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Western Animation / The Lion King (2019)

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"You must take your place in the circle of life."
Simba: Please, don't leave me again!
Mufasa: I never left you, and never will. Remember who you are.

The Lion King is the 2019 photorealistic computer animated remake of the 1994 Disney animated epic The Lion King. It was directed by Jon Favreau, director of 2016's wildly successful live-action/CGI adaptation of The Jungle Book, and brought to screen using the same highly photorealistic CGI techniques by Moving Picture Company as that film employed. The screenplay was written by Jeff Nathanson, with The Lion King franchise veterans Thomas Schumacher (a producer of the original film) and Julie Taymor (director of the Broadway adaptation) serving as executive producers. The film was released in the United States on July 19, 2019,note  and, despite being animated, is considered part of the trend of live-action remakes by Disney.

This version of The Lion King, like the original, is the story of Simba, crown prince of the Pride Lands, a swath of African savannah. However, the dark specter of his treacherous uncle Scar ultimately drives Simba out of his home. After being taken in by two outcasts faraway from the Pride Lands, Simba must learn to grow up and accept his responsibility as king and reclaim his destiny.

Knowing the importance of the music to the original, Favreau pulled out all the stops for the film's soundtrack, recruiting much of the original film's music team; he tapped Hans Zimmer to return and score the film, which gave Zimmer the opportunity to build on and reinterpret his original Oscar-winning soundtrack. Working alongside Zimmer was Pharrell Williams, who helped produce and revamp the returning songs, and Chance the Rapper also assisted in the soundtrack. Zimmer brought with him his old friend Lebo M., the iconic vocalist who once again ensured the soundtrack had its trademark authentic African tapestry. Song arranger Mark Mancina also returned, as did lyricist Tim Rice and Elton John. Sir Elton contributed a new original song for the film and assisted in the soundtrack's production, which served as his final major act before his retirement. Beyonce produced her own separate album for the film, titled The Lion King: The Gift, featuring the new track "Spirit". Beyonce later made a film based on this album, entitled Black Is King, which was released on Disney+ on July 31, 2020.

The financial success of the film led to Disney officially announcing a prequel to be directed by Moonlight creator Barry Jenkins. The film, titled Mufasa: The Lion King, is planned to be released in 2024, and will feature Timon, Pumbaa, and Rafiki (with Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Kani reprising their respective roles) narrating the life story of Mufasa from his childhood to his ascension to king of Pride Rock. Though the framing device takes place in the present day after the first film, it will not be an adaptation of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.

    The cast includes: 

Previews: Teaser 1, Teaser 2, Trailer, TV Spot 1, TV Spot 2 ("Come Home"), International Trailer, TV Spot 3, TV Spot 4, Russian promo clip extras ("Jungle Creatures"), TV Spot 5 ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight"), TV Spot 6 ("Close"), TV Spot 7, TV Spot 8, TV Spot 9, TV Spot 10, TV Spot 11, "The King Returns" Featurette, TV Spot 12, TV Spot 13, TV Spot 14, TV Spot 15

The Lion King contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: During the scene where Zazu first gives the Morning Report, he is knocked over by Simba's pouncing and shouts "It's the news!" in response, a reference to his voice actor John Oliver hosting his news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: Disney released a line of posters for the film in this style for all of the main speaking cast — save the hyenas (e.g. "JD McCrary is Simba").
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Simba in the original film and its sequels was really hinted to have severe psychological issues, though it couldn't be shown directly. This version of him shows a much more explicit case of self loathing and terrible self esteem issues, though the PTSD gets downplayed in compensation.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Simba is shown fighting back against the hyenas in a more even handled way, and was later able to out muscle Scar in their final confrontation. In the original the implication was that while Simba was younger and stronger, he lacked the fighting ability and killer instinct Scar had, managing to keep an even fight but needing the hyenas to finish the job.
    • When Sarabi confronts Scar near the climax of the story, she fights him and managed to hold her own for a few seconds this time instead of being knocked down with a single blow.
    • Zazu participates in the action at several points, unable to do any real harm but enough to serve as a distraction in a heroic way.
    • The hyenas were largely just grunts in the animated climax besides eating Scar at the end, a threat due to numbers but mostly shown getting comically swiped and knocked away by the heroes and failing to injure them significantly. In this film’s climax they fight more intensely, with Shenzi even fighting Nala one-on-one for a while.
    • Scar gets a bit of this in his final scene. After his failed attempt to plead with the hyenas for his life, he actually goes down swinging, and manages to fight off the hyenas for a brief moment before their numbers overwhelm him.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The scene in which Sarabi fearlessly walks through a gauntlet of hostile hyenas to talk to Scar is adapted to take place towards the middle of the film, as opposed to just before the climax of the original film.
  • Adaptational Explanation: The original film never explains why the hyenas are so disliked and (apparently) excluded from the circle of life, beyond Animal Jingoism and being a race of Jerkasses. Here, it's shown that they absolutely refuse to control their feeding habits, to the point of hunting many herds into extinction.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Scar comes off as more depraved and demented than his animated counterpart, particularly in regards to his desire to force Sarabi to be his queen and deliberately starving the pride out of spite when she refuses his advances.
