Movie Reviews

One Part Of Mufasa's Story Debunks The Biggest Criticism Of The Lion King Prequel

Summary

  • Mufasa: The Lion King
    ‘s prequel explores key moments in Mufasa’s life before Simba becomes king, but that alone doesn’t justify the story being told.
  • Sequel elements in the prequel, including Simba’s future and the introduction of Kiara, can justify the movie’s storytelling.
  • Mufasa’s story could set the stage for a possible live-action adaptation of
    The Lion King II
    , adding depth to the franchise.



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One major part of Mufasa: The Lion King can be used to debunk the biggest criticism of the live-action The Lion King prequel film. Mufasa: The Lion King‘s story follows the younger years of Simba’s father, showing how he grew up as the adopted brother of Scar before becoming ruler of the Pride Lands. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins, best known for Moonlight, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2016. It’s also written by Jeff Nathanson, who penned the mixed-reviewed Lion King remake.


The trailer for the upcoming prequel revealed Mufasa‘s place in The Lion King timeline, confirming the movie will begin with its titular character as a young cub. This means the film is going to feature details across many years of his life. It also teased new locations as well, including a snowy area where part of his adventure will take place. While the grand scale of this upcoming prequel is immense, there has been a key criticism about the movie that it will need to address in its story.

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Mufasa: The Lion King Needs To Prove Its Story Is Worth Telling

Mufasa’s Story Isn’t Required To Understand The Lion King


Mufasa is a vital character within The Lion King, offering a young Simba the guidance he needs to become king of the Pride Lands when he grows up. However, his purpose is fulfilled when Scar kills him and takes control of the land, the catalyst for Simba’s character growth leading to the subsequent defeat of his uncle. While Mufasa can address unanswered questions about the depth of his rivalry with Scar, it’s not essential information that viewers need to be aware of to understand the original story.

This reflects a major hurdle the prequel needs to overcome, that being the worth of telling its story when its main character is destined to die. Jenkins has addressed Mufasa concerns already, saying the movie will have plenty of depth despite still being aimed at a family audience. But while the prequel can add new depth to his character, having a larger understanding of Mufasa’s life is inconsequential to The Lion King. Instead, it seems what will make the story worth telling isn’t just the background of Simba’s father. It’s also how the movie will explore the future of the Pride Lands as well.


Mufasa’s Prequel & Sequel Status Makes Its Story Worthwhile

The Movie Is Telling A Generational Story

The Lion King Mufasa Simba-1
Custom Image by Debanjana Chowdhury

In an interview with Empire, Jenkins confirmed Mufasa will be both a prequel and a sequel, the story of Simba’s father being told through flashbacks following the end of The Lion King. While the movie is named after its titular character from the past, it will also feature a future storyline with Simba and his daughter Kiara. While Jenkins didn’t reveal why this connection between both stories would be featured, it does indicate how Mufasa: The Lion King‘s story can be worth telling. A thematic connection between his rise to power and Simba’s rule can justify the prequel’s existence.


Because the movie will be focused on both Mufasa and Kiara, the stories can parallel one another by exploring both the previous and next generation of lions in the Pride Lands. This can further develop how Mufasa’s lessons to Simba will be passed down throughout multiple generations, offering a much greater purpose to his past. With elements of a sequel, his upcoming adventure may resonate better thanks to Kiara’s involvement. It also sets the stage for a possible third film in the live-action franchise that has a greater emphasis on the future of Mufasa’s lineage.

How Mufasa Can Lead Into A Lion King 2 Adaptation

Mufasa Can Set The Stage For A Kiara-Focused Film

Rafiki placing his hand over Mufasa's heart in Mufasa: The Lion King
Image via Disney

Kiara’s Mufasa debut is her first appearance in live-action, having previously been introduced in 1998’s animated The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Her appearance in the upcoming movie seems like it will have an original story that ties together with that of Simba’s father. However, it could also set the stage for a live-action adaptation of The Lion King II, using Mufasa’s story to lead into this next film. Much like how Mufasa’s experiences were the foundation of Simba’s upbringing, his movie can be the platform on which a proper sequel gets built.


While there may be some lingering skepticism regarding Mufasa: The Lion King‘s purpose in the franchise, possible setup for The Lion King II means the film may have a worthwhile story. By featuring Mufasa, Simba, and Kiara in the movie, it can show how all three generations of lions are connected, giving the titular character’s backstory a greater historical purpose. By approaching the movie through the lens of multiple generations, Jenkins can provide an original story with just as much depth and nuance as The Lion King itself.

Mufasa: The Lion King
arrives in theaters on December 20, 2024.


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