“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”
Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is a 2012 children’s film that takes place in a video-game-themed world. Viewers can easily distinguish various video game references found in the fictional setting of Litwak’s Arcade, such as Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong. A lot of references to video games in real life can be found in the film, thus emphasizing the theme of video games.
This article will discuss the symbolism behind the common video game terms “good guy” and “bad guy”. We will also look at Ralph’s character transformation in Wreck-It Ralph.
Becoming the Good Guy
As seen in Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the bad guy of his own game ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’ where he wrecks the building. On the game’s 30th anniversary, Ralph is shunned by the non-playable characters in the game because he literally wrecks the building, thus making him the bad guy. Everyone sees him as just the “bad guy”. Ralph learns from his frustration with his assigned role that the only way he can become the good guy is if he wins a gold medal.
Ralph sneaks out of his own game and goes into ‘Hero’s Duty’, where he becomes scared of the Cy-Bugs attacking the players inside ‘Hero’s Duty’. He steals the medal and plans to return to his game to show everyone that he too can win a medal, but instead crash lands into a kart-racing game called ‘Sugar Rush’.
There, Ralph meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a young girl who shows him what it truly means to become the good guy. Becoming a good guy means putting others before yourself, a metaphorical element that is found within yourself, and not just by earning a medal. Ralph learns this as he and Vanellope work together to defeat King Candy, who is revealed to be Turbo, the true “bad guy” in Wreck-It Ralph. Vanellope plays a major role in his character transformation.
In the prologue of Wreck-It Ralph, when Ralph states that he doesn’t want to become the bad guy anymore, all of the bad guy characters react with shock, some in their traditional animated ways. Bison asks Ralph if he’s “going Turbo”, which Ralph denies. The first time viewers hear the phrase “going Turbo” serves as a foreshadowing element of what Ralph is going to face during the climax of the movie.
The phrase “going Turbo” is heard many times throughout the movie, hinting to the viewers that there is something fishy going on within the arcade, specifically ‘Sugar Rush’. What Ralph doesn’t know is that Turbo, who wants to reprogram the world of ‘Sugar Rush’, has disguised himself as King Candy and manipulates him. In addition, several flashbacks reveal how Turbo managed to control the ‘Sugar Rush’ game after his original game is unplugged. During the final race, Vanellope’s glitching unmasks Turbo’s “King Candy” persona, which Ralph and Felix witness.
The “boss level” consists of Ralph and Turbo, the former good guy. It is fascinating to viewers to see how bad guys can become good guys and vice versa.
As mentioned earlier, there are many Easter Eggs that are video game references. Mario from the ‘Super Mario’ media franchise is mentioned but does not make any cameo appearances. However, the Super Mushroom is seen in one scene. The 8-bit pixelated fashion of the Walt Disney logo is a reference to the pixelated characters and objects found in early arcade games.
One iconic Easter Egg in the movie is the appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog. He appears in multiple scenes throughout Wreck-It Ralph as a cameo character. He also has a minor speaking role at Game Central Station. Another reference is the appearance of Doctor Eggman at the support group for bad guy characters in the beginning and ending scenes of the film.
Wreck-It Ralph is considered to be a smashing success for Disney fans and video game lovers.