Jafar is the chief antagonist of the classic animated Disney film Aladdin. Once the Grand Vizier to the Sultan of Agrabah, this malevolent sorcerer sought to take the throne for himself. Driven by an insatiable thirst for power, however, he went beyond merely seeking a city to rule over and later gained the tremendous powers of a genie. Jafar's megalomania, as well as the limitations of being a genie, would lead to his downfall.
Jafar has appeared not only in Aladdin but in other Disney media as well, including the Disney/Square-Enix video game series Kingdom Hearts.
Jafar is treacherous, manipulative and above all, power-hungry. He normally masks his sinister nature beneath a veil of sophistication and is an accomplished liar, easily duping others - most notably the Sultan - into giving him what he wants. When lies are not enough, he resorts to more mystical forms of trickery; he carries a golden cobra staff that can hypnotize anyone that gazes into its cursed ruby eyes.
Like so many villains, Jafar rarely does his own dirty work, relying on his treacherous parrot Iago to carry out tasks of spying on others and stealing items from them. He only takes matters into his own hands when such tasks require a more personal touch, such as when he disguises himself as an elderly prisoner and convinces Aladdin to join him in seeking out the treasure of the Cave of Wonders. While suave and even charming on the surface, Jafar is, in fact, a heartless, amoral psychopath who cares about no one and nothing except for power.
In the original film, Jafar seeks the Genie's Lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders. The Cave is buried beneath the desert sands until Jafar hires the thief Gazeem to steal half of a magical treasure called the Golden Scarab. Jafar possesses the other half, and when he unites the two into one, the Scarab flies off into the desert, leaving a glittering trail in its wake. Jafar and Gazeem follow the trail and the Scarab then dives beneath the sand where the Cave of Wonders is located. The Cave's entrance rises and takes the form of a giant tiger's head, warning that only one may enter, a so-called "diamond in the rough". Jafar sends Gazeem into the cave, but the tiger's mouth closes and buries him alive. Realising that Gazeem was not worthy to enter the Cave, Jafar returns to Agrabah in order to find the "diamond in the rough".
Two days later, Jafar hypnotizes the Sultan into giving him a diamond ring that he can use as a scrying tool. With the diamond, he is able to identify the one worthy of entering the Cave of Wonders: a street urchin called Aladdin. Aladdin is already well-known by the city guards, having stolen many times from the marketplace and always managing to evade capture. Jafar sends the guards out to find the boy and throw him into the palace dungeon, which they accomplish, but Princess Jasmine - having met Aladdin after running away from the palace - demands that he be released. Jafar covers his tracks by telling the Princess that Aladdin has already been executed on suspicion of kidnapping her.
With Jasmine none the wiser, Jafar goes into the dungeon disguised as an old beggar. When Aladdin and Abu are locked up, he approaches them and tells them of the Cave of Wonders, explaining that he'll lead them to it if they go in and collect the lamp deep within. The lamp contains a secret that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams, and so Jafar shows Aladdin a secret passage out of the dungeon and they head out into the desert.
Jafar and Aladdin find the Cave of Wonders and Aladdin and Abu go inside. Because Abu touches one of the forbidden treasures within, they almost die trying to escape with the lamp. Thanks to the Magic Carpet, they make it to the entrance. Jafar takes the lamp from Aladdin and then attempts to stab him with a dagger, but Abu bites his arm and causes him to drop it. Jafar throws Abu back into the collapsing cave and it appears that Aladdin and Abu perish together, but Abu also managed to snatch back the lamp from Jafar.
Without the lamp, Jafar attempts to usurp the Sultan's throne by other means. He tries to hypnotize the Sultan into forcing Jasmine to marry him, which will grant him a legitimate claim to the throne. However, Jafar's plans are interrupted by the arrival of Prince Ali (actually Aladdin having been made into a false prince by the Genie after escaping the Cave of Wonders) and the Vizier decides that this so-called prince must be disposed of. Jafar orders Razoul and the palace guards to tie up Ali and throw him off a cliff into the sea. Ali is saved by the Genie and returns to the palace, exposing Jafar as the traitor he is and smashing his cobra staff, breaking his hypnotic spell on the Sultan. The guards attempt to arrest Jafar, but he escapes using a smoke bomb.
