- “I can look into your eyes, and I can tell you're not evil.”
- ―Ben's belief in Mal's goodness
Queen Maleficent "Mal" Bertha is the main protagonist of the Descendants franchise. She is the daughter of Maleficent and Hades, the wife of King Ben, and the Queen of the United States of Auradon and the Isle of the Lost.
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 could not be satisfied through what her mother had taught her.
Mal is a sneaky, smart, and a ruthless girl who was raised to be a leader. Though she is compassionate to her friends, she is vengeful and unforgiving to anyone who doesn't actively help her. She is artistic and has a knack for casting spells. 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 is not 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. Her "mean girl" façade 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 "saw through Mal's act," and saw her as 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 the 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 green eyes and is of medium height. She mostly wears purple and shades of green during the movie. In her first appearance and when she came to Auradon, Mal wore a purple-and-magenta leather jacket with a green patch on the left side, black fingerless gloves, purple jeans, and black boots. 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. In Descendants 2, Mal has blonde hair with purple tips at the end. When she goes back to the Isle, she goes back to having purple hair, only this time, light, straight, and with bangs. Mal wore a purple studded leather jacket with a green and purple hand-dyed tank top under it. She has multiple layered chains and belts around her waist, purple pants, and purple studded boots with purple and green colored heels. She also wears a single purple fingerless glove. In Under The Sea: A Descendants Story, her wardrobe is now a purple shirt with multiple golden studs. She also wears a black vest, her sleeves are purple, and one on completely studded. She also wears black and purple pants with purple studded boots. She still has her original hair, belts and boots. Also, in Descendants 3, she has short curly light purple hair and is reflected with other shades with blue highlights. She wears a midnight blue vest, as well as a purple shirt under it, with her emblem. She also sports a pair of blue and purple leather pants. She now wears purple wedge high-tops with painted blue flames, as are her purple fingerless gloves. In Under The Sea: A Descendants Story, her wardrobe is now a purple shirt with multiple golden studs. She also wears a black vest, her sleeves are purple, and one on completely studded. She also wears black and purple pants with purple studded boots. She still has her original hair, belts and boots. Also, in Descendants 3, her hair is light purple and is reflected with other shades and appears to be blue. She wears a midnight blue vest, as well as a purple shirt under it, with her emblem. She also sports a pair of blue and purple leather pants. She now wears purple wedge high-tops with painted blue flames, as are her purple fingerless gloves.
Powers and 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 is 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 was 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 comes. 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 would be given a chance to live among them. Audrey, Ben's girlfriend, and the daughter of Aurora is unwelcoming and rude towards them. Mal and Audrey exchange awkward looks before Audrey takes Ben away.
Mal and Evie become roommates to a room Mal finds "gross," but what Evie actually really loves. At night, the two girls enter Jay and Carlos De Vil's dorm room while Jay and Carlos were playing video games and enjoying it, they almost forgot what they were here for until Mal tells them that it is their one chance to prove themselves to 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 is 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 preys on Jane's insecurities about not being pretty by changing her hair and convincing Jane that the new hair gives her more value as a person. Lonnie, Mulan's daughter, asks Mal to change her hair to a cool style like hers; Mal agrees since Lonnie will pay $50.
Finding out the wand will be used in the coronation, Mal decides to cast a spell to become Ben's girlfriend to get close to the wand, since 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 tricks Ben into eating the cookie, by making him think he does not 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. Audrey, Ben's girlfriend, is betrayed, hurt, embarrassed, and utterly humiliated. Mal readily accepts his request to attend the coronation with him, but feels a bit sorry for Audrey, only because of her choice of Chad Charming (a manipulative jerk) as a rebound boyfriend. Mal does not feel bad about spelling Ben or the effect that it had on Audrey.
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 are 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 is falling in love ("If Only"). When Ben does not surface, Mal attempts to save him despite not being able to swim; Ben saves her, albeit a bit confused. Mal points out that there is a barrier around the Isle of the Lost, preventing swimming. When asked if she loves him, Mal says that she does not 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 are all goners if they do not 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 is 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 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 a 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 has 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 has never considered what her daughter has 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 a 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 this was the 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 is 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 relays this to her former friend, Uma. Ben and the others later find 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 quells 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 surrenders her spell book over to the Fairy Godmother. Mal and Evie also request that Dizzy should be allowed to attend Auradon Prep.
Mal is first seen with Evie, Jay and Carlos as they begin their mission on bringing more VKs over from the Isle on VK Day. They have chosen Dizzy, among the twin sons of Mr. Smee, Squeaky Smee and Squirmy Smee, and Celia Facilier. A week later, before the VKs and Ben head over to retrieve the recruits, Ben proposes to Mal in front of Auradon Prep and she happily accepts. She is congratulated by her friends, Fairy Godmother and Ben's parents, who already planned an engagement party the following week.
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 does not 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.
- Mal was thought to be the main antagonist of the series.
- Her name means "bad" or "evil" in Spanish, French and Portuguese.
- Dove Cameron wore a wig during the films. At the beginning of the second film, Dove said in an interview that she was wearing a blonde wig in the beginning of the sequel since Mal had spelled her hair to blonde.
- In the first film when Mal tries to save Ben from drowning, it is revealed that she cannot swim.
- Mal's favorite color is purple, symbolizing power and mystery, which is a recurring theme with her mother Maleficent.
- At the time of the first film, she is sixteen years old.
- When Mal feels strong emotions, her eyes tend to glow.
- 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.
- In the first 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 first 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 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 is "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.
- By the end of Rise of the Isle of the Lost, Evie and Mal considered handing over the magic mirror and the spell book, respectively, to the museum, except it seems only Evie gave up her magic mirror as Mal thought against giving up her spell book. It was not until the end of Descendants 2 where Mal officially gives up her spell book to the museum.
- Despite having green eyes like her mother, Mal's doll forms for the first two movies show her having hazel-brownish eyes, while Wicked World depicts her with grey eyes.
- Mal is the only VK with two known parents.