Is ‘Black Panther’ Similar to ‘The Lion King’?

You might be thinking: what? But hear us out. The two movies do have some similarities.

Black Panther is similar in both narrative and aesthetics to The Lion King. It is probably just a coincidence that the two stories are similar, yet it’s interesting to look at the similarities and wonder why they might be there. One possibility is that Black Panther and The Lion King have similar settings.

Let’s look into other possible reasons. But first we need to know, what are these similarities?

What are the similarities between ‘Black Panther’ and ‘The Lion King’?

Chadwick Boseman accepting an award for Black Panther at the MTV Movie and TV awards
Chadwick Boseman accepts an award for Black Panther at the MTV Movie and TV awards | Chris Polk/VMN18/Getty Images for MTV

Before getting into the reasons why there are similarities, it’s important to know what the similarities between Black Panther and The Lion King are. First of all, both T’challa in Black Panther and Simba in The Lion King are reassured by their deceased fathers in dreamlike scenes. The scenes even look somewhat similar. Another similarity is that both T’challa and Simba are forced out of their respective kingdoms only to return later.

Though both kings are thought dead at one point, neither really is, which allows them to come back and fight for their throne. While we’re on the topic, both T’challa and Simba have to fight their relatives to gain back their thrones. T’challa fighting Killmonger and Simba fighting Scar allows the two kings to gain their thrones back and restore the fortunes of their people. Especially since another similarity between the two stories is the mismanagement by the usurper of the throne.

Why do the two stories have similarities?

The answer might lie in exploring more of the similarities between the two stories. One other similarity is that both movies take place in fictional versions of Africa. That might account for some of the similarities between the two movies. Another illuminating similarity is that the heroes of both Black Panther and The Lion King must come to understand what it means to rule over time.

Both stories explore the theme of ruling and what that means for their respective protagonists. Both T’challa and Simba initially doubt their suitability for the throne and need to be reassured — partially by their respective deceased fathers T’chaka and Mufasa— that they are indeed suitable. Another possible reason why the two stories have similarities lies in the fact that both are about big cats — or at least people who appear like them.

Are the two stories really that similar?

Now, we’re not saying that the two movies are copies of each other. There are some similarities, of course, as we’ve mentioned, but not enough to cause any concern. This is just an interesting coincidence.

We wonder if, now that there’s a live-action Lion King movie, if there would be any crossover potential. No? Probably not. Oh well, we can dream.

In the end, both Black Panther and The Lion King have interesting things to say about ruling and the nature of power. Both stories clearly resonated with audiences around the world, and that’s wonderful.