Spoiler alert! The following post discusses the ending of "Cruella," so beware if you haven't seen it yet.
Cruella de Vil comes out on top and exacts a fitting revenge at the end of Disney’s new “Cruella,” though time will tell whether she’ll turn into the evil woman she was in the original “101 Dalmatians” animated movie.
In the prequel film (now in theaters and available on Disney+) directed by Craig Gillespie, fledgling London fashion designer Estella (Emma Stone) learned that her boss, ruthless couture icon Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), was responsible for the tragic death of her mother Catherine (Emily Beecham) – via long fall off a cliff – and embraced the extreme punk character of Cruella to foil the baroness’s business.
But after the baroness left Cruella in a burning building to die, Cruella discovered even more revealing truths: It turns out the baroness was her real parent; Cruella's the legit heir to a fortune; and back in the day, newborn Estella was given to Catherine, then the baroness's maid, instead of being disposed of permanently as mommy dearest ordered.
The baroness’s charity ball at her Hellman Hall home is where Cruella finally confronts her mother. The evil lady pushes Cruella off the same cliff that killed Catherine, though it’s all part of the plan: As the crowd watches the baroness commit "murder," Cruella parachutes to safety. But she returns with pals Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) just in time to see the baroness put in the paddy wagon. After removing the “Man” off the estate sign, making her new home “Hell Hall,” Cruella takes ownership of the baroness’s house, business and three Dalmatians, one of whom is pregnant.
“So what now?” Jasper asks, with Cruella responding, “I’ve got a few ideas.”
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Gillespie feels there’s “absolutely” more of her story to tell:
“She's only just become Cruella, this version of it, and she's still got a lot to figure out. At the very end there, I liked the ambiguity of, is this a victory or not for her? She's gone after all of this and she's gotten it, but does she actually really want it or is this going to now be her prison? Like, be careful what you wish for.”
The director likens it to the ending of the 1967 classic “The Graduate,” where Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross’ characters bust up a wedding and hop on a bus in euphoria, before the consequences of their decision settle on their faces: “I wanted it to be sort of a complicated mix of feelings for (Cruella) as a character. And now, hopefully we get to go on that next chapter.”
Why that 'Cruella' mid-credits scene is important
It might involve going back to the beginning. “Cruella” sprinkled some “101 Dalmatians” references and characters throughout the film, including Cruella’s old schoolmate Anita Darling (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Roger (Kayvan Novak), the baroness’s lawyer who gets fired (though at least he can fall back on his skills as a piano player).
The midcredits scene centers on those two, with each sent a Dalmatian puppy as a surprise gift from Cruella: Perdita goes to Anita, Pongo to Roger. It seemingly sets the stage for a possible live-action reboot of 1961's “Dalmatians,” which saw Anita and Roger having a meet-cute with their dogs, and Cruella becoming a cartoonish hell-raiser in their lives.
The sequence also shows Roger working on writing the tune “Cruella de Vil,” a number his animated counterpart sings in the original movie.
“It's such an iconic song,” Gillespie says, though he had to figure out how to include it in “Cruella” in “an organic way. It's just something that's great for the fans to hear at some point. It's not quite from our world, but with Roger and the way that he's portrayed, which is great, I thought it worked nicely.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Cruella' spoilers: Disney mid-credits scene sets up potential sequel