Why Simba From 'The Lion King' Isn't As Great As You Remember
The 1990s were arguably the best time to be a Disney fan. Fresh off of The Little Mermaid's success in 1989, Disney's animation department released a barrage of instant classics in the early part of the decade that still stands as probably the greatest run by any studio ever. Beauty and the Beast in 1991, Aladdin in 1992, and then the greatest of them all, The Lion King, in 1994. The Lion King was a phenomenon, becoming the highest-grossing movie worldwide that year (it's still the 25th highest-grosser of all time) and setting the record for most VHS sales of all time (a record that still stands and will never be broken, because VHS). But it's time to admit something: its lead character, Simba, wasn't actually all that great.
The film had so many iconic scenes, so much memorable music, and of course, there were the tremendous characters. There was brave Nala, majestic Mufasa, wise Rafiki, evil Scar, and hilarious Timon & Pumbaa. But obviously the star of the film is Simba, who of course becomes the titular Lion King. Fans remember Simba for saving the kingdom from Scar, and for his love of Nala, and his friendship with Timon & Pumbaa, and yes, all of those aspects of the character are true. But I'm going to drop a truth bomb here: Simba is not as great as you remember, and here's why.
Think back to the movie and how it all goes down. Simba is born and then held over a cliff to throngs of cheering fans. No one who starts life with that kind of fanfare is going to grow up to be a well-adjusted adult — it's just not possible. And really, Simba doesn't even make an effort to be humble. He acts as privileged as he is, taking pride in the fact that he was born to royalty and is going to become king someday. It's as if he thinks being king means he can make everyone do what he wants, no matter what. I mean, just look at some of these lyrics to his song, "I Just Can't Wait to Be King":
I'm gonna be the main event / Like no king was before / I'm brushing up on looking down / I'm working on my roar
Free to run around all day / Free to do it all my way
Everybody look left / Everybody look right / Everywhere you look I'm / Standin' in the spotlight
This kid is ridiculous. He's spoiled and self-centered, a child who only wants to become king so he can do whatever he wants while looking down on everyone else and telling them what to do. He is basically King Joffrey Baratheon in animal form.
So let's say you go ahead and excuse young Simba's boorish behavior as just him being a kid, since everyone is kind of obnoxious at that age. Well, then take a look at what happens next. When Simba's dad dies, which is undeniably tragic, the cub is told to run away by an authority figure, his uncle. He's taken in by Timon & Pumbaa, and while none of this is his fault, of course, the events lead to him becoming even more immature. As an adult, Simba transforms from a spoiled brat into a lazy bum. All he does is lie around and eat bugs, pausing only to sing. Eventually, he randomly reunites with his childhood friend Nala, who tells him that in his absence, Scar has taken over the kingdom and ruined it. The lionesses are slaves, there is no food, and Simba is the only one who can overthrow Scar and save the kingdom, not to mention Nala and his own mother.
So what does this now supposedly grown-up, adult Simba do? He says no! He doesn't want to abandon his carefree, responsibility-free lifestyle, and would prefer to let his surviving family and friends suffer and literally starve to death than go and help them.
In fact, the only reason that Simba eventually goes on to face Scar and save the kingdom is because the ghost of his father tells him to. It literally takes a supernatural event to cause him to, reluctantly, do the right thing that he should have done all along. Some hero. Basically, in The Lion King, Simba goes from a privileged, power-hungry kid to a lazy, uncaring adult who needs major pressure to help his family and friends. Not exactly the on-screen hero you all thought he was, hm?
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; giphy.com