characters (one of whom was the Wolf) and four animated caricatures of noted film actors.

In 1936 Disney's Wolf came to Sunday newspaper comics, which were reformatted and reprinted in the monthly Walt Disney's Comics and Stories in 1941. They were popular enough there that a demand for new Wolf comics arose. From 1945, the original WDC&S series Li'l Bad Wolf nominally starred Big Bad's good little cub, but "Pop" repeatedly stole the spotlight. Carl Buettner, Gil Turner and Jack Bradbury were among the noted creators to work on the series in its early years, with Buettner giving Big Bad his proper name of Zeke (1946) and Turner supplying his middle name of Midas (1949).

In the comics, Big Bad generally wants his son to become a bad guy like himself; but, unlike the three little wolves who appeared in the shorts, the gentle Li'l Bad Wolf does not live up to his father's expectations. Indeed, Li'l Bad is friends with the Pigs, Thumper, and other forest characters whom the comics portray as Zeke's intended prey. Today, new Disney wolf comics continue to be created around the world. A running gag in the comics typically comes when in trying to catch the Pigs, Zeke runs afoul of Br'er Bear, who ends up pounding "Br'er Wolf" for one offense or another. Another gag is that Br'er/Zeke Wolf never succeeds at anything-once he actually caught a duck for dinner but it ended up tasting awful and later he ended up with a whole pack of ducks-which turn out to be mud hens![5]

The Wolf made a couple of brief cameo appearances in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (in one instance, he was wearing a sheep costume and mask which he instantly stripped off to reveal his true wolfish features). He was voiced by Tony Pope in this one (who was perhaps well known for providing the voice of the original Furby).

In Magical Tetris Challenge, Zeke is one of Pete's henchmen, along with Weasel and is the boss you fight before Pete, the final boss. His levels theme seems to be a disco remix, with him wearing a purple top hat with a matching tailcoat, white dress shirt, red bow tie, purple trousers and brown Oxfords.

In recent years the Big Bad Wolf has been a recurring character in Disney's House of Mouse, where he is voiced by Jim Cummings. His first appearance on this show featured him as a jazz artist called "Big Bad Wolf Daddy" (a parody of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), performing a swing version of his song with the Pigs as his backup band (they are under a contract that states he will eat them if they do not play for him). In this episode, his tendency to destroy houses by exhaling is shown to be an allergy-like reaction to the sight of a door. Later appearances on House of Mouse, however, returned the Wolf to his more traditional role; one episode even featured a newly made short starring the character, based on the aforementioned Li'l Bad Wolf comic stories.

Apart from TV appearances, Zeke Wolf was one of the villains in the direct-to-video Mickey's House of Villains; he also appeared in Mickey's Christmas Carol, dressed as a streetcorner Santa Claus, and in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. As a walkaround costumed character, Zeke also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for meet-and-greets, parades and shows.

Zeke Wolf also appeared in The Kingdom Keepers series, in the fourth book, Power Play, where he appeared non anthropomorphized. In the book, he attempted to eat Pluto and the main characters, Finn and Amanda. He ends up falling into the Rivers of America.

Li'l Bad Wolf[edit]

Li'l Bad Wolf (or just Li'l Wolf as referred to by his friends) is Zeke 'Big Bad' Wolf's son. In spite of his name, Li'l Bad Wolf wants to be a good little wolf; badness is really the domain of his father. Zeke wants his son to be just as bad as he is, but the kindhearted (or, at worst, naive) Li'l Wolf, despite wanting to please his father, cannot bring himself to do others harm. Even worse for Zeke, Li'l Wolf's best friends are the Three Little Pigs themselves, and he constantly saves them from his father's appetite. Despite disappointing his father, Zeke Wolf was shown to be very fond of his son, and Li'l Wolf of his father.

Li'l Wolf debuted in his own self-titled series, beginning in the comic book Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #52 (1945). The feature ran regularly through 1957, when it temporarily moved to the back pages of Mickey Mouse. Li'l Wolf returned to Comics and Stories in 1961, after which he continued to appear there frequently through 2008. Li'l Wolf has in fact starred in more issues of Comics and Stories than any other character except for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Apart from Comics and Stories and Mickey Mouse, Li'l Wolf has also appeared in many different Disney anthology comic books, including a number of giant-size specials and a series of one-page text stories in Donald Duck.

From 2003-2008, reflecting a trend initiated in European Disney comics, Zeke Wolf increasingly often featured as the title character in new stories himself, although Li'l Wolf continued to play a minor role.

