In two months, Disney is releasing Maleficent, a live-action version of Sleeping Beauty told from the perspective of the evil sorceress/terrifying dragon. It’s the first of many live-action films from Disney based on classic fairy tales and children’s stories, all of which the studio first produced as animated features back in the day.

Some of these new versions, like Maleficent and the currently in development Cruella, are retellings from the villain’s point of view (sort of like what Wicked did with The Wizard of Oz). By comparison, Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book  – written by Justin Marks – doesn’t appear to be deviating from its source material as much, but it is starting to amass a very interesting cast. According to a recent report, the first actor to sign on is Idris Elba (Pacific Rim).

Courtesy of The Wrap, Elba has apparently been cast as the voice of Shere Khan.

Favreau has called Marks’ version of The Jungle Book a family brand with certain mythic elements,” with the intention of starting a franchise. If the plot of The Jungle Book escapes you, it follows a young boy, Mowgli, who’s raised by a pack of wolves, befriends an orangutan and a bear, and is later hunted by a tiger who believes that once Mowgli becomes a man he too will be just as much of a threat to the animals as any human.

Elba is voicing that murderous tiger, Shere Khan, in what’s simply an inspired casting decision by Disney. The film is expected to employ visual effects, but will it include entirely computer-generated animals? That’s unclear, but if they do it, I’m already imagining Elba growling and hissing for motion capture like Benedict Cumberbatch did for Smaug.

Disney didn’t have to venture far outside their empire to cast this role, seeing as Elba is already working for them as Heimdall in the Marvel movies. And it’s his deep and imposing voice – which made him such a great pick for the guardian of the Bifrost – that will serve him well him as Shere Khan.

But Disney’s live-action Jungle Book isn’t the only adaptation on the way. Warner Bros. is currently at work on their own version, which only a few weeks ago had Ron Howard rumored to direct. Of course, this isn’t anything new. Separate studios develop movies based on the same stories – especially ones in the public domain, like Jungle Book – all the time (e.g., 2012’s dueling Snow White films).

However, the addition of Elba – along with the fact it’s already secured a director and has a screenplay – gives Disney’s The Jungle Book a bit of a leg up on the competition. Already having a release date set for 2015 doesn’t hurt either.

Do you think Idris Elba’s a good fit for the voice of the tiger, Shere Khan?  Let us know in the comments below!

The Jungle Book opens in theaters on October 9th, 2015.

Source: The Wrap