The king has returned.
"Iron Man" director Jon Favreau will be at the helm of a new live-action remake of "The Lion King," according to The Walt Disney Company. Disney has a had a lot of success lately with its modern updates to many of its most celebrated classics, including the recent reboots of "Cinderella" and "Maleficent." Favreau, who also directed 2016's groundbreaking "The Jungle Book" remake, which used a combination of real photography for the jungle landscapes mixed with CGI animals and kept the original movie's popular musical numbers, will try to recreate that success.
Favreau hasn't had the time to cast his "Lion King" remake, but the critically-acclaimed "The Jungle Book" featured an abundance of A-list talent, including Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong'o. Who will he court for the "Lion King"?
Here are a couple suggestions:
For young Simba, the son of a lion king deserves the son of Hollywood royalty. Let's go with Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith. At the very least, the young and talented actor will have the singing chops to pull off the musical numbers. However, picking the older, more mature Simba is a bit trickier. Chris Pratt is perhaps the biggest movie star in the world right now and has just enough youthful exuberance in his voice. He would make a perfect Simba.
Jeremy Irons' trademark snarl as the original movie's evil lion is so distinct that it is hard to imagine anyone else filling his shoes. But it would be fun to see Tom Hardy take a stab at. Hardy is no stranger to dark roles and, as his turn as Bane in "The Dark Knight Returns" he has no problem crafting a sinister voice.
The voice of Mufasa, the wise and respected lion king, must have some gravitas. Since Favreau already tapped Idris Elba once to play a bad guy in "The Jungle Book" — tiger Shere Khan is essentially the Scar of "The Jungle Book" — perhaps the director could go back to that well and convince Elba to voice the ultimate good guy.
Timon and Pumba
This meerkat-warthog duo is the comic relief of the movie and the two actors need to compliment each other well. Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikus would make great choices. The pair are already well acquainted from their days together on "Saturday Night Live" and would probably be able to improvise the whole thing. Andy Samberg's Lonely Island music project has more than prepared him for the Hakuna Matata lead vocal performance.
Since this is the dream cast, Nala deserves to be voiced by one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood right now. Lupita Nyong'o is on top of the world lately and would play the perfect lion queen-in-wait. And she has already proven she has the ability to make her voice unrecognizable in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "The Jungle Book."
"The Lion King" is based off of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet," so why not get an actress with some actual Shakespeare experience. Marion Cotillard, who played Lady Macbeth in the 2015's "Macbeth," has the chops and the Oscar-winner's voice has the grace and fragility to capture the pain Sarabi deals with after her husband Mufasa's cruel fate at the hands of Scar.
Rafiki is among everyone's favorite characters, but, let's be honest, the sage mandrill always had kind of an oddly stereotypical voice. To keep the eccentricity, while losing the African caricature, try Hollywood's go-to guy for everything weird: Johnny Depp.
Rowan Atkinson's voice for Zazu could not be more perfect. Atkinson captures all the neuroticism and stuffiness of the red-billed hornbill, who is tasked with looking out for Simba, to a T. In fact, do not even look elsewhere. Just call up Atkinson and have him reprise the role.
Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
There is no real criteria for who can play one of the three ravenous hyenas in "The Lion King," except that they need to sound ... goofy. "Mr. Robot" star Rami Malek, "Atlanta" star Danny Glover and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Leslie Jones would sound just off-kilter enough together to play Scar's trio of witless henchmen. And there is enough comedy chops in that group to bring the laughs.