Madam Mim (also known as Mad Madam Mim) is the main antagonist of Disney's 1963 animated feature film, The Sword in the Stone. She is a wicked, old witch who relishes in the misery of others. Mim believes herself to be the greatest wizard of all time, but her magic is rivaled by her nemesis, Merlin.
Mim's past is mostly unknown. At some unknown point, she managed to harness her magical powers, which she likely used for negative means, and has become quite convinced of her power. She chose to use this magic for evil purposes. It is also implied that she already knew Merlin, and they were not on friendly terms.
Madam Mim appears in the original version of the novel, but not in the revised version featured in The Once and Future King which is more commonly known. This character was the basis for the film character. Mim was animated by two of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men, Milt Kahl (who also designed the character, refining storyboard sketches from Bill Peet), and Frank Thomas. Kahl animated her initial interaction with Arthur, while Thomas oversaw her famous "Wizards' Duel" with Merlin.
Madam Mim is a witch whose powers quite possibly rival those of Merlin himself, though overconfidence nevertheless proves to be her biggest flaw. An old rival of Merlin, she holds him in disregard. Mim is presented as a conceited spellcaster boisterously impressed with her own power, who also uses magic sadistically. She is also a highly morbid character with an abhorrence for all things wholesome, especially sunshine. She also enjoyed the concept of an intruder being sick with a cough, expressing out loud her hope that he had constricted something severe, and being disappointed when she realizes he is just a bird briefly coughing up ashes and soot. However, when she realized he was a transfigured human being, she boisterously showed off her arsenal of magic, though, as he pointed out, her magic was useless and used for evil, in stark contrast to her archenemy.
Aside from being arrogant and sadistic, Madam Mim is also cunning, dishonest, traitorous, calculating, and unscrupulous. Movie viewers observe this when she broke her own rules during her duel with Merlin; she even used a so-called loophole when she took on the form of a dragon. Mim clearly doesn't care in the least about rules, so she probably made them up solely for the sake of limiting Merlin (as the latter's honorable character would not allow him to break rules), and as Merlin's pet owl, Archimedes declares, "she only wants rules so she can break em!". Ironically, she breaks Merlin's only rule ("Rule four: No cheating") multiple times throughout their standoff.
Powers and Abilities
Dark Magic Mastery: While Madam Mim claims to surpass Merlin in power, she is actually no more than a pretentious, garden-variety hex. She is initially shown withering flowers and performing other minor tricks such as conjuring a broom.
- Shapeshifting/Transfiguration: The main ability she displays, however, is her shape-shifting skill. She is capable of transfiguring her face into that of a warty pig, as well as her full body into a slender and attractive woman. Her "Wizards' Duel" with Merlin further highlights her penchant for shape-shifting. On this occasion, she turns into a cat, a crocodile, a fox, a chicken, an elephant, a tiger, a snake and a rhino (all of which had purple hair, were colored pink and occasionally had purple stripes). She ends her little performance with the transformation into a menacing, grotesque purple dragon. Even in a state of immense sickness, she was able to transfigure herself back into a human.
- Size Manipulation: She can also change her size, from as tall as a giant to the size of a mouse. She can also fly on a broomstick as she was shown to be able to fly on a broomstick when she shrunk herself.
- Flight: Madam Mim can fly on a broomstick while standing up, showing she has good coordination.
- Teleportation: Madam Mim can disappear and/or turn invisible, in order to sneak up on an enemy.
- Peak-Human Durability: Madam Mim's skull can withstand a large rock crushing it. She also survived contracting a lethal disease from Merlin's transfiguration into a germ.
Pathological Indomitable Will: Madam Mim possesses an obliviousness to danger that makes her invulnerable to fear and intimidation, with nothing capable of controlling her, appealing to her better nature, or prompting her to realize her limits. Hence, Madam Mim does not fear failure and will even threaten her own life to achieve her goal or make a point.
After Merlin transforms Arthur into a bird, Arthur finds himself pursued by a hawk and subsequently flees into the woods. He unwittingly perches atop the abode of Madam Mim, ducking into her chimney as the hawk swoops once more at him in a predatory lunge. Arthur surprises Mim with his inadvertent arrival, which she notices when she hears him coughing out the soot. Upon learning that Arthur had been transformed and is fanatically loyal to Merlin, Mim tries to convince Arthur that she is superior to Merlin, but Arthur remains unconvinced, citing Merlin's benevolence when using magic. This infuriates Mim, being that she sees all good things as bad ("Yes, and in my book, that's bad!"), so she decides to destroy him.
