|“||[laughs] I love the way your fowl little mind works!||„|
|~ Jafar to Iago|
|“||Hey, Jafar, SHUT UP!||„|
|~ Iago turning against Jafar in The Return of Jafar.|
Iago is the secondary antagonist of Disney's 31st full-length animated feature film Aladdin, which is based on the Arabic folktale Aladdin and the Magic Lamp from One Thousand and One Nights. He later returns and begins a journey of redemption in The Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and in the animated TV series. He is Jafar's former pet parrot and is now one of Aladdin's good friends.
He was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in all of his appearances. In the musical, he was portrayed by Don Darryl.
Iago is amongst the most complex characters to originate from the Disney animated feature film. When first introduced as the loyal follower of Jafar, he appears to be just as evil and cruel as his superior, being snide, greedy, selfish, uncaring, murderous, deceitful, manipulative, traitorous, arrogant and cunning. However, Iago is the more aggressive of the two, as well as the more vocal and easily-frustrated. He has a difficult time keeping his comments to himself, lacking a collected demeanor, and can often fall into fits of rage, shouting and ranting on about his annoyances, when things don't go as planned. He also craves for power, as he gave Jafar the idea of marrying Jasmine to become the next Sultan. He also seems to hate crackers (which is not what you would normally expect for a parrot), which the Sultan, apparently being completely unaware of Iago's distaste for them, often fed him directly to the mouth, which also acted as the main reason why he aided Jafar in his treacherous ambitions against the Sultan in the first film.
Despite his highly antagonistic nature in the original film, The Return of Jafar shows a different side to Iago; one capable of growth and reformation. The film implies that Iago's harsh attitude and villainous actions were partially displayed due to a lack of respect and appreciation over the course of his lifetime. Even as Jafar's partner, Iago faced abuse and neglect, which would eventually lead to the downfall of their relationship. As an opportunist, Iago cunningly used Aladdin's caring nature to weasel his way back into the palace, though it was the latter's genuine compassion that first sparked a change in Iago's character, as he was shocked, and notably touched by the fact that anyone would actually show care, and treat him with any form of compassion. Throughout the course of the film, events such as that would continuously take place, specifically with Aladdin and Jasmine who, over time, come to appreciate Iago's apparent goodness and officially welcome him back into the palace, despite his attacks against them previously. This would eventually result in Iago feeling guilt and reciprocated care for the couple, and their allies, prompting him to turn against Jafar and risk his life for his new companions, despite coming dangerously close to death in the process.
From that moment on, Iago has apparently come to understand what must be done to truly earn respect and love: giving it to others. From that moment on, he would remain a steadfast ally to Aladdin and Jasmine. Throughout the series, his greed persists, but it is shown that he can, and will, do the right thing when necessary. He (deep down) appreciates his friendship with Aladdin, Abu, Genie, and Jasmine and shows that he is extremely loyal and intelligent, so he will help them when the situation truly calls for his assistance, though he generally tries to avoid danger by any means necessary; often advising the others to do the same. In the episode, "The Secret of Dagger Rock", he was given the opportunity to keep away from a potentially dangerous mission, which he accepts. However, he spends the entire time worrying for Aladdin and Jasmine, to the point where he willingly sets out to rescue them.
Nevertheless, his villainous nature from the original film doesn't fade completely. Iago is still every bit aggressive, quarrelsome, loud-mouthed, argumentative, impertinent, diabolical, obnoxious, cocky, rude, menacing, and narcissistic, but in a more comedic light than anything, no longer willing to result to extreme measures such as murder to obtain his goals. Iago would instead become a naughty and mischievous schemer, retaining his flaw of constantly plotting by concocting various ways to cheat the citizens of Agrabah for their riches or any form of high value. This ties into his unhealthy obsession with wealth. In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, he was even willing to steal one of the valuable treasures given to Aladdin and Jasmine as a wedding gift, as it had the power to lead to a supposed "ultimate treasure". Now with a sense of moral, however, Iago ultimately sacrifices his greed for the greater good (such as the safety of others) in most, if not all occasions.
In the first film, Iago has a supporting role as Jafar's sidekick, and also served as his spy, disguising himself as Jafar's mindless pet parrot.
Iago is first seen during his and Jafar's confidential visit to the desert, in the middle of the night, where they are met by a thief, Gazeem. After forcefully handing over a stolen piece of a golden scarab, courtesy of Iago, Jafar is able to create one full, magical scarab, which reveals the location of the Cave of Wonders. Gazeem is ordered to enter in order to steal a magic lamp (as Jafar wishes to use the Genie to take control of Agrabah), but is killed in the process, as a result of being unworthy to enter. A frustrated Iago voices his annoyance, believing their mission to retrieve the lamp will forever be an impossible task to complete. Jafar, however, remains level-headed, and assures Iago that the lamp will be in their possession once they find the "diamond in the rough".
