Disney's The Lion King is one of the most successful animated movies of all time, and almost flawless in execution, so why on earth have the House of Mouse decided to develop a live action remake? Reboots may just be a natural part of the circle of life for some, but The Lion King is arguably one of Disney's most beloved properties, and such a move risks alienating '90s kids worldwide.
Although many would argue that it's impossible to improve upon perfection, Disney has a lot to gain from making Jon Favreau's The Lion King reboot a success. In financial terms alone, The Lion King was the most successful film of 1994 and Favreau's The Jungle Book remains one of the highest-grossing movies this year. Ka-ching.
You can see then why Disney would want to capitalize on the story of Simba — but once you take a moment to shelve the cynicism, it's exciting to imagine how Favreau will incorporate the iconic story within his own unique vision. Say what you want about his Jungle Book reboot, but some bold changes were made that undoubtedly improved the story for the better, at least for modern audiences.
Whether you're feeling the love tonight for Favreau's reboot or not, it's hard to deny that a live-action version of The Lion King has the potential to be royally magnificent — but only if a few changes are made first.
1. Show Simba's Teenage Years
During 'Hakuna Matata', one of the original film's many standout musical numbers, cub Simba morphs into adult Simba within just a matter of seconds. While the transition is undeniably effective visually, an expanded running time could flesh out Simba's adolescent years, developing his relationship with Timon and Pumbaa further.
The future king's transformation from damaged cub to the Pride Land's rightful leader is key to the film, so it makes sense to define this further with a few additional scenes in the live action reboot. Cue an awkward scene where Simba wakes up one morning and asks Timon why the rock he sleeps on is all kinds of sticky.
Watch a cub transform into a... a man-lion, I guess, in this catchy little ditty below:
2. Define Timon And Pumbaa's Character Motivation More Clearly
Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa, everyone's favorite odd couple seem pretty keen on living that 'no worries' life when they first appear. But it doesn't take long for them to abandon their philosophy in order to follow Simba into the Pride Lands.
While it's obvious upon reflection that the comic duo risked their necks for Simba out of love and admiration, the live-action remake could make more of this, developing their characters with a more clear arc. We're not asking for outpourings of love from them both, but at the very least, an extra scene or two featuring Timon and Pumbaa with Simba could clarify things as part of a longer running time.
3. The Reboot Needs To Be Darker
Yes, we can already hear your cries of outrage over this one, but we're not asking for DCEU levels of darkness in Favreau's The Lion King reboot. No, in this case, a darker plot would actually make total sense within the context of the original story.
Put aside the cute, fluffy, singing animals from the original film for a moment, and what are we left with? A brutal tale of revenge and death set in the wilderness of Africa. Disney's adorable approach to the first film worked within the framework of animation, but now that the reboot will be shot in live action, darker elements such as Scar's character could feel too cartoonish if the tone isn't matured somewhat.
Of course, Favreau's The Lion King still needs to retain the family-friendly appeal of the first movie in order to stay true to its origins, but a few tonal shifts here and there could help justify Disney' decision to reboot the film in the first place. After all, this wouldn't be the first time that Disney have gone dark.
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4. Rework Some Of The Songs
Favreau's decision to cut most of the songs out of The Jungle Book divided fans and critics alike, so don't worry — we're not saying that he should do the same for his next Disney reboot. After all, the songbook that Elton John created for The Lion King is unfathomably good, and still holds up today as one of the most popular soundtracks of all time.
However, now that The Lion King will be adapted into live action, it would make absolute sense for some of the songs to be reworked within the context of the story. The worry is that performances of songs such as 'Be Prepared' and 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King' might seem strange if sung by live action, CGI animals. By all means, Favreau should certainly keep each and every one of these classic songs, but he may need to rethink exactly how they're performed on screen.
5. Explain Why Scar Doesn't Kill Simba After The Stampede
Personally, eight year-old me never thought twice about why Scar didn't kill Simba in the gorge, as I was too busy falling into a black vortex of despair and anguish over the death of Mufasa. Time and time again though, people have sullied the good name of The Lion King by questioning why Scar didn't take this perfect opportunity to kill the wannabe king once and for all. One quick smack on the back of the head and Simba would have been out for the count.
Relive the soul-destroying agony of Mufasa' death below:
While there are potential counter arguments to this — the majority of which revolve around Scar's reluctance to get his paws dirty — Favreau could easily include another element to this part of the story that explains such a gaping plot hole without reducing the emotional impact of the scene.
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Be prepared, Jon Favreau. If you thought the scrutiny that you received from fans of The Jungle Book was tough enough, just wait until The Lion King's rabid pack of fans get their claws into you. Let's just hope that the acclaimed director strikes a successful balance in the reboot, appeasing those who loved the original while still putting his own fresh spin on this now legendary story.