Shortly after escaping to his hidden laboratory within the palace, Jafar realises that Prince Ali is actually Aladdin after spotting the Genie's Lamp inside Ali's turban. The next day, he commands Iago to distract Aladdin's attention and steal the lamp. Iago is successful and Jafar claims the lamp, becoming the Genie's new master. He wishes to become sultan and rule over Agrabah. He then revealed himself as the new sultan, and revealed to Aladdin that he's the new master when Aladdin attempted to stop him via the Genie. Afterwards, after Aladdin managed to mention that he will still be stopped even if he was Sultan, Jafar then proceeded to wish to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world, force the Genie to lift the palace onto a hill overlooking Agrobah and then banish Aladdin, Abu, and the carpet (along with a tower they were in from the Sultan's Palace) to what appears to be a high bluff or cliff in the Arctic or Antarctic ('to the ends of the Earth!'), although not before exposing Aladdin as being the true identity of Prince Ali to Jasmine.
Now the most powerful man in the world let alone Agrabah, Jafar indulges himself by tormenting the Sultan and Jasmine. He decides to make Jasmine fall in love with him and wishes the Genie to make it so, although that is one of the three forbidden wishes that the Genie cannot grant. However, Jasmine spots Aladdin - who had along with Abu escaped his banishment thanks to the magic carpet - hiding on a balcony, and then comes on to Jafar in order to distract him so that Aladdin can snatch the lamp back. Unfortunately, Jafar spots Aladdin by seeing his reflection in Jasmine's eyes and he attacks. Using his magic, he turns Jasmine's tiger Rajah into a cub, Abu into a toy, unravels the magic carpet and traps Jasmine inside a giant hourglass.
Aladdin tries to goad Jafar into fighting without his magic, calling him a "cowardly snake". Jafar responds to this by transforming into a giant cobra and is able to trap Aladdin within his coils, going on to mock him by saying he is nothing without the Genie. Aladdin retorts by saying that even with all of his magical power, Jafar's power still doesn't match the Genie's. Realising Aladdin is right, Jafar turns to the Genie and makes his final wish, wishing to become a genie himself. The Genie obeys Jafar's command and transforms him into a menacing red genie, and while the villain is distracted Aladdin frees Jasmine from the hourglass before she is completely buried in sand. Jafar revels in his newfound power, but fails to realize that with this phenomenal power comes a terrible price: he is now bound by the rules of the Genie and even has his own black lamp as his prison. Aladdin grabs the black lamp and Jafar and Iago are sucked inside. With Jafar sealed within his lamp, the palace is returned to normal and Agrabah is saved. The Genie then takes Jafar's lamp and hurls it over the city and into the desert where it becomes buried beneath the sands.
The Return of Jafar
In the straight-to-video feature The Return of Jafar, Jafar's lamp is unearthed by Iago, who was not bound to the lamp like Jafar was. After freeing himself, Iago decides he has had enough of Jafar and abandons him, dropping his lamp down a well before returning to Agrabah. Jafar's lamp is later found by the bandit Abis Mal, who releases the genie after polishing the lamp with his sleeve. However, Jafar cannot stray far from his lamp and decides to make a deal with Abis Mal. After forcing the thief into wasting his first two wishes, he pressures him into assisting him in carrying out his revenge against Aladdin. Abis Mal is eager to help, having been thwarted by Aladdin himself, and the two villains return to Agrabah.
