‘Cruella’ Is Setting up Disney for a Live-Action Remake of ‘101 Dalmatians,’ According to Several Clues

Disney‘s live-action remakes have received mixed reception from film to film, many critics and audience members do commend the few that take a more risky path and develop characters the original narratives didn’t. The archetypal example of this was Maleficent, turning one of Disney’s most blatantly evil characters into a misunderstood heroine. 2021’s Cruella follows in its footsteps, humanizing a character we all know to eventually become a remorseless puppy killer. This time around, though, we might fully see this edgy anti-hero make the jump to villain, if the clues in Cruella lead to a live-action 101 Dalmatians remake that some fans think they will.

‘Cruella’ is the character’s origin story

Emma Stone as Cruella in the live-action movie 'Cruella.'
Emma Stone as Cruella in the live-action movie ‘Cruella.’ | Laurie Sparham/Disney Enterprises Inc./Getty Images

Set in the 1970s, Cruella follows a girl named Estella (Emma Stone) from early life to young adulthood. Unlike the creepy fashion mogul from the original tale, the Cruella here starts life as an aspiring fashion designer with a streak of cruelty toward others (it’s where her name comes from). Only after the death of her mother, a hard life on the streets, and a feud between herself and a fashion designer known as the Baroness (Emma Thompson) does she finally start to take shape into the villain we know as Cruella de Vil.

Is ‘Cruella’ setting up for a ‘101 Dalmatians’ remake?

Beyond the most obvious piece of retroactive continuity in the movie — that Cruella’s obsession with turning Dalmatians into clothing is born out of their part in her mother’s death — there are a few other references to the 101 Dalmatians story we know in Cruella. For one thing, her bumbling minions Jasper and Horace appear as her sidekicks during Cruella, the trio having grown up together as thieves on the streets of London. Characters like Roger and Anita, the human protagonists of the future film, are also a part of the story, being the Baroness’ lawyer and a gossip magazine writer, respectively. The climax of the film also sees Cruella inherit her family home, as well as rename it to Hell Hall like in the animated movie.

The movie’s timeline might put it in continuity with the original live-action ‘101 Dalmatians’

Making any definitive statements on what a potential Cruella sequel could be is tricky given Disney has said nothing about it so far. However, they may not need to say anything, as a few clues in the movie indicate that a sequel might already exist — except it came out in 1996.

101 Dalmatians already had a live-action remake during that year with Glenn Close playing Cruella. Unlike the original animated film, this movie was modernized and set in the same approximate timeframe as when it was released. This also means that, were we to connect the timelines, that would place this film about 20 years or so in the future compared to Cruella.

While this certainly does seem possible, it isn’t an airtight theory. For one thing, while Cruella’s fashion empire is called the House of De Vil in both films (something IMDb points out), it still doesn’t account for the differences between the main characters. For one thing, the Cruella of the ’96 movie seems to have no strong feelings about Dalmatians until she learns about them in the film, whereas Cruella makes the dogs a major part of her backstory.

Another sticking point is the character of Anita. In both Cruella and the animated original, she and Cruella were friends during school. However, the ’96 film puts Anita as an employee of Cruella with no mention of this history. Combine that with the fact that Roger’s last name in Cruella and the ’96 film is Dearly but Radcliffe in the animated version, it all seems to suggest that Disney was merely taking bits and pieces from all their old films to create something new rather than imply a direct link between any of them. All the more reason a future sequel might be on the horizon.

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