She attacks and captures Arthur, but Arthur pecks her in the nose, then Merlin appears in a whirlwind and prevents Mim from destroying Arthur by interrupting her. (Archimedes had just previously alerted Merlin regarding Arthur's whereabouts.) This results in a "Wizards' Duel" between her and Merlin for the young boy's life.
Mim sets the rules for the duel: only animal transformations, no make-believe creatures (“like, oh...pink dragons and stuff.”), and no disappearing. Though she breaks her third rule immediately by vanishing and reappearing behind Merlin as a crocodile, she plays fair for most of the duel, favoring larger transformations that try to either eat Merlin or crush him. After Merlin headbutts her off a cliff, she turns into a dragon (notably a purple one) and quickly traps Merlin in her claws, but he outsmarts her by transforming into a germ and infecting her. She is last seen at home in her bed, recovering from the disease. Merlin advises her to get plenty of rest and sunshine, opening a hole in her roof as he speaks. Mim rants about how much she hates sunshine as Merlin (now annoyed) departs with Archimedes and Arthur.
Madam Mim appeared as a cameo in various House of Mouse episodes. In the episode "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation", she appeared alongside Mushu, Maleficent, Elliott, and the Reluctant Dragon. In the episode "Goofy's Valentine Date", she is one of the female guests that Mortimer Mouse flirts with, thus causing her to change into her dragon-form. She breathes fire on him as well. Resulting in him saying "My, my, my". In Mickey's House of Villains, she proceeds to help the villains take over scaring everyone away gathering the heroes and corralling them into the kitchen along with the Card Soldiers.
She is seen watching the final battle between Mickey and Jafar. After Jafar is defeated, she flees with the other villains.
Mim was adopted into the Donald Duck comics, where she sometimes teams up with Magica De Spell and/or the Beagle Boys. She has also teamed up with Pete on occasion and even the Phantom Blot at one point. She was in love with Captain Hook in several stories; in others, with the Phantom Blot. In some European Disney comics, she has lost her truly evil streak, and appears both morbid yet still relatively polite.
Madam Mim makes very frequent appearances in Dutch Disney comics, in which she's often paired up with her good friend Witch Hazel.
Descendants: Isle of the Lost
Madam Mim is among the villains imprisoned in the Isle of the Lost. She is mentioned to also have granddaughters (one of them named Mad Maddy) living there with her.
Madam Mim appears near the end of the book. People of Camelot and Cinderellasburg are in distress due to spotting a dragon in their midst, and later a snake. She had found a way to escape the Isle of the Lost through a magical tunnel underground that led to the dwarf mines of Auradon. Though initially thinking it was Maleficent, the hero kids later find out that it was Madam Mim. After a tough battle, Ben holds her at swordpoint with the legendary sword Excalibur, forcing her to stop mid-attack. Merlin then sends her back to the Isle of the Lost.
- In the alternate opening, screenwriters intended to have Madam Mim usurp the throne of England by trying to kill Arthur (even before pulling the sword) and using a raven to keep surveillance. This was changed for an unknown reason.
- Madam Mim interacts with Merlin's wise owl, Archimedes, only once, calling him "feather-brain" when he teases her disregard for keeping rules.
- It is learned that Madam Mim hates sunshine, thinking of it as being too wholesome.
- Despite her affliction, Madam Mim did not die from her illness; her counterpart in the book, meanwhile, died at the end of the duel.
- Mim mirrors a common theme from European folklore whilst attempting to impress Arthur: after bewitching her features to look porcine, she morphs into a siren with long, purple hair.
- Madam Mim's only known appearance in a Disney On Ice show (or any known live appearance, for that matter) was in the Mickey's Diamond Jubilee show, which toured from 1988 to 1993.
- In World of Illusion, an unnamed Madam Mim is the boss of the library/cookie jar level.
- In Italy, she is known as Maga Magò and occasionally shows up in Mickey Mouse comics set in the modern day.
- In the comics, Madam Mim has a male cat named Spitfire.
- Curiously, in some versions of the film, Madam Mim's first line in the movie was cut for unknown reasons. The line in question is "Sounds like someone's sick. How lovely. I do hope it's serious. Something dreadful."