Madam Mim (sometimes also named Mad Madam Mim) is the main antagonist in Disney's 1963 animated feature film, The Sword in the Stone, which is based on the novel of the same name by T. H. White. She was voiced by the late Martha Wentworth which was also her last role before her retirement and death.
Mim's past is mostly unknown. At some unknown point, she managed to harness her magical powers, which she likely used for negative means, and has become quite convinced of her power. She chose to use this magic for evil purposes. It is also inclined that she already knew Merlin, and they were not on friendly terms.
Madam Mim appears in the original version of the novel, but not in the revised version featured in The Once and Future King which is more commonly known. (In Italy, she is known as Maga Magò.) This character was the basis for the film character. Mim was animated by two of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men, Milt Kahl (who also designed the character, refining storyboard sketches from Bill Peet), and Frank Thomas. Kahl animated her initial interaction with Arthur, while Thomas oversaw her famous "Wizards' Duel" with Merlin.
Although Madam Mim is the main villain, her total screen time does not exceed twenty minutes in the film.
- “He must see some good in you, and in my book, that's bad!”
- ―Mim learns which side Arthur is on
Madam Mim is a witch whose powers quite possibly rival those of Merlin himself. Overconfidence nevertheless proves her biggest flaw. An old rival of Merlin, she holds him in disregard. Mim is presented as a conceited spell-caster boisterously impressed with her own power, who also uses magic sadistically. She is also a highly morbid character with an abhorrence for all things wholesome, especially sunshine.
Madam Mim is also dishonest and unscrupulous. Movie viewers observe this when she broke her own rules during her duel with Merlin; she even used a so-called loophole when she took on the form of a dragon. Mim clearly doesn't care in the least about rules, so she probably made them up solely for the sake of limiting Merlin (as the latter's honorable character would not allow him to break rules).
Powers and Abilities
While Madam Mim claims to surpass Merlin in power, she is factually no more than a pretentious, garden-variety hex . She is initially shown withering flowers and performing other minor tricks. The main ability she displays, however, is her shape-shifting skill : During her introduction scene, Mim gives herself a sow's face before changing into a seductive beauty, then takes the form of a cat. Her "Wizards' Duel" with Merlin further highlights her penchant for shape-shifting. On this occasion, she turns into a crocodile, then a fox, a hen, an elephant, a tiger, a rattlesnake, and a rhinoceros (all of which were colored pink). She ends her little performance with the transformation into a menacing, grotesque purple dragon.
After Merlin transforms Arthur into a bird, Arthur finds himself pursued by a hawk and subsequently flees into the woods. He unwittingly perches atop the abode of Madam Mim, ducking into her chimney as the hawk swoops once more at him in a predatory lunge. Arthur surprises Mim with his inadvertent arrival, which she notices when she hears him coughing out the soot. Upon learning that Artur had been transformed and is fanatically loyal to Merlin, Mim tries to convince Arthur that she is superior to Merlin, but Arthur remains unconvinced, citing Merlin's benevolence when using magic. This infuriates Mim, being that she sees all good things as bad ("Yes, and in my book, that's bad!"), so she decides to kill him . She transforms into a cat and captures Arthur, but Merlin appears in a whirlwind and prevents Mim from destroying Arthur by interrupting her. (Archimedes had just previously alerted Merlin regarding Arthur's whereabouts.) This results in a "Wizards' Duel" between her and Merlin for the young boy's life. Mim consistently cheats throughout the duel, breaking each of her self-set rules every time she shape-shifts. Mim initially has the upper hand (especially after transforming into a dragon), but Merlin outsmarts her by transforming into a germ and infecting her. She is last seen at home in her bed, recovering from the disease. Merlin advises her to get plenty of rest and sunshine, opening a hole in her roof as he speaks. Mim rants about how much she hates sunshine as Merlin and the other two depart.
Madam Mim appeared as a cameo in various House of Mouse episodes. She also sang the song "It's Our House Now!" along with the other villains in Mickey's House of Villains. In the episode "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation", she appeared alongside Mushu, Maleficent, Elliott, and the Reluctant Dragon.
Madam Mim is among the Villains imprisoned in the Isle of the Lost. She is mentioned to also have granddaughters (one of them named Mad Maddy) living there with her.
Madam Mim appears near the end of the book. People of Camelot and Cinderellasburg are in distress due to spotting a dragon in their midst, and later a snake. She found a way to escape the Isle of the Lost by going underground where a magical tunnel led to the dwarf mines of Auradon. Though initially thinking it was Maleficent, they later find out that it was Madam Mim. After a tough battle, Ben holds her at swordpoint, forcing her to stop attacking. Merlin then sends her back to the Isle of the Lost.
The Disney version of the character was adopted into the Donald Duck comics, where she sometimes teams up with Magica De Spell and/or the Beagle Boys. She has also appeared in the Mickey Mouse universe, where she teamed up with Pete on occasion and even the Phantom Blot at one point. She was in love with Captain Hook in several stories; in others, with the Phantom Blot. In some European Disney comics, she has lost her truly evil streak, and appears both morbid yet still relatively polite.
Madam Mim makes very frequent appearances in Dutch Disney comics, in which she's often paired up with her good friend Witch Hazel.
An unnamed Madam Mim is the boss of the library/cookie jar level.
- In the alternate opening, screenwriters intended to have Madam Mim usurp the throne of England by trying to kill Arthur (even before pulling the sword) and using a raven to keep surveillance. This was changed for an unknown reason.
- Madam Mim interacts with Merlin's wise owl, Archimedes, only once.
- It is learned that Madam Mim hates sunshine, believing it to be too wholesome.
- Despite her affliction, Madam Mim didn't die from her illness; her counterpart in the book, meanwhile, died at the end of the duel.
- Mim mirrors a common theme from European folklore whilst attempting to impress Arthur: after bewitching her features to look porcine, she morphs into a siren with long, purple hair.
- Much like Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, Madam Mim didn't make an appearance in her respective movie until the second half.
- Madam Mim is the first Disney character to have an unnatural hair color that isn't dyed or meant to be due to some reason or another.