This Fan Awesomely Reimagined The Lion King Characters

If you left the theater feeling disappointed by the Lion King remake, one artist has the remedy for your blues.

Digital artist and Photoshop wizard Nikolay Mochkin, who goes by the username @ellejart on Instagram, has brilliantly reimagined the Lion King characters as they're seen in the new film and drawn them in a style more closely aligned with the original movie. A few of our favorite creatures of the Pridelands get reimaginings from Mochkin, who blended the realistic visuals of Disney's remake with the expressiveness of the cartoon flick we all know and love. 

Originally voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick, the eventual King of the Pridelands Simba sounds like Donald Glover in director Jon Favreau's Lion King remake — and he looks different too. Gone are the exaggerated eye movements, head tilts, winces, and smiles that Simba expressed in the '90s movie, and here is a lion who looks real enough to reach out and touch but just isn't as emotive. Mochkin brought back a lot of Simba's signature sass in his re-working of the character's design, adding in downturned brows when the young lion cub knows he's in trouble and wide eyes when looking out at the vastness of the Pridelands, where everything the light touches is his kingdom to rule.

Young adult Simba also got an amazing retouch from Mochkin, who gave the remake's version of the lion the orange-tinged mane, bright eyes, and expressive face from the original film. And though she's voiced by multi-Grammy-Award-winning artist and chart-topping singer-songwriter Beyoncé this time around, Simba's childhood friend-turned-queen Nala wasn't perfect by Mochkin's estimations. He made her eyes brighter and bluer, her muzzle squarer, her ears larger and lower, and her eyebrows incredibly emotive. 

Considering this duo is arguably the most important in the entire film, second only to the meerkat Timon and his warthog bestie Pumbaa, and had many pivotal scenes that pushed the plot, Simba and Nala need to be expressive. Mochkin added what many feel is much-needed emotion to the new take on the characters.

What most feel was the biggest mistake the Lion King remake made was taking away the menacing presence of Simba's good-for-nothin' uncle Scar. Voice actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, known for his work in films like 12 Years a Slave and Doctor Strange, did a bang-up job making Scar sound as vicious as Jeremy Irons did in the original Lion King, but most people felt that Disney's animation department failed to depict the mangy lion in all his sinister, antagonistic wickedness.

Mochkin aimed to fix that. He reimagined Scar, who wound up killing his brother Mufasa (voiced in both films by James Earl Jones) and forcing Simba into exile so that he could take the throne as the King of the Pridelands, with his trademark black mane, dark sienna coat, yellow eyes, and scar (for which he's nicknamed) that runs down his forehead and cheek. All those who agree with IndieWire critic David Ehrlich's argument that the new Scar is no longer a "Shakespearian villain brimming with catty rage and closeted frustration" like he was in the original should be pleased with Mochkin's reimagining of the crooked lion. 

Mochkin even reworked the poster for The Lion King, in which Simba and his ragtag duo of guardians Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) look far more expressive. We definitely wouldn't mind hanging this up on our bedroom walls.

Though it was marketed as much, Disney's "live-action" remake of The Lion King wasn't live-action at all. It certainly was a remake, though, essentially taking the shots of the beloved animated original and reimagining them in photorealistic CGI animation. The end result was visually stunning, with many walking away seriously impressed by the film's realistic imagery of the African setting, but it was also lacking something, which many critics felt was the nuanced emotion present in the 1994 version of The Lion King. One even called the remake an "emotionless shell of the original" due to its admittedly remarkable but stony CGI animation. 

The edits that Mochkin created will certainly appease the fans who were jaded by the Lion King remake, but they may also do something even better: motivate Disney to press pause on pumping out live-action remakes of its beloved animated films and take a moment to consider what the best approach could be. There's no doubt that the nostalgia factor pulled audiences to theaters in droves, which saw the new Lion King make over $595 million worldwide as of July 25, but there's something to be said about response versus revenue. Box office bucks can only take a studio so far, and if viewers aren't totally picking up what it's putting down, maybe it's best for Disney to come up with a game plan and keep its future live-action remakes from getting hit with the same rotten reviews that the Lion King refresh did.

And if that never happens, well, at least we have all this cool artwork to drool over.