- “Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”
- ―The Three Little Pigs
The Big Bad Wolf is the main antagonist from the Silly Symphonies short The Three Little Pigs and its sequels. The Big Bad Wolf, whose full name was given as Zeke Midas Wolf in comics, also starred in his own short and appeared with many other Disney characters in productions such as House of Mouse. The Big Bad Wolf is one of the only two official Disney Villains members from cartoon shorts instead of feature films, the other being Pete.
Big Bad usually wears tattered red trousers held up by green braces, and an old top hat. He believes that being bad is what wolves are supposed to do. He likes to disguise himself - sometimes in drag - to fool the Three Little Pigs and try to catch them and eat them, or sometimes just get them into trouble. He usually goes after Fiddler and Fifer Pig first, as they are foolish therefore easier to capture.
In two animated appearances, Big Bad has three sons who are just as bad as he is. They are triplets who dress almost identically to him. They pay no never mind to their father's orders, and are just as eager to eat the pigs as he is.
However, it is now more consistent that he has one son called Li'l Wolf. Li'l Wolf wants to be a good wolf, and his father often scolds him for being friends with the Three Little Pigs. However, it has been shown that Big Bad is not a bad father. He adores his son and has on occasion passed up the possibility of pork chops for the safety of his son.
In The Three Little Pigs, Big Bad Wolf is first seen stalking the three pigs as two (Fifer Pig and Fiddler Pig) were playing their flute and fiddle and Practical Pig was finishing up his house of bricks. Big Bad tried to eat the two pigs, but they hid in the house of Practical. While blowing his pants off, the Wolf climbs naked in the chimney, falls into it and burns his butt.
In Three Little Wolves, Zeke Wolf is giving his three mischievous sons a lesson on the best parts of pig to eat. Meanwhile, Practical Pig is building a Wolf Pacifier (patent not applied for), while Fifer and Fiddler Pig trick him by crying "Wolf" with the Wolf Alarm. Zeke Wolf dresses up as Bo Peep and tricks Fifer and Fiddler Pig into following his sons, who are dressed up as the lost sheep, and captures them. When they blow the Wolf Alarm, Practical Pig passes it off as another trick. Fifer and Fiddler trick Zeke Wolf into blowing it, which finally summons Practical, who brings along his Wolf Pacifier. He tricks Zeke into running into the Wolf Pacifier, which beats Zeke, then tars and feathers him, and finally fires him out of a cannon, while his sons rush to catch him.
In The Practical Pig, the Wolf dresses up as a mermaid to trick Fiddler and Fifer when they go swimming and captures them. He brings them back to his home, where his three sons eagerly await dinner. He tells his sons that they don't eat until they have Practical Pig too, and goes out to capture Practical Pig. While he's out, the Three Little Wolves prepare to eat Fifer and Fiddler, who are shocked that they don't obey their father.
Big Bad Wolf dresses up as a messenger and delivers a badly written note to Practical Pig. He is captured and put in the lie detector, which scrubs his mouth with soap, spanks him, and beats him on the head when he lies. Back at the mill, Fifer and Fiddler escape when the Three Little Wolves use pepper, and run home. The Big Bad Wolf finally tells the truth and is dispatched with a rocket.
Big Bad Wolf continued to antagonize the Three Little Pigs in the pages of the Disney comic books, eventually stealing the spotlight and having the stories focus on him. Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #52 introduced his oddly-named son, Li'l Bad Wolf, who, unlike the Three Little Wolves from the shorts, is kind and friendly to everyone, much to Big Bad Wolf's dismay. Carl Buettner, Gil Turner and Jack Bradbury all worked on the Wolf's early comic stories, with Buettner giving the Wolf his proper name of Zeke in 1946 and Turner supplying his middle name of Midas 1949.
Big Bad Wolf made several appearances in the series House of Mouse. His most prominent role was in the show's second episode, where he appeared as a popular jazz singer known as Big Bad Wolf Daddy (a parody of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), with the Pigs providing music for him (he had them under a contract that says he will not eat them as long as they play for him). The Bimbettes apparently also seemed to like him, as they sang along to his song, to Gaston's annoyance. It was revealed in the episode that the wolf's "huff and puff" reactions are activated by the sight of doors and not the three pigs.
In later episodes of House of Mouse, the Wolf returned to his more traditional appearance, with no more mention of his role as Big Bad Wolf Daddy. In the episode "Pete's House of Villains"; he replaced Horace in the control room. In the episode "House of Turkey", the Wolf decided to leave the pigs alone for the day as he'd rather have turkey. In the episode "Dining Goofy", he was unamused with the fact that he was seated with Bambi.
The Wolf also starred in a cartoon short made for House of Mouse, based on his escapades in the comics. The Wolf also had cameos in the show's compilation films, Mickey's House of Villains, where he joined the legion of villains, and Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
Big Bad and the pigs make appearances in the animated opening of the television series Mickey Mouse Club. During the theme, he is tied up and being dragged by the pigs.
In Mickey's Christmas Carol, the Wolf made a cameo as a streetcorner Santa Claus at the beginning of the film saying "Merry Christmas!" to the people who pass by him.
Big Bad Wolf makes a cameo in the Bonkers episode "The 29th Page" at a prison line-up.
Big Bad Wolf appears in the Disney Parks as a meetable character and usually seen in parades. The wolf appears as a rare character. The wolf is mostly found in Tokyo Disneyland than any other theme parks. A poster of the wolf can be seen in Mickey's PhilharMagic.
The Big Bad Wolf is also regularly featured in special events and promotional campaigns featuring the Disney Villains franchise.
The Big Bad Wolf appears as a shadow sneaking across the stage curtains before the curtains open and The Three Little Pigs sing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?". Despite Prince Charming also appearing as a shadow in the show, The Big Bad Wolf is the only character to not physically appear in the show's finale of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah".
Big Bad Wolf is infamous for appearing in the parade wearing all white and seen with the pigs.
The wolf also joins some of the Disney Villains in the Halloween parade every year.
The Big Bad Wolf previously appeared in Disneyland's version of the show from 1992-1994 riding the Mark Twain Riverboat, but he was replaced by newer characters in 1995. He appeared recently in special showings in May 2012, celebrating Fantasmic's 20th anniversary.
- Big Bad Wolf is one of the Disney Villains to have sons instead of nephew.
- In addition, Big Bad Wolf is the only member of the Disney Villains to be a single dad.
- One of Big Bad Wolf's names, Zeke Midas Wolf, has two origins: The first name, Zeke, is a shortened form of Ezekiel, Hebrew for "God is my Strength." It was also the codename for a World War II Japanese fighter plane. The middle name, Midas, is a name of Greek origin relating to the legend of Midas, who was believed to turn things into solid gold as a gift from the Gods, which led to his downfall when he accidentally killed his daughter by turning her into a golden statue with his power.