    • The hyenas' characterizations are altered to make them more sinister and threatening; they do not have the same good friendship that their animated counterparts enjoyed, nor their friendship with Scar (animated Banzai even said he considered Scar one of them), or their grasping the severity of the destruction of the Pride Lands and Scar's poor leadership.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: By virtue of using realistic animal designs, a lot of the more distinctive color designs for the various characters are either toned down or removed altogether. For instance:
    • Simba and Mufasa's manes are no longer red.
    • Rafiki's dark grey/black body and white underbelly is now almost uniformly light brown.
    • Scar no longer has tawny brown fur and a fully black mane; he's now notably duller compared to the other lions, and as a result, much closer to his brother and nephew's colors than in the original. Most of the shots with Scar for the first half of the film are cast in a darker light to make his mane look darker; he eventually grows a darker one during his reign as king.
    • Zazu largely lacks the blue of his animated counterpart, resembling his Broadway incarnation (and real-life counterparts) in being mostly white.
    • Timon lacks the cap of red fur he had on his crown, and Pumbaa is gray as compared to his dark red animated counterpart.
    • The spotted hyenas are now appropriately brownish-gray with solid brown manes as opposed to their animated gray and black coloration.
    • Nala and Scar both have more amber-colored eyes instead of teal and bright green (although the former's eyes do show hints of blue throughout the film). Baby Simba also has blue eyes, as real newborn lion cubs do, though they change to the familiar light brown when he gets older.
    • Sarabi is now a deep brownish-gold color rather than dusty brown. She also sports dark brown spots on her forelimbs, though she lacked any sort of markings in the original.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The film has an added backstory explaining that Scar had previously challenged Mufasa for the position of King of the Pridelands and Sarabi's mate and lost. Despite Zazu advising him to banish Scar after the incident, Mufasa allowed him to remain since he was still family.
    • More details are given about how Scar and the hyenas were hunting local herds either to extinction or out of Pride Rock altogether, the antagonistic relationship between the lionesses and Scar's rule and Nala's initial escape.
    • A minor point, but an explanation is introduced (expanding on one condescending line from the original) for why Scar leads Simba into the gorge other than "your father has a surprise for you": Scar claims the best way to get back in Mufasa's good graces is to perfect his roar, and then says the gorge is where all Pride Lands lions come to do so. He even states that Mufasa himself had done so as a cub, and refused to leave until "his roar echoed above the rim." This further justifies Simba's practicing, and implies more strongly that he does believe his roar is what set off the stampede.
    • In the original film, Nala looking for help in the jungle is a brief mere one line reference that she utters during her argument with Simba. Here, she is shown having a strong desire to overthrow Scar either via a rebellion, or leaving the Pridelands to look for help to get him off the throne, and gaining an escape scene - thanks to Zazu distracting Scar and the hyenas, which in turn retroactively explains why Zazu was imprisoned in the original animated film.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • Scar’s cover-up of his murder of Mufasa leaves a gaping hole in his story this time. In the original, he took care of the only potential witness, Zazu, by knocking him out from behind before he could go for help, and Zazu clearly did not know that Scar was the culprit. However, in this adaptation, Scar sends Zazu to get the pride for help, and after the stampede, claims to the pride that he didn’t reach the gorge in time to help Simba and Mufasa. Zazu is implied to have been exiled from the pride after Scar’s take-over (given how the hyenas regularly try to eat him when he shows up), but considering Zazu still clearly regularly visited Pride Rock to relay information, it’s a wonder how Scar’s lie about not being able to make it to the gorge didn’t get exposed by Zazu. Note that this was changed to cover the original film's plot hole about why Zazu wasn't suspicious of being randomly knocked out.
    • On a similar beat, like in the original, the pride doesn’t come to Simba’s defense when he confesses responsibility for Mufasa’s death, even after he says it was an accident that happened when he was a cub, and Scar backs Simba to the cliff of Pride Rock and gloats to him about the look in Mufasa’s eyes before his death. Whereas in the original this was a more private conversation the others didn’t hear, in the remake, once Simba turns the tables on Scar, Sarabi asks how Scar saw the look in Mufasa’s eyes if he didn’t make it to the gorge in time, proving that it wasn’t a private conversation. If Sarabi could hear Scar admit he was lying, why didn’t she try to step in sooner?
  • Adaptation Name Change: Banzai and Ed have been renamed Kamari and Azizi bringing them in line with other characters that have Swahili names.
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • Rafiki is very clearly a mandrill in this iteration, as compared to the original version in which he indirectly referred to himself as a baboon and looks like a mandrill-baboon hybrid.
    • The fruit he uses in the original film to mark Simba's forehead has been replaced with a kind of root that produces a deep red powder.
    • A group of beisa oryx are seen in a shot mimicking that of the topi in the original movie.
    • All but one of the more clearly identifiable birds riding on the elephant's tusks on the way to Simba's presentation (a hornbill, various assorted and stylized parrots and bee-eaters) have been replaced by other species (including an African grey parrot and a pair of red-billed oxpeckers).
    • The chameleon that Simba roars at in the gorge has been promotional species-swapped from a fictional one-horned Jackson's chameleon-esque design to a hornless helmeted species.note 
  • Adapted Out:
    • While Shenzi sticks around, Banzai and Ed are replaced by Kamari and Azizi. Shenzi stands out as the overall leader of the hyenas, while Kamari and Azizi are more Those Two Guys, neither of whom are quite as maniacal as Banzai or Ed.