Li'l Wolf's first animated appearance was in the Raw Toonage short "The Porker's Court". However, he later appeared, in a more traditional role, in a self-titled short on Disney's House of Mouse. The voice for the animated Li'l Wolf in House of Mouse was provided by Andrew Lawrence. Li'l Wolf is not to be confused with the Three Little Wolves, Big Bad Wolf's three mischievous sons who appeared in the cartoon shorts The Three Little Wolves and The Practical Pig, although he closely resembles them.

MGM/Tex Avery's Big Bad Wolf[edit]

Created by animation director Tex Avery, this variation of the Big Bad Wolf's cartoons included many sexual overtones, violence, and very rapid gags, and never became as popular as the Disney incarnation, but was more popular with an older crowd (especially soldiers in World War II).

After debuting in Blitz Wolf (1942)—as Adolf Wolf, the Three Pigs' Hitler-like foe—the Avery Wolf returned as a Hollywood swinger in Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), memorably aroused by Red's song and dance performance. Further girl-chasing roles came to the Wolf in Wild and Wolfy, Swing Shift Cinderella and Little Rural Riding Hood; simultaneously, the Wolf was used as foe against Avery's Droopy, a role he would keep into the 1950s. He would later reprise the role in the "Droopy and Dripple" segments of Hanna-Barbera's Tom & Jerry Kids (1990).

The Avery Wolf was voiced by Bill Thompson (Blitz Wolf), Frank Graham (Dumb-Hounded, Red Hot Riding Hood, The Shooting of Dan McGoo, Swing Shift Cinderella, Northwest Hounded Police), Kent Rogers (One Ham's Family), Paul Frees (Wild and Woolfy), Daws Butler (Little Rural Riding Hood, Drag-a-Long Droopy), Frank Welker (Tom and Jerry Comedy Show', Tom and Jerry Kids, Droopy Master Detective) and John DiMaggio (Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse).

The Avery Wolf's actual name has varied over time. It was seldom given in the 1940s, but a 1945 studio announcement called him Wally Wolf.[6] In modern-day appearances, the Wolf's name is often given as Slick Wolf or McWolf.

The Avery Wolf was referenced in the film The Mask (1994), when Stanley/The Mask (performed by Jim Carrey) briefly transforms into him while watching Tina Carlyle perform in a Red Hot Riding Hood-like performance, howling and whistling at her and then banging his head with a mallet. The Mask also changes into his wolf-like form on occasion in the spin-off animated series of the same name, particularly in the animated crossover featuring Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Nu Pogodi![edit]

In the Soviet animated series Nu Pogodi, the wolf, commonly translated into English as Volk (Russian: Волк), is portrayed as a hooligan who eagerly turns to vandalism, abuses minors, breaks laws and is a heavy smoker. His adventures revolve around constant failures to capture a Hare. On the other hand, many of Wolf's attempts to catch Hare are often characterized by uncanny abilities on his part (including figure skating, ballet and waltzing) which demonstrate his more refined side. Wolf can also play the guitar very well and ride the powerful rocker motorbike, making his character more sophisticated than a normal hooligan.

In the first episode, while climbing a high building to catch Hare, Wolf whistles the popular mountaineer song, "Song of a Friend" (the signature song of Vladimir Vysotsky). In spite of these talents, most of Wolf's schemes eventually fail or turn against him. The character was originally voiced by Anatoli Papanov.

Positive portrayals[edit]

Several recent interpretations of the Big Bad Wolf show him as being a character with relatively good intentions, mostly considered "Bad" due to a misunderstanding or prejudice. Arguably, this practice started with the 1989 children's book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. However, the best-known "good" adaptations are from films, where it is mostly used for a comedic effect.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs[edit]

The story as told by the Wolf from The Three Little Pigs suggests that wolves may not necessarily have to be "Big" and "Bad", but are perhaps misunderstood because what they eat happens to be cute. It should be inferred, however, that the following story given by the wolf is merely a fiction made up to conceal his guilt. The wolf, portrayed as rather civil, had a cold, but was baking a cake for his grandmother's birthday, so the wolf had to travel to the little pigs' houses to borrow a cup of sugar. Each time the pigs turned him away, the wolf's cold caused him to huff and puff and sneeze a great sneeze, whereupon the wolf would accidentally destroy the pig's house. Finding the inhabitant deceased, the wolf decided to eat the body so as not to let good meat go to waste, since the pig was dead anyway. The final pig's house was not blown down, and the wolf went into an excessive sneezing fit while the pig allegedly insulted his grandmother. The authorities came and dragged a furious and flustered wolf away and locked him up in prison, from where the wolf is now telling his (not entirely convincing) story.

