Which lion in Disney’s the Lion King was the better king with the best intentions and moral compass? A lot of people will jump and say either Mufasa or Simba, but Scar is still a candidate. Here’s my understanding of their morals, experience, and ideology, and I’ll leave you to decide which lion you would want as your king. We are also going to exclude how these kings came to power because, in the animal kingdom, the methods used are how it’s done…despite Mufasa’s death scene being the saddest and most mentally scarring scene, most likely in all of family-friendly cinema.
First was Mufasa, the first king of the movie, and the king that everyone praises the most, both inside and outside the movie. Because he was the first born of him and his brother, making him the heir, he was more likely than not the one of the two who his own father raised and trained on how to be king and how to lead and rule a pride. However, this is just a thought of how he was most likely raised because it’s not clear what his childhood was like.
Mufasa’s main ideology was population control, which made sense. If a carnivore hunts too much, then the food source would die off, causing the other animals to have horrible effects through the ripple across the different species of the Pride Lands. However, with Mufasa’s fear of overpopulation came the banishment of all the hyenas. The ideology that too many carnivores are bad caused one whole species to suffer and be banished to a wasteland. In the beginning of the original movie, the Lion King, all Zazu had to say was “Hyenas are in the Pride Lands.” and Mufasa went running to drive them out. The segregation idea is one point against Mufasa. Had Zazu said, “Shenzi, Banzai and Ed are in the Pride Lands.” then that would be different and suggest that those three did something to specifically banish them, however, Mufasa is racist…or speciesist by labeling all hyenas as bad and dangerous.
Second, we have Scar, the second king in the movie, and second born after Mufasa. It is popularly believed that Scar was ignored and so far as rejected by his own father as a cub, and he received his scar from his father when he begged to be taught the same lessons as Mufasa. Though this isn’t confirmed to be his childhood, I’m going to accept it for the sake of argument and popular belief.
Scar’s belief was that all animals were made equal, which led him to a communist-like rule system. He brought in the hyenas and gave them a chance to live in the Pride Lands, as well as gave them all the same rights as the lions automatically. However, he didn’t filter through the hyenas or decide on which ones to bring and which ones to leave behind due to how much of a threat they would pose to his kingdom. Had he learned that population was even an issue, he might actually have been a good king and had paid more attention to who specifically was destroying the Pride Lands, turning them into an extension of the Elephant Graveyard. Because he was left unaware of the harm he was doing by limiting the resources of all the carnivores, both the added hyenas and settled lions, he remained in his little childish act of “everything is okay”, “I win”, “I’m king”, and “I can do anything and everything”. Negligence and childishness are Scar’s downfall.
Lastly, we have Simba, the only son of Mufasa. Unlike Mufasa and Scar, we have a clear cut cannon confirmed childhood for Simba. Leading into childhood, Simba was taught that all life is special, and the main idea of what he’ll need to know to be king. However, after the trauma of Mufasa’s death, Simba ran away, believing that he was the one responsible. Simba spent at least several days wandering the desert until he found Timon and Pumba’s oasis, where he finished his childhood into adulthood in Hakuna Matata.
The way that Simba lead was similar to a happy medium between Mufasa and Scar, leaning more toward Mufasa’s ideology. He didn’t have any problems with any hyenas, so I’m assuming that he picked out which ones could stay and which ones were a threat to the Circle of Life…that or they left the Pride Lands willingly after Scar threw them under the bus to save his own skin…which didn’t work out so well for him. He also weeded out which lions were a threat, however, when his daughter in the second movie falls in love with an “outsider”, Kovu, he keeps his guard up the whole time Kovu is there, never fully giving him a chance even though Simba didn’t banish him along with the other threats to the Circle of Life. The second Kovu made a mistake and failed to give a warning about his mother’s plot, Simba banished him back to the Out Lands.
He ruled mainly through his emotions and found anyone who posed any type of conflict as an enemy. This may be because of the way Timon and Pumba raised him into Hakuna Matata and his desire to bring that into the Pride Lands, or it could be his trust issues with anyone who even resembles his uncle Scar. Granted, at the end of the Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, he gave all the outsiders the chance to come back in the Pride Lands under his own rule, which appeared to turn out fantastically from how the movie ended with the whole pride and the former outsiders all bowing to the royal family. However, because old habits die hard, and the fact that Simba was a controlling father based on his own mistakes in childhood, we could only assume that he is a controlling king as well, and most likely continues to be.
In conclusion, we have a racist king who believes that all hyenas are out to disrupt the Circle of Life, we have a negligent king who believes that if hyenas suffer, so must lions, and finally, we have a controlling king who believes only in absolutes; either you’re my friend, or you’re gone.
Wanna rewatch the Lion King to remind yourself who you wanna root for as King of the Pride Lands? Grab a DVD to the first Lion King movie from Amazon and reanalyze Scar’s and Mufasa’s behavior as kings. Or maybe you wanna remind yourself of Simba’s reign as king? Then get a DVD copy of the sequel from Amazon as well. Let me know if I missed any details that make or break your decision of which lion is your king!