I’ve never really been one to write fanfiction. I like coming up with the ideas, but I usually despise what I write about them; the plots never seem quite right when I write the dialogue and I end up trashing them before they even get saved. However, I’ve decided I’ve tossed this little concept around long enough, and that I can’t sit on it any longer, even if it won’t technically be in story format. It’ll be an essay instead, basically a historical summary of events that according to Disney may have never occurred.
The series in question is the legendary Lion King trilogy, which to date is probably my favorite cartoon ever. Everyone’s seen the first film, and most everyone has seen the sequel as well. However, there seem to be a few inconsistencies from one to the other, a few things that are “lost in transition.” First off, the first movie ends with the presumed new heir to the throne being presented to the Pridelands, which is the same way the second film begins… but in an evidently different fashion. Secondly, the cubs in the two scenes appear to be different. The cub at the end of the first film was never officially named by the studio; no sequel was planned at that point. The cub at the beginning of the second film, later revealed to be Kiara, seems much older and more aware of her surroundings. This points to the possibility that the ceremonies, and thus also the cubs, are different. (It also points to me taking this way too in-depth, but play along, okay?) Furthermore, there is no mention of the Outlands—or the Outlanders—until midway through TLK2. This is to presume that they were banished sometime between the end of the first movie and the beginning of the second. No reason is ever specifically mentioned in TLK2, which leaves several things up to interpretation.
Let’s assume that the two cubs actually are different. This creates a dilemma of its own; the fate of the first cub is unknown. Heck, the first cub is unknown. However, from a real-life chronological standpoint there is an acceptable adaptation. After the initial movie was released Disney licensed a small series of books entitled Six New Adventures, featuring a young male lion named Kopa as the protagonist. Kopa is depicted as the son of Simba and Nala. While the stories are on the small scale, self contained and mostly irrelevant, they do introduce an heir to the Pride, one that does not exist at the start of TLK2. From a realistic standpoint, Disney found it easier to reverse the gender for the next movie and probably forgot the miniseries ever even existed. However, if you’re going to immerse yourself in this world, there’s a clear lack of continuum. So, some loose ends need to be tied up.
Of course, there is the question of age. Kopa would have to be aged somewhere within the range of Zira’s cubs. He’s presumably younger than Nuka, who was the son of Scar, and older than Kovu, who is specifically mentioned as being an adopted son. This indicates a possible correlation in age between Kopa and Vitani. And, as in both movies, it’s logical to believe that the two were friends, and possibly set to become more than that in the future. This could also explain Vitani turning against Zira at the end of TLK2. For the purpose of the events detailed here, we will assume that Kiara and Kovu are newborn to very young at this point, human age equivalent no older than 1.
Next comes the part of the theory that really ties everything together, namely Kopa’s disappearance and the banishment of the Outlanders. It’s logical to assume these two events are related, but it’s a much bigger task to decipher how they are related. It’s assumed that Kopa, at some point, vanished. For the purposes of this story, we’ll say he went out alone one day, promising to stay within sight of Pride Rock, and never returned. His parents grew worried when he wasn’t home that evening, and started searching when by morning he had still not returned. At this point, the story can be taken one of two ways; either they never find Kopa, which points to him running away, or the more likely story, that they find him dead.
The real mystery would actually be the cause of death. There were no real marks that indicated what happened, no obvious signs that pointed to any animal or natural disaster, other than a few bruises and scratches that could have been self inflicted. In fact, with the exception of his cleanly broken neck, Kopa was practically uninjured. Naturally, this completely paralyzed the Pridelands in a mix of shock and grief. Questions began to arise as to what, or who, killed the young prince. There were still some tensions remaining from Scar’s rule, and Zira, Scar’s mate, was immediately questioned, especially since no one remembered seeing her during the period when Kopa first disappeared. However, she vehemently denied any involvement in the prince’s death, and there was a decent-sized group of lions who believed her. But as time passed, Zira remained the only likely suspect, and a stressed out Simba became increasingly desperate to bring closure to the mystery.
Finally, in an effort to put the entire incident behind him, Simba confronted Zira with everything he had that pointed at her as the murderer. Furious at the accusations, Zira let her lingering hate of Simba come out, and claimed that it was about time he learned what it was like to have someone close to him killed. Livid but still unwilling to sink to Scar’s level, Simba banished Zira, along with anyone who dared support her claim of innocence. This turned out to be a much larger group than the king had expected; it wasn’t so much that they supported Zira as they disagreed with Simba’s harsh punishment for a crime he had no proof Zira committed. As a last decision, to help Nala recover from losing her eldest cub, Simba banned all mention of Kopa’s name and the mystery surrounding his death. A short time later, Kiara was presented as the new heiress to the Pridelands, and, well, you know the story from there.
This theory removes several doubts about the existence of Kopa. Firstly, the lack of mention of him by Pridelanders is explained by Simba’s censoring of the name. The lack of mention of him by Outlanders is explained by Zira having possibly not been the murderer. It also explains Simba’s mistrust of the Outlanders, why you “can’t turn your back on them.”
Mind you, this theory’s not flawless, but it’s just a theory. I like it, and it’s what I use, and that’s what’s important to me. It’s certainly food for thought.