Now, the following argument is just speculation on an observation, but I had fun writing it.
While I believe that Tiana is one of my favorite Disney Princesses and the Princess and the Frog is sincerely one of my favorite movies, I have to say, I’m pretty sure the real (meaning realistic) villain of the story would be the heroine herself: Tiana.
Now I know that the voodoo witch doctor was after all the souls in New Orleans, but if his weakness was a necklace (or perhaps money) then he would have been bought out or sent to the underworld one way or the other. I realize that his shady friends on the other side had no regards for the well being of Louisiana’s inhabitants and they may have eaten most of their souls before it all eventually calmed down.
But right now, I’m being realistic, and in the real world, I’m pretty sure that Tiana would be the bad guy.
Her story starts hopeful: she has a dream of owning her own restaurant and has the work ethic to go with it. She saves every penny working day and night for her down payment on an old, dusty sugar mill. And everything looks great when she finally gets enough money by offering her delicious beignets at her friend, Charlotte’s Mardi Gras party.
But this is where it gets a bit iffy. You see, she takes her money to the good old Fenner Brothers, who take her offer and give her the reasonable belief that her dream will come true. When they show up at the party later in the evening, they let her know that someone has out bid her. They mention that a person of her “background” is probably better off not purchasing the old mill in the first place.
Everyone thinks they’re discriminating. But you know, as a person who’s worked in finance for a few years, that isn’t what I think. What I think is that the Fenner Brothers were trying to save themselves and Tiana from a bad business decision. Think: she had to put down money and have the cash to renovate the place. She has no proven ability to pay back loans. She has no investors. She has no apparent business plan except to “work hard.” And someone else is willing to pay more, up front, than she has saved for her whole life.
It just doesn’t make business sense.
And then she starts to get selfish. Most of us wouldn’t blame her for making rash decisions (like kissing a talking frog who calls himself a prince and promises to give her money) but I say “nay.” What she should have done is what she’d always done: keep working. One old sugar mill is just as good as another. What she did was get herself turned into a frog for wanting to make a prince/amphibian pay for that mill.
After that, the shenanigans lead up to one climactic moment where the Shadow Man, who is revealed to really be a slave to the Shadow Demons (which is a bit ironic) is having his very existence threatened by Tiana because she holds the key to his contract with the underworld: his amulet. In a last ditch attempt (one could argue that it was to save his own life), he flatters her with the site of her dream world. But she eventually sends him TO THE DEPTHS OF HELL. And she hardly even thought twice.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, she goes back to the Fenner Brothers and forces them to take her offer by threatening their lives with a huge crocodile!
Pretty sure the next movie title should read: The Princess and her Bayou Mafia.