15 of Disney’s most underrated characters

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8. Kovu (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride)

With so many classics in Disney’s catalog, it’s easy to overlook the direct-to-video sequels. But to not give The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride its due would be a travesty.

The movie had a lot to match up to and though it wasn’t as great as the original, it was still amazing. It introduced a new antihero in Kovu, Scar’s chosen heir.

Suddenly I was arguing with my friends over who was hotter: Simba or Kovu. Arguing. Over the hotness of animated lions. It was a weird time. Having watched Lion King II again recently, I stand by my choice of Kovu. But he’s more than just a pretty mane.

Kovu was raised by hate. His mother only cared about revenge, and instilled her anger in him. He never knew real love, or even real fun, until he meets Kiara (the second time).

It’s a process to get there though. Having been raised in anger his whole life, it would’ve been easy for him to just detach and follow through with Zira’s plan. But he opens himself up. He leans into his confusion to see where it would lead, rather than following his instincts.

He’s led right to Upendi with Kiara. With her, he allows himself to grow even more. He listens to her, supports her, and lets her lead him. This cub, who could’ve and would’ve become the next Scar, manages to grow into a good lion.

Kovu is the Disney prince we needed, and we didn’t even know it.