Will a New Character Make Disney’s ‘Lion King’ Remake Better Than the Original?

The Lion King is the latest classic animated Disney film to get an official remake, following the successes of live-action films such as Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. Live-action DumboAladdin, and Mulan remakes are also in production.

Each of these films have made both big and small changes to the stories told in the original animated films. Though there seem to be many similarities between the 1994 and 2019 Lion King films (from what we can tell so far), one major difference has been revealed: the addition of a brand-new character.

What we know about Disney’s The Lion King remake so far

The trailer Disney released on Thanksgiving revealed many similarities — visually and presumably plot-wise — to the original 1994 film. These include the famous opening scene on Pride Rock and, yes, the scene that’s going to make all us nostalgia-overloaded grown adults cry (ugh).

We also know that James Earl Jones will return as the voice of Mufasa, and that the voices of Seth Rogan, Donald Glover, and others will join him.

Amy Sedaris joins The Lion King cast

Beyoncé (Nala), Donald Glover (Simba), John Oliver (Zazu), and even James Earl Jones (reprising his role as Mufasa) were mentioned in Disney’s official casting announcements.

Amy Sedaris (Bojack Horseman, Steven Universe) didn’t make that list. However, she has officially joined the cast in an original role created specifically for the new film.

All we know right now about Sedaris’s role is that she will voice an elephant shrew — an animal native to Africa that has a long nose resembling an elephant’s trunk.

We haven’t been told how big of a part the character will play in the film. But since the announcement of Sedaris’s involvement in the project came so much later than the rest, sources have predicted she will play a minor — yet possibly still highly significant — role.

Why does the movie need a new character?

The Lion King 2019

The Lion King 2019 | Disney

There are going to be plenty of long-time Disney fans who criticize the new film for either sticking too close to the original or straying too far from it.

But in debating whether or not new characters should be added to the film, you could also technically argue that we don’t need a Lion King remake. No, we really don’t. That doesn’t mean Disney isn’t going to make billions of dollars at the box office because most of us won’t be able to stop ourselves from seeing it six times opening weekend.

Thankfully, Disney has put a lot of trust in the movie’s director to execute creative decisions wisely — as the company should.

The Lion King director Jon Favreau also directed The Jungle Book, which also incorporated characters that weren’t in the original Disney animated film. However, those characters — though minor — managed to enhance, rather than distract from, the movie’s plot.

Judging by Favreau’s ability to retell classic Disney favorites and make them (almost) as good as the original, it’s probably safe to say Sedaris’s character will add something special to what’s already likely to be a magical, nostalgic experience.