- “I can look into your eyes, and I can tell you're not evil.”
- ―Ben's belief in Mal's goodness
A natural-born leader, Mal takes charge of carrying out her mother's evil plan to steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand and enjoys drawing and casting spells (but only if needed).
As the movie progresses, Mal lets go of much of her former fears and goals, becoming in tune with her true self; thus she abandons the hollow life of evil, for a life of good. With friendship and love, Mal ended filling the hole in her that couldn't be satisfied through what her mother had taught her.
Mal is a sneaky, smart, and (sometimes) ruthless girl who is a natural leader. Though she is compassionate to a degree she is also vengeful and unforgiving. She is artistic and has a knack for casting spells, but only if needed. As the daughter of Maleficent, she wants to be like her mother: pure evil. Yet whenever she tries to prove herself to her mother, she often disappoints her instead. But she does enjoy coming up with evil plans and is the most feared at her previous school because of her reputation. She isn't fond of beautiful surroundings or anything pink and finds them to be horrid, but she does sometimes wonder about how life would be off the island. Despite this, she is not necessarily immoral; she is just misguided. Her "mean girl" facade is an act because she does not want to be seen as weak in her mother's eyes; being one is the only way she is respected by Maleficent, who never cared about Mal. Ben is the only person who saw through Mal's act, and saw her for who she was, a good person.
In the second novel, Mal is more open and still cherishes Ben; it makes her happy that Ben loves her, despite Mal being the opposite of Auradon princesses. She retains a fear of her mother escaping imprisonment and causing trouble. She also shows regret, for abusing her old friend Mad Maddy. Mal is the only one of her friends not to be tempted by an enchanted item that belonged to their parents, as her heart was filled with love and friendship. She is still the one with most common sense amongst them, as she knew using the talismans (even for a good cause) would cause items to corrupt them.
Mal is described as a pretty girl with dark purple hair with highlights of lighter shades of purple, that is curly, and reaches a little bit over her shoulders. She has gray eyes and is of medium height. She mostly wears purple and shades of green during the movie. At Ben's coronation, she wears a lavender dress that is short on the front but long and regal looking on the back. Mal had her hair tied up in a top knot. According to Descendants: Isle of the Lost, she has a dragon-shaped marking on her arm, the symbol of Maleficent.
Powers & Abilities
Mal is trained in dark forms of magic, courtesy of her mother. Due to the Isle of the Lost negating magic inside the dome, Mal only begins practicing magic after leaving the island, and therefore is only skilled at basic magic. By Descendants: Wicked World however, it's noted by others that something bad almost always happens every time she uses magic despite being skilled in the film. At times whenever she is stressed or agitated, her eyes can glow green. By Descendants 2, this is shown to be a latent indication of her growing powers as by the end she has awoken the ability to transform into a dragon.
Mal is first seen spray painting a brick city wall. Then, she and her friends wreak havoc across an area of the Isle of the Lost. ("Rotten to the Core") After taking a lollipop from a toddler, her mother Maleficent arrives. She gives the news that the four have been chosen to attend Auradon Prep. She gives the four a task to steal the Fairy Godmother's wand, and hands over her spellbook to Mal. When they arrive at Auradon Prep, they are welcomed by the Fairy Godmother and Prince Ben, who made the decree that they be given a chance to live among them. Audrey, Ben's girlfriend and the daughter of Aurora, is unwelcoming and rude. Mal and Audrey exchange awkward looks, before Audrey takes Ben away.
Mal and Evie become roommates to a room Mal finds "gross," but Evie secretly loves. At night, the two girls enter Jay and Carlos' dorm while Jay and Carlos are enjoying they almost forgot what they are here for then Mal tells that it is their one chance to prove their parents that they are evil. Then they went to the museum after knowing where the wand is being held. Mal successfully puts the guard into a deep sleep, and they go look for the wand. They enter a room, which contains statues of their parents; Mal stays behind, having a vision of her mother encouraging her to go through with the plan to steal the wand. ("Evil Like Me") They find the wand, but Jay accidentally sets off the alarm when trying to take the wand. They narrowly escape, thanks to Carlos reporting the alarm as a malfunction.
