- Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame changed from The Ingenue in the original story to an Action Girl in the Disney animated version. Claude Frollo also counts because in the original book he wasn't a combatant. Quasimodo is also much stronger than he was in the original being able to rip stone pillars down.
- Toothless of How to Train Your Dragon went from a tiny green dragon which could fit on Hiccup's shoulder in the book series to a Night Fury, decribed as "the unholy offspring of lightning and death itself", and the dragon every viking fears most — rather, the only dragon vikings fear in the film adaptation.
- The titular Beast from Beauty and the Beast wasn't the hairy Lightning Bruiser that he is presented as in the Disney version. In the animated version, Beast fights off a wolf pack and curb-stomps Gaston, the best hunter in the land. In the book, the Beast was taken down by one angry mob led by Beauty's Papa Wolf father.
- Rapunzel from Tangled.
- Technically, you could say everyone in Tangled, since the original story doesn't really have any sort of "action." Gothel is a sort of weird example—she becomes more badass by becoming less powerful, going from a witch in the fairy tale to a knife-wielding badass (she knows a spell to retain her youth and is also implied to be able to fly — which is seen in only one scene— but otherwise she never uses magic in the whole film).
- Speaking of witches, the Sea Witch from Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid was just a plot device to teach the titular mermaid a cautionary lesson. In the Disney's The Little Mermaid the Sea Witch aka Ursula is a badass evil octopus lady who took down King Triton and nearly conquered the entire sea... before she got impaled.
- In the original Jungle Book novel, Shere Khan was portrayed as being crippled due to a leg deformity he received during birth and was a rather pathetic Smug Snake to boot. In the Disney adaptation, however, Khan is portrayed as a menacing, bloodthirsty, yet hammy and whimsical predator who is feared by everyone in the Indian jungle and is constantly determined to kill Mowgli for being a human. In the sequel, however, he is flat out menacing.
- And in the Soviet animated adaptation, Shere Khan is a scary villain from his very first appearance. Though it goes both ways, as Shere Khan is a lot more cunning and manipulative in the book.
- This seems to make the anthropomorphic transition as well, if TaleSpin is of any evidence. In this adaptation, he is a ruthless and extremely savvy businessman (er, businesstiger) that could easily have Baloo hunted down and crushed if not for his moral code. Also, in the original he was afraid of guns. In TaleSpin, his reaction to a stray bullet shattering a champagne glass that he's holding is to sigh in annoyance.
- In the original book of Sleeping Beauty, there was a minor villain known as The Evil Fairy. When the book was adapted into a film, that minor baddie was morphed into Maleficent, one of the most badass Disney villains to date.
- Puss in Boots in the original tale was a Guile Hero and pragmatist, in Shrek 2 and his solo movie he's literally the cat version of Zorro being a Master Swordsmen and adventurer.
- Rise of the Guardians lives by this trope. Santa is a former Russian bandit who duel-wields swords and goes by "North", the Easter Bunny is an Awesome Aussie with boomerangs as weapons, the Sandman is the most badass out of all of them, and the Tooth Fairy, while the weakest, can definitely hold her own in a fight. Jack Frost has also been de-aged and is very powerful, while Pitch Black the Boogeyman is capable of taking them all on.
- Despite the Adaptational Angst Upgrade Cloud Strife is much stronger in Advent Children than he was in original FFVII being able to defeat the Remnants of Sephiroth, Bahamut SIN and Sephiroth himself solo. In the original game, it took all of The Team just to beat Sephiroth who was an immortal Physical God at that point.
- Aladdin gives basically everyone this treatment. Aladdin goes from being a lazy kid who's maybe a little clever to a Guile Hero with Le Parkour abilities to rival Altair and in the Final Battle fights a Scaled Up Jafar armed only with a scimitar. The Princess goes from being a beautiful, but otherwise flat, Love Interest to a Rebellious Princess who impresses Aladdin by being smart and fun, as well as pretty. Then there's Jafar himself, who is a Composite Character of an evil sorcerer and an Obstructive Bureaucrat vizier who wasn't the Big Bad. He now is the Big Bad who uses every bit of both magical and political power he has. (The Genie is an exception. He is a kinder, more individualized character who is not more powerful then his story counterpart; the Genie from the story could have easily done the same things and never mentioned the three rules the one in the movie did.)
- Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil CG movies Degeneration, Damnation and Vendetta big time. True, Leon is very skilled and competent in the games but the CG movies essentially turn him into the superhuman love child of John Wick and Lara Croft, Leon can take on entire countries filled with zombies and Lickers all by himself, fight and tank blows from two Tyrants + two Mutated antagonists... and win. Leon even shows up Chris Redfield whose the main character of the franchise.
- JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time sees Dawnstar get some impressive light powers to fill out her comic's powerset, which was limited to tracking and flight. Then the Time Trapper, who was always a major powerhouse, gets treated like a Lovecraftian horror here. It's a Shout-Out to the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen Legion run where he was in his Entropy Personified incarnation.
- In The Killing Joke, the Joker's circus troupe fled at the mere sight of the Batmobile pulling up. In the animated version, they actually put up a fight before Batman first confronts the Joker.
- Bekka in Justice League: Gods and Monsters. In the mainstream DC universe, she is a Hot Scientist with emotion controlling powers that rarely, if ever, fought. In this movie, she is this universe's own Wonder Woman and just as capable as Diana of Themyscira. While seemingly lacking her original powers, she makes up for it with her impressive martial skills, superhuman strength, flight and a Cool Sword that can cut through nearly everything.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, almost everyone but here's the most notable examples:
- Spider-Gwen while by no means a weakling isn't very strong or particularly competent in the comics (especially compared to other Spider-women), she gets all her moves from watching kung-fu movies and relies upon her superpowers to get by in a fight. In fact, comic Spider Gwen struggles against trained opponents and one Big Bad even admonishes Gwen for not knowing how to throw a punch. Spider-Verse Gwen, however, is a different story being a very skilled and graceful fighter which makes sense given it's shown she does ballet. This Gwen Stacy even takes down Scorpion and saves adult Peter Parker from Doc Ock, feats that comic Gwen would struggle to replicate.
- Spider-Ham is a Joke Character in the comics and only gets a few cool moments, otherwise, he falls short of his more serious Spider counterparts. In the movie, Spider-Ham uses Cartoon Physics and Hyperspace Mallet to full effect to curb stomp Scorpion, it's quite possible Peter Porker may be the most powerful member of the Spider-Gang albeit least serious.
- Noir Spider-Man is cool in the comics but his strength is quite inferior to mainline Spider-Man and others. In the movie Noir Spidey easily takes on half the Rogues Gallery with just 1940s Good Old Fisticuffs and his origin is tweaked into where he's Private Detective who fights Nazis on a daily basis, whereas in the comic he's just a reporter who doesn't get to punch a single Nazi.
- Peni Parker despite the Humongous Mecha wasn't nearly as capable in her comic than she's presented as in the movie, what's more Peni has no powers outside her Mecha in the comics. While in the movie she finishes off Scorpion outside her Mini-Mecha.
- Aunt May is a frail old lady in the comics, in the Spider-Verse she beats up fricking Tombstone with a baseball bat.
- The Prowler is a mostly tech-based bruiser in the comics whose not nearly as formidable as other villains while in the film he's unabashed Lightning Bruiser strong enough to give Spider-Man trouble and so fast Miles has to go invisible to avoid him.
- But the winner is Kingpin, for the record Wilson Fisk in comics seemly Stout Strength is all muscle but Kingpin still gets wrecked by Spider-Man in a serious battle and while he might give Daredevil a hard time, Kingpin isnt nearly as superhuman as the rest of Spidey's villains. In Into Spider-Verse however Kingpin is nothing short of a titan of strength, at the start of the movie, he beats Spider-Man to death with his bare hands and then at the end he's able to dominate Miles in a fight, lift cars, smash through buildings and survive massive falls from great heights.
Adaptational Badass / Animated Films