Captain Phoebus is the tritagonist in Disney's 1996 animated feature film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The gallant 31-year-old Captain Phoebus is noted to have a highly reputable caliber in the wars based on his bravery accounted in his service record. He is the only soldier in the movie that stands apart from the other soldiers and is claimed to be a knight in shining armor, and yet his character displays the exact opposite of the hopeless romantic knight from the fairy tales. The Disney Animators chose to deviate from the book and created a mature, down-to-earth Phoebus who is far less the dimwitted, womanizing cad that he is portrayed in the book. Though he tends to over-analyze and act like he knows what he's doing, he is described as a soldier who is sarcastically witty, brave, confident, and enjoys finding humor in situations. Gary Trousdale admits that what he most likes about Phoebus is that "although he can keep a straight face when it's required of him, you can tell deep down, he'd rather tell a joke." Phoebus is almost always seeming to get into arguments, even with Esmeralda.
Out of Frollo and his men, Phoebus is the only one that cleverly sees through the disguise of Esmeralda and is also quick to discover that Frollo's ideals for justice are unethical and a twisted kind of corruption. Unfortunately, the opportunistic Phoebus had already accepted Frollo's summon to be his Captain of the Guard under the assumption that the Minister of Justice was righteous and fair; therefore, he accepts this reality of working for a corrupt man as a consequence for diving into this opportunity he should not have readily taken in his desire to leave the wars and settle down for a more stabilized life. He is disgusted when Quasimodo is tortured at the festival and asks Frollo for permission to stop the cruelty but is held back. When Phoebus meets Quasimodo for the first time, he treats him with a friendly attitude, not bothered at all by his deformities. As Frollo's cruelty towards the other gypsies increases with the level of obsession he has for Esmeralda, Phoebus is forced to choose between his passion for guarding the defenseless people with the condition that he works under Frollo, or be jobless due to the fact that he is trained to be nothing else but a soldier that he is fated to be in this feudalistic society. Throughout the film, Phoebus becomes more of the neutral hero that takes orders from Frollo then later goes behind Frollo's back and helps those who are caught in Frollo's injustice. However, when Frollo unreasonably orders Phoebus to burn down a miller's home with the innocent family trapped inside, Phoebus takes a stand and refuses to murder the innocent. When Frollo sets fire to the windmill and sends the miller's home ablaze, Phoebus bravely risks his own life on the line for the lives of another family and dives through the window of the burning building, takes the two children in his arms, and kicks down the bolted door to lead the rest of the family out to safety. When he is sentenced to be beheaded for insubordination, Phoebus holds no fear of death from his experience in the wars and boldly accepts it as his highest honor. As an ex-soldier fugitive, Phoebus continues to help the gypsies from Frollo's obsessed wrath and after escaping from his imprisonment, instills courage in the people and joins both the townspeople and the gypsies together to fight against Frollo and his men from the attack on Notre Dame.
At first glance, Phoebus finds Esmeralda to be an attractive woman to look at, but it was only until after witnessing her stand up against Frollo did his interests for her setting herself apart prompt him to find out her name. In the cathedral scene, Esmeralda takes him off guard when the gypsy abruptly takes him down and points his own sword at him, the first woman to do that in a time where women were regarded by everyone as submissive to men. Phoebus took her challenge and got out from his dangerous position in order to talk to her, but then finds his flirtatious entertainment in deflecting her attacks with the candle stand. Because he fails to take things seriously, he gets injured a few times as a result. Not intending the fight to be as serious as she was making it out to be, Phoebus bows out and acknowledges her as an equal. His confidence is neither passed arrogance nor conceitedness as he displays awkwardness to Esmeralda when he introduces himself with the meaning of his name, "Sun God." Contrary to all the men that fawn over her beauty, Phoebus is the only one that simply asks for her name out of his interest to get to know her better. The captain of the guards finds her to be more than just a beautiful woman to look at after the feisty gypsy proved to stand out from what society expected of women and also have a true sense of justice. According to the Disney animators, the soldier Phoebus enchants, beguiles, and challenges Esmeralda in the same way that she does to others. Explains Kirk Wise, "we had to create a character who would seem worthy of Esmeralda's love and be loved and accepted by the audience."
When Phoebus realizes Quasimodo also has feelings for Esmeralda, however, Phoebus steps back to give Quasimodo a chance to impress Esmeralda and settles on a friendship with Esmeralda instead. In the end, despite the fact that they are from two worlds that are forbidden to be together by society, Quasimodo steps back and reunites Phoebus with Esmeralda as an official and passionate couple in the end. Phoebus then shows Esmeralda a new Paris where the townspeople and the outcasts are united and both watch as Quasimodo is cheered on and accepted by the people like he rightfully deserved and wanted.