The next day, they have school; Mal aces Remedial Goodness as it's a no-brainer what answer good guys would choose. Jay and Carlos are in the Tourney team, and Evie is asked out by Chad Charming. Mal befriends Jane, Fairy Godmother's daughter, to get the wand; she plays on Jane's insecurities about being pretty by making her hair more beautiful. Lonnie, Mulan's daughter, asks Mal to change her hair to a cool style likes her; Mal reluctantly agrees, since Lonnie will pay $50 and Evie needs more material for sewing her outfits.
Finding out the wand will be used in the coronation, Mal hatches a plan to become Ben's girlfriend to get close to the wand; only his folks and girlfriend get to stand up front. She begins baking a love spell into a batch of cookies; however, she finds that a tear of true sadness is the only ingredient missing. Lonnie bothers her (other girls want Mal to change their hair as well), and Mal reveals that the parents on the Isle of the Lost never showed them anything like love before when Lonnie remembers when her mother made her cookies whenever she was sad. Lonnie cries for them; Mal pretends to kindly wipe it away, flicking the tear into the cookie batter.
The next day, Mal uses psychology to trick Ben into eating the cookie, by making him think he doesn't trust a treat offered by the child of a villain. To Mal's surprise, the love potion works a little too well, as Ben breaks out into a song about his love for her after winning the Tourney game with Jay and Carlos' help. She readily accepts his request to attend the coronation with him, but feels a bit sorry for Audrey, who is shallow compared to her and choose Chad Charming (a manipulative jerk) as a rebound boyfriend.
Mal goes on a date with Ben to the Enchanted Lake, where he they find they have some things in common, such as embarrassing middle names, and the status of their parents; Ben explains that while he has the "poster parents of goodness" and her mother is Mistress of Evil, they're not automatically like them as they get to choose who they get to be. She is then taken aback when Ben tells her that he can see goodness when he looks into her eyes, not evil. While Ben takes a swim, Mal begins feeling conflicted since she's falling in love. When Ben doesn't surface, Mal attempts to save him despite not being able to swim; Ben saves her, albeit a bit confused. Mal points out that there's a barrier around the Isle of the Lost, preventing swimming. When asked if she loves him, Mal says that she doesn't know what it feels like to love; Ben says he might be able to teach her.
Prior to Family Day, Mal and her friends are allowed to video chat with their parents. Hearing her mother's subtle message, Mal decides that they're all goners if they don't succeed. Come Family Day, Mal attends with her friends and is introduced to King Beast and Queen Belle by Ben as his new girlfriend; the experience is mutually uncomfortable for three of them. Playing a game of croquet prior to lunch, Mal meets Audrey's grandmother, Queen Leah, who initially mistakes her for her mother in shock. Ben explains the situation, but Queen Leah is furious at the very memory of her daughter needing to be raised by fairies due to Maleficent's curse. Feeling sorry for the misery her mother caused, Mal attempts to apologize, but is stopped by Chad Charming, who has never trusted Mal or her friends. After Evie knocks out Chad with a sleeping potion, Mal is left feeling hurt and confused more than ever; Ben attempts comforting her prior to leaving to prep for the coronation the next day. Jane and Audrey make fun of Mal, who snaps back at them by undoing the makeover she gave Jane's hair; she threatens to do worse, telling her friends she's looking forward to the coronation.
The following day, she rides with Ben in a carriage to the coronation. He eats a cupcake with the antidote to the love potion in it too early; however, she learns Ben has been free of the spell since their first date, thanks to the Enchanted Lake washing away the spell. Wondering if Ben had been had been faking his affection for her, Mal is left happily surprised when he entrusts his signet ring to her. This however, causes her to begin questioning if she should give up this happiness love has brought her, in order to fulfill her mothers' evil desires.
