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NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Jafar from the 2019 movie. The mainstream version can be found here: Jafar (Disney).
Another petty insult from that slow-minded fool. He sees a city where I see an empire. Once that lamp sits in my hand, then I shall sit on his throne.
~ Jafar commenting over his goal to overthrow the Sultan and take over Agrabah.
I can make you rich... rich enough to impress a princess.
~ Jafar to Aladdin.
Steal an apple and you're a thief. Steal a kingdom and you're a statesman.
Jafar is the main antagonist of the 2019 film Aladdin, the live-action remake of the 1992 animated feature film of the same name. He is the power-hungry Grand Vizier of Agrabah who plots to become Sultan and destroy the nearby kingdom of Sherebad by acquiring the lamp containing the Genie.
You seem to bring me the rough, but not the diamond. Take them away!
~ Jafar commenting over the guards' failure to find the 'diamond in the rough' among the prisoners.
Jafar first appeared in the desert with his pet parrot Iago as they lured an unwitting prisoner they hired to enter the Cave of Wonders, but the Cave rejects the prisoner by burying him in the sand as it finds him to be unworthy, much to Jafar's anger. The Cave then tells Jafar that only the "diamond in the rough" is worthy enough to enter.
Back in the palace of Agrabah, Jafar gets the palace guards (led by Hakim) to examine more prisoners to find the "Diamond in the Rough", but none of them prove to be as the cave described, so he has the guards send them away. The jailer asks Jafar why he must go to such lengths, reminding him that he is second only to the Sultan, which Jafar points out as being his problem, as he desires to be the Sultan of Agrabah himself. The jailer goes on to say that, since he is not of royal blood, it would be impossible for him to become Sultan, enraging Jafar and prompting him to rant to the jailer about the tribulations he has gone through to get where he is, including spending five years in a Sherebad jail. Jafar then angrily declares that he no longer needs the jailer before shoving the latter down a pit to his death.
Your life begins now, Aladdin.
~ Jafar after Aladdin agrees to enter the Cave.
After Princess Jasmine's rejection of Prince Anders, Jafar speaks to the Sultan and advises him to declare war on Sherebad and overtake it before it does the same, though the Sultan disagrees, as Sherebad poses no threat to Agrabah. With his attempt having failed, Jafar uses his staff to hypnotize the Sultan into agreeing with him, only for Princess Jasmine to come across them and snap her father out of Jafar's trance by questioning his decision to wage war on both the kingdom where her mother was born and an ally of Agrabah. Jafar is quick to point out that they wouldn't have to worry about having allies if she had decided to marry Prince Anders, with the Sultan also agreeing that Jasmine should stay in line with Agrabah's traditions and marry royalty, since she cannot be Sultan herself. The Sultan then turns to Jafar and reminds him to know his place as well, and, reluctantly, he agrees to do so. Outside in the hall, Jafar speaks to Jasmine and tells her that, despite how difficult things seem, she will be happier once she remembers that she is to be "seen, not heard" before leaving, much to Jasmine's annoyance.
The following night, Aladdin and Abu break into the palace in order to return Jasmine's bracelet that the latter stole before, unaware that they are being watched by Iago. Iago returns to his master and remarks that there is a thief in the palace and that he is a "diamond in the rough", before they both begin to watch him make his way through the palace. Following this, he alerts the guards to arrest Aladdin; however, rather than locking him in the dungeon, Jafar instead takes him to the desert, where the two meet. He introduces himself and explains that he was once a street rat himself in Sherebad — showing off his pickpocketing skills by stealing the piece of Jasmine's headpiece Aladdin had promised to return — before telling him that Jasmine will never respect or love him since he is just a commoner, although he can make him rich enough to impress her if he helps him. Aladdin agrees, resulting in Jafar and his men taking him and Abu to the Cave of Wonders, where he is ordered to go inside and obtain the lamp, though he must not touch anything else.
How about... my foot?
~ Jafar betraying Aladdin by using his foot to push Aladdin back into the Cave rather than lending a hand to him.
Aladdin is able to enter the Cave and obtain the lamp, along with freeing a sentient magic carpet, only for Abu to take one of the Cave's gems, enraging it into trying to trap him forever, something which Jafar didn't expect. With the help from the magic carpet, Aladdin and Abu manage to make it to Jafar at the entrance of the cave, Aladdin asking him for help getting up. Jafar has him hand over the lamp first, but rather than help him get up, he steps on Aladdin's hand and pushes him back down. However, he is attacked by Abu in doing so. Once the cave closes, Jafar triumphantly leaves Aladdin behind as he is delighted in finally getting his hands on the lamp, only to realize that Abu had stolen it from him before being sent back down into the cave, making him scream out in rage. In the cave, Aladdin discovers that the lamp contains a magical Genie, who is initially confused to see him, remarking that there is supposed to be "a guy" who had Aladdin seek out the lamp so he could gain infinite wealth or power (indirectly referencing Jafar). As it turns out, Genie is tasked to grant the owner of the lamp three wishes (with the exception of murder, romance, resurrection, and wishing for more wishes), and that Jafar intended to seek the Genie to take over Agrabah for himself. After tricking the Genie into helping them escape the Cave without using a wish, Aladdin decides to use his first wish to become a prince named Ali in order to impress Jasmine.