Phoebus, as shown in the second film, also has a very bad habit of asking his horse, Achilles, rhetorical questions (this happened twice in the second film, the first was "How many times have I ever been wrong?" and "You see that, Achilles? Everyone is mad at me. How often has that happened?") to which the horse ends up answering.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Edit
Phoebus is called home to Paris from an unnamed war in order to serve as JudgeClaude Frollo's Captain of the Guard (or as the leader of Frollo's hired thugs). Following his arrival in Paris, he comes across a beautiful dancing gypsy girl, Esmeralda, and is taken with her, throwing her some gold coins. However, two thugs working for Frollo attempt to arrest Esmeralda solely for being a gypsy. Phoebus helps Esmeralda escape by blocking the thugs' way with his horse, Achilles, and revealing his identity to them, prompting them to leave Esmeralda alone and take him to the Palace of Justice. Once there, he meets and takes an apparent dislike to Frollo after hearing how his predecessor is being treated for being "a bit of a disappointment" to the Judge; Frollo is quite sure that Phoebus will "whip [his] men into shape." As he is lead into an outside balcony of the Palace, Phoebus is visibly surprised when he learns that he was summoned from the war to capture "fortune tellers and palm readers." Nevertheless, Phoebus accompanies Frollo to the Festival of Fools.
At the Festival, when the crowd turns on Quasimodo and begins torturing him thanks to a riot started by the thugs, Phoebus requests permission to stop it, but Frollo tells him to wait a minute, and when Esmeralda publicly ridicules Frollo for his cruelty and evades his thugs, Phoebus is visibly impressed. Phoebus spots Esmeralda sneaking into Notre Dame in her old man disguise and follows her inside. A brief skirmish ensues until Phoebus makes it clear that he has no intention of arresting her inside the cathedral. The two are visibly drawn to each other at this point, and just when they are apparently about to kiss, Frollo and his thugs appear. Phoebus claims sanctuary for Esmeralda, and the Archdeacon intervenes and orders Frollo out, forcing Phoebus to leave as well. However, he sneaks back inside and searches for Esmeralda, but runs into Quasimodo, who dislikes Frollo's thugs greatly and tries to scare Phoebus away until Phoebus takes a moment to ask Quasimodo to apologize to Esmeralda for accidentally trapping her inside Notre Dame, and notes how lucky Esmeralda is to have a friend like him.
Unfortunately, when Quasimodo helps Esmeralda escape, Phoebus is forced to join Frollo on a ruthless manhunt for the gypsy. Phoebus becomes increasingly annoyed with Frollo's unjust actions, and finally rebels against him when he is instructed to burn down the house of a miller, even though the miller and his wife and their children are innocent of any crime. Phoebus is branded a traitor and sentenced to death, but thanks to a distraction by Esmeralda, Phoebus almost escapes on Frollo's horse but is shot in the back by Frollo's thugs and jumps into the river to escape losing his armor in the process.
He is rescued by Esmeralda, who takes him to Quasimodo for help. Phoebus and Esmeralda finally admit their feelings for each other and share a kiss, but Phoebus loses consciousness as Frollo returns, and is hidden by Quasimodo underneath a table. Frollo lets Quasimodo in on his plan to attack the gypsy hideout (The Court of Miracles) with his thug army, and the moment he leaves, Phoebus wakes up and implores Quasimodo to join him in finding the court and warning the gypsies. Inside the court, they are found and almost hanged by the gypsies, until Esmeralda appears and clears them. However, Frollo arrives and has them all arrested, and at one point, expresses surprise at Phoebus's supposed return from the dead, but promises to "remedy" it before long.
At Esmeralda's execution, Quasimodo breaks free from the cathedral and rescues her, giving Phoebus enough time to escape from his cage, free himself and rally the citizens and gypsies to fight against Frollo's tyranny. Phoebus holds his own rather well during the fight, even pushing three thugs back at once with a spear. During the climactic battle between Frollo and Quasimodo, Phoebus is nowhere to be found. However, when Esmeralda loses her grip on a dangling Quasimodo, Phoebus, after finding a way into the cathedral after Quasimodo uses molten copper to prevent Frollo's thugs from breaking the door, catches him. This caused Quasimodo to accept Phoebus as his friend and his relationship with Esmeralda.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Edit
Several years later, Phoebus has married Esmeralda and had a son, Zephyr, with her. Once again, he is the Captain of the Guard under the new but unseen Minister of Justice (here, the soldiers now work as more of a police force than hired thugs, and Frollo's soldiers were most likely arrested or dead as well). When Sarousch and his circus troupe arrive in Paris, people begin reporting thefts to Phoebus. Eventually, Phoebus discovers the connection between the thefts and Sarousch, and realises that he and his gang are thieves dressed as circus performers, but this revelation causes a brief rift between himself, Quasimodo (who is in love with Sarousch's assistant, Madellaine), Esmeralda (who believes Phoebus carries a prejudice towards gypsies) and Zephyr (who admires the circus). To Quasimodo's chagrin, Phoebus arrests Madellaine when she inadvertently aids Sarousch in stealing Notre Dame's most valuable bell, La Fidèle, from the cathedral by keeping Quasimodo at bay. However, Madellaine's true feelings for Quasimodo win over and she reveals to Phoebus how Sarousch will get La Fidèle out of Paris, via underground. Unfortunately, Sarousch takes Zephyr hostage and uses him as leverage to keep Phoebus at bay, but Zephyr is rescued by Quasimodo and Madellaine, and Phoebus orders Sarousch arrested.
Following this, Phoebus's relationship with his friends and family is mended, and in return for her help, he sets Madellaine free. He and Esmeralda also proclaim their love for each other at the Festival and then watch happily as Quasimodo and Madellaine proclaim their love for each other.