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Villain Overview

With the armies of the brothers fractured, the kingdom collapsed into darkness and the blight of the Great Black Mor'du fell across his domain. Desiring power over the bonds of family, Mor'du has wandered endlessly, his soul forever buried inside the scarred and tormented shell.
~ The Witch about Mor'du.
The spell... It's happened before. Strength of ten men... Fate be changed... Changed his fate. Oh no. The prince became... Mor'du!
~ Merida realizing Mor'du's true identity during her second encounter with him when she visits the ruins that was his former home with her mother.

Mor'du is the main antagonist of Pixar's 13th full-length animated feature film Brave and the titular main protagonist of the short film The Legend of Mor'du. He was originally a human prince and the oldest of his siblings who seeks to rule his kingdom and gain the strength of ten men, but his hunger for power ended up turning him into a monstrous, unhinged bear. He was King Fergus' arch-nemesis.

His vocal sound effects were provided by both Frank Welker (whom also did the sound effects of the Harvesters in Independance Day, Dragon Ludmilla in Bartok the Magnificent, Rudy in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Max 3000 in Man's Best Friend, Sharptooth in The Land Before Time, Sabor in Tarzan, and Red Death in How to Train Your Dragon) and Fred Tatasciore.

Personality

When Mor'du was a human, he had once possessed a close familial bond with his father and three younger brothers. However, he was confident in his strength but confused this for character and thus led to his arrogance, a trait that caused him to struggle with his loved ones. Like Merida, he let his pride control his actions and clashed with his family, but unlike her, he was willing to let hatred and desire get the better of him instead of realizing his mistakes, and mend what was left of his broken family. His desire for power drove him to go far enough to start a violent war, and then ultimately killed his own brothers in cold blood.

As a black bear, Mor'du's hatred and rage manifested through his actions and carnage, especially when he slaughtered his remaining family. However, after fighting his own men, his violent and dangerous nature would eventually consume what was left of his humanity, leaving his human mind and conscience buried deep within the mind of his cursed form. As a result, Mor'du was left as a cruel, vicious, malevolent, destructive and bloodthirsty monster who was incapable of sapience. His uncontrollable violence was so prominent that even a young woman could fall victim to his murderous intentions and all of Scotland knew and feared him.

When he was finally killed, the spirit of the eldest prince was finally released and, apparently learning from his tyrannical and oppressive mistakes, and what his intense lust for power had turned him into, thanked Merida with respect for releasing him and moved on peacefully to the afterlife; becoming a will-o-wisp.

Appearance

As a human prince, Mor'du was powerfully built and was the tallest of his brothers. He had brown hair and a beard as well as wearing a dark-colored robe paired with an animal fur cloak. He did not wear a shirt, which showed that his body was covered with various tattoos. He also had unnaturally glowing yellow eyes.

As a monstrous, feral Eurasian brown bear with large claws and sharp fangs, Mor'du is covered completely black fur, very large and stands 13 feet tall, making him much bigger than an average bear of the same species. He displays many scars, scratch marks, cuts and wounds throughout his face and body and weapons such as broken shafts of arrows, spears and axes from many past attempts to kill him sticking from his back, proof of all the murder he has committed over the years. This makes him appear malformed and rugged, but still very large. His face is the most disfigured of all, the culmination of which is that he has a crooked lower jaw , a bald head devoid of any fur, and one blind eye.