A few moments later, Jafar bears witness to Aladdin arriving in Agrabah in a showy manner, and is present for his meeting with the Sultan and Jasmine, which ultimately does not go well yet results in the former inviting him to Agrabah's harvest celebration anyway. That night, Jafar confronts "Prince Ali" and plays along with his deception despite his suspicions, taking the opportunity to try and hypnotize him, only for Genie (in human form) to step in and lead Aladdin away; additionally remarking that Jafar must be "the guy". An annoyed Jafar has Iago spy on Aladdin following this, and, after he takes Jasmine on a magic carpet ride and convinces her that he has always been a prince and not a street rat when she deduces his identity, Jafar does the same once Iago returns to him. Jafar has his men kidnap Aladdin and reveals that he knows who he is, tying him to a chair and threatening to drop him into the sea unless he gives up the lamp. Stubbornly refusing to give in, Aladdin keeps up his Prince Ali facade and Jafar sends him to drown as a result, walking away upon believing he has died. However, Abu and Carpet manage to send him the lamp so the Genie can free him at the cost of his second wish.
Later, Jafar approaches the Sultan and claims to have overheard Ali plotting to wage war on Agrabah with Sherebad before escaping in the night, advising him to strike first. Jasmine then arrives to the scene and proves Jafar's claims false by revealing Aladdin, much to Jafar's surprise (though he takes delight in this as it confirms to him that Aladdin does have the lamp). Aladdin angrily states that Jafar tried to have him killed and take over the throne, but Jafar uses his staff on the Sultan once again, hypnotizing him into distrusting Aladdin. However, Aladdin spotted this and grabbed Jafar's staff before smashing it to pieces, proving Jafar's treacherous nature to the Sultan. As such, the Sultan angrily orders his guards to throw Jafar into the dungeon. Once there, Jafar attempts to appeal to Hakim to think about how quickly the sands of power shifts in the storm, but the latter furiously states that he is only loyal to the Sultan. After this, Iago arrives with the cell keys and helps Jafar free himself. On the streets, Aladdin, while angry at the Genie for believing he has let his persona change him, bumps into a man on the street before going back to his old home. The man turns out to be Jafar in disguise, as he used his pick-pocketing ability to steal the lamp, immediately rubbing it and revealing himself to a horrified Genie.
Taking Over Agrabah
Why leave when the city belongs to me now? (Sultan: It's over, Jafar.) I've endured your spineless incompetence for long enough now!
~ Jafar announcing his takeover of Agrabah.
Returning back to the palace, Jafar is surrounded by the guards and confronted by the Sultan, Jasmine and Dalia, before summoning the disheartened Genie to their amazement. Jafar uses his first wish to become the new Sultan of Agrabah, and uses his new position to order Hakim and the guards to apprehend Jasmine and her father while also telling them to rally the troops in preparation for war on Sherebad; even telling Jasmine to 'stay silent' when she objected to this. Eventually, Jasmine manages to appeal to Hakim's better nature, dismaying Jafar's claims of seeking to benefit all of Agrabah by pointing out that he only seeks glory for himself. Convinced by this, Hakim orders the guards to detain Jafar for his treason against the Sultan, but this made Jafar so furious upon seeing that he is not respected even as the Sultan, that he uses his second wish to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. He immediately uses his new power to confine Hakim and all the guards, as well as Jasmine's pet tiger Rajah, into the dungeons before stopping Aladdin from stealing the lamp back. Jafar proceeds to expose Aladdin's facade to Jasmine, and then decides to kill him and Abu by banishing them to the ends of the earth, sending them to a frozen wasteland.