    • The gopher-like rodent who reported the hyenas intruding in the Pride Lands to Zazu early in the original film. Instead, Zazu flies away from Simba and Mufasa after being pounced by the former, spots the hyenas, and tells Mufasa himself.
  • Aerith and Bob: Although no one has English names in this film, they are mentioned at two points. Pumbaa wants to name Simba “Fred” when he and Timon decide to keep him. Timon also asks Pumbaa if he considered renaming himself “Brad” when he farted at a watering hole as a piglet.
  • African Chant: The isiZulu chants from "Circle of Life"note .
  • Age Cut: Just like in the original film, during the instrumental bridge of "Hakuna Matata" where we see Simba mature into an adult.
  • All There in the Manual: The hyenas Kamari and Azizi are not called by name in the film, but their names are shown in marketing materials and the novelization.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Simba and Nala's cub at the end of the film is not identified in any way. It could be Kiara or a new cub. The novelization refers to it as male.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: After Mufasa's death, Scar tries to harass and coerce Sarabi into becoming his queen, making various threats. When Sarabi first tells him she will never become his wife, Scar makes good on one of those threats, punishing the entire pride of lionesses by giving the hyenas first rights at all food.
  • And Starring: Both the main cast rolls in the trailers and the ending titles end "with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones".
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Despite all their meticulous anatomical detail, the animal models still lack genitalia and anuses.
  • Animals Respect Nature: Animals in the Pride Lands are portrayed as if they know their place in the ecosystem and respect it. The reason Shenzi's hyena clan is banned from the Pride Lands is because they refuse to control their hunting habits, already having driven out all the prey from their territory.
  • Animal Religion: Mufasa tells a young Simba about the "great kings of the past", who watch over the Pride Lands from the heavens.
  • Animal Stampede: The iconic wildebeest stampede scene caused by the film's villains is still a crucial part of the story.
  • Animal Talk: As in the original film, all the animals understand each other regardless of their being different species.
  • Arc Words: "Everything the light touches". First used in Mufasa's speech that is brought back line for line in this remake, then used by Scar at the Elephant Graveyard in which he promises "everything the light touches" will be available for the hyenas to feast upon. It shows the differences in Mufasa and Scar's approach to the circle of life, the former respecting all life including his prey, whereas Scar only seeks to take and destroy the kingdom for his own personal gain. It's brought full circle before the climax in which Simba quotes the line to Nala explaining his father told him his mission as king is to protect everything the light touches, signifying the return of balance to the circle of life with Simba going to reclaim the throne.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Sarabi delivers one to Scar in the climax after hearing an inconsistency in his story of Mufasa's death, sparking his Villainous Breakdown.
    Sarabi: Scar, you said you didn't get to the gorge in time...
    Scar: That's true.
  • Art Evolution: The animation, color palette, and even character models are markedly improved between the two teaser trailers, a trend that continued into the more recent TV spots and ultimately the film itself.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Rafiki's lithe appearance and dull colors make him more closely resemble a female mandrill, although this could be excused as an attempt to convey his old age.
    • While this is generally averted, there are still a few instances where the lions do the stereotypical wide-mouth yelling posture commonly associated with roaring even though actual full-blown lion roars are produced with the mouth in an almost closed position similar to a howling wolf. There are also a few times where the sounds they make are the more typical beefed-up tiger roars commonly heard in Hollywood productions rather than actual lion vocalizations.
    • Zazu has a combination of features from different hornbill species of the genus Tockus. His general plumage coloration resembles red-billed hornbills, specifically Tanzanian red-billed hornbills (Tockus ruahae), but his bill features a prominent casque which all red-billed hornbill species uniquely lack, as well as being an orange-yellow color that is much more commonly found in both Southern and Eastern yellow-billed hornbills (T. leucomelas and T. flavirostris, respectively).
    • A dik-dik is seen eating bugs alongside Timon, Pumbaa and the other insectivores, something they rarely if ever eat in real-life.
    • When we see young Pumbaa in flashback, he is clearly modelled on a juvenile bushpig (Potamochoerus larvatus), rather than a warthog (Phacochoerus africanus).
    • The horns on the gazelles are those of Thomson's gazelles (Eudorcas thomsoni), but their markings are closer to those of springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis), which are only found in Southern Africa.
    • Galagos (bushbabies) are strictly nocturnal in real life, but here are seen frolicking with Timon and Pumbaa in broad daylight.
    • A pair of rollers is shown building a woven nest on a tree branch, even though real rollers nest in tree holes or cavities in termite mounds.
    • Real zebras don't have identical stripes as ones in the film.
    • Swallowtail butterfly caterpilar is shown living inside a dead tree trunk.
    • The hyenas' uncaring nature towards the ecosystem is portrayed as ecologically destructive. In reality, all species behave this way; they are kept in control not by their own choice but by the physical limitations of themselves and their environment.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Zazu was a lighter, comic relief scout in the original film. Here his role is enlarged a little to be more of an advisor to Mufasa, and he joins Simba's side upon his return to Pride Rock instead of being mostly absent in the final fight. He also helps Nala escape the Pride Lands and actively participated in the battle with the hyenas.
    • Sarabi has a much more prominent supporting role in the remake, aided by the film showing more of the Pride Lands during the reign of Scar. The film more explicitly shows that as the queen, Sarabi is held in just as high regard as Mufasa, to the point that after his death, the Pride looks to her as their ruler instead of Scar. She also has a subplot where Scar tries to make her his queen.