After returning to Agrabah, Jafar and Iago visit the Sultan, needing his diamond ring to uncover the individual worthy to enter the cave. Here, Iago shows his disdain for the Sultan; specifically due to the ruler constantly shoving "moldy, disgusting crackers" down his throat. Jafar reassures Iago that they will no longer have to abide to the Sultan's reign in good time, with Iago gleefully plotting to extract revenge once that time has arrived.
After discovering a boy named Aladdin is the one worthy enough to enter the cave, he travels to the Cave of Wonders with Jafar, though the mission goes awry, resulting in both the lamp, and Aladdin, being lost. Afterwards, at the palace, Iago concocts a new plan involving a rise to power. He advises Jafar to marry Jasmine, which would result in the vizier legally becoming the sultan. Once he holds such power, Iago continues, they'll kill Jasmine and her father. Jafar agrees, but their plot is interrupted by a new coming prince—Ali. Jafar and Iago soon discover that Ali is Aladdin, and holds ownership over the lamp. Iago is sent to retrieve it, doing so by cunningly disguising his voice as Jasmine to lure Aladdin away from the lamp.
With the lamp in his possession, Jafar takes over the kingdom, bestowing Iago with his own turban, to signify his leadership, as well as his own lounge area near the throne, with a throw pillow and plenty of fruit for his pleasure. After scarfing crackers down the dethroned Sultan's throat, Iago wallows in luxury before noticing Aladdin trying to steal back the lamp. Abu, Aladdin's monkey, tackles Iago to prevent him from alarming Jafar, which leads to a tussle. As a battle ensues between Jafar and Aladdin, Iago watches sadistically, rooting for Jafar to eliminate the threat, until Jafar wishes to become an all-powerful genie. Unfortunately for Jafar, this means an eternity of slavery and imprisonment, though his greed and lust for power made him oblivious to this.
As Jafar is quickly sucked into his lamp, Iago tries to flee, only to be grabbed by the villain, and dragged into the lamp, as well. Trapped and annoyed, Iago berates Jafar on his foolish decision, just as the two villains are sent to the Cave of Wonders to endure 10,000 years of imprisonment.
The Return of Jafar
After spending some time in the sunken Cave of Wonders, Iago flies to the surface getting him and the trapped Jafar out. He is freed from Jafar's lamp and his master demands that he frees him too, but he becomes frustrated with Jafar's insults and being treated like a slave. After Iago claims (with a degree of accuracy) that he does most of the work and comes up with the schemes, Jafar retaliates by saying that without him, Iago would still be in a cage in the bazaar, squawking "Polly want a cracker!". With that remark, Iago dumps Jafar, still trapped in the lamp, into a well. He returns to Agrabah, claiming that he needs nobody's help, and that he'll be running the town within a week.
After discovering Aladdin now lives in the palace, Iago decides to use Aladdin's good nature to return to the palace, but Aladdin is not taken in by his act. But as Aladdin and Abu chase after Iago, all three bump into Abis Mal and his gang, and a brawl ensues, ending with Aladdin and Abu cornered by the thieves. In a turn of events, Iago (unintentionally) saves Aladdin from Abis Mal and his thugs, by causing them to crash into a chicken cart, destroying the eggs. The upset egg merchant calls for the guards and Razoul and his goons recognize Abis Mal and his thieves and the guards chase the thieves into the distance.
In gratitude, Aladdin brings him into the palace, but locks him in a cage to give himself time to explain everything to the Sultan and Jasmine, and convince him that Iago has turned over a new feather. Abu unintentionally lets Iago escape (he intended to open the cage to scare Iago for Rajah being nearby as joke, but it backfired), resulting in Iago being chased by Rajah into the dining room, ruining an important dinner and blowing his cover. Aladdin protects Iago from the Sultan and his guards at the expense of losing the Sultan's favor, and Jasmine's trust.
Genie talks Iago into persuading Jasmine to forgive Aladdin with the song "Forget About Love," in which he uses reverse-psychology to tell Jasmine that she's absolutely right about wanting to be alone, and that love is over-rated, while reminding her of how wonderful love really feels, and she realizes how much she still loves Aladdin despite their argument.
Soon enough, Iago is enjoying the Royal Treatment, planning his future, believing that Aladdin will become the Grand Vizier, and that when he becomes Sultan, Iago will become the Grand Vizier. He is however horrified when suddenly, the lights go out and Jafar (set free by Abis Mal) appears out of the darkness. Jafar subtly threatens Iago, who is intelligent enough to know he will suffer if he disobeys again, into luring Aladdin and the Sultan into a trap. Iago talks with Aladdin and Jasmine, and finds it surprisingly easy to persuade Aladdin into taking the Sultan on a carpet ride without Genie. Jasmine apologies to Iago for doubting him. Then Iago has a sudden flash of conscience to warn Aladdin and Jasmine of what danger they are in, but Jafar's evilly omniscient eyes suddenly appear on the curtain above Aladdin and Jasmine, and fearful for his safety, Iago refrains from warning them. As soon as Aladdin and Jasmine leave, Jafar appears from nowhere and sadistically praises the ashamed parrot for following through on his evil plan.
