There is a very good reason why the period of the late 1980s to the mid 1990s are best referred to in the world of cinema as the Disney Renaissance. Like the age itself, it marked a new birth of creativity, imagination, and innovation for the company that brought it back from its nadir following the death of Walt Disney in the late 1960s. The films released in this period received critical and commercial acclaim that matched the output of Walt himself as audiences went under the sea with The Little Mermaid, discovered a whole new world with Aladdin, and discovered the importance of inner character in Beauty and the Beast. Disney even took big risks and partnered with other innovators to release such ground breaking classics as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Pixar’s Toy Story.
More importantly these moves not only had great stories, but memorable characters with rich, dynamic personalities. Looking back at the early Disney films and one common criticism that is noted is that characters like Snow White, Cinderella, and Prince Charming were very flat characters. Not so with the Disney characters of the 80s and 90s like Ariel, Eric, Belle, Beast, Jasmine, and Aladdin. However right near the very top of this pantheon of memorable characters was the once and future king of beasts himself, Simba from The Lion King.