A live-action Lion King movie was just announced roughly one week ago and will be directed by Jon Favreau, who is best known to fans for directing and starring as Happy Hogan in Iron Man. He'll also be reprising this role in next year's Spider-Man: Homecoming.
After hearing that a live-action Lion King movie would be directed by Jon Favreau, I lost my mind. I haven’t been a fan of the live-action Disney films until The Jungle Book came out. Also directed by Favreau, this movie gave us everything the original 1967 animated film had and more. The film was absolutely stunning to watch. The animals looked incredibly real for a movie entirely filmed in a sound stage. The only character that wasn’t animated was Neel Sethi, who played Mowgli. The film was brilliantly done and is arguably the best live-action Disney film to date.
Favreau created the film as his own and put his stamp on it. But as The Jungle Book showed, there are some things you can’t change from the original. The Lion King also needs to be handled in a similar fashion, in that there are certain elements that should stay intact to remain true to the spirit of the original. With that in mind, here are five things you simply can’t remove when crafting a live-action Lion King remake.
1. James Earl Jones Should Reprise His Role As The Voice Of Mufasa
There were many great actors who voiced the characters in the original animated film. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick as Young and Adult Simba, respectively, Jeremy Irons as Scar, Nathan Lane as Timon, Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa, Robert Guillaume as Rafiki, and, of course, James Earl Jones as King Mufasa himself. If there’s one actor who simply must return to voice one of the characters, it’d have to be James Earl Jones. Not only is he a tremendous talent, but there’s just something about his voice that makes him stand out among so many others. His trademark voice is resonant, the only one that is powerful, dominant, and fit to be a King.
When people hear the name James Earl Jones, most people relate to him as being the voice of the most famous movie villain of all time, Darth Vader. He’s already confirmed to be reprising his role as Vader in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so why can’t they bring him back to another franchise also made by Disney? It makes total sense and I’m sure everyone would be onboard. And Disney has a track record of doing multiple projects with actors and actresses with whom they've proven to have a good working relationship.
2. A Young Simba Hoisted Up On Pride Rock
Not only is this defining scene on the poster and on the original VHS cover, but it’s probably the first picture that pops into everyone’s head when they hear the words "The Lion King." This is a scene that bookends the beginning and end of the film, used to convey the rightful king, as all of the animals are seen bowing down.
I absolutely love this scene and most certainly should be in live-action form. It’s a scene that sticks out to a lot of people, especially when “The Circle of Life” is playing in the background.
Speaking of that iconic music…
3. The Incredible Soundtrack Must Be Utilized
Like Favreau’s The Jungle Book, this film must use the majority of the songs in some way. “The Circle of Life,” “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” and, of course, “Hakuna Matata” (what a wonderful phrase) are all songs I would definitely include in this movie. In the live-action Jungle Book film, Favreau chose to keep “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You” but cut Kaa’s song “Trust In Me.” That decision worked in that film so it begs the question: What songs could potentially be on the chopping block so to speak?
“I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” could easily be removed along with — dare I say it? — Scar's diabolical “Be Prepared.” I absolutely love both of those songs, but they could probably be cut out of a live-action format. However, if there’s one director who could make this work, it would be Jon Favreau.
4. Mufasa’s Unfortunate Demise
“Long live the king.” -Scar
The scene that perhaps scarred (no pun intended) us the most as kids has to be when we first heard those words by the film's antagonist. With Jeremy Irons' smoothly sinister voice, this moment brought us many tears and struck fear into the lives of children. Scar is one of Disney’s most terrifying movie villains. Blood brother to Mufasa, he became jealous when he learned that Simba would be the next king instead of himself. Scar believed that he’s more fit to be king than anyone else, so he crafted a plan that would end the lives of both father and son.
To this day I still become teary-eyed when I see Simba crying at the body of his dead father after Mufasa had been trampled to death by a stampede of wildebeests. Scar then tells Simba that he (Simba) is the reason for his father's death. This makes it even more tough to watch when audiences know the true reason behind Mufasa’s death. This is certainly one scene I am not looking forward to, simply because it will feel that much more real. Though the film won’t be using real animals, The Jungle Book made you believe that animals could talk and so will The Lion King.
5. Simba’s Vision Of His Father
“Remember who you are.” -Mufasa
THIS was the scene that made Simba return to Pride Rock. Simba didn’t know what his purpose was until that moment. Mufasa lived on in Simba, so to speak, and this vision established just that. Thanks to Scar’s lie, Simba believed that he betrayed the kingdom by being the reason they lost their king. Rafiki gave Simba that extra push to fight for his rightful place by showing him that Mufasa was in fact “alive” and had a message to give to his son.
Watching Simba speak to his father was the turning point in this movie and absolutely has to be in the film. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie and shows how much his father cares for his son as he asks him to take on the reign as king. It’s a very emotional scene, especially since Simba still did not know that he wasn’t the cause of his father's death. I’m not sure how Favreau will do this scene, but I’m sure it will be absolutely incredible to watch.
Jon Favreau Is The Perfect Choice To Direct This Movie
The Jungle Book was certainly a passion project of his, and I can’t wait to see what he will do with this live-action remake of the animated classic. If there is one director who can make a live-action Lion King movie work, it is him.
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However, Favreau must be careful since this movie is beloved by pretty much everyone and may be the most challenging Disney film to bring to live action yet. This movie has stuck with us since childhood and Favreau must tread carefully if he is to make an adaptation that everyone can adore.
Also, what part of the original film do you think should be kept in the live-action movie? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!