Looney Tunes' Big Bad Wolf[edit]

There are actually two wolves in the Looney Tunes series, but the most famous one is from the 1957 short Three Little Bops. In the story, the wolf plays a trumpet rather badly while instrument playing pigs engage in club hopping using clubs made of straw, sticks, and bricks. There is also a version appearing mostly in Bugs Bunny cartoons, voiced by Mel Blanc, who appeared in The Windblown Hare, Little Red Riding Rabbit, and many more. This was a more humorous wolf, being slightly dumb, but really prone to anger.

Hanna-Barbera's Loopy de Loop[edit]

Main article: Loopy De Loop

The only theatrical short subject cartoon series produced by Hanna Barbera after they left MGM and formed their own studio, Loopy de Loop is cast as a tuque-topped, kind-hearted wolf who speaks with a bad French Canadian accent, and whose kind-hearted attempts to assist almost always ended up by being rejected by those he sought to help-or something slightly worse.

Hoodwinked's Big Bad Wolf[edit]

The Weinstein Company's computer-animated 2006 film Hoodwinked! which was a spin-off from Little Red Riding Hood, features the Wolf from that story, as a misunderstood Fletch-type wolf voiced by Patrick Warburton. The Wolf, whose full name is Wolf W. Wolf, works undercover assignments. His assistant and cameraman is a hyperactive squirrel named Twitchy (Cory Edwards), and he writes a column for The Once Upon a Times. His reason for stalking Red Puckett (Anne Hathaway) is not to eat her, but rather to get information from her about a mysterious thief striking this part of the woods.

Shrek's Big Bad Wolf[edit]

The popular computer-animated Shrek film series reversed many conventional roles found in fairy tales, including depicting the Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Aron Warner) from Little Red Riding Hood as a friendly misunderstood cross-dresser (apparently still wearing her grandmother's clothes) and on good terms with the three little pigs. This depiction, along with a seemingly transgendered bartender (who the crew deny on the DVD commentary as having any sort of gender confusion) and Pinocchio's expansive nose in Shrek 2, raised the ire of some groups who objected to the film's sexual content, in what is billed as a children's film. However, the wolf is no longer in drag in the video games.

In the fighting game Shrek SuperSlam, released 2005, Big Bad Wolf is a playable character and appears as "Huff n Puff Wolf".

Sesame Street[edit]

The Big Bad Wolf has become a regularly recurring puppet character on Sesame Street, appearing usually in purple fur (although he originally had blue shaggy fur, as he was a variant of Herry Monster). Besides the purple and blue variants, there were also green and white versions of the Big Bad Wolf. He is generally performed by Jerry Nelson (particularly the blue version) and occasionally performed by Tyler Bunch, Kevin Clash, Joey Mazzarino, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman, and Matt Vogel. In episode 3001, the music number "Bad Wolf" showed that the Big Bad Wolf (performed by David Rudman) with his family which consists of his mother Big Glad Wolf (performed by Louise Gold), his father Well-Clad Wolf (performed by Jerry Nelson), his brother Big Rad Wolf (performed by Joey Mazzarino), his sister Big Sad Wolf (performed by Camille Bonora), his aunt Big Grad Wolf (performed by Fran Brill), and his uncle Big Mad Wolf (performed by Martin P. Robinson). In episode 4035, the Big Bad Wolf is shown to have a brother named Leonard Wolf (performed by Jerry Nelson), who tells Elmo and Rosita that not all wolves are the same. In episode 4219, the Big Bad Wolf works in the hair-drying salon after telling Elmo and Telly Monster that he is no longer in the pig-chasing business. In episode 4266, the Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs Slimey the Worm when he is unable to catch the Three Little Pigs not realizing the harm he is doing to Slimey. When he does realize this thanks to Alan, Big Bird. Mr. Snuffleupagus, and Oscar the Grouch, the Big Bad Wolf apologizes to Slimey and starts a hobby of bubble blowing.

Bigby Wolf[edit]

The comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham features a reformed Big Bad Wolf as a major character, commonly referred to as "Bigby". In order to pass for human (the other animal fables want nothing to do with him), he has been infected with lycanthropy, making him, in essence, a werewolf. He acts as sheriff for the Fable community, going by the name of Bigby Wolf. He is often portrayed as a typical film-noir-style trenchcoat-wearing detective. In the context of the series, he earned the name "Big Bad" after his (much larger) siblings sarcastically noted his drive to be ferocious, particularly after his father, the incarnation of the North Wind, left his mother due to a wind's nature of having to move, else the wind would never reach other lands. Due to his unique parentage, his infamous "huff 'n puff" is a form of wind control that has been shown to be powerful enough to smash trees down, blow out an army of flaming animated puppetmen, and Bigby once conjectured that even a brick house would most likely be blown to bits by it. Bigby Wolf serves as the main protagonist of the 2013 video game adaptation of Fables, The Wolf Among Us.

