The Lion King
Part of a series on the films of Jeremy Irons
What to say about The Lion King (1994)? Well, for one, I find it overrated among the Disney Renaissance, highly beloved by my generation when quality-wise the film itself is dwarfed by Beauty and the Beast and Hunchback of Notre Dame. But Disney ranking aside, it does have one of the best characters of Disney films, period.
Let’s face it, Scar got the short end of the stick in life. He didn’t get the tremendous build like Mufasa did, so he resorts to cunning. He later becomes king of the savanna, only to have a severe drought ravage the land. In the end he is hoist by his own petard, but along the way, we get a delicious performance by Jeremy Irons.
I mean it, while Irons is typecast in the role (a perverse villain), his performance is excellent, delivering a perfect mix of sharp wit and insidiousness to make you root for the villain. It helps he has one of the best Disney villain songs period. It also helps that the film poaches one of Irons signature lines from his oscar-winning role in Reversal of Fortune.
This role (along with Die Hard with a Vengeance the following year) was Irons at the peak of his filmmaking popularity, and one of the biggest roles he’s ever had in Hollywood picture. It’s left an indelible mark on the minds of my generation as a great villain.