With his takeover of Agrabah complete and having seemingly defeated Aladdin and the guards, Jafar coldly reminded the Sultan about how he has always been told to know his place. However, rather than killing the Sultan, Jafar instead plans to make the Sultan suffer by making him watching himself rule over Agrabah and taking away what the Sultan cares the most by marrying Jasmine for himself. Jasmine initially objected to this, but Jafar forced her to accept by threatening to choke both Dalia and the Sultan. At the wedding ceremony, Jafar demands for Jasmine to speed things up until she spots Aladdin and Abu returning on the magic carpet (previously sent by Genie), and rejects marrying the former before stealing the lamp and joining the two on the carpet. Enraged, Jafar orders Iago to go after the heroes and retrieve the lamp, further transforming him into a giant roc with his staff to do so, but this fails as the Sultan tackles him and forces him to drop his staff, returning Iago to normal and allowing Abu to nab the lamp for Aladdin. Being on the end of his temper, Jafar furiously summons his staff back to him after his henchmen detain the Sultan, and uses it to create a giant sand tornado that sends the heroes and the lamp back to the palace while tearing the magic carpet apart. He proceeds to imprison Jasmine, the Sultan and Dalia in giant bubbles and taunts Aladdin of his failure while boasting about his power and intentions to create an empire for himself through war until he has unified the world under his reign.
Defeat and Imprisonment
No, no, no!!!! I will NOT forget you, boy!! Mark my words: I will NOT forget what you have done to me!! (Iago: Goodbye, Jafar!) PARROT!!! YOU'RE COMING WITH ME!!!
~ Jafar's last words as he's being dragged into his lamp, taking Iago with him.
Before Jafar could kill Aladdin with his power, the latter cleverly points out that Jafar only has his power because of the Genie since the latter gave it to him in the first place. Jafar angrily stated that Genie only serves him, but Aladdin points out that Genie's servitude will end once Jafar uses his third wish and that he will always be "second best" compared to Genie unless he does something about it. Realizing this and being prompted by Iago's taunts, Jafar angrily declares that he will not be second best to anyone and uses his third wish to become the most powerful being in the universe so that he'll be more powerful than the Genie. Having caught onto what Aladdin is really planning, Genie notes that there is a lot of grey area in Jafar's wish, but happily grants it anyway. Laughing triumphantly, Jafar proceeds to transform into an omnipotent red being himself and revels in his new powers; declaring that he is no longer second best to anyone (including Genie) anymore and that he will use his new powers to create his world empire the history cannot ignore.
As a start-off, Jafar orders Aladdin and the others to witness himself preparing an energy ball to destroy Sherebad in revenge for his poor upbringing, but he is quickly bound by shackles which prevent him from doing so, much to his horror. Aladdin and Genie then revealed to Jafar that the grey area in Jafar's last wish cost him his freedom as it gave Genie free interpretation to actually turn Jafar into a genie, and that Jafar will be bound to stay inside a new lamp until he gets a master to release him (since genies are not free entities). Realizing that he's been tricked to give away his freedom as he's being sucked into a new black lamp, Jafar angrily vows to get revenge on Aladdin once he is released, and grabs a fleeing Iago to join him in the lamp. With both Jafar and Iago finally imprisoned in the lamp, Genie happily sends them off to "cool off" for a thousand years inside the Cave of Wonders as punishment for their crimes.
With Jafar and Iago finally defeated, Rajah, Hakim and the guards are released from the dungeons, and Genie used his magic to fix and revive the magic carpet. Aladdin later used his third wish to grant Genie's freedom, allowing the latter to enter a new life with Dalia while being allowed by the Sultan to marry Jasmine.
Do you know what I had to do to get the power that I have? The sacrifices that I've made? The bodies that I've buried? The five years I spent in a Sherebad jail? People need to understand that they will pay for underestimating me! Second is not enough, and it will never be enough! That's why I need the lamp, and why I no longer need YOU!
~ Jafar expressing his sheer envy to the jailer before killing him.
Throughout the entire film, Jafar maintains his cunning and manipulative personality as witnessed through his interactions with the Sultan and Aladdin. Compared to his animated counterpart, however, he is portrayed as "an angry man" who is far more serious and an intense war hawk. He also serves as a foil and even a dark mirror to Aladdin as they came from the same background, only Jafar was whom Aladdin would have eventually become if not for the influence of both Genie and Jasmine.
Having grown as a street rat in Sherabad and eventually a prisoner for 5 years, he has yearned for nothing more than the destruction of the kingdom that once oppressed him and will do anything to achieve his revenge against those who wronged him. He has no qualms killing others for his ambitions or for being called "second best" (as he knocked a palace jailer down an empty well). Over time, his desire for a better life became blind ambition for more power leading to him unable to accept being underneath others so much when enraged he behaves rashly. This almost gets him in trouble with the Sultan, who orders him to "know his place" and leads him to imprisonment after Aladdin provokes his fury into becoming a genie.
