So far, Disney's live-action reimaginings of their animated classics have mostly gone down the remake route – with films like Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Mulan offering modest updates on the originals but largely sticking to the same story.
The House of Mouse's latest film, however, takes a different approach. Cruella acts as an origin story for the titular villain without any direct crossover to 101 Dalmatians (either the animation or the 1996 live-action version), exploring why the archvillain developed such a penchant for stealing and skinning puppies in the first place.
The film unfolds in 1970s London – with the emerging punk scene informing many of its aesthetic choices – and is therefore set more than a decade after the original animation was released in 1961, so naturally, continuity was not a huge concern for director Craig Gillespie and his crew.
Indeed Gillespie has said that he purposefully refrained from paying homage to the previous iterations of the character, telling CinemaBlend that he did not revisit the earlier films before making his.
"You know, I love Glenn Close as an actor and I’m sure the film is amazing," he said. "We just wanted to do a very original version of this and I didn’t want to have anything contaminating my vision.
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"And it’s so uniquely specific, this is such an origin story, it’s set in ‘70s London punk that I didn’t think there would be too many things in terms of comparison, so we really worked on trying to figure out what Emma Stone’s version of Cruella would be."
That said, there are still a fair few connections to the earlier versions throughout Cruella's runtime – read on for everything you need to know.
How does Cruella link to 101 Dalmatians?
Speaking at a press conference prior to the film's release Emma Stone, who leads the Cruella cast as the titular character, described the film as "a whole new story for her (Cruella) with fun nods to 101 Dalmatians" – and indeed there are plenty of references for fans of the original to spot.
Aside from Cruella herself, two key characters from the animation appear in the film – de Vil's bumbling henchmen Jasper and Horace Badun, who are played here by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser respectively.
In the original film, the pair are treated with a certain amount of disdain by Cruella, but here the relationship is different. We learn at the beginning of the film that Jasper and Horace took Cruella – or Estella as she was then known – under their wing shortly after she had arrived in London following the death of her mother.
Over the next years, they schooled her in the art of petty burglary, and they were quite literally thick as thieves, working together very much as a team of equals. It was only when she took on the Cruella persona in response to the Baroness that she began to treat them as her underlings – and indeed Jasper is seen to resent this treatment in the film.
It wouldn't be a Cruella origin story without a few Dalmatians, of course, and although there are not quite 101 of them on show in this film, a (CGI) pack of dogs does play a crucial role.
The Dalmatians in question belong to Cruella's rival Baroness Von Hellman, and are – according to Cruella at least – partly to blame for the death of her mother, which goes some way to explaining exactly why she went on to harbour such a grudge against the poor spotted pooches.
Perhaps the most obvious connection, though, is saved for the very end – during the post-credits scene. Here we see Cruella send a Dalmatian puppy each to her acquaintances Roger (Kayvan Novak) and Anita (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who you might notice are named after two vital characters from the original.
And the puppy's names? That's right, Pongo and Perdita – the same names as the parent dogs in 101 Dalmatians.
Cruella is released in cinemas and on Disney Plus Premier Access on 28th May 2021. You can sign up to Disney Plus now for £79.90 for a year or £7.99 a month.Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide, our best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus guides. Visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.