The Lion King producer Don Hahn says that Mufasa and Scar weren't really brothers. That would certainly come as news to the Disney animated classic's legion of fans, as Scar's role as the jealous brother of king Mufasa is one of the major dramatic throughlines of the film. Scar being Simba's uncle is also a key factor in the resonance of the film's protagonist's arc; young Simba's life is destroyed by the evil deeds of a close family member he naively trusted to do right by him.
While a person can obviously love an adopted family member or friend just as much as they love a blood relative, The Lion King never gave viewers any reason to discount the stated familial ties between the characters in the film, and thus Scar's status as brother to Mufasa and uncle to Simba has always been taken at face value. Changing those roles definitely has the potential to alter one's takeaways from the story, but that's exactly what Hahn says is the case.
During a recent interview with Hello Giggles, Hahn revealed that he and the rest of The Lion King's crew thought it to be "very likely" that Mufasa and Scar weren't brothers by blood relation. Here's his explanation for that belief, partially based on real-life dynamics among lion prides.
"[While making the movie] we talked about the fact that it was very likely [Scar and Mufasa] would not have both the same parents. The way lions operate in the wild, when the male lion gets old, another rogue lion comes and kills the head of the pride. What that does is it causes the female lions to go into heat [to reproduce], and then the new younger lion kills the king and then he kills all the babies. Now he’s the new lion that’s running the pride.
There was always this thing about well, how do you have these two [male] lions? Occasionally there are prides that do have two male lions, in an interesting dynamic because they’re not equals [since they don’t have the same parents]. One lion will always kind of be off in the shadows. We were trying to use those animal truths to underpin the story so we sort of figured Scar and Mufasa couldn’t really be from the same gene pool."
Furthermore, Hahn says that the above explanation of Mufasa and Scar's actual relationship is referenced within the film. During the scene where Mufasa and Scar argue about the line of succession to the throne, Mufasa asks if Scar is challenging his power, and Scar replies with a comment about being "at the shallow end of the gene pool". According to Hahn, this line is a direct allusion to the two lions coming from separate blood lines.
In some ways, this makes sense, as not only do Mufasa and Scar look completely different from each other, but what Hahn says about lion prides has truth to it. Of course, the one breeding male dynamic of most lion prides has also led to further uncomfortable questions over the years, such as the fact that it seems likely that Mufasa fathered future king and queen Simba and Nala. After all, Scar is the only other male seen among Mufasa's pride, and Nala looks nothing like Scar. If one thinks about things too hard, The Lion King starts to resemble Game of Thrones.
How much this will influence Jon Favreau's remake, which with a photorealistic CGI will surely feature more accurate lions and thus need a more accurate pride dynamic, remains to be seen, although making it explicit would be a good way to distinguish the versions.
Source: Hello Giggles
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019