Disney's 2019 remake of The Lion King has become one of the highest-grossing films in the studio's history. Unlike other Disney remakes such as Maleficent or Dumbo which attempt to subvert elements of their source material, Jon Favreau's The Lion King stays relatively close to the original film.
While some fans appreciated the remake's reverence, others felt that it betrayed a lack of originality on the studio's part. Regardless, lots of effort went into making the film, so here are 10 Hidden Details You Missed In Disney’s Live-Action Lion King.
10 Nala Reborn
A relatively minor character in the original Lion King, Nala is given a more substantial role in its 2019 update. Jon Favreau was quick to credit the Broadway version of The Lion King, which includes several original songs and a somewhat altered storyline, as the source of inspiration for his version of Nala.
Favreau was certainly smart to try to look to Broadway's Lion King for ideas, as that stage show is the highest-grossing Broadway show ever and beloved in its own right among Disney fans and Broadway fans alike.
9 Restrained Beauty
Reviews for The Lion King were mixed, but critics were unanimous in their praise for the film's beautiful visuals. This is surprising given that Favreau actually went out of his way to make sure that every shot of the film was not stunning. The director felt that if the film's landscapes were always great to look at, then the film would quickly begin to feel artificial.
He wanted the film to feel more like a documentary than an animated film, and to some degree, he succeeded as many critics likened the film to Disneynature documentaries. He made certain shots of the film using long-shot lenses as such lenses are used in documentaries.
8 Not Too Realistic
Between Scar pushing his brother over the side of a cliff and various fight scenes between the lions and the hyenas, The Lion King is actually fairly violent for a children's film, especially since the violence isn't Tom and Jerry-style slapstick.
With that in mind, Favreau and company made sure that the violence in their remake wasn't too realistic so as not to upset younger audiences.
7 Beyoncé The Lion
When Beyoncé was cast as Nala, many fans felt that it was the role she was born to play. In fact, Favreau's Nala was tailored to Beyoncé's strengths as a performer. Nala's movements were modeled on the way that Beyoncé moves while she's on stage.
Favreau's decision to model Nala on Beyoncé seems to have worked, as even critics who decried the film tended to like Queen B's performance and felt that she held her own among the film's cast. That's quite a feat given that Beyoncé shared the screen with actors with much longer acting résumés than her own.
6 A Reprise
Besides James Earl Jones, who was lucky enough to reprise his role as Mufasa twenty-five years after the release of the original film, another actor from The Lion King's cast reprised their role: Florence Kasumba.
Kasumba wasn't in the original film, but she once played Shenzi in a German production of the Broadway musical.
5 A Shakespearean Twist
Plenty of Disney (and William Shakespeare) fans know that The Lion King is an adaptation of Hamlet. More accurately, it's an extremely, extremely loose adaptation of Hamlet. Even more accurately, it's a mostly original story which happens to borrow two scenes and its basic setup from Hamlet, and that's fine; a faithful adaptation of the play would probably be inappropriate - not to mention too cerebral - for most modern youngsters.
What's odd about the remake is that when Chiwetel Ejiofor played Scar (a character loosely modeled on King Claudius from Hamlet) he was actually channeling the title character from Macbeth.
4 Beyoncé's Love Letter To Africa
Beyoncé apparently took the film's African setting very seriously. When she was tasked with creating a soundtrack for the film, the singer designed the album as a "love letter to Africa" and reached out to some of her favorite African artists to collaborate with her, including Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi, and Yemi Alade.
The first single from the soundtrack, the gospel-inspired "Spirit," even begins with the Swahili phrase "Uishi kwa mda mrefu Mfalme," which translates to "Long live the king."
3 Elton's New Contribution
As is mandatory in all Disney movies made from the early 1990s onward, The Lion King remake includes a pop single over its closing credits. That single was by none other than Sir Elton John. Not everyone noticed who sang it, largely because Sir Elton's voice has changed drastically over the years, but Disney managed to bring back the man who was key to the success of the original Lion King.
Whether you loved or hated this new Lion King, it is the only film in the history of the world to feature original soundtrack contributions from both Elton John and Beyoncé, which undoubtedly makes it a film for the history books.
2 Scar's Big Number Was Cut In Half
One of the most important aspects of any Disney musical is its villain song. From "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid to "Hellfire" from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Disney's more ghoulish numbers have proved to be some of their most memorable. Scar's villain song "Be Prepared" was no exception, but it was far different and far shorter in the remake than it was in the original film.
This was probably because the new version of Scar lacks the campy humor that Jerry Irons famously brought to the role. Audiences seem to respond to darker villains in 2019 than they did in 1994 and the original "Be Prepared" is too gaudy to fit in with Scar's more serious personality.
1 This Film Wouldn't Have Happened Without The Jungle Book
The Lion King inevitably garnered comparisons to the previous film that Jon Favreau made for Disney, The Jungle Book. What most fans probably don't know is that Favreau only made The Lion King because he felt that he came to understand digital technology through making The Jungle Book.