During the coronation, Jane snatches the wand to give herself a makeover; however, the magic backfires and makes hole in the barrier surrounding the Isle of the Lost. Mal takes the wand, and after encouragement from Ben, decides to choose good as it's brought her more happiness than evil ever did and states the fact that she wants to live here in Auradon because it brings her happiness. Her friends agree, just as Maleficent arrives to take the wand. With everyone but herself and her friends frozen in time by her mother, Mal finally stands up to Maleficent, saying she's never considered what her daughter's wanted. Using a spell, Mal shrinks her mother down to a small lizard, which is equal to the love in her heart.
Fairy Godmother unfreezes time, freeing everyone. Mal shares moment with Ben, while telling Fairy Godmother not to be too hard on Jane since it was her fault for putting the ideas in her head. With her mother locked up, Mal decides to enjoy the after party with her friends. Mal dances with Ben to "Set It Off". She then narrates "You didn't think that was end of the story, did you?" while giving a smirk to the audience as her eyes glowed green.
Mal returns in the animated short series Descendants: Wicked World, voiced by Dove Cameron who also portrayed her in the live-action film.
In the series, Mal continues to attend Auradon Prep and is trying her best to be a good person. However, her good intentions sometimes backfire, resulting in a lot of people sending online posts about her mishaps, promoting everyone to think she's still up to her old ways. In addition, she is shown to be somewhat more incompetent (or rather clumsy) with her magic. Her responsibilities add when another villain kid, Freddie Facilier, accidentally escapes the island and charms Ben into letting her join Auradon.
Six months later, Mal is struggling with her new life in Auradon, despite gaining her newfound celebrity status. Though she continuously relies on magic to help with her issues, Mal eventually gives in during one of her date with Ben, and runs back to the Isle of the Lost in tears. Upon returning, she has a young hair stylist and Evie's old friend, Dizzy Tremaine, restore her previously purple hair. Her return is also noticed by Harry Hook, who later relayed this to her former friend, Uma. Ben and the others later found her, but she refuses to come back with them, stating her rejection is for what was best for him and Auradon. However, after Ben leaves and prepares to head back, he is captured by Uma, who then gives the group a choice: give her the Fairy Godmother's wand or Ben dies. With a help from Carlos' 3D printer, Mal's group gives Uma the fake wand and escapes back to Auradon with Ben.
Later, during the Cotillion held on a ship, Mal is shocked to see that Ben is with Uma as his date, who he declares as his true love and announces that he will destroy the barrier on the Isle. After Jane unveils a stain glass display Ben commissioned to show his affection for Mal, who realizes he loved her for who she was all along, and suspecting Uma has given him a love potion, Mal confesses her love for Ben and kisses him, breaking the spell. Infuriated, Uma and Mal take their fight in and over the water, where they use their magic to transform into a cecaelia and a dragon respectively. After an intervention by Ben quelled the battle, Uma swims back to the Isle, while Mal and Ben reunite. Having finally come to terms with her new life in Auradon, and her relationship with Ben is now renewed, Mal later surrendered her spell book over to the Fairy Godmother. Mal and Evie also requested that Dizzy should be allowed to attend Auradon Prep.
In the prelude novel, Mal is introduced as the daughter of Maleficent, the worst of the villains. Mal was born and raised in the Isle of the Lost, along with her mother, best friends and their parents. One evening, Mal dreams of being in Auradon on the edge of a beautiful lake with the soon-to-be-king Ben (to whom she did not know). She doesn't always do so well in school, except for Advance Evil Schemes and Nasty Tricks taught by Lady Tremaine. For her Ultimate Project she chose to humiliate Evie in which she fails to do. However, when Diablo was reanimated and informs Maleficent of the return of magic to the fairy's staff, Maleficent instructs Mal to retrieve it to prove herself evil. Mal convinces Jay, Evie and Carlos to get the staff back from the Forbidden Fortress in "Nowhere", an area near the Isle. She saves Evie from getting cursed by the staff at the cost of the the staff losing its magic once returned to Maleficent. Afterwards, the four teens become friends.
