While viewing the amazing movie that is Black Panther, it’s hard not to notice the similarities between it and The Lion King. T’Challa entering the ancestral plane practically screams “Remember who you are Simba.” Killmonger’s character has many people questioning the politics of how Scar becomes the villain. Is there a dark unknown past of Mufasa we never got to see? Who truly is the villain character here? Find out on next week’s episode of…

Recently I watched The Lion King again because 1) Disney is life and 2) I’m finally (sorta) over the trauma of Mufasa’s death. I couldn’t help but watch it with a Black Panther lens after noticing such glaring similarities. In doing so, I have one main revelation about the movie: Sarabi is the true hero.

Yes, Simba is the prince. Yes, he returned and defeated Scar. But who is the widow that lost her husband AND son all at once? Who is the one that stayed in Pride Rock with Scar as king? And not only stays in Pride Rock, but who is the one holding it down as Scar makes many horrible decisions that leads to no food left to survive on and having to suggest leaving? Sarabi.

The moment Scar calls Sarabi down and she walks towards him surrounded by hyenas with her head held high is when I should’ve realized Sarabi is more than just a widow or queen mother; Sarabi truly knows what it means to look after her people and do what is best for the pride. I feel like I need to apologize for not realizing this sooner, but again Mufasa is a death that’s hard to get over and I always end up skipping that scene.

Sarabi and her crew of Dora Milaje—ahem lionesses, did the best they could under the circumstances. There’s no definitive timeline of how long Simba is gone and the sequence of events that occurs when Scar takes power, especially since animals grow pretty quickly; but, it’s safe to say these lionesses stay loyal while surrounded by vicious hyenas and a tyrannical king trying to outdo the reign of his dead brother. They’re the strongest of the pride; they protect the king. And, when things go wrong they know when to act independently and fight ferociously (aka Simba returning and them automatically going into beast mode).

Would Sarabi have been queen if it weren’t for Scar? He has no true position in the pride and is seen as the sulking bitter uncle. He looks physically smaller and weaker than Mufasa; maybe there are ailments unknown to us as the audience. But just as T’Chaka and his past are a secret in Black Panther, so are Mufasa and Scar’s pasts in The Lion King. At least Kovu didn’t turn out to be too problematic in the sequel…

Now of course, I could be thinking too deep into The Lion King since it’s “only” a Disney movie; but the themes draw on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, royal line of succession, and the human nature of greed and fear. It’s hard not to analyze it in various ways. Maybe screenwriters like creating movies with members of the feline family having power struggles within their established structures. All I know is, I’ll take more strong women within complex story-lines in any shape or form any day.