For any of you folks out there not in the “Disney Know” (or weird enough to be in the Lion King fandom like me) you may not be aware that Disney has just announced their plans to air a brand new tv movie and show taking place in the Lion King universe and featuring the characters we have come to know and love. The new childrens show will teach lessons about things like conservation.
Based on the images shown it appears it will be in animation style true to the original (not some cheap CGI rubbish they insist on throwing down kid’s throats these days). I can only hope the original voice actors are on board, and that some clever songs will be written for it!
That said, being the mondo nerd I am, I immediately noticed that young Kion the lion, Simba’s son and Kiara’s little brother, looks very familiar…
The lion pictured above is also the son of Simba and Nala. However his name is Kopa. Kopa was the main character of the The Lion King: Six New Adventures and was apparently their first cub. However as anyone paying attention would note, Kopa was mysteriously absent from Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, and Disney basically disowned him altogether in favor of Kiara. Supposedly the team behind TLK2 had no knowledge Kopa even existed, but in most audiobooks, even re-releases, the cub at the end of TLK is specifically stated as being male. Many fan theorist try to work Kopa into the canon by suggesting he could have been killed by Zira between movies, or that he was killed in an accident on one of his many dangerous adventures. Fittingly for canon, Simba does seem a bit irrationally overprotective of Kiara in the film…
Perhaps the introduction of Kion is in homage to the lost character Kopa.
In fact there are many characters and aspects beyond the Lion King film that are considered canon that most people have no idea about. Some were forgotten or disowned or retconned by Disney. Some exist only in passing mention or comics. In fact, a complete family tree of the Lion King universe looks a bit more complicated than filmgoers alone might imagine…
I made this family tree for the Lion King extended universe several years ago. It includes all named (and several unnamed) lions that appear in TLK canon as well as a few that Disney have basically retconned such as Kopa and Mheetu. Mheetu was an early TLK character, Nala’s tagalong little brother, who was cut early into storyboarding the film.
The black lines are “fact” lines while colored are my well researched theories based on evidence and some knowledge of real lion behavior which has been subbed in where evidence lacks. The trouble of course is that Disney knows considerably less about the greater Lion King canon than some of the more hardcore fans, so they often contradict themselves or simply don’t care enough to worry about logic. For example, have you ever given any thought as to who Nala’s father was?
Lion prides work in a pretty specific way. ALL cubs will be fathered by the single male head (a male taking over a pride will kill any cubs not his). It is not totally unheard of though for two male brother to travel together or even live in a pride together. So logic would state Nala’s father MUST be either Mufasa or Scar. Disney reps themselves even admitted this at one point. Now this may seem taboo to humans but incest for lions in part of life and basically necessary to an extent. It is curbed by the fact that male cubs do NOT usually stay with their pride as adults but venture off to live elsewhere. Females however are usually all sisters (Sarabi, Serafina, Aunt, ect.) and stay in the pride.
Obviously Disney fudged some rules and toned lion life down for TLK, which is clearly understandable. But in order to stay organized I kept those basic principles in mind when making this chart.
So Mufasa is probably Nala’s father as well (you can justify it even more if you consider that Simba is the heir therefore the only true “son” of Mufasa so he gets to call him dad!). When Scar took over he killed any remaining male cubs, and would have logically begun fathering his own. Disney states Scar had no cubs. Disney says a lot of things I choose to ignore. You’ll notice after Mufasa’s gone in the comics the cub’s pictured have mysteriously darker fur…and of course there is Nuka, Vitani and Kovu.
Given the timeline, Kovu probably is not actually Scar’s, especially if one regards Kopa as canon. I guessed that Scar never saw Kovu. Nuka was his son but he was displeased with him. The only way that Vitani and Nuka could not be Scar’s is if they were born after he died, which the movie says they weren’t. Think about it. Would Scar have allowed some rogue lion to come in and start knocking up his lioness’? Would Zira want cubs with anyone but Scar?
Scar died and a while later Zira had Kovu. Seeing his strength and resemblance to Scar, she decided she’d have better luck with him than Nuka. She made up the story about Scar choosing him in order to justify the choice and placate Nuka, while at the same time boosting Kovu’s confidence and ambition. OR maybe Scar told Zira her next strong son would be heir. This is my best theory, as Zira is simply not a reliable narrator and certainly not above lying, and the time frame of the movies just doesn’t make sense otherwise. Nuka is just too old and Kovu just too young.
This theory is to fits the second movie together with the Kopa theory. I know Zira says that Kovu was the last born before they were exiled. I can’t explain this, except Zira (or Disney) being unreliable. I think Vitani is older than Kovu, and maybe around how old Kopa would be.
There have been arguments trying to use genetics to connect family. This is simply silly of course. The lions were given colors to put them into family groups or to distinguish ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Disney wasn’t considering genetics. You’ll notice in TLK2 all the outlander lionesses magically get lighter once they join Simbas pride. It’s because they’re “good” now. Zira’s cubs look like Scar because they were originally intended to be Scar’s. No one was paying attention to eyecolor or whether son’s always had the same color mane as dad. There simply isn’t enough info to make this claim.
So as you can see, there’s a lot more to Lion King than it might at first appear, and a truly disturbed nerd like me would of course know this.
I wear my cred on my back, by the way.
Looks like Kion will have to be added to this list now, and who knows how many other characters will be revealed in the show! Lucky (or not) for Disney, creepy Lion King fans like me don’t forget characters so easily! 😉