Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar On The Movie’s Complicated Villain

Credit: Cartoon Network

We have finally seen Steven Universe: The Movie. You bet’cha that we have some feelings, especially about the antagonist of the whole thing Spinel (Sarah Stiles).

Though, head’s up, there are SPOILERS AHEAD. So be forewarned.

Talking with Entertainment Weekly, creator and showrunner Rebecca Sugar talked about the villain. The former best friend of Pink Diamond, who abandoned her for 6000 years and drove her insane. Spinel arrives at Beach City to take her revenge on Steven (Zach Callison) and his planet since Pink is gone. Her old school cartoon abilities harken back to a different era of animation as does her whole aesthetic.

On using that animation style, Sugar said, “As an animator, I have a really complicated relationship with old cartoons. I love history, but I really don’t like nostalgia, and so it makes me want to use those ideas to talk about what they are and what they mean to me.”

It was important to associate Spinel with this lost era of animation, as she herself is lost.

“She’s outdated. She knows that and it hurts her. When she doesn’t understand that, she’s just so obtuse and when she does, she’s just angry… She’s ridiculously toxic and she knows that she’s ridiculous and it makes her dislike herself more. It turns her in on herself more. I just find her so interesting and I love showing that in the form of exactly what she is, which is this cartoon that has been lost to time.”

While Spinel has an sympathetic backstory, Sugar does make it clear that what she’s doing isn’t healthy at all.

“If you’re somebody who thinks that it makes sense to take your anger and your personal problems out on other people who have nothing to do with it, then you are ridiculous. That ridiculousness, I want to push it as far as it can go, the one-dimensionality of that, the obtuseness of it. I want to put it on display. I don’t want to shy away from the absurdity of that. I have felt the awfulness of it and the frustration of it.”

As for the future of Steven Universe, Sugar makes it clear that there are more stories to tell with the character, especially at this new place in his life.

“We were ready to charge in with all of our strengths and just put them all on display and also explore some aspects of Steven we hadn’t gotten to touch on the show. So much of the show is Steven not even sure that he is himself and after ‘Change Your Mind,’ everything gets to change. He’s grown up so much and he can assert himself in a way that he couldn’t before because he was always living with that insecurity. So there was a lot we wanted to explore about Steven, but not all of it fit [in the movie] so some of it comes next. And that’s about all I can say about any of that.”

Steven Universe: The Movie has released its soundtrack and is available for digital purchase.

Bec Heim