Cruella de Vil has long been one of Disney’s most infamous villains. After all, what kind of evil person becomes obsessed with killing puppies? The new film Cruella provides a punk rock-inspired origin story for the iconic character, helping explain how she became the dastardly woman fans first met in 101 Dalmatians. But in order to explain the anti-heroine’s hatred of spotted pups in particular, the movie went to, um... extreme lengths while creating her backstory. Just look at these hilariously absurd memes about Dalmatians killing Cruella’s mother, and you’ll see what I mean.
Warning: Major spoilers for Cruella follow. Cruella imagines its titular villain as a boundary-breaking fashion designer who becomes “brilliant, bad, and a little bit mad” against the backdrop of 1970s London. But long before she became such a notorious figure, Cruella started off as a trouble-making yet good-hearted young girl named Estella. Although she became a social pariah and was eventually kicked out of school, she found solace through her loving single mother Catherine.
After Estella’s expulsion from school, Catherine decided to move the family to London. Along the way, she stopped at a mysterious fashion designer named Baroness von Hellman’s party to ask for financial assistance. But upon seeing Catherine, the Baroness commanded her three vicious Dalmatians to go after the young mother, resulting in them ultimately pushing her off a cliff while Estella watched on in horror. Needless to say, she isn’t fond of the dogs as an adult.
For a prequel film that promised to provide devilishly fun answers about why Cruella is the way she is, many viewers found this explanation more than a little ridiculous. But their disbelief over the scene also led to the creation of many hilarious memes on Twitter, which are bound to make you laugh no matter what you thought of Cruella.
While Cruella’s Dalmatians twist is incredibly silly, it does become important later on in the story. After growing up as an orphaned petty thief on the streets of London, Estella’s dreams of making it in the fashion world seemingly come true when she’s hired to work for the Baroness herself. But when she discovers the designer’s disturbing ties to her late mother and realizes what a generally awful person she is, Estella seeks revenge.
After their fashion rivalry culminates in the Baroness trying to have her killed, Estella makes the shocking discovery that (gasp!) the Baroness is her biological mother and killed Catherine to protect her secret. By the end of the film, Estella gets the Baroness thrown in prison for her faked murder, and sets out to become Cruella full-time with those evil Dalmatians by her side.
Meanwhile, in Cruella’s mid-credits scene, 101 Dalmatians protagonists Pongo and Perdita are individually delivered to their owners, the villain’s old friend Anita and her future husband Roger. Fans may not know exactly when Cruella decides to avenge her mom by literally turning Dalmatians into coats, but at least they have plenty of memes to enjoy in the meantime. And if you ever spot a certain spotted dog barreling toward you or your loved ones while you’re hanging out on a cliffside, run!