Friday, May 20, 2016

WBI: Scar

Today we’re talking about Scar from The Lion King. BE PREPARED.

Upon the birth of his brother’s heir, Scar’s dreams of ruling the Pridelands slip through his claws—but he’s not ready to give up. He murders his brother and nephew to secure the throne he longs for… That is, until his nephew returns to claim his throne.

WBI Profile

Classification :: A02378#*&@
Role :: Alpha (king seeking legacy)
Motivations :: chaos (disrupting the circle of life), idealism (his authority as highest law), personal/material gain (kingship, legacy), power/influence (control of the Pridelands)
Bonus :: minions (hyenas), lair (elephant graveyard/Pride Rock), family ties (Mufasa, Simba), name (Scar/Taka)


His Significance To…

Mufasa—talk about a tense relationship. Scar wants to be king; he can’t be because of Mufasa. Though Mufasa takes precautions around his brother, he doesn’t suspect Scar of malicious behavior towards Simba. This is Scar’s key to take him down.

Simba—Simba doesn’t mistrust Scar, either. Because of his innocence he truly trusts Scar to care for him, be honest, and give him good advice. In fact, until the final scene I think Simba sees Scar merely as an unfit ruler in a kingdom that doesn’t belong to him anyway. It’s Scar’s confession that reveals his treachery as a murderer.

Nala—Simba’s former playmate grows up to be a strong and beautiful lioness. The only thing Mufasa had that Scar doesn’t is an heir, so he attempts to seduce her to promote his legacy. Nala is unwilling and leaves the Pridelands.

Rafiki—they don’t have a relationship. This matters because Rafiki’s relationships with Mufasa and Simba are crucial. Rafiki’s wisdom isn’t just her own but that of former rulers! But Scar seeks no counsel. He does not remember the kings of the past. He rules alone.

Hyenas—though they aren’t smart or strong, they are many. They are Scar’s convenient henchman; however, they become his downfall when he denounces them to Simba and they overwhelm him.

Lionesses—where the hyenas are brute force, the lionesses are a slave force. Scar forces them to overhunt the land. Scar has the land he wants, but it within years it is dead and barren.

Pridelanders—Scar is a dangerous king to every other creature in the Pridelands. Where Mufasa ruled a land where animals lived and died more harmoniously, Scar murders everything for his own gain. Those who can escape. The rest die.


Significant Actions

Killing the King—MUFASA DIES OKAY? You cannot discuss Scar but ignore this fact. Scar wants to be king, so he kills the king. Problem solved.

“Killing” Simba—Scar leaves Simba to be dealt with by the hyenas, meaning that no other lion has a claim to the throne and his rule is secure.

Breaking the Circle of Life—this is Simba’s movie, so we don’t see Scar’s rule, only its aftermath. We know that a) he overhunted the land, b) there’s a drought (symbolic weather=still his fault), c) all other creatures left, and d) everyone’s hungry so nobody likes him. Ultimately, Scar’s legacy—a word that should connote life and lastingness—is just one of death and ending. Way to go, buddy.


Big Idea

retellings—as it’s often said, The Lion King is more or less Hamlet with animals. And a happily ever after. We could also consider the relationship between Scar and Mufasa that of Loki and Thor in The Avengers. Or Cain and Abel from the Bible. Let’s not get started on the romance. Retellings use the same character types and storylines, but because of our creativity it’s something new and different. Ish.

cowardice—I want to say this because we don’t always say it. Scar is endearingly sarcastic. He’s smart, funny, and sings one of the best villain songs out there. But Scar is a coward. He backs down the moment he senses defeat. He lays blame on the hyenas instead of owning up to his evil. He says and does anything to avoid conflict and circle back for another opportunity. It’s a tactic that keeps him alive, but alive villains and successful villains are two different things. And a successful Alpha, of all villains, doesn’t abandon his legacy. Ever.

balance—and because of the Circle of Life, good and evil here directly correlate with balance and imbalance in the Pridelands’ ecosystem. Death isn’t inherently evil in this story, but its excess is. Scar asks for an excess of food and control, so the land dies. That he never recognizes and changes his ways makes him such a crippling force, a true villain. His imbalance reigns.

With that last note on balance said, let me point out that Scar isn’t the only culprit of perpetrating imbalance in the Pridelands. The other figure is Simba himself. He is the opposite: he asks for a deficient compensation from the land. He escapes the promise of justice. He leaves forever. He lets the Pridelands rot. And though by the end he returns a king, I simply ask that you think about what other roles Simba might play in this movie as well…

YES, we are going to finish with “Be Prepared.” It is intentionally Hitler-y and green, so treat yourself:

Have you seen The Lion King? What are your thoughts on Scar? (And, for that matter, do you consider Simba villainous for his negligence, too?)


  1. OOOH, A WBI ON SCAR??? Coolness.

    Interesting thoughts. It's true that Simba did have a hand in upsetting the balance of the Force (I'm a Star Wars geek; I couldn't help it), but I wouldn't call him a villain for it. He was... a kid who made mistakes, but eventually came back to fix them. And I think that's why he was able to be king in the end: because yeah, he messed up and he ran away, but he doesn't end the movie hakuna-matata-ing with Timon and Pumba. He--eventually--chooses to do the courageous thing and saves the entire pridelands from Scar.

    Also, yes, Be Prepared is awesome.


    1. I know. I'm that great. *flips hair*

      You talk about Simba like he's Anakin Skywalker or something. XD Still, on that note, in the end he does move past his brainwashed youth and actually decide to return balance to the force by killing the evil emperor. Because really. :)

  2. Scar was the most terrifying Disney villain when I was younger, because he killed Mufasa, and I don't remember having seen any other kids' movie where the villain actually killed someone before that point (I probably did; I just don't remember). It wasn't until I got older that I began to see that, as terrible as he is, he's also very funny and the tiniest, tiniest bit relatable. Still evil as all heck, though.

    1. Having that first memory of such a villain could make a really big impact, though! But yes, evil as he is, Scar is also kind of marvelous in his own way. :)

  3. This is great! The Lion King is definitely a childhood favourite, and Scar is an interesting character. Also, I never realised that Rafiki was a girl #mybad . Anyway, this analysis was fascinating as usual. I've read Hamlet recently, but maybe I need to go and watch Lion King again. Be Prepared is very grand.

    1. OH, I probably should have said: Rafiki is portrayed as a boy in the movie, but the character was changed into a female in the stage musical because that is more in line with the real spirituality present in the human communities the story draws from.

      I haven't read Hamlet, actually, (I know; SHAAAAME UPON MY HEAD) but I'd definitely be curious to read it and watch it since they are such similar stories!


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