Did you catch these awesome Easter eggs in 2019’s The Lion King?
So, which version do you prefer?
If you feel like Jon Favreau’s photorealistic CGI remake ticks more boxes, then you’re likely in the minority. Disney has found success in reimagining a number of their classic properties, from The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast; even Aladdin proved far better than expected. Some predict that the Mickey Mouse house’s luck will run out soon, expecting The Lion King to be the project to trigger the downward spiral.
Honestly, now it’s here, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It has been a colossal box-office smash, and audiences continue to flock back to Pride Rock to sustain the profits. However, it has admittedly been very divisive. A number of critics loved it, but just as many considered it to be a pointless and unimaginative exercise – interestingly, audiences seem to agree too.
It’s still generating discussion, and fans of the update are highlighting some pretty terrific Easter eggs in defence of the new take. For the most part, Favreau’s retread plays it close to the beloved 1994 original, but as we’ll explore, there are some deviations…
Beauty and the Beast
Whether you loved it or not, you have to admit that they did an excellent job of recapturing the magic with Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen respectively.
The characters are a huge part of Simba’s life and growth, providing him with parental figures and comfort. When he leaves to challenge Scar, of course, they come with him; they have become family. It’s uncertain how much help they’ll actually be in defeating Scar, but as the film communicates, everyone is capable of helping.
As they attempt to lure the hyenas away as a distraction, it looks as though they’re about to break out into “Be Our Guest” from another Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. It’s a hilarious little scene and offers a great nod to another of the studio’s beloved efforts. A welcome new addition, for sure.
A wiser Rafiki
Although most associate The Lion King with the 1994 animation, there are so many who think of the prestigious stage production when it’s mentioned.
Broadway’s marvellous adaptation of the iconic tale did some things differently to the source material which actually worked out for the better. In the nineties film, Rafiki is rather manic and bumbling, which is a significant juxtaposition of his demeanour on stage. Here, he’s shamanic and feels far more mysterious; older and wiser.
Interestingly, Favreau’s version appears to favour the stage’s portrayal of Rafiki more, as it too depicts the character as much more reserved and contemplative. In what’s clearly a nod to the theatre adaptation, the 2019 film includes a song which wasn’t in the original. If you’re a fan of the Broadway production, you probably recognised “He Lives in You” straight away.
The voice of Nala in childhood – Shahadi Wright Joseph – also played young Nala on Broadway in 2014, so there are a few loving nods mixed in.
Disney, is this Zazu or John Oliver?
“It’s the news!” exclaims Zazu, as he defends his reportings of the animal kingdom.
This is a little Easter egg that may have been lost on the kids, but if you registered it, you probably had a little grin on your face. The loyal red-billed hornbill was voiced by Rowan Atkinson in the original, but it turns out John Oliver was the perfect replacement.
He’s done voice work on family films before, most notably The Smurfs. However, he’s best known for his satirical and hilarious take on the news in HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The series is the work of a truly daring and perceptive comedian and has morphed him into somewhat of an icon. It was funny to see John and Zazu blur in this scene, and it’s a fun little Easter egg for existing fans of his going in.
These all really helped make the experience that little bit more rewarding, giving it a little bit of an edge. Yet, you simply can’t surpass the 1994 classic.
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