John Silver is the main antagonist of Disney's 2002 animated feature film Treasure Planet. He is a cybernetic pirate captain who dedicated his life to finding Treasure Planet and achieving ultimate prosperity. Driven by greed, Silver was ruthless in his pursuit—feared by all and challenged by none. However, an unanticipated bond with an impressionable delinquent would slowly break through Silver's villainous exterior.
John Silver was animated through a mix of traditional hand-drawn techniques and cel-shaded computer animation for his cybernetic enhancements. To test and figure out how these blended techniques could be achieved, animators would apply the computer-animated arm to pencil animation of Captain Hook.
Silver is rather greedy and cunning, having spent most of his life searching for the treasure of Captain Flint, but he has a caring side, too, and understands that friendship can be more important than treasure. He dislikes unnecessary acts of violence and cruelty, originally intending to mutiny only after the treasure was in hand, and thus, avoiding bloodshed as much as possible, and is generally honest and honorable in his piratical dealings. Nonetheless, he maintains a constant air of harsh brutality and deception around his crewmates, understandably necessary to maintain his position as their leader.
Based on Long John Silver from the original novel, he is a cyborg: part machine, part organic. His alien form resembles a cross between some sort of bear and human (and robot), identified as the alien species Ursid, though they never mention this in the movie itself. He has a cyborg arm, leg, ear, and eye from some unknown incident, though he mentions when asked by Jim that "You give up a few things, chasing a dream.", so presumably they were lost in his search for Treasure Planet. His cyborg arm serves many purposes, such as cooking implements, a sword, a pistol, and welding tool, and his cyborg eye has zoom functions and improves his aim, while his mechanical leg appears to contain an addition that he can put on his arm's mechanics to create a low-grade plasma cannon.
- Cybernetics - Silver is a cyborg (cybernetic organism), his right arm, leg, and eye replaced with cybernetic prosthetics and enhancements, all of which contain a myriad of functions.
- Cybernetic Arm - Silver's cyborg arm serves a variety of functions, containing a surprising amount of tools as well as weapons, such as a clamp, a sword, a plasma flintlock pistol, a torch/flamethrower, a plethora of sharp implements and tools, like scissors, a cleaver, cooking wares, etc., pincer-esque appendages, and more.
- Cybernetic Peg Leg - Silver's cyborg leg works via hydraulic pump, so damage to it inhibits him, leaving him to limp until it can be repaired. It also carries a detachable grenade launcher Silver can attach to his cyborg arm.
- Cyborg Eye - Silver's eye gives him several optic visionary functions he can use simultaneously, such as Zoom-in, Thermal vision, Night vision, X-Ray, and more. His eye is also linked to his emotions; while in a neutral state, it is a golden-yellow hue, but when angered, it changes to a more violent red coloration.
- Cooking - Silver is a master chef and maximizes his cooking skills with his cybernetic tools, enabling him to cook his dishes at a surprising rate of speed
Initially, Captain Amelia assigns him as the ship's cook and gives him the task of looking after Jim Hawkins. At first, they do not get along; Jim suspects Silver of being the cyborg who torched his mother's inn, and Silver does not enjoy having to look after Jim, concerned that he may get wind of the plans. He decides to give Jim so much work that he won't notice any plotting. However, as the journey passes and Silver gets to know how strong-willed and determined Jim is, they form a father-son relationship.
When Jim's confidence is dashed after Mr. Arrow, the first mate falls into a black hole, Silver realizes that it must have been Scroop who did it and tries to comfort Jim, convincing him not to give up.
However, soon after, Silver has to tell his mutinous crew that he sees Jim as nothing more than a "nose-wiping little whelp" to keep them in line, and Jim hears this just as they arrive on Treasure Planet itself. When Jim escapes with the map, he could not bring himself to shoot him. He later apologizes and offers Jim a deal on the treasure, his deal appearing genuine, but grows angry when Jim turns him down, and threatens to blast him to kingdom come, although he is also shown to not wish to do this.
Later, Silver captures Captain Amelia and Dr. Doppler and took the map, and Jim along with it. When Silver finally gets the treasure, Treasure Planet begins to self-destruct, and Jim almost falls to his death. Silver has to choose between taking some of the treasure and saving Jim. He chooses Jim, which effectively saves his life as between them, they build a solar-surfer, and Jim manages to save the entire remaining crew from destruction.
Silver then attempts to escape the consequences of prison for his actions, but Jim catches him. They exchange a heart-warming goodbye, and Silver also gives Jim his pet shape-shifter, Morph, to have Jim remember Silver by. Just before Silver leaves, he gives Jim the few gems he had managed to salvage from Treasure Planet, enough for Jim to rebuild the Benbow Inn. At the very end of the film, Jim looks up to the clouds and remembers John Silver and the star/cyborg eye twinkles.
Treasure Planet 2 (canceled)
Silver was originally going to return in the canceled sequel Treasure Planet 2, where he would be revealed to have started a smuggling ring, and comes back to help Jim, Amelia, Doppler, and their friends defend their galaxy from a villain named Ironbeard, albeit of the sake of acquiring the new ship Ironbeard had stolen.
- Though Silver did not fully reform by the end of the film, the sequel game, Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon, establishes that he did learn the error of his ways and went straight over time.
- In the original Treasure Island novel, John Silver knew Captain Flint, having served as his quartermaster, and claimed to be the only man Flint ever feared, in contrast to the film version.
- Silver is one of only two primary antagonists in the Disney Animated Canon to be redeemed, the other being Amos Slade from The Fox and the Hound.
- This incarnation of the character never uses the nickname "Long John Silver".
- Before Jim damages his mechanical leg, Silver walked normally; after that, he has to help himself with a crutch, much like in the original book.
- In an earlier version of the story, when Silver saves Jim at the cost of the treasure, Silver would've been actually unable to let go of the treasure due to his arm getting stuck, so he would have had to remove it, leaving him with one arm. This was changed, however, as it reminded the crew too much of "The Fugitive".
- Despite being named "John Silver", his first name is never mentioned in the film at all. It is only mentioned in the end credits.