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Villain Overview

Adventure is out there!
~ Charles Muntz's catchphrase prior to going insane.
They called me a fraud, those... (exhales). But once I bring back this creature, my name will be cleared. Beautiful, isn't it? I've spent a lifetime tracking it. Sometimes years go by between sightings. I've tried to smoke it out of that deathly labyrinth where it lives. You can't go in after it. Once in, there's no way out. I've lost so many dogs. And here they come these bandits and think the bird is theirs to take. But they soon find that this mountain, is a very dangerous place.
~ Muntz revealing his obsession to Carl and Russel right before turning against them.

Charles F. Muntz, also simply known as Charles Muntz or sometimes known by his surname Muntz, is the main antagonist of Pixar's tenth full-length animated feature film Up, the unseen overarching antagonist of the short Dug's Special Mission.

He is an adventurous explorer who is looking for a legendary bird known as a snipe named "Kevin", and he has many loyal dogs at his command. The dogs (Alpha, Beta and Gamma) that he owns wear collars that allow them to speak. However, it is revealed he is actually also a sadistic serial killer, who murders anybody who tries to find the legendary bird before he does. He is also the former master of Dug and the arch-nemesis and former idol of Carl Fredricksen (the film's main protagonist).

He was voiced by the late Christopher Plummer, who also played The Grand Duke of Owls in Rock-A-Doodle, General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Ralph Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Crookedman in Babes in Toyland, Mr. Caruthers in The Clown at Midnight, 1 in 9, King Herod in The Star, and Arthur Case in Inside Man.

Personality

You know, Carl, these people who pass through here, they all tell pretty good stories. A surveyor making a map...a botanist cataloging plants...an old man taking his house to Paradise Falls...now that's the best one yet. I can't wait to hear how it ends.
~ Muntz threatening Carl and revealing his true nature.

Muntz is best described as an explorer who went insane and turned evil, being very evil, secretful, determined, adventurous.

Before becoming demented, Muntz was a kind, brave, honest, thoughtful, sympathetic, and persuasive explorer with a genuine passion for discovering new things. When Carl Fredricksen and Russell meet him for the first time, he seems like a benign and charming gentleman as he welcomes them into his company and cares for a group of dogs imbued with speech technology, and he appears to be courteous. However, when the matter of Kevin the bird comes up, they soon discover that his mission with capturing the bird of Paradise Falls has turned into an obsession, unhinged his mind and drove him insane, causing him to lash out against other adventurers. Being an extremely proud man, Muntz is consumed with bitterness, rage and violent paranoia over being expelled from the National Explorer's Society when he was viewed as a phony and will stop at nothing to restore his reputation, even if it means murder. He has no qualms trying to kill the young child Russell for reaching Kevin. Nevertheless, he is completely polite and affable as long as people do not interfere with his plans. He is also very nice and patient with his dogs, taking decent care of them. Muntz's pride and obsession give him a striking similarity to Captain Ahab from the late Herman Melville's 1851 classic novel Moby Dick. He also evidences a genius level of intellect, able to program dogs to talk and build his airship.

History

Muntz was an acclaimed explorer who was obsessed with finding the "Beast of Paradise Falls" ever since he was accused of fabricating its skeleton by the National Explorer's Society and stripped of his membership. He then vows to never return from Paradise Falls until he has found the bird and caught it to prove its existence. He traveled in a dirigible called the Spirit of Adventure and had many canine minions who wore collars that allowed them to speak.

When the heroes of the story Carl and Russell meet him several decades after he departed to capture the bird, they find out that his sanity has declined over the years and that he is now quite paranoid, to the point of possibly killing innocent people whom he presumed were planning to steal the bird. Soon, after a brief struggle, Muntz finally succeeds in capturing the snipe. Carl then proceeds to fight Muntz, with the two men using a cane and a sword respectively.

The blimp is eventually turned sideways, saving Carl. Carl and Russell trick Muntz into following them into the house floating next to the blimp. Before Carl and Russell can escape in the house with the bird, Muntz retrieves his lever-action rifle and begins firing at the two. Muntz breaks into the house, but Carl lures Kevin back onto the Spirit of Adventure with chocolate, Russell and Dug riding on her back. Muntz leaps out of the window after them. However, he is caught midair by the string of some of the balloons that were attached to Carl's house, causing his momentum to stop. The balloons snap due to his weight, and as they were the only thing keeping him afloat, a terrified Muntz plunges to his death through the sky. He falls until he is a tiny dot in the distance, and then hits the ground offscreen.

Enemies

  • Carl Fredricksen - Former Guest, Former Fan, Attempted Victim and Arch Enemy
  • Russell - Former Guest and Attempted Victim
  • Kevin
  • Dug - Former Subordinate

Age

If Carl was 78 years old by the time of him meeting him, and Muntz was at least 20 years old when Carl was 8 years old, then Muntz could be over 90 years old.

When talking to Carl, Muntz talks about being on Safari with Roosevelt. It is hard to tell if he means Theodore Roosevelt, one of Roosevelt's sons or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as Theodore Roosevelt passed away from a pulmonary embolism on January 6, 1919, at the age of 60, when Charles was only 3 years old, meaning that Muntz was probably born in either 1915 or 1916.

An explanation for Muntz's advanced age is in a deleted subplot from Up. It explains that Kevin's eggs act as a sort of fountain of youth that prevents Muntz from aging.