Iago's guilt over how he has treated the trusting Aladdin increases visibly to a degree where he appears sickened by his own actions, especially during the Sultan's kidnapping. He frees the captured Genie to save Aladdin from being beheaded when he's framed for murdering the Sultan through Jafar's schemes and in the process also freeing Jasmine, the Sultan, Carpet and Abu. Now that his debts are repaid, Iago leaves them to fight Jafar alone, somewhat surprised that they do not hold him to any further obligations.
But in the struggle against Jafar, when all hope seems lost, Iago returns unexpectedly. He grabs the lamp and attempts to hand it to Aladdin, but is hit by an energy bolt by Jafar and horribly injured. Aladdin and the others believe that all is truly lost, but with his last ounce of strength Iago kicks Jafar's lamp into the boiling lava, destroying Jafar. Aladdin saves the helpless Iago from falling into the lava himself, but his injuries are so severe that for a moment everybody believes him dead.
However, this was proven false, as Genies lack the power to kill anyone while Iago coughed, "You'd be surprised what you can live through." The fully redeemed parrot officially turns from bad to good and is welcomed into the Palace, although he ends up upset when Aladdin decided to turn down the position of Grand Vizier.
Powers and Abilities
Unlike most animals, Iago is perfectly capable of human speech (though it remains to be known whether he was taught this or a magic spell was used). In addition, Iago is also capable of mimicking voices as shown in the first film, where he perfectly mimics both Jasmine and Jafar. He utilizes this ability several times in the series as well, either to be sarcastic and mock people behind their back, or during a sticky situation, with one use being to get rid of Mozenrath's Wind Jackal. Like all birds, he is also capable of flight and using his claws to pick up and carry stuff along the way. In turn, he can also use his feathers like prehensile fingers. He is also fairly intelligent, having come up with the plan to have Jasmine marry Jafar and then kill her and the sultan. He also devises plans to help himself and his friends out of jams in the series, and also comes up with various scams to earn easy money (which usually backfire on him). Also, due to his years with Jafar, he has vast knowledge of magic and mystical lore, rivaling that of even the Genie.
Kingdom HeartsAs well as his role in the film, Iago has also appeared in various video games, probably being in the Kingdom Hearts series.
In Kingdom Hearts, Iago was Jafar's servant. He played a minor role, normally just appearing on Jafar's shoulder in cinematics, though he was the one who stole Genie's lamp from Aladdin. He later appeared holding Jafar's lamp in the boss battle, and flew around with it. The lamp was one of the ways to damage Jafar. Like the movie, Iago tried to fly away at the downfall of Jafar, but ended up in the lamp as well.
Kingdom Hearts II
In Kingdom Hearts II, Iago, like The Return of Jafar, was finally free from Jafar's lamp. When he encountered Sora and the others again, he tried to convince them that he had turned over a new leaf, although only Goofy seemed to believe him until Iago saved the group from a bunch of Heartless.
Iago wanted to prove to Aladdin that he was no longer a villain. He did so by taking Jafar's lamp from Pete, which proved his loyalty, until Jafar was released and he was forced to trick Sora, Donald, Goofy and Aladdin into going to the ruins, thereby destroying any trust he had obtained. When the group returned to Agrabah to face Jafar, Iago blocked an attack aimed at Aladdin and proved himself a friend again.
- Iago is the only Aladdin villain to be in all three films.
- Even though Iago was originally an antagonist and is not even the lead character in the Aladdin-franchise, he's the second most popular character in the Aladdin-franchise after the Genie.
- Iago has some similarities with Vegeta: both are initially allied with the main antagonists of their respective stories (Jafar for Iago, Frieza for Vegeta) and they are as bad as they are, both of them choose to turn their backs on their masters and sit on the side of Protagonists (while retaining their arrogant and cynical character and some of their previous negative features) and both fight against their former bosses (with the difference that Iago is hurt by Jafar but survives and succeeds in killing him, while Vegeta is heavily defeated by Frieza and killed).
- Iago also has some similarities with Peridot from Steven Universe: Both started allied with the main antagonists (Jafar for Iago, Jasper for Peridot) and both of them choose to turn their backs on their masters and end up joining the good side of Protagonists and both fight the antagonists (the only difference is that Iago pushes Jafar's lamp into the lava and Peridot uses her metal carrying powers to stab Jasper).