This major element had to change in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ live-action reboot

Sam Ashurst
Contributor
Scar and his hyena henchmen in 'The Lion King' (credit: Disney)

Anyone worried that The Lion King live-action remake is going to stick so closely to the original, you might as well watch the cartoon again, we have good news.

Director Jon Favreau has been speaking about the changes he’s been making, and there’s a fairly big one in there.

Favreau revealed to Empire magazine that the three hyenas Banzai, Ed, and Shenzi are going to look completely different. "The hyenas had to change a lot," he explained.

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"They didn't feel like they matched up well with the photo-realism. A lot of the stuff around them was very stylised."

The hyenas have been criticised for their potentially harmful stereotyping, with narrative analysts highlighting the fact that of the three main hyena characters, one is black (Whoopi Goldberg), one’s Mexican (Cheech Marin), and one has mental illness. Pride Rock is ruined under their brutal rule, and is only healed after they’re driven away.

The original hyenas (credit: Disney)

Favreau has previously removed negative coding from Disney’s live action movies, changing The Jungle Book’s antagonist Shere Khan to erase the gay-coding of the original. Critics say that’s an approach that’ll need to be taken when bringing Scar into live-action.

As well as hinting at a brand new hyena lair – so that's no more elephant graveyard – Favreau hinted that his Lion King will "actually deviate a great deal" from the animation.

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"If you look at the plot points, it tracks pretty accurately to the old one," he said. "But if you watched the films side by side you'd realise they actually deviate a great deal."

That actually matches up with what we’ve been told about the film, by Pumbaa himself, Seth Rogen.

“It’s not shot for shot, just the stuff they’ve released is like that. It’s different, and we improvised a lot.”