  • As You Know: In the first scene after "Circle of Life", Scar sarcastically apologizes for missing Simba's presentation and that he meant no disrespect to Sarabi, because As Mufasa Knows, he has tremendous respect for her. As the film later reveals that Scar has long coveted Sarabi and tries to make her his queen after murdering her husband, it's a thinly veiled reference to his failed courtship with her and a taunt as to what he's going to do once Mufasa is gone.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: As in the original film, flames engulf Pride Rock and the surrounding area during the final battle. After the hyenas are largely defeated, the pride evacuates the mountain except for Simba and Scar who have their final duel.
  • Big Good: Mufasa, the king of the Pride Lands and loving dad to Simba, who throughout the film tells his son about the responsibility of kingship and how to rule in a fair and selfless manner. Mufasa is beloved throughout the pride (Scar even at least initially appeals to this when he refers to his brother as "the greatest leader the pride had ever known") and particularly idolized by Simba himself.
  • Big "NO!":
    • As per the original, Simba screams it as he watches Mufasa fall to his death.
    • At the end of the film, Scar yells "No!" when the hyenas eat him alive.
  • Bitch Slap: Scar kills Mufasa this time around by slapping him into the wildebeest stampede. He aims for his eye, suggesting he's paying him back for the scar that he is implied to have gotten during his challenge years prior.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: As in the original film, Simba, despite being a carnivore, is implied to have survived on a diet largely consisting of insects and other invertebrates while living with Timon and Pumbaa.
  • Book Ends: As in the original, the film ends with Rafiki presenting the next generation of the lion pride, in this case Simba and Nala’s infant cub to the gathering animals. The opening and closing of the film are also prefaced by scenes involving mice going about their business.
  • Canon Foreigner: A group of other animals (including a bat-eared fox, an elephant shrew, a bushbaby, a pair of dik-dik, and a flock of guineafowl) live in Timon and Pumbaa’s jungle in contrast to the original film where it was just Simba, Timon and Pumbaa.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Simba and Nala grew up as close friends - and were even betrothed as cubs, which neither was excited about - before eventually falling in love when they reached adulthood.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Zazu tells a story of his brother who thought he was a woodpecker. Mufasa is not amused. Neither is Scar, but the distraction is enough to allow Nala to leave the hyena-guarded Pride Rock without being noticed, to find Simba.
  • Comforting the Widow: Downplayed. Scar tries to make Sarabi his queen after she chose Mufasa over him before the start of the film, but he hardly does any “comforting” to begin with, instead claiming she’s being selfish for not being his queen with Mufasa dead. In the novelization it’s even more revolting since literally during his coronation (and merely hours after her husband’s death, no less), Scar is proposing to her.
  • Company Cross References:
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Scar incriminates himself when Simba calls him out as the one who murdered Mufasa. Scar had earlier cornered Simba on Pride Rock (after coercing him into a false confession) and is about to kill him off; instead of just going in for the kill, Scar takes note of Simba's expression of fear and terror and begins gloating that it was just how it was when he (Scar) had Mufasa right where he wanted him. When Simba gets his Heroic Second Wind and calls him out, Scar instructs the lionesses to ignore Simba. Sarabi instead reminds Scar that it was he who said that he didn't get to the gorge in time, and when Scar agrees that he indeed said that, Sarabi then asks him point blank: "Then how did you see the look in Mufasa's eyes?" Scar immediately does an Oh, Crap! before ordering the hyenas to kill Simba and the lionesses.
  • Culturally Sensitive Adaptation: In "Hakuna Matata", Timon doesn't stop Pumbaa from saying "farted" this time, since the word is no longer considered inappropriate.
  • Darker and Edgier: All of the lion-fighting violence and child witnessing his father's death (and being made to think he caused it) of the original, now with photo-realistic animals, many of the jokes that took the edge off the intensity of the original film removed, and a subplot re-purposed from the Broadway show in which Scar tries to make Simba's mother his queen.
  • Dark Reprise: A visual example occurs during the introduction to the Pride Lands after enduring several years of Scar's overhunting and tyrannical rule. We get an establishing shot of the sunset, and shots from the animals reacting to their new ruler, mirroring the opening shots of "Circle of Life". However, while at the beginning of the film the denizens of the lush, green Pride Lands happily responded to Simba's birth by gathering at Pride Rock, this time, the last surviving herds of the kingdom who are scraping out a living in the decimated wasteland run like hell at the approach of their ruler Scar, who is leading a huge hunting party of hyenas.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Most of Timon's jokes are such throughout the film.
    • Young Nala wryly asks "Simba, do you speak bird?" in response to Zazu mentioning the lion cubs' betrothal.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The scene where Scar takes the throne is deliberately featured heavily desaturated colors in order to convey the gloom of Mufasa’s death and Simba’s exile and the ominous sense of foreboding now that Scar has become king.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Scar does this to Sarabi and the other lionesses when she refuses to marry him. He declares that until she gives in, the hyenas will eat first, knowing that the greedy hyenas will leave barely anything for the lionesses.
