Last year was Disney’s year. Well, alright, maybe every year is freaking Disney’s year. They have their hands in most of the most profitable franchises currently out there and despite their obvious corporate leanings, they have produced a few great movies recently. The most notable one would have to be David Lowery‘s magnificent live-action remake of Pete’s Dragon, which featured some of the best use of special effects that I saw in 2017. And I really have nothing but good things to say about Jon Favreau‘s live-action take on The Jungle Book, though the familiar story structure stuck out a bit more in Favreau’s film than in Lowery’s work.
So, for the most part, I was all in when Favreau announced that he would follow up The Jungle Book with his live-action retelling of The Lion King, though the lack of any human characters in the story does have me a bit perplexed as to how “live” and “action”-oriented the movie will be. Still, Favreau is a competent, generous filmmaker and he feels much more at home with big-studio fare (Iron Man) than he does on the indie circuit (Chef). It’s easy enough to trust that the Swingers director is clever enough to both please the Disney brass and make a movie that adults can sit through without wondering what cyanide actually tastes like.
And the news that broke last night certainly helps matters. As multiple sources reported, Donald Glover and James Earl Jones have been cast in the crucial roles of Simba and Mufasa, the lion father-and-son pair at the center of the film. While casting James Earl Jones as the voice of anything is an easy pick and usually the right one, my premier interest is hearing Glover voice what I presume will be the older Simba, who meets Timon and Pumba and faces off against the nefarious Scar, his uncle. It’s definitely not an obvious choice but it makes total sense. After sweeping much of the Golden Globes with Atlanta and getting cast in the Han Solo movie as Lando, Glover’s stock has skyrocketed and, by the time The Lion King comes out, it will have likely only grown. Here’s hoping Glover can keep creating works as inspired, inventive, and relevant as Atlanta while also becoming a more-than-worthy movie star.