Powers and Abilities

  • Bear Physiology: After drinking a spell given to him by a witch, Mor'du was transformed into a enormous black bear with incredible abilities.
    • Enhanced Strength: Before losing his humanity, the prince was already exceptionally strong. Thanks to the potion he drank, Mor'du's incredible power multiplied ten-times, making him nigh-unstoppable. For example, he was capable of defeating an entire army all by himself, can smash through stone and can easily toss another bear that is almost as big as himself.
    • Enhanced Durability: Mor'du is highly durable as his bodily tissues are substantially harder than that of either humans or regular bears. A testament of his durability is his ability to remain unfazed and tenacious in spite of being burned and scarred as well as having various weapons such as arrows and spears stuck on his back and even capable of shrugging off everything that Scottish warriors throw at him with so much comfort. Even Elinor who was cursed in the same way with Mor'du is unable to inflict significant damage to his cursed body. Even so, Mor'du's durability still have its limits and therefore, he is not invincible.
    • Enhanced Speed and Stamina: Mor'du possesses high speed and stamina as he can remain physically active for long periods of time, sprint at a high speed and even fight for hours without showing no signs of exhaustion or tiredness.
    • Enhanced Endurance: Mor'du's endurance is incredibly developed as he was able to take attacks from Scottish warriors, Merida, King Fergus and Elinor and still fight back.
    • Claws and Teeth: Like all bears, Mor'du possesses sharpened canine teeth and large razor-edged claws that are capable of biting and slashing.
    • Night Vision: Mor'du has excellent night vision as he is able to see clearly in the dark.
    • Enhanced Longevity: As kingdom he once hailed from vanished from memory, it is safe to assume that Mor'du has managed to live for hundreds of years without losing any of his strength.

History

The Legend of Mor'du

Mor'du was born as a human prince; the first-born son of a wise king ruling a peaceful kingdom and the eldest of four brothers. As they grew into adulthood, the four princes became incredibly close to each other and well-known for their unique gifts, with the eldest prince being recognized for his great strength, which he mistook for being synonymous for character.

Then one autumn, the old king grew gravely ill with old age. Sensing that his time was imminent, he called his sons to his deathbed to spend his final moments with as well as announce his will. He proclaimed that instead of his rule passing solely to his eldest child, all four of his sons would share equal authority over the kingdom, believing that their combined gifts would make the kingdom even greater than before. But while his younger sons accepted their dying father's final wish, the eldest son strongly disagreed with sharing his birthright, believing that he alone should rule the kingdom. He was so angry about it that he even refused to mourn for his dead father and king as they burned his body at a funeral pyre, unlike his brothers and everyone else present.

The prince eventually allowed his selfishness to consume him completely. One day after their father's death, within the throne room of their castle, the prince declared to his brothers that the kingdom was his alone to rule and demanded that they should serve him. Obviously, they refused, and in response, the prince furiously used his axe to cleave a stone carving of the four princes, right between him and them, thus symbolically severing his brotherly bond with them. This eventually resulted in a terrible civil war between those who supported the prince's right to rule and those who were against it, fighting it out in open plains, dense forests and raging seas. The eldest prince commanded a small but powerful army, but against the allied armies of his brothers, the war was locked in a bitter stalemate.

During one winter night, the prince cursed the fate for not letting him be victorious and went out into the woods with his horse in search of any opponents. He then came to rest at a peculiar and ancient ring of stones, and it was there that the will-o'-the-wisp appeared before him. Riding his steed, the prince followed the wisps to the edge a dark lake, where he saw a humble cottage on a small cottage far from the shore. He then entered the house and met its owner; a mysterious witch who claimed to be able to grant any desire to those who visit her. Sensing an opportunity to turn the tides of war in his favor, the prince demanded a spell that would grant him the power to change his fate. Specifically, he wanted the strength of ten men and offered his signet ring as payment for her service. Persuaded, the witch prepared a potion that would grant him his dark desire, but behind all his arrogance, she could sense a wounded soul aching for companionship. As she offered him the potion within a horn, she told him that if the spell was not to his liking, he could break it by healing the bonds of family he himself had broken.