  • Designated Girl Fight: In the final war sequence, the film makes a point to shine a spotlight on Shenzi vs Nala. Ever since Nala was saved by Mufasa from the hyenas as a cub, Shenzi has made it a point to bully and try to intimidate her. Now that Nala is grown, she can finally face her childhood fear head-on.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • An unnamed hyena chasing Simba alongside Shenzi, Kamari, and Azizi ends up falling over the same cliff that Simba falls off of, but while Simba manages to land on a small ledge not too far down, the hyena meets its demise this way.
    • Subverted, as expected, with Scar. He survives his fall from Pride Rock, as in the original, but is finished off by the hyenas he backstabbed mere moments later.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The hyenas become allies with Scar and unlike the original film they are treated better as they do not go hungry and a result they return the favor by being loyal to Scar. But near the end of the film they have a change of heart after hearing Scar blame them for everything and calling them revolting scavengers. Scar desperately tries to justify what he said, but the hyenas will have none of it and they eat their traitorous boss alive.
  • Dramatic Wind: While Mufasa is lecturing Simba on Pride Rock, a light breeze is blowing his mane back.
  • Dull Surprise: The near photorealistic animation and animal designs made for a notable decrease in how expressive the characters are, and in fact removed many of the larger-than-life elements of the original to look even more like a nature documentary. Because of that it relied significantly more on the voice acting, but there is only so much you can do with making a realistic lion or especially a bird emote.
  • Eat the Camera: After Simba topples a dirt pillar containing numerous bugs, the animals of the paradise go to town on them. The camera cuts to the center of it just in time for Pumbaa to put it in his mouth.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Scar is introduced this way.
  • Evil Uncle: Scar; brother to Mufasa and envious of his position on the throne, a jealousy that only intensifies with Simba's birth. ("I was first in line, until the precious prince arrived.") He ultimately takes over the Pride Lands through less than honorable means in an alliance with the hyenas.
  • Expressive Ears: More subtle than typical examples, given the nature of the film, but ears do indicate emotions and moods in certain cases, including the lions.
  • Foil: The film shows the juxtaposition between Scar and Mufasa's views on the throne. While Scar envies Mufasa for his immense privilege as king (he lambasts Mufasa's limited hunting policy and promises unlimited access to food in pitching his takeover plan to the hyenas), Mufasa advises young Simba that a good ruler is more interested in what they can give to their kingdom as opposed to reaping the personal benefits of the job and is shown to be against the idea of territory expansion through conquest when Simba inquires about it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Scar claims at the beginning of the film that he didn't mean to disrespect Sarabi by not attending Simba's presentation, and takes time to lick his paws and speak of her with genuine reverence. It's later revealed that Scar lusts after Sarabi and tries to make her his queen once Mufasa has been killed.
    • Similar to a scene in the original, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is heard faintly in the background during the introductory shot of Nala, foreshadowing her later romance with Simba.
    • When Scar meets the hyenas for the first time they threaten to eat him before being persuaded by Scar to see reason and join forces with him instead. That threat happens at the end of the film when Scar throws them under the bus when he begs for Simba's mercy.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Other than Timon and Pumbaa the other creatures living in the jungle are quick to judge Simba and are frightened of him even as a cub. It does not help that Simba lets slip he would eat other animals which only gets Timon and Pumbaa’s friends paranoid especially how they are the kind of animals a lion would typically kill. Even when he's grown up and they've learned to trust him, there's still some awkwardness.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: While large and majestic in appearance, Mufasa still bears his share of small scars across his face that can only really be seen up close. In contrast, his brother Scar has a large unmissable cut mark running across his left eye, as well as various other nicks and bruises across his body that are noticeable within a reasonable distance.
  • Heaven Above: Mufasa explains that the great kings "look down on us from those stars" and towards the end of the film manifests in spirit form in a head of clouds during an electrical storm.
  • Hope Spot: During the stampede, Mufasa valiantly tries to climb out of the gorge, fighting with every single breath he has as a heroic, dramatic reprise of "This Land" plays. He's almost to the top... when Scar suddenly appears to meet him, and any viewer who has seen the original film knows exactly what's in store.
  • Hypocritical Humor: As Timon and Pumbaa scoff at Mufasa's idea of the circle of life, they prove Mufasa right in the process. They say that nobody's life means anything to anyone else and therefore nothing you do will effect someone else's life. This is despite the fact that as they are talking and gathering insects, their actions are freeing up insects for their friends in the oasis to eat. And ultimately Simba manages to feed the group for the day by making the effort to destroy a termite mound, just like how his taking responsibility as king will be able to turn life around for his pride.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Simba stoically proclaims "I am Simba, son of Mufasa" after Rafiki asks him who he is.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Scar, when attempting to protest Simba's claim that he killed Mufusa, claims to have seen the look of fear in Mufusa's eyes as he was killed. Sarabi, however, points out that he had previously claimed to have not made it to the gorge in time, so how exactly did he see the look in Mufusa's eyes? At this point, Scar gives up trying to defend himself and just orders the hyenas to attack.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Despite being a hornbill, Zazu looks like a bird version of John Oliver.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Simba mentions Mufasa telling him about the great kings of the past, Timon and Pumbaa laugh at the idea. Then they start saying things that really bother Simba while not knowing his past.
    Timon: Royal dead guys watching over us! Well, I hope they don't fall out of the sky!
    Pumbaa: Hang on, Your Majesty! Don't let go!
  • Insult Backfire: Simba and Nala both give one to each other while arguing as cubs. When Simba calls himself a "genius" after they escape Zazu, Nala tells him he never would have gotten away without her, his "queen". Simba reminds her there is no queen, and she agrees saying she would "rather marry an aardvark". only for Simba to retort "good luck finding one that will say yes".