In the sequel novel, Mal has adapted fairly well into life in Auradon. She has gained popularity and respect due to her heroic act. She and her receive anonymous text messages telling them to return to the Isle of the Lost before the new moon. She then concocts a plan to sneak back onto the island by attending the Castlecoming ball then sneaking out with a limousine containing the button to open the island's barrier. On their way out, they encounter Ben's royal carriage, and Mal explains everything. Knowing the situation is dire, Ben lets them go. Once back on the island, Mal and her friends meet the Anti-Heroes Club, a group of teen villains wanting to turn good. The founder, Yen Sid, tells them that magic on the island transferred underground when the barrier was formed and was beginning to seep its way out, causing disturbances on the country. Mal and her friends then venture to the island's underground to locate the four talismans of evil, where they eventually succeed in collecting them all and return to Auradon safely.
- Her name means "bad" or "evil" in Spanish, French and Portuguese.
- Dove Cameron wore a wig during both filming (not the same wig though, for the one in the second film was both lighter and of a different style compared to the first one). At the beginning of the sequel, Dove said in an interview that she was wearing a blonde wig in the beginning of the sequel since Mal spelled her hair to blonde.
- It is revealed that Mal cannot swim.
- At the time of the first film, she is sixteen years old.
- When her emotions are strongly felt, her eyes tend to glow. (For example, when under a great deal of stress from the press, who barely left her alone, and Jane, who worked on the decorating committee, constantly bothering her, her eyes glowed before she managed to calm herself down.)
- Mal has the most common sense out of her friends, as she got every answer in Remedial Goodness right by picking the answer that sounded the least fun for villains. She could even guess Remedial Goodness was newly invented for villain kids.
- Mal's main colors are purple, symbolizing power and mystery, which is a recurring theme with her mother Maleficent.
- In the film, it is revealed that her middle name is "Bertha". In the Spanish version in Latin America, her middle name is "Igna". Maligna is a wordplay for "malign".
- During the film, whenever Mal is around Ben, her hair seems shorter and lighter.
- The dress she wears for Ben's coronation appears to be adaptable.
- In the prequel book, it is revealed she had a dream set near the Enchanted Lake, where Ben and Mal eventually go to on their first date.
- The junior novelization and prequel book reveal some additional details about her.
- Her full name is Maleficent, like her mother. However, she is called Mal until she can prove to be just as evil as her mother and that it's shorter.
- She used to despise Evie.
- She found her mother's staff locked in the ruins of the Forbidden Fortress. Unfortunately it was no longer working, so Maleficent charged her with stealing the Fairy Godmother's wand to recharge it.
- She attended Dragon Hall (an evil high school), while on the Isle of the Lost.
- Unlike Evie, Jay, and Carlos, she does not have an animal familiar. The reason for this is that she was not invited to Evie's sixth birthday party, where the other children received their familiars as gifts.
- She had a human father, who is regarded by Maleficent with contempt.
- She steals from the Slop Shop every day since her mother never has food in the kitchen.
- The Disney Descendants Yearbook reveals that her "Secret Wish" is to learn how to swim and that her "Not-so-secret Wish" is to have a different middle name.
- It is also revealed that she wants to be an artist when she grows up.
- Her favorite class is "Remedial Goodness 101", stating that she just thinks of what her mom would do and pick the opposite.
- Her "Go-To Object" at the museum is her mother's magic spinning wheel. Stating that even though it's boring-looking, it is spooky that a few pieces of wood could put someone to sleep for a hundred years.
- In early concept designs of her outfits, she was originally meant to have short hair.
- In Descendants: Wicked World she is shown to be a skilled painter, as she has painted Audrey in her mother's signature dress.
- In Descendants 2, it is revealed Mal is able to transform into a dragon like her mother.
- In Descendants 2, it is revealed that Mal didn't turn her spellbook over to the Museum during the time-jump like Evie did (it is not revealed whether Jay and Carlos have any trinkets of evil that had to be turned over).
- However, at the end of the movie, she does give her spellbook to the museum.