His relationship with the Sultan slightly differs. While he maintains his resentment to the Sultan for his passive ways of ruling and alliance with Shirabad, the Sultan is willing to argue with Jafar for the sake of peace for Agrabah. When he becomes Sultan and a sorcerer, he wants the Sultan to suffer for constantly berating his status as beneath him.
In contrast to his animated counterpart's lust for Jasmine, Jafar utterly despises her likely because her mother is from Sherabad and because of her potential as Sultana. He also initially had no intention to marry her in hopes he could manipulate (most likely hypnotize as he tried with Aladdin) her suitor to prepare an army for invasion. To discourage her from entering the path, he attempts to encourage the latter to remain silent and unheard, but this backfires at the climax to the point where she defies his reign and turns the palace guards against him. His hatred of Jasmine extends to the point where he coerces her to marry him by threatening to kill the Sultan and Dalia, all just to spite her and make her suffer for her defiance against him.
Eventually, Jafar's arrogance proved to be his downfall as Aladdin exploited Jafar's hatred of being second-best and tricked him into wasting his final wish to become the most powerful being in the universe, fully aware that the grey area in that wish will allow Genie to turn Jafar into a jinn himself to be imprisoned inside a new lamp. When this was pointed out too late, Jafar proved to be in denial as he angrily blamed Aladdin for this; even when Aladdin and Genie rightfully pointed out that Jafar is to blame for sealing his own fate due to his arrogance, Jafar angrily refuses to accept this as he vows to kill Aladdin for this once he is released from his lamp, even spitefully dragging Iago with him when the latter tried to flee.
Powers & Abilities
As a former street rat, Jafar survived on his wits and cunning for years until he became the Grand Vizier of Agrabah. He is a master tactician and strategist as he can read one's character and use it to his advantage as demonstrated with the wise and pacifist sultan and the noble thief Aladdin. He also has good common sense and remarkable insight as he knew something was wrong about Prince Ali and was the second to realize he was an impostor through the maps and realized the only way Aladdin could survive his cave-in was through the lamp (which he realized Abu stole) and as such he used it to become a prince. What's more, using his own background, he recruited Aladdin through using his own origins to empathize his place. Even without his magic, Jafar proved to be very adaptable upon his escape as he used his street smarts to steal the lamp from Aladdin.
Through his snake staff, Jafar can hypnotize people to unconsciously do his bidding, but this only works if the user focuses on the red eyes of his staff. If the victim is interrupted, the pawn can revert to their consciousness.
In his study, it is also implied Jafar has studied forms of sorcery prior to his possession of the lamp such as astrology, alchemy and spell books.
Upon gaining possession of the lamp and his second wish to become the most powerful sorcerer there is, he gains a variety of new powers and is capable of telekinesis, transformation, immobilization and conjuring through his new staff. However, he is still limited to certain powers because he primarily relies on his staff to perform spells on other animated beings.
Phenomenal Cosmic Powers
Upon his final wish to become the "most powerful being in the universe" but into a genie, he initially had the power to conjure energy into a destructive projectile until he is shackled to his new lamp - as a genie he would have near-unlimited magical powers akin to the Genie of the Lamp (if not slightly superior) : however, as a genie he was also given their weaknesses, without said weaknesses Genie Jafar would easily count among the most powerful entities in the Disney shared universe.
It is implied that most of Jafar's negative traits and motives stemmed from having to grow up impoverished and bullied on by the populace of Sherebad, making him almost similar to his rival Aladdin. However, their similarities differed in how they handled their suffering. However, his ruthless nature and lack of care for anyone else negates this. Therefore, he is Pure Evil despite his tragic past.
This portrayal of Jafar is one of the most criticized aspects from the 2019 live action remake of Aladdin, which received mixed reviews, mostly due to his lack of humor and musical numbers in comparison to his original version in 1992, and the fact that he never transforms into a giant cobra to fight Aladdin like he did in the original. In addition, it was also criticized for a lack of menacing voice, though the time of when he was transformed into a genie was pretty close to a menacing voice similar to his original counterpart's.
In the novelization of the Aladdin remake, Jafar's role as a foil to Aladdin is further expanded. During the climax, Aladdin even compares Jafar as who he would've become with the influence of Genie and Jasmine. This inspires him to confront Jafar himself to save him from his own lust for power (in what could've been Jafar's redemption), but like the film, Jafar wishes to become an all-powerful being and becomes a genie. A subtle difference in the novel was that Jafar realized his pride's downfall and begged not to be tethered to his fate in the lamp to no avail.
On a minor note in the novelization, Jafar is at least compared once as a direct foil to the following characters; Aladdin (their street rat backgrounds and the primary foil to Jafar ), Jasmine (their desire to be Sultan of Agrabah) and Hakim (how they rose to power from their humble origins).