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When young Simba expresses his enthusiasm of being the next king to Scar, he rhetorically asks if that means he can tell his uncle what to do. Years later, when Scar pleads for mercy before the adult Simba, he asks his nephew to tell him what to do. Simba replies with the same words that Scar used to chase him away from home, doubling the irony.
    Simba: Think about it. When I'm king, I'll have to give you orders; tell you what to do. How weird is that?
    (Time Skip)
    Scar: Oh Simba... you are truly noble. And I will make it up to you. Just tell me how I can prove myself? Tell me what you want me to do?
    Simba: Run. Run away, Scar. Run away and never return!
    • In "Be Prepared", Scar informs the hyenas, "When I am king, the mighty will be free to take whatever they want, because a hyena's belly is never full." Later on, Shenzi says "There's only one true thing you ever said, Scar. A hyena's belly is never full" as she and the other hyenas corner and eat Scar alive.
  • It's Up to You: Simba after a pep talk from the ghost of Mufasa decides to do the right thing and take his rightful place as King and knows only he can put an end to Scar’s tyranny.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When adult Simba continues to sing at the end of "Hakuna Matata", Pumbaa comments that he's "grown 400 pounds" since they started the song, a humorous little nod to Simba's sudden age jump. Earlier, they mention that they usually get a more gracious reception when they say "Hakuna Matata" than Simba's initial, unimpressed reaction.
  • Like Father, Like Son: When Scar has Simba cornered on Pride Rock and takes note of his fear and terror, Scar says that this is exactly how things were when he had Mufasa in his grasp ... and now, he intends to throw Simba off Pride Rock to his death after "convicting" him of murder.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: After Timon and Pumbaa mocked Simba's belief in the circle of life, that night, a tuft of his mane falls out and goes on a long journey past the oasis. It's passed from animal to animal, sometimes in rather mundane ways like when it's eaten by a giraffe and ends up in its' dung, which is later pushed around into a ball by a dung beetle, only to end up taken by the desert winds to Rafiki's tree. The intention of the scene is meant to confirm that yes, there really is a sort of magic of the circle of life at work, currently trying to restore balance by alerting Rafiki to Simba's survival.
  • Melismatic Vocals: During "Just Can't Wait To Be King", JD Mc Crary's (Young Simba) singing voice tends to drag out certain syllables in the lyrics while moving through different improvised notes. This is much more noticeable when putting the song with the original version from 1994.
  • Meta Twist: Played for Laughs. In this version of "Hakuna Matata", Pumbaa actually manages to say the word "farted" because Timon doesn't bother to stop him this time. Even Pumbaa seems genuinely caught off-guard. There's also the ad-libbing at the end, where Simba keeps going... but Timon and Pumbaa can't get him to stop even though it's over. In the directors' commentary for the home release of the film, Favreau admitted that thanks to the Internet, kids of the late 2010's know what farting is and they didn't have to "censor" it.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: There is sufficient geographical context to determine that the Pride Lands are situated in the sprawling Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, specifically north of Mt. Kilimanjaro in south-central Kenya between Kajiado and Taita-Taveta counties near the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Accordingly, this specific range provides multiple examples of animals that don't belong there in real life, including:
    • A group of gemsbok (Oryx gazella) are featured in the "Circle of Life" sequence even though the species is only found in southwestern Africa rather than the East African setting of the story. (The similar and related East African oryx, specifically the beisa oryx (Oryx beisa beisa), would've been a more appropriate choice.)
    • In two prominent group shots of animals in the teaser trailers, an Indian rhino is prominently featured, though geographically accurate black rhinos (which actually live in Africa) appear in the background of other shots. One of the latter TV spots released before the film shows that the animal was replaced with an appropriate African species of rhino (specifically a black rhino).
    • Rafiki's design firmly establishes him as a mandrill (as opposed to a baboon), resulting in him being very out of place as mandrills hail from the rainforests of West Africa as opposed to the East African Serengeti. (The fact that he mostly speaks the South African language isiXhosa throughout the film further adds to the confusion.)
    • Timon being a meerkat flies pretty heavily in the face of the species' actual biogeography given that meerkats are endemic to the Namib and Kalahari Deserts of Southern Africa.
    • The rhinoceros beetle is most likely intended to be a centaurus beetle (Augosoma centaurus) which are only endemic to western equatorial Africa.
    • A downplayed example with the giraffes seen throughout the film, which specifically resemble the Rothschild giraffe subspecies/ecotype.note  Despite these giraffes presently only found in a select few protected regions of Uganda and western Kenya, their historical distribution was wider only a few centuries ago and possibly could've encompassed the Serengeti-Mara region proper alongside their cousins, the Maasai giraffe (G. c. tippelskirchi), which don't appear in any of the footage despite being the most common giraffe in the region.
    • An African grey parrot is seen hitching a ride on an elephant's tusk despite not being native to southern Kenya.
    • As in the original movie, South American leaf-cutter ants appear in Africa.
    • The gazelles, despite having horns like those of Thomson's gazelles, more closely resemble springbok in their colour and patterning. Springbok are only found in southern Africa.
    • No impala appear in the film, which is odd given their ubiquity throughout Africa. However, the credits list an “impala” voiced by Phil LaMarr - this actually refers to the topi Simba startles when chasing butterflies.
