Being the king is not easy. History has shown us a number of rulers of varying success. Some kings are benevolent and loved by their subjects for their generosity. Others are selfish and ruthless tyrants who rule through fear and violence. As it turns out, movie kings can be a similarly mixed bag.
Netflix's new film, The King, stars Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V, and with its release, now seems like the perfect time to revisit some prominent movie kings, both good and bad. Which are worthy to wear the crown and which deserve to have the throne taken from them? Here are the best and worst movie kings.
10 Best: Mufasa (The Lion King)
As soon as Mufasa appears on screen in the classic Disney animated film, he just feels regal. All the animals come from far and wide to honor Mufasa's new son, and it soon becomes clear that their praise of him is not done out of fear.
Mufasa is a powerful king, able to stand up to his enemies when needed, but he is also a modest leader who has an understanding of his own small role in a much bigger picture. More importantly, he tries to pass that knowledge onto his son who will one day take his place.
9 Worst: King Louie (The Jungle Book)
King Louie is another one of Disney's animated kings, but he is must less magnanimous than Mufasa. King Louie is certainly not the toughest beast in the jungle, but he is formidable with his army of monkeys.
Like most corrupt rulers, he named himself king of the jungle without anyone electing him to the position. It also seems that his rule is not very effective, as most of the animals think of him as an annoyance rather than a genuine king. However, his plan to have Mowgli teach him how to make fire makes him more threatening.
8 Best: King Henry V (The King)
King Henry V, aka Hal, is not only famous throughout history, but also as a character in the work of Shakespeare. The King takes inspiration from both sources with Timothée Chalamet playing the young king who reluctantly takes the throne. As he settles into his new role, conflict with France emerges.
Hal is not a perfect king, as he is prone to fits of rage which can lead to bad decisions. Yet he does possess many qualities of a great king. He inspires his men, he listens to counsel, he is willing to fight for his men. He wants peace more than anything.
7 Worst: King Louis XIV (The Man In The Iron Mask)
The Man in the Iron Mask is another film based on real people that takes a good deal of liberties with the real events. The adventure film is based on the story by Alexander Dumas and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the young King Louis XIV of France and the plot to overthrow him.
Like King Joffrey, King Louis confirms a spoiled young boy does not make a good king. He is a whiny and self-indulgent brat, but he's far worse than simply annoying. He cares nothing for the starving people of his country and even imprisons his own brother so he can keep his crown.
6 Best: T'Challa (Black Panther)
We are introduced to T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War when the title of King of Wakanda is thrust upon him following the death of his father. However, Black Panther gives us our first indication of how he will be as a king. And it is as heroic and noble as one would expect.
Despite Wakanda being an incredibly advanced country, T'Challa's rule as king was not easy. He is almost immediately confronted with the sins of his father and the troubling legacy of his nation. T'Challa is a wise and righteous enough leader to recognize changes that need to be made.
5 Worst: King Danny (The Man Who Would Be King)
The Man Who Would Be King is a magnificent adventure film starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as mercenaries who travel to a remote part of Afghanistan in search of treasure. A misunderstanding leads to the people of the land thinking Connery is a god and he becomes their king.
King Danny's initial plans are to use his position to make him and his friend wealthy. However, that's only where the corruption begins. Danny soon begins to believe he is a god and convinces himself that he is owed more than just gold, eventually becoming consumed by his own lie.
4 Best: King Leonidas (300)
King Leonidas is another king based in reality, though 300 is certainly a movie that takes a lot of liberties with history. The Zack Snyder film tells the story of Leonidas leading a small army of Sparta's greatest warriors to take on the massive Persian army.
Normally a king who would lead his men into a battle with such poor odds would seem foolish. In Leonidas' case, we just knew how good his men were and how much of a fight they would put up. And unlike most kings, Leonidas never hesitated to be on the front lines.
3 Worst: King Edward I (Braveheart)
Braveheart is a beloved epic that often gets a lot of heat for its historical inaccuracies. Historians point to the depiction of King Edward I of England as being particularly embellished. The movie certainly doesn't paint him in a flattering light, showing him to be a cruel and vicious ruler.
Edward seems to have no interest in keeping that Scottish people happy, enacting barbaric laws on the oppressed people. He's not much better to his own son, murdering his gay lover for no reason. It's no wonder his cruelty inspires a rebellion against him.
2 Best: Aragorn (Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King)
For the first two entries in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Aragorn is known as a skilled warrior and one of the key members of the Fellowship of the Ring. However, in Return of the King, he takes his rightful place as king, making Middle Earth a better place.
By the time we see Aragorn wear the crown, we know what kind of man he is. He led people into battle, risked his life and helped save the realm. He is clearly a humble king as well, telling his friends "You bow to no man."
1 Worst: King Henry VIII (The Other Boleyn Girl)
King Henry VIII is historically known to have been a pretty cruel king and The Other Boleyn Girl does not paint him in a more positive light. The film follows two sisters who form a rivalry after each of them begins an affair with the king.
The fact that the king is willing to carry on a relationship with two sisters at the same time is probably the least of his transgressions. His obsession with having a male heir leads him to cheat, rape and murder, not caring how many lives he destroys.