The prince then baited his brothers back into the castle with a false truce. When they arrived, the prince proclaimed himself as the absolute ruler of the kingdom and once again demanded their servitude. As his brothers protested to this claim, he stood before them and drank the potion that the witch had granted him. The spell immediately took effect, multiplying his strength tenfold like he wanted, but at the cost of transforming him into a large, black bear, much to his shock. At that moment, he remembered that he could reverse the transformation by giving up his selfish ambition and re-embrace his brothers again. After much thought, however, his desire to rule ultimately overcame his love. He accepted his new form, and with the immense strength it had given him, he defeated and slaughtered his brothers in cold blood.

Victorious, he went outside to take command of his soldiers and those of his brothers, but they were unable to recognize their ruler with his new body. Terrified by the sight of the beast, the soldiers took up arms against him and attempted to kill him. Angered by their apparent betrayal, or perhaps posessed by the bear's feral mind, the prince retaliated and killed a great number of them. He received many wounds during the battle, including a dead eye and a broken jaw, but none of these scars were enough to stop him. Those that managed to survive his wrath fled the land in fear of the beast. With the armies fractured, the once great kingdom collapsed completely and its memory faded into myth. The former prince, now known by many as the dreaded Mor'du, was cursed to wander the land as a monster hated and feared by all.

In time, the last remnants of his humanity faded away, and his mind replaced with that of the creature he had become, though his resentful soul remained trapped within his scarred, beastly shell. His new body was also immortal to the ravages of age and time, as he was able to live for many centuries. Over the centuries, Mor'du wandered the woods and became a feared adversary throughout all of Scotland, even inspiring several fables, legends, and stories. The tale of his life as a human was also remembered to an extant, and is often used as a cautionary tale for those who would attempt to alter the fate that they are believed to be born with.

Brave

Mor'du appears three times in the movie. He was first seen near the beginning, watching a young Merida in the distance retrieving a bow that she shot into the forest. The Will O' the Wisps were able to lead her out of the forest, but Mor'du follows her to the camp and attacks. Queen Elinor takes Merida to safety while King Fergus and his guards attack Mor'du. But, Mor'du shows no fear to fight them by breaking Fergus' spear, but Fergus takes out his sword to face the bear. As Elinor and Merida ride away on a horse, Fergus confronts Mor'du and urges him to attack, prompting the monster bear to lunge at Fergus, destroy his sword and bite off his leg before retreating into the forest. No one saw Mor'du since, but Fergus fought and trained for the day Mor'du returned.

After many years, Merida had become a teenager, and made a deal with the same witch that cursed Mor'du so that she could change her mother's decision to make her marry one of the three princes. This caused Elinor to be transformed into a bear like Mor'du, and the Will O' the Wisps later led the two into the ruins of the ancient castle. Merida fell in and stumbled onto a portrait of the four brothers, including Mor'du, and found it split like the tapestry of her family. Merida soon came to the realization that Mor'du was the prince, but at that moment, finds herself confronted by the monster bear, who reveals himself and attacks her. Merida fires an arrow straight at Mor'du's head, but it did no damage whatsoever. The demon bear charged at Merida as she climbed up the ruins of the castle to get to the opening. Mor'du lunged at her, but she was pulled out by Elinor. Mor'du bursted out of the ruins, but Elinor pushed a giant rock down on Mor'du, presumably killing him and allowing Merida and Elinor to escape.

However, it was revealed that Mor'du had survived and wandered around the forest searching for the two. He later saw Merida and her baby brothers, who had also turned into bears, riding on Merida's horse Angus, and hid behind a tree. Watching them ride away, Mor'du was able to catch up with them. Merida saves Elinor from getting killed by Fergus, who thought she was Mor'du, when the real demon bear approaches the warriors and challenged them for a duel. The lords and their warriors charged to attack Mor'du, but were knocked aside effortlessly. Fergus punched Mor'du in the face and challenged him, but was quickly overpowered and thrown into a pillar.