    • In Wild Schemes and Catastrophes, Pumbaa rattles off the animals that eat eggs and would poise a threat to Timon's mission to get one for lunch, and ends up listing an orangutan, an ape that definitely does not live in Africa. It's lampshaded as Timon asks what an orangutan is, and Pumbaa admits he doesn't know and made it up.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The main trailer ends with a delightful rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight from Timon and Pumbaa, contrasting and providing a balance to its overall serious tone. The movie itself, however, takes the scene the clip is from in the opposite direction, in that it starts with the song being sung by the two of them and their neighbors… until it's abruptly cut off when Nala attacks them.
    • Earlier in the film, we get a tense scene where Nala is hiding from Scar and the hyenas while escaping Pride Rock. The tension is instantly broken when Zazu pops up, asking the villains if they heard about his woodpecker-minded brother - thereby providing the distraction needed for Nala to escape.
  • Mythology Gag: The film needed its own page.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Scar not making sure the hyenas killed Simba means his nephew can one day return to challenge him. Also, revealing to Simba that he murdered Mufasa rid him of his guilt and led to the lionesses knowing the truth about him.
  • No Fourth Wall: To an extent. Timon and Pumbaa moan when adult Simba says he wants to sing Hakuna Matata again as though he wants another take and his friends say they have had had enough of doing the song implying that they have been rehearsing and the montage we saw was the actual take. And Timon and Pumbaa even claim Simba is ‘stealing’ their signature song implying the trio know they are in a movie.
  • Novelization: Simply titled, The Lion King: The Novelization was released over a month in advance of the movie's premiere.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Although Shenzi is thrown off of Pride Rock by Nala during the midway point of the climax, she suddenly shows up on the very top of Pride Rock hearing Scar refer to the hyenas as revolting scavengers that deserved to be killed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Happens a few times in the film.
    • Simba and Nala have this reaction twice during the Elephant Graveyard scene: first when the hyenas appear, and the second when Shenzi reveals herself to them.
    • Simba during the stampede scene.
  • Ordered Apology: After Nala pins Simba after they escape Zazu, she claims he now owes her an apology. He refuses though and pushes her off him, leading to her pinning him again to force an apology out of him.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Shenzi and Nala give one to each other before their fight at the end of the film:
    Shenzi: Now this is a meal I've waited my who life for!
    Nala: I've been waiting, to, and I'm not a cub anymore!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Before Scar kills Mufasa, like the original he says, " king!".
    • And by the end of the film, Shenzi says, "There's only one true thing you ever said, Scar. A hyena's belly is never full." The hyenas immediately swarm Scar and soon eat him alive.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The oasis is no longer Timon and Pumbaa's exclusive home, but a haven for self-described 'outcasts'.
  • Real Is Brown: The film lacks the sometimes extravagant colors of the original. The animals go through Adaptation Dye-Job to match the realistic colors of their species, resulting in most of them being gray or brown, and the landscapes, while spectacular, are also less colorful than in the 1994 animated film.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Timon putting on a skirt and doing the Hula would really not fly nowadays, and would clash heavily with the photorealism of the movie. Here he starts doing a parody of "Be Our Guest" before the hyenas attack.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: After becoming king, Scar asks Sarabi to become his queen. It's indicated that Scar has been attracted to her for years, but she chose his brother Mufasa; Scar also believes that with Sarabi at his side, the rest of the pride will respect him more. Sarabi refuses, prompting Scar to decree that the lionesses will eat after the hyenas from now on "and they don't leave much behind". note 
  • Remake Cameo: In the Latin American Spanish dub:
    • Mufasa is voiced by Sebastián Llapur, who took over for the late Carlos Petrel as Scar.
    • Arturo Mercado (the original voice of Simba) instead voiced Rafiki.
  • The Runt at the End: Played for Drama during the scene in the gorge; after the stampede has ended and Simba is looking for Mufasa, one last wildebeest comes through. Simba makes sure not to get run over... and it ends up drawing his attention to Mufasa's corpse.
  • Sexual Extortion: Scar offers to marry Sarabi so he can get the support of the lionesses, and when she refuses says that if she doesn't marry him, he will allow the hyenas to eat before the lionesses, which, given how many overhunting hyenas there are, likely means starvation.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake:
    • Of all the live-action remakes (or in this case, photorealistic animation) to come out of Disney during the new tens, this one is the one that sticks the absolute closest to its original, even more so than Beauty and the Beast. If there are any additions, they err on the side of being extremely minor and easy to miss, with only one or two outright new scenes.
    • Played intentionally with "Circle of Life," which remakes nearly every shot from the original exactly as it was down to every last detail in the same order.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Unlike in the original, Simba's eyes are a hazy blue as a baby. This is true to actual lion biology, in which cubs are born blind and cannot open their eyes until about ten days after their birth. The blue color is a result of delayed melanin production, but this changes as the cubs grow such that their eyes are golden-brown by the time they're three months old, as reflected in Simba's "cubhood" design.
    • Mufasa's mane is noticeably darker around the edges, which is a sign of a strong, healthy lion in real life. In contrast, Scar's mane is sickly pale and scraggly, which justify his status as the runt of the two, though nearly all the scenes featuring Scar position him in low lighting to make his mane as dark as his animated counterpart.
