How Did Cruella Become A Thief?

“Love Cruella!” “Hate Cruella!”

These are just some mixed reactions you get from movie-goers who’ve had the opportunity to watch Disney’s Cruella (2021) live-action film.

As an intriguing and magnetic antagonist of the Disney franchise, Cruella has made a name — no — a LABEL, a BRAND for herself!

She’s not just the chaotic fashion entrepreneur who’s out to make coats from the fur of the 101 Dalmatians! No. Rather, her origin story dives deeper to a level you’d never even expected!

Long ago, Cruella was a thief! Surprise, surprise, right!?

So, come one, come all ladies and gentlemen! Let me show you how thievery took hold of the sweet and meek Estella (now known as the bold and brilliant “Cruella”)!

SPOILERS AHEAD! This page contains spoilers from Disney Cruella.

Cruella became a thief when she met a young Horace and a young Jasper in the streets of London — more specifically, in Regent’s Park — the fated park where the protagonists’ dog owners (Roger and Anita) and the dalmatians themselves (Pongo and Perdita) met!

How Did Cruella Become A Thief?
Cruella | Source: Fandom

With nowhere to run and hide from her pursuers, Cruella decided that the best option of survival was to live with annoying urchins like Horace and Jasper!

Not long after, she learned the tricks of the trade — not of fashion nor design but pickpocketing!

Horace and Jasper taught her everything she needed to know — from avoiding the police, scavenging food, and surviving amidst the city’s busy streets!

Stealing, pickpocketing, cut-pursing, shoplifting, you name it! This trio is the “Jack-of-All-Trades” and master of petty thieveries in the cruel heart of London!

I was so intrigued with Cruella’s characterizations here that I hunted for more!

After finishing the Cruella (2021) live-action film, I rewatched Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” (1996) and Disney’s “102 Dalmatians” (2000) live-action movies.

Then, after finishing all those films, I picked the Cruella manga by Hachi Ishie (the Japanese mangaka or artist/storyteller).

To my surprise, this Cruella manga side-story answered some of my questions about this mysterious but enigmatic character!

What Is Cruella’s Biggest Heist?

Cruella’s biggest heist in the criminal underworld is dognapping the 101 Dalmatians!

How Did Cruella Become A Thief?
Cruella De Vil | Source: Fandom

None of her actions in the side-story manga nor in Disney’s live-action and animated Dalmatians films came even close!

Dognapping the 101 Dalmatians is the very reason why Cruella stands out among many generic Disney villains!

Whereas many Disney villains have world domination to strive for, Cruella simply wants to create fur coats; thus, keeping her vanity in check!

She wears fur, lives for fur, and would even go so far as to die for fur coats!

If I hadn’t considered Cruella’s origin stories that were depicted in the manga (through the “punk rock” guy she met at the bar, or through the fashion-designer student who wanted to steal her ideas), I’d never see small glimpses of her humanity!

Cruella’s manga side-story depicted her backstories brilliantly and elegantly! The side stories are quick and simple (only 70 to 80 manga pages on average per chapter, totalling 170+ pages for the manga side-story).

But fans of the Dalmatians franchise can consider this manga by Hachi Ishie a prequel to the Cruella (2021) live-action film!

After all, the events depicted in the manga portrayed how Cruella’s daring, ambitious, and crazy personalities slowly started surfacing until they become integrated with her appearances!

Did thievery influence Cruella to dognap the 101 Dalmatians?

Thievery did influence Cruella to dognap the 101 Dalmatians! And, sadly, it’s not something that Cruella can easily be rehabilitated for.

101 Dalmatians (1961) Scene: 'Cruella De Vil'.
101 Dalmatians (1961) Scene: ‘Cruella De Vil’.

Fans have seen Cruella in rehabilitation mode in Disney’s 102 Dalmatians (2000) live-action film.

The doctors and scientists isolated her; locked her up with steel doors in an experimentation facility; fried her brain; and manipulated her psychology to the point that she became an angel! (Unbelievable and sickening, I know!)

Regardless of the treatment, the dignified, bold, and majestic Queen of Fashion herself that is Cruella de Vil always returns no matter how deep you bury her corpse in the graves!

When Cruella thought of dognapping the 101 dalmatians, she made Horace, Jasper, and one more person (Mr. Skinner, a poacher who skins the fur off the hunted animals in Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” 1996 film) do the dirty work for her!

If you thought pickpocketing was just young Horace, young Jasper, and young Cruella’s way for survival, think again!

While it’s true that life on the streets kept the trio busy with their so-called “jobs”, it doesn’t change the fact that those lifestyles are ingrained towards their adulthoods.

And that’s the character progression (or rather, regression) we see in Cruella’s portrayal in Disney’s subsequent films.

Thievery was so ingrained in Cruella, Horace, and Jasper’s personalities that you can’t even tell whether you’re sorry for them or just wished to see them in jail!

Either way, Cruella dognapped 102 dalmatians in Disney’s 102 Dalmatians (2000) live-action movie! Sad to say, but the rehabilitation that was drilled on her by the scientists and doctors didn’t work. It was only a temporary cure!

How Did Cruella Become A Thief?
Disney Cruella | Source: Fandom

From a viewers’ perspective, it’s annoying to see the dognapping subplots being repeated on the franchises’ narrations. You get tired when hearing them on screen, and they remain stale and unoriginal concepts over time!

But what’s good about the Cruella manga are simple and elegant side stories that add layers and layers of characterization to this anti-hero!

Some people may call Cruella an antagonist; others, just another power-hungry individual looking to skin off dalmatians’ furs!

Regardless of how you look at her, Cruella will always be the talented, bold, and brilliant individual you see on screen; and that’s very hard to change!

About Disney Cruella (Manga)

You don’t become a legend by being nice.

She wasn’t born Cruella. Gifted with talent, innovation, and ambition, Estella dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but the world seemed intent on making sure her dreams would never come true.

The life of an amateur thief is hardly a glamourous one, but in 1970s London, at the crossroads of fashion, Estella has a vision for herself and her designs, if only she can afford it!

Witness Estella’s life on the streets with her best friends and partners in (petty) crime, Horace, and Jasper, before the infamous diva Cruella emerges to make sure no one gets in her way!

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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