Since 1961, Disney has produced a number of movies featuring the iconic villain, Cruella de Vil. Movies have ranged from animated adventures such as One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) to live-action features, including 101 Dalmatians (1996) (note the different spelling), as well as 102 Dalmatians (2000).
The most recent entry in the collection is 2021’s Cruella – a live-action fantasy film from director Craig Gillespie. Cruella stars Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, and Mark Strong, and tells the story of Estella ‘Cruella’ de Vil – an aspiring, young fashion designer, with a penchant for black and white.
Cruella is a family film which includes plenty of humour, some larger-than-life performances, and some outrageously quirky costume designs. It also includes a great turn from Emma Stone, as the titular character.
But what is Cruella exactly? Is it a prequel to the 1996 live-action movie, 101 Dalmatians (aka the one with Glenn Close)? Is it a sequel? Or is it something else entirely?
Cruella is a prequel movie to Dodie Smith’s novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It is based on characters from this book, and is NOT a direct prequel to the 1996 movie, which starred Glenn Close.
Cruella tells one story, the Glenn Close movies tell another. They are separate entities.
How do we know that the two movies are not linked? Because there are various inconsistencies between the films which make it clear these are separate takes on similar material.
For example, supporting characters such as Anita and Roger, or Horace and Jasper, who appear in Cruella, are different to how they appear in 101 Dalmatians. Even Cruella herself is somewhat different, and is not quite the monster she is depicted as, under Glenn Close’s watch.
Cruella is also set in the 1970s, while 101 Dalmatians is set in the 1990s – and this causes one very significant problem, because of two dogs, Pongo and Perdita, who pop up in a mid-credit scene.
The inclusion of Pongo and Perdita in Cruella – two dogs who also appear in 101 Dalmatians – make it very apparent that these movies can’t possibly exist in the same timeline. The dogs would need to be at least 20-years-old by the time 101 Dalmatians takes place and sadly, Dalmatians don’t live that long.
However, despite there being no ‘official’ connection between Cruella and 101 Dalmatians, or its sequel, 102 Dalmatians, Glenn Close does have some involvement in all three pictures – so there is a link, of sorts.
As well as starring in 101/102 Dalmatians as Cruella de Vil, the actress served as an executive producer on Cruella. It’s not an on-screen connection, but it is a connection… of sorts.
But if Cruella isn’t a direct prequel to 101/102 Dalmatians (only a quasi-prequel at best), what is it?
It is best to think of Cruella as a reimagining of the Cruella character, with a tale that fleshes out the villain’s back story. It presents a new take on Cruella de Vil, for a new audience, without having to rigidly adhere to anything that has come before.
If you wish to watch Cruella, then follow it up with a viewing of 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians, you are perfectly fine to do this – and it’ll no doubt be fun journey. But just know that Cruella doesn’t fit within the same timeline as 101/102 Dalmatians – they really are different continuities, and only partially related.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about Cruella – I hope it has proved informative. For more Disney-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.