Abis Mal sneaks the lamp over the walls of the palace and Jafar decides to re-enlist the assistance of Iago to help in his scheme. Iago is now residing in the palace with Aladdin and Jafar approaches him, forcing him to lure Aladdin into a trap. The following day, Iago and Aladdin take the Sultan on a carpet ride so that Aladdin can supposedly make amends with His Highness after trying to hide Iago's presence. While they are gone, Jafar attacks Jasmine, Abu and the Genie and imprisons them within his old laboratory. Afterwards, he and Abis Mal go after Aladdin and the Sultan.
Transforming into a cloaked demon bandit riding atop a winged horse, Jafar takes Abis Mal to where Aladdin and the Sultan are located. The Sultan and the Magic Carpet are captured and Aladdin is forced to cross the desert alone to return to the palace. For the next stage of his plan, Jafar slashes the Sultan's turban and disguises himself as Jasmine, so when Aladdin returns, he finds himself being arrested for the apparent murder of the Sultan and 'Jasmine' sentences him to death. At dawn the next day, Jafar turns into Jasmine again and visits Aladdin on the chopping block to gloat at him. However, while he does this, Iago is left alone with the imprisoned Genie, Abu, Jasmine, Carpet and the Sultan. The guilt-ridden Iago then tries to break the enchanted crystal orb that contains the Genie and manages to smash it by dropping it from a high vantage point. The freed Genie rescues Aladdin and the others and together they try to stop Jafar.
The heroes sneak into the palace throne room where Jafar and Abis Mal are enjoying their victory. While Jafar magically fills the room with treasure to satisfy Abis Mal's greed, the heroes try to steal Jafar's lamp. Aladdin tries to snatch the lamp from Abis Mal's grasp and Jafar is infuriated to find his nemesis is still alive. He transforms into his genie form and creates a lava-filled fissure within the palace garden where he battles against Aladdin and his friends. As a genie, however, Jafar is unable to kill Aladdin under his own power, but traps Aladdin on a pillar of rock which he causes to slowly sink into the pool of lava.
As Jafar prepares to finally destroy Aladdin, Iago suddenly flies in and goes for the lamp. Jafar blasts Iago with a bolt of fire, leaving the bird lying injured on a small ledge with the lamp. As Jafar gloats, Iago weakly kicks the lamp off the ledge and sends it falling into the lava pit below. As the black lamp melts, Jafar cries out in anguish as his body is imploded by the magic that makes up his being. In the end, Jafar is destroyed and peace is restored to Agrabah once more.
Powers and abilities
As a human
Before becoming a genie, Jafar was already a prominent mystic and alchemist. He had a hidden laboratory inside the Sultan's palace where he conducted arcane experiments using items that he required for specific tasks, such as using the Sultan's sapphire ring and harnessing the power of a storm in order to find Aladdin, the Diamond in the Rough who could enter the Cave of Wonders. He was also a master of disguise, taking on the appearance of an elderly beggar in the dungeon to get Aladdin to help him retrieve the Genie's lamp. His most notable ability was hypnotism, which he carried out using his golden cobra staff, using it to mesmerize the Sultan into gaining items and special privileges.
When he acquired the lamp, Jafar wished for the Genie to make him the most powerful sorcerer in the world. With this granted, he gained extraordinary powers such as energy projection, transmuting objects and people, and also shapeshifting, eg. turning into a giant cobra.
As a genie
After being turned into a genie, Jafar's powers were magnified many times. In this state, he has demonstrated such abilities as size-shifting, flight, conjuring objects and creatures out of thin air, teleporting, shadow-melding and many more. Despite the tremendous power Jafar wields, being a genie does have its drawbacks.
As a genie, Jafar is bound by certain rules. He is bound to a black lamp which he cannot stray far from and can only be freed from if a master wishes it (which in his case, never happened). Though he possesses free will, he is still bound to grant the wishes of a master, but he is highly skilled in the art of manipulation and can easily trick foolish masters (such as Abis Mal) into wasting their wishes.
Jafar's lamp is not only his prison but also his lifeline. In The Return of Jafar, his lamp was destroyed while he was still bound to it, and so he was destroyed along with it.