Credit: The Lion King
Fans of The Lion King must love the king before the main protagonist, Simba, and his wise and brave father, the honorable Mufasa. As far as Disney fathers go, this anthropomorphic lion has to be the best one. And if we’re ranking death scenes in animated Disney movies, his death probably made you cry the most. The fact that he was murdered by his own brother made it even more tragic. This iconic character was only in the movie for about half the runtime, but for the time he was in the movie, he surely cemented his status as one of the greatest Disney characters ever. But of course, what is the character of Mufasa without the one-of-a-kind voice of the legendary James Earl Jones? The answer is the same as Darth Vader. Probably nothing.
Can you imagine Mufasa voiced by anyone other than James Earl Jones? It sounds inconceivable, but guess what? It’s actually happening. At the last D23Expo event, it was announced that Disney would be developing a Lion King prequel movie centered around Mufasa himself. That event didn’t reveal many big surprises, but this announcement was particularly surprising.
Why A Mufasa Prequel is Worth It
Why exactly would Disney pursue this? The simple answer is Mufasa is such a beloved character. However, as a lifelong fan of The Lion King, I have always wondered what Pride Rock was like before the lion became king. Aside from the movie, The Lion King universe has dived into this before with a tie-in novel titled The Lion King: A Tale of Two Brothers. As the name implies, the novel explores the relationship between Mufasa and his rival/brother Taka. For those who are unaware of the backstory, Taka was actually the birth name of Scar before he, you know, actually endured the scar over his left eye.
How did he actually get it? It was actually during a rough encounter with an angry water buffalo. While the young Taka was wounded and nearly killed by his attacker, his older brother Mufasa stepped in and saved him. That’s no surprise, given the selfless and heroic nature of the character. And despite the transparent resentment his brother had for him, Mufasa always showed nothing but compassion and mercy for Taka. This was something we clearly saw just in one scene in The Lion King, and it perfectly explained their contentious sibling rivalry.
By now, everyone knows how that rivalry came to an end. Wouldn’t it be rather interesting to see where it all began? Where did Scar’s intense jealousy and hatred of his older brother stem from? In fact, what was Mufasa like when he was a younger and more naive lion? These are the kinds of things we need to see in this upcoming prequel.
What Would the Prequal be About?
What exactly is the premise? Based on the limited information we have about it now, it will begin with his trusted friend and advisor, Rafiki the baboon telling his backstory to Timon and Pumbaa. When he dives deeper into the backstory, we’ll obviously be looking at a much younger Mufasa and Scar. Again, that won’t involve James Earl Jones. Unfortunate, but it does give us a chance to view a far different take on the character. The last time the actor voiced the fatherly lion was in the 2019 CGI-heavy adaptation. While it was nice getting James Earl Jones back to voice the king himself, he didn’t exactly sound the same as he did in the animated movie. In fact, he sounded far flatter.
That was a rather disappointing element of that adaptation, among other things, but that doesn’t matter. We’ll always have the stellar voice performance he gave in the original movie, and we should welcome a different Mufasa. For the prequel, Aaron Pierre will be voicing the titular hero, while Kelvin Harrison Jr. will be voicing Taka, the younger version of Scar. The early stages of development are set with its two main actors, as well as its director, Barry Jenkins, the Academy Award-winning director behind Moonlight. It’s still in the early stages of development, so this can all change in the near future. However, assuming this movie does move forward, I cannot help but have more interest in the origins story of Scar above that of Mufasa.
As Mufasa is considered to be one of Disney’s greatest heroes, Scar is widely received as one of its greatest villains. It’s a title many Disney fans can agree on, as it’s pretty tough to top usurping and killing your older brother to take his throne. Plus, how can you not love the soothing yet chilling voice of Jeremy Irons? Personally, I’m very invested in seeing how Scar grew to resent his older brother more and more as the two of them got older. His transition from Taka to becoming the cunning Scar is the origin story we’re all interested in. And, of course, we can’t say no to more Mufasa. This prequel is a chance to dive deeper into the backstory of both characters and actually expand the world of The Lion King.
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