As Mor'du emerged victorious, Merida shot him in the neck with two arrows, but they've done little damage and he pinned her to the ground. Mor'du opened his mouth and tried to maul her, but Elinor, seeing her daughter in danger, escaped from her bonds and charged at Mor'du. She tackled him, although he knocked her off and turned his attention to Merida once more, but was intercepted by Elinor, who challenged Mor'du. The two bears engaged in a violent fight, whereupon Mor'du gains the upper hand and threw Elinor into a pillar, but she dragged him back before he could kill Merida and started to repeatedly beat Mor'du against the pillar, only for him to strike her down. As Mor'du stalks towards Merida and her injured mother to finish them, the broken menhir falls and crushes him to death, finally killing the demon bear.

The bear's claws protrude from underneath the menhir, but Mor'du's death finally releases the Prince's tormented spirit, who nods his head thankfully at Merida as thanks for freeing him from the curse before he takes on the form of a wisp and disappears into the afterlife.

Trivia

  • Mor'du's name may come from "mortus", the Latin word for "dead". It may have also come from "murh deugh", the Gaelic words for "Great Black".
  • Mor'du is the fourth main Pixar movie villain to actually die at the end of his film, after Hopper from A Bug's Life, Syndrome from The Incredibles and Charles Muntz from Up, followed by Ernesto de la Cruz of Coco (though the former was already dead).
    • Mor'du is also the first main Pixar villain to become a spirit after death, The second being Ernesto de la Cruz. Though in his case, it's only at the every end when he becomes a spirit.
  • Mor'du is the first main Pixar movie villain who never says a word of English onscreen. His only line "his wish for strength" is simply paraphrased by the Witch.
  • Mor'du is not a werebear, as a werebeast creature that can transform into a bear which is also least popular in some Norse mythology. For Mor'du to be a werebear, he would be able to resume human form, but he was cursed forever to live as a monster.
    • Mor'du's story may also be based on Prince Bjorn from a Norse folktake, a prince who was turned into a bear by his wicked stepmother and was killed by his father, without knowing.
  • Mor'du has similarities to these historical villains:
    • Just as Emperor Nero did, he murdered members of his own family to seize power over the throne and his selfishness and lust for power caused his kingdom to fall into ruin.
    • Mor'du's reign of terror is also like the late Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, because he refused to take responsibility for the lives and traditions of his people, murdered millions of innocent citizens without remorse, and allowed his homeland to fall into decay.
  • It is said in the Song of Mor'du that he has devoured dozens, including babies. Whether or not this is actually true is unknown. Regardless, this would make it one of Disney's darkest songs, as most of the time, Disney usually likes to keep a family-friendly image 24/7, only taking risks if goes according to the story.
  • Mor'du is the first main Pixar movie villain who redeems himself. He was later followed by Gabby Gabby from Toy Story 4.
  • Mor'du's character, motivations, and actions are a dark parallel to those of Merida. Both clash with their families because of pride but go in two different directions. While Merida just wants to be free and frequently clashes with her family, she truly cares for them and shows no hesitation to try and break the spell when she accidentally curses them. Mor'du, on the other hand, only wants to rule the kingdom because of himself being both first-born and the heir to the throne, and instead of realizing his mistake and breaking the spell he inflicts on himself, he allows his pride to get the better of him and murders his family without remorse.
    • Both Mor'du and Merida also damaged their respective family heirlooms as part of declaring their separation, the carved stone and the tapestry respectively, only to later regret what their actions caused. Even more disturbing, Mor'du's effigy on the carving appears to have been viciously clawed, implying that he hated what he had done.
  • Despite being the main antagonist, he has only around 10 minutes of screen-time.
  • It should be noted that Mor'du seemingly had a strange obsession with killing Merida specifically (a far cry from lust), as in every scene he was in, she was always the main target.
    • It can be presumed that he followed her because, as the Will-o'-the-Wisps can lead anyone to their fate, Mor'du (having encountered the wisps before as a human) might have wanted to kill Merida as she is the one following the wisps, or even deeper, she could be his key to setting himself free of his curse.
  • Mor'du seemingly has the highest kill count in Pixar.

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