Quotes

I promise to capture the beast alive! And I will not come back until I do.
~ Muntz vows to find the bird.
You came here in that?
~ Muntz looking at Carl's house.
You know, Carl, these people who pass through here, they all tell pretty good stories. A surveyor making a map...a botanist cataloging plants...an old man taking his house to Paradise Falls...now that's the best one yet. I can't wait to hear how it ends.
~ Muntz revealing his true colors to Carl and Russell.
You really must stay. I insist. We have so much more to talk about.
~ Muntz trying to stop Carl and Russell from leaving.
It's here.
~ Muntz seeing Kevin on top of Carl's house.
Get them!
~ Muntz ordering his dogs to stop Carl and Russell after seeing them run off.
Get away from my bird!
~ Muntz stopping Carl and Russel from taking Kevin to her babies.
And they wouldn't believe me. Just wait till they get a look at you.
~ Muntz talking to Kevin.
Muntz: Where's your elderly friend? (*Russel blows the leaf blower in his face*)
Russell: He's not MY friend anymore.
Muntz: Well if you're here, Frederickson can't be far behind.
~ Muntz to Russell.
Russel: Where are you keeping Kevin? Let me go!
Beta: Scream all you want small mailman.
Gamma: None of your mailman friends can hear you.
Russel: I'll unleash all my wilderness explore training!
Muntz: Alpha! Fredrickson is coming back! Guard that bird. You see the old man, you'll know what to do. (pulls lever)
Russel: Hey! Where are you going? I'm not finished with you!
Muntz: Nice talking with you.
~ Muntz realizing Carl is coming back and also preparing to kill Russel.
Where are you, Fredrickson?
~ Muntz looking for Carl while piloting his airship.
Any last words Fredricksen? Come on, spit out. (Carl: Come on!) ENOUGH! I'm taking that bird back with me, ALIVE...or DEAD!
~ Muntz last words during his breakdown before he falls to his death.

Trivia

  • Charles F. Muntz is currently the first and so far the only main Pixar movie antagonist to use a firearm, the weapon being an 1865 Spencer carbine. He uses the gun when storming Carl's house when the latter makes his getaway with Kevin.
  • The sword that Muntz uses during his fight with Carl is a medieval Claymore, the same sword that William Wallace famously owned.
  • The ultimate fate of Muntz was a work in progress for Pixar as they tried several versions to get him out of the way so the film could get back to Carl and his connection to Ellie:
    • First, they tried giving Muntz a chance to redeem himself to the point where it resorted to just him talking with Carl.
    • Then they tried an ending that was reminiscent to Jack Torrance's fate in Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining where Muntz goes after Kevin in the labyrinth, where he is left to wander forever, but it felt more like Muntz's ending than Carl's ending.
    • At another point, Pixar decided to place the climax on the Spirit of Adventure and one version had Muntz trapped in the house as it floats away, but it felt wrong due to the house being seen as Ellie.
    • Another version had Muntz caught in a bunch of balloons and floating upwards, but it is left uncertain as to whether he was deceased. It was at this point that Pixar decided the best comeuppance for Muntz was for him to get caught in the balloons and fall with them. This is discussed on the DVD extra "The Many Endings of Muntz".
  • His name "Charles Muntz" is based on "Charles Mintz", whom Walt Disney worked for while making the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, and who took the cartoon from Walt Disney since Universal Studios owned the copyrights.
  • Muntz is based on aviator Howard Hughes who was known for his intelligence, eccentricity, ego, and obsession. He also has traits of real-life adventurers, Charles Lindbergh and Percy Fawcett.
  • Muntz is a dark reflection to Carl: both elderly men who both suffered terrible tragedies in their lives and became bitter (Carl losing his wife, and Muntz being cast out). When Carl came across Russel, Kevin, and Doug, he first viewed them as a nuisance. Later, Carl viewed them as the family he never had and later redeemed himself, as well as learning to accept the loss. On the other hand, Muntz refused to accept the loss and lived obsessed with his past and was trying to relive it in any way possible. Muntz serves as an example of what Carl would become if he never learned to accept the loss and move on with his life.
  • He is the third main villain in a Pixar film to be killed off in his movie, after Hopper in A Bug's Life and Syndrome in The Incredibles, followed by Mor'du in Brave, and Ernesto de la Cruz in Coco.
  • Muntz marks the last animated character to be voiced by Christopher Plummer, before his death on February 5, 2021.
  • Muntz is one of two elderly villains to appear in a Pixar movie, the other is Stinky Pete. However, Muntz is a person while Stinky Pete is a toy, so the latter would not technically be elderly.
  • While he's the film's main villain, others have seen a more rational side to the character, as he was cast out from the National Explorer's Society when scientists believed that the skeleton was forged due to the unlikelihood of such a creature existing. Spike.com ranks him #4 in their list "The Top 10 Hollywood "Villains Who Got Screwed". Under the section titled "What People Forget", it says "He never actually did anything altogether evil until the main characters boarded his zeppelin by force and attempted to steal his bird, at which point he tried to throw them overboard.".
  • Muntz's voice actor Christopher Plummer died the same year as Carl's voice actor Ed Asner, only six months apart from each other.
  • In the Nintendo DS video game adaption of the film, Muntz himself serves as the final boss while in all the other platforms of the video game, his blimp serves as the final boss, prompting players to destroy the blimp's engines.

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See Also
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Villains | Cars Villains | Incredibles Villains | Monsters, Inc. Villains | Toy Story Villains

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