Man is the unseen main antagonist of the 1942 animated film, Bambi, and the secondary antagonist in 2006's Bambi II.
He is the hunter who killed Bambi's mother, a doing which is widely acknowledged as one of the most infamous and upsetting acts of villainy in any Disney film, rivaled only by Scar's murder of Mufasa.
Role in the film
He is first seen when Bambi and his mother are first grazing in the meadow, and the Great Prince warns them. Later on in the film, he is responsible for the death of Bambi's mother. Near the end of the film, Man returns to the forest with other men hunters and hunting dogs to help him kill more deer and the rest of the forest's animals. During the hunt, he succeeds in shooting Bambi, but only wounds him and never manages to track the deer down. However, Man and the other hunters, unfortunately, leave their campfire lit, which causes a massive forest fire. There are deleted scenes shown to test audiences where Bambi and his father discover his corpse after the fire. Those have been cut for being too grim.
Despite the existence of the other hunters, "Man" still specifically refers to one person, and the main one at the climax of the movie is indeed the killer of Bambi's mother from earlier. Being a mere hunter, Man is not truly evil by human standards, but from the perspective of the animals whom the film follows, he might as well be the Devil.
Despite not actually appearing in the film at all, the character is famous for causing the death of Bambi's Mother, one of the most famously tragic scenes in Disney history. Because he is never once seen onscreen, one can tell that something revolving around "Man" will occur when his infamous tune begins to play. "Man" was ranked number 20 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time, being one of only three Disney villains on the list (along with the Evil Queen and Cruella De Vil, Man being the middle ranked of the three) and beating out such famous villains as Maleficent, Jafar, Scar, Stromboli, and others.
In the original book, Man is referred to as "He" and plays a more extant role in the story.
While it can be argued whether or not he holds any true evil intent, like most other Disney villains, it is noted that Man had no qualms with killing a doe with her fawn. This further hints that he was more of a poacher than a hunter, as it is illegal to shoot does or fawns in many parts of the United States. Also, in Bambi II, he had no guilt about trying to kill Bambi, who at the time was still a fawn.
According to the Bambi production team, Man was originally intended to appear onscreen. However, the team decided to avoid depicting the character, because such an entity would be too dark, grim and notorious for the film, thus confirming that Man was indeed an evil individual.
In a Golden Book about Bambi, which abridged the film, Man's campsite is shown and Bambi is cautioned this is when again "Man" has entered the forest. However, several tents are shown, suggesting Man is with a larger hunting party instead of by himself.
Man was ranked as the 20th greatest screen villain of all time by the AFI's 100 years, 100 Heroes and Villains list, being the second highest animated villain on the list, and the only one that was not physically seen.
In the film, Man is represented by a 3-note motif. This motif may have inspired John Williams' iconic theme from Jaws.
"Man is in the forest" was the code phrase in the studio to indicate that Walt Disney was approaching.