|“||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 villainous protagonist of Pixar's short 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 Merida and King Fergus' arch-nemesis.
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.
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 bear with large claws and sharp fangs, Mor'du is completely black, very large and is 13 feet tall, making him much bigger than an average human. He has many scars, scratches and wounds all over 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 upper 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 in which he has a crooked lower jaw. Thanks to the potion he drank, he is granted with the massive strength of ten men; he was able to stand against the greatest warriors of four Scottish clans and defeat them all with little effort, despite Scottish people being among the finest warriors in the world. The potion also granted him a degree of resilience to injury as he doesn't seem bothered by weapons stuck on his back, along with a strong hide. King Fergus' sword was said to have shattered when he swung it against the beast's side and when Merida attempted to fend him off with an arrow to the forehead, it splintered into bits when it struck him.
Mor'du was once a human prince and the eldest of his four brothers. All of them were sons of a wise king ruling a peaceful kingdom. As time grew, the eldest prince was known for his strength, which he mistook for character. At the his deathbed, the king announced that he would not pass the crown to the eldest, but rather divide the kingdom among the four sons so that they could rule together peacefully.
However, the eldest prince felt disgraced and refused to accept this, believing that he alone should rule the kingdom. His selfishness destroyed the bond with his brothers, which resulted in a war within them and their armies. As the battle remained a bitter stalemate, the eldest prince cursed his fate and went through the woods, where he found a witch's cottage. The eldest prince convinced the witch to give him a spell that will grant him the "strength of ten men", paying her with the ring of his house. After the witch formulated the spell and put in a goblet, she warned him of making a choice: either he would fulfill his dark desire or mend the broken bonds with his brothers.
Apparently taking no notice of this, the prince took the spell and lured his three younger brothers back to their father's throne-room under the false pretense of a truce. After they refused to surrender, the eldest prince drank the spell, which gave him the strength of ten men, but to his surprise, in the form of a great black bear. Though the eldest prince could have taken the chance to mend his family bond torn by his pride, he instead embraced his new form and murdered his brothers in cold blood.
Victorious, he returned to command his army, but they saw only the dreaded beast and thus turned against him. As a result, the eldest prince slaughtered many of his former soldiers while the extreme few survivors fled from him, and the fracturing of the armies led to the kingdom's collapse, leading to his temporary downfall. As centuries passed, the prince lost his humanity, his mind replaced with that of the beast he had become. Known as Mor'du, he wandered the woods and became notorious throughout Scotland.
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 shakes 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.
Powers and Abilities
Mor'du is the strongest character in the film; he is immensely powerful and his strength is described in the whole film as "Strength of Ten Men". But he is shown to be far stronger than that (or it could be ten times stronger than Coran); he defeated an entire army all by himself, slaughtered anyone who is on his way, easily breaks through stone, and can easily toss another bear that is almost as big as himself.
In addition of his immense strength, it appeared that the very curse that turned him into monstrous bear also resulting Mor'du's bodily tissues 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 having various weapons remained stuck on his back and able to shrug off everything that Scottish warriors throw at him with so much comfort. Even Elinor whom cursed in the same way with Mor'du unable to inflict significant damage to his cursed body. Even so, Mor'du's durability still have its limits and therefore, not invincible. When Elinor caused a menhir fall onto him, the resulting impact proved too much for him to survive it, and he finally dies.
- David Tennant, Jeremy Irons, David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jemaine Clement, and Sacha Baron Cohen were considered for the role of Mor'du, who will be a speaking villain. In the final cut, he is a non-speaking villain.
- 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) and Curse Dragon from Onward.
- Mor'du is also the first main Pixar villain to become a spirit after death, The second being Ernesto de la Cruz.
- 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.