Wolf from The 10th Kingdom[edit]

In the 2000 eight-hour movie (broadcast as a mini-series) The 10th Kingdom, Scott Cohen plays a character called Wolf, which is based on the Big Bad Wolf and there is some speculation to whether he may even be the Big Bad Wolf's descendant (mainly owed to the fact that most other characters in the mini-series are descendants of many well-known fairy tale characters). Wolf recognizes he has a sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder towards eating lamb meat, rabbit meat, or little-girl meat, which he tries to overcome when he falls in love with Virginia, the main character. (Note that her married name would be Virginia Wolf.)

BB Wolf and the Three LPs[edit]

A 2010 hardcover graphic novel published by Top Shelf Comics by J.D. Arnold and Rich Koslowski, sets the wolf as a sympathetic victim of class warfare in the rural south. Pigs and wolves serve as allegorical races in the story, with the wolves as disenfranchised farmers and the pigs as wealthy elitists. When the blues-playing wolf suffers numerous crimes at the hands of pigs, he swears revenge and rampages through the southern underworld. The hardcover is available with a CD of its songs as sung by BB Wolf.

Dust City[edit]

Dust City, a 2010 novel by Robert Paul Weston, circles around Henry Whelp, the son of the Big Bad Wolf. In it, Henry's father was framed by a league of those who transport fairy dust. Henry must discover the truth and help to release his father.

References in other media[edit]

  • In the Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, a sequence involves Harpo Marx activating a music box that plays "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", which he accompanies on the harp.
  • In 1996 the German band Die Toten Hosen released an album called Opium fürs Volk that included a song named "Böser Wolf". It was translated in English and added the album Crash Landing (1999) under the name "Big Bad Wolf". The song relates the story of a young girl that is abused but does not say a thing because "the big bad wolf whispered in her ear that no-one else must know what happens here".
  • In 2005, the phrase "Bad Wolf" formed a story arc in the Doctor Who series and was eventually revealed to be the Doctor's companion, Rose Tyler. The exact phrase "big bad wolf" was uttered in the episode The Unquiet Dead. Supplementary material on the series' website (attributed to the research of Rose's friend Micky) included a link that supposedly led to a French madrigal; it led instead to the French version of the song, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, into which was laid a clue to the Bad Wolf's identity in the form of modified lines from William Blake's "The Sick Rose".
  • In 2011, house band Duck Sauce released a single titled "Big Bad Wolf" along with a music video, which went viral for its risqué content shortly after its release. The track itself bore little references to the titular character.
  • In 2012 The Guardian released an advertisement to promote their newspaper based on the story of the Three Little Pigs. In this advertisement the three pigs are exposed as fraudsters, attempting to commit insurance fraud, by blaming the wolf, who has asthma, for blowing down their houses.
  • In the TV series, Once Upon a Time, the Big Bad Wolf is homaged as different people who turn into wolves with one of them being Little Red Riding Hood.
  • In the TV series Grimm, the Big Bad Wolf (known as Blutbad) was the first villain in the series with the main character Monroe being a "reformed" Blutbad who relies on a strict regime to resist his urge to attack humans, serving as the main character's guide to the supernatural world he is abruptly dropped into.
  • In Season 1 of the TV series Doctor Who, Rose Tyler absorbs the Time Vortex and briefly becomes a god-like being, which takes the name Bad Wolf. In the 50th Anniversary Special of the same show, the supposed conscience of a deadly weapon called the Moment takes the form of the Bad Wolf, asking the War Doctor, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Iona and Peter Opie, The Classic Fairy Talesp 93-4 ISBN 0-19-211559-6
  2. ^ Maria Tatar, p 25, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  3. ^ Alan Dundes, "Intrepreting Little Red Riding Hood Psychoanalytically", p 26-7, James M. McGlathery, ed. The Brothers Grimm and Folktale, ISBN 0-252-01549-5
  4. ^ "Statement by Valerius Geist pertaining to the death of Kenton Carnegie" (PDF). Wolf Crossing. Archived from the original on 10 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-09. [dead link]
  5. ^ [Walt Disney Comics digest # 21 April 1970
  6. ^ Boxoffice, Oct. 20, 1945

External links[edit]