    • The zebras specifically look like Grant's zebras (Equus quagga boehmi), a subspecies of zebra is endemic to the Serengeti ecosystem where the story is set. Considering the surprising number of species and subspecies of zebra there are (three species, one of which has six recognized extant subspecies)note  and the fact that their physical differences are quite subtle, this attention to detail is commendable.
    • Unlike in the original film and its continuity, the hyenas here actually make real hyena sounds as opposed to canine calls.
    • Timon is seen walking on all fours instead of two like in the original. Real meerkats can stand on their hind legs but cannot walk bipedally.
    • Among the animals eating bugs with Timon and Pumbaa is a bat-eared fox, a species of fox which is known for its primarily insectivorous diet.
    • The film features both black and white rhinoceroses, appropriately distinguishing them mouth shape (both species are grey). The black rhinos have a narrow mouth and pointed upper lip, and the white rhinos have a wide mouth and square lip.
  • Slasher Smile: The hyenas seem to be mostly teeth when they're baring them.
  • Stargazing Scene:
    • Mufasa and Simba literally tells Simba to "Look at the stars" and goes on to explain that "The great kings look down on us from those stars."
    • Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa lay in a tree and stargaze, eventually starting a conversation about what each of them think about the nature of the nature sky and what exactly stars are.
  • Stock Audio Clip:
    • A trained ear can detect that Mufasa's returning speech used in the teaser trailer is comprised of both audio from the original film ("Everything the light touches is our kingdom.") and James Earl Jones re-recording more or less the same lines ("But a king's time as ruler" onwards). This can be identified due to Jones' voice sounding distinctly older than the original dialogue from 1994 for the second portion of the quote. In the film proper, a few more demanding lines from Mufasa are delivered using Jones’ original recordings from 1994, most prominently, "If you ever come near my son again...".
    • Lebo M.'s opening vocals for the 1994 "Circle of Life" are used in the teaser trailer. The whole of the song is the same audio track as the original save for the trailer embellishments.
    • “Circle of Life”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, and “Remember” note  reuse much of the original renditions’ backing vocals and choir.
  • Straw Nihilist: Hakuna Matata is interpreted this way in the movie. According to Timon and Pumbaa, there is no "circle of life" or anything beyond the here and now, only a "meaningless line of indifference". Nothing really matters beyond living comfortably and choosing your own happiness over a meaningful purpose.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Subverted. During "Hakuna Matata" Pumbaa thinks Timon is going to cut him off before he can say "farted", just like in the original, but to his surprise he actually gets to complete the rhyme.
    Pumba: And I got downhearted, every time that I... faaaaaaaarted — are you gonna stop me?!
    Timon: No I'm not! You disgust me!
  • That Came Out Wrong: Simba accidentally startles a topi while pouncing on a butterfly. The topi quips that he's glad that it was Simba and not "a real lion", but then he stumbles over his words while trying to correct himself. Finally, all he can muster is: "Yeah, I'm gonna go," and he leaves.
  • Tie-In Novel: A graphic novel anthology published by Dark Horse Comics entitled The Lion King: Wild Schemes & Catastrophes, features stories from Simba's childhood days.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Timon and Pumbaa love their grubs, sharing them with Simba and the other animals they share the jungle with. The novelization and Wild Schemes and Catastrophes reveal that Timon also loves to eat eggs, something that meerkats do eat sometimes in the wild.
  • Underwater Fart Gag: A flashback to Pumbaa's childhood shows him ripping one in the Zebras' drinking pool; they respond by jerking their heads up, then running away.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Subverted. Even though Simba lives with them and has changed his diet to insects, the other animals other than Timon and Pumbaa are still afraid of him since he's still their natural predator and can never be sure whether or not he’d snap back to his carnivorous ways.
  • Villain Song: Scar's "Be Prepared" is retained here, and while it's noticeably slower and shorter than the original, it's also much angrier and more intense in tone.
  • Villain Team-Up: Whereas in the original film Scar and the hyenas were apparently long-time allies, here they don't form their alliance until Scar approaches them for help killing Mufasa.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Once Simba and his mother Sarabi out Scar as Mufasa's murderer, Scar's Faux Affably Evil nature deteriorates to the point where he roars at his hyenas to kill Simba and all of the lionesses. It's even more pronounced during Simba and Scar's final battle.
    "This is MY kingdom! MY DESTINY!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Early in the film when Simba returns to Pride Rock with Zazu after Mufasa goes to fight the hyenas, we can see at least two cubs sitting with the lionesses. While one of them is Nala, the other is never seen again after this shot; in the next scene when we are properly introduced to Nala, the other cub has vanished. Mufasa also ordered Simba to stay with “the other cubs”, indicating that Nala is not the only other cub in the Pride, but she remains the only other cub to appear after the initial shot.
  • You Just Had to Say It: In the original film Simba tells Timon and Pumbaa they have to act as ‘live bait’ to distract the hyenas. In this version though Pumbaa slips out they need someone big and juicy to cause a diversion and as a result Pumbaa causes himself to become the bait along with Timon to an extent.



Video Example(s):


Donald Glover (Hakuna Matata)

Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) provides adult Simba's speaking and singing voice in the 2019 remake of The Lion King. Hakuna Matata features more musical riffing from Simba near the end... which Timon and Pumbaa begin to lampshade to the moon and back.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MelismaticVocals

Media sources: