Will there be a Lion King II without Kiara as the lead?

THE LION KING - Featuring the voice of Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
THE LION KING - Featuring the voice of Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

There is no Lion King II without Kiara, but the sequel to Disney’s 2019 live-action effort may try to make one work without the future queen of the Pride Lands.

We’re not sure how many people–if any–asked for a sequel to the CGI Lion King that hit theaters in 2019, but we do know Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins has been tapped to helm Walt Disney Studios‘ next stroll down hyper-realism lane.

According to Deadline:

"The film will continue with the photo-realistic technology that director Jon Favreau used in the 2019 film and 2016’s The Jungle Book. There is no release date set for The Lion King follow-up or for the production start, but it is understandably a top priority for Sean Bailey’s division after the last film grossed $1.6 billion worldwide."

In the hands of Jenkins, the Lion King sequel could see the addition of some much-needed depth and charm, two things its predecessor lacked.

His work as a filmmaker is undeniably an asset with his recent films–Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk–being both critically acclaimed and award-winning.

Upon being granted the keys to the Pride Lands, Jenkins said:

"Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters. Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true."

As a franchise, Lion King is in no danger of not performing well regardless of the quality of the content being put before the audience. However, the magic the studio managed to capture with its 1994 film –  which sparked a successful Broadway play, subsequent sequels, and video games – was not felt in its 2019 release.

This next venture may see the return of that magic, but it’s going to have some decently sized shoes to fill. Lion King II, the 1998 sequel to the animated Lion King, put the story in the hands of Simba’s daughter, Kiara. Instead of a king coming into his own, the journey became about a future queen figuring out who she wanted to be in the face of her father’s legacy and the harm that had been done before she was born.

Lion King II is largely a story about romantic love, but it’s also about prejudice, bias, reconciliation, and forgiveness. It’s also the only piece of Lion King media that is fronted by a girl. The rest are led by Simba, Timon & Pumbaa, and in recent years, Kion–Kiara’s little brotherand his friends Bunga and Ono.

While Kiara is a recurring character in Lion Guard, the creation of Kion, a hitherto non-existent character to usurp her place as a lead in the franchise was disappointing. The Lion King sequel shafting the lioness as well would go beyond disappointing and into the realm of frustrating.

Deadline‘s announcement of the sequel states that Jeff Nathanson is back onboard as a scriptwriter and that he already completed an initial draft of the film. The logline has yet to be released, but the film is purported to be furthering the mythology of the existing characters which will include providing an origin story for Simba’s father, Mufasa.

Nowhere in the announcement is Kiara mentioned. It’s premature to say that means she won’t be in the sequel, but the lack of her name doesn’t look good. Disney may be trying to go in a different direction with this sequel, allowing for an original story rather than an adapted one to take the spotlight, but really how many times will Kiara be passed over?

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How do you feel about the possibility of a Lion King sequel without Kiara in the lead? Serve up your thoughts in the comments below!