WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
As I explained in part 1 of why I tied these two villains together, just like how Shere Khan was voiced by an Oscar winning English actor who helped give this vengeful and deadly feline a classy personality; the choice of casting another Oscar winning British actor like Jeremy Irons (Over other great British actors that are known for playing villains, like Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell) to play a wild beast from the cat family with the same traits, is just as perfect as Sander's performance as one! Iron's really nails the class and elegant personality, mixed with the character's savage behavior right out of the park! But as classy as Scar is, it's clear that Irons is mostly playing that aspect more for laughs. Not for big laughs like villains such as Yzma, Hades, or Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. But he still gives Scar a flamboyant personality that's as enjoyably menacing as watching someone like Tim Curry play a villain, instead of being as subtle and charming as George Sanders was as Shere Khan. He would constantly make snarky and sarcastic comments with his overall dry sense of humor. And would always play around with the character's villainy, even when his character is pretending to have an innocent and casual conversation with a young Simba, when its so obvious that he has a trap set-up for him (Though I can buy Simba not catching on to Scar's evil considering that he's a kid and that they're family. Same with Mufasa's relationship with Scar too, since they grew up together as brothers, who would pretty much see Scar's behaviors as nothing out of the ordinary). There are just so many great lines and moments of Iron's hamming up the character's evil in such a sophisticated matter that there's no way that I can point them all out (But I'll try to point out as many as I can throughout this post).
But no matter how much Irons, as well as the animators play around with the villain's over the top high-class personality, they still know when to make him an intimidating power hungry badass. Sure he admits that he's not a skilled fighter, who can't take on an army of his own Hyenas (Will get more into that later), his brother Mufusa, or even his Brother's son; when compared to Shere Khan, everyone knows that they are no match for him (Not even with the strength of a pack of Wolves for crying out loud). But that doesn't mean that he's completely helpless in terms of "Brute Strength". There are indeed scenes of him hitting animals around such as his henchmen, the King's majordomo Zazu, and even Simba's Mother (Wow, domestic abuse in a Disney film). And how he just suddenly explodes to his physical violent behavior, happens so fast, that most of the time, you can’t comprehend if he's going to strike you or not. He also does put up a good fight when he and Simba fight during the film's climax. And nearly succeeds with killing him by leaping high in the air with his claws reaching out to rip Simba to shreds while he's down. You may even notice that unlike all the other Lions in the pack, Scar is the only Lion who always keeps his claws out in plain sight indicating how dangerous he is. So it's clear as crystal that Scar is not as weak as he makes himself out to be.
However, strength is obviously not everything in terms of making Scar come across as a terrifying force. Because his design, expressions, and the way he moves also help emphasize how frightening he can be! Unlike the rest of the Lion's whose fur are either golden blonde, or tan. Scar has a black Mane and brownish-orange fur that to make him stand-out as a shadowy character with dark motivations. Scar is also given a white goatee to compliment on his fancy villainous personality, which is a common trope that villains with such class carry. But the most distinctive feature that Scar has that (I guess) gave him his name, as well as being another trope that cool villains carry is that he has a scar on his face. How did he get the scar? What was Scar's actual name? (Without counting the book "A Tale Of Two Brothers") Will never know, and the mystery surrounding the origins of his permanent wound is what makes him such an interesting villain. The expressions that come out of Scar's face are some of the most sinister expressions that I've ever seen from an animated Disney villain. The evil smiling, cold staring, savage approach, it’s pretty uncomforting. And given the fact that most (If not all) of Irons' facial expressions are inserted into the animation for his character’s expressions, also adds a lot to the fear factor surrounding Scar’s approach. The way he moves also plays a huge part of what help convey Scar's nasty expressions and behaviors. The animators used the movements of Shere Khan as a reference when creating this villain, and while his movements are very similar to Shere Khan's, they still come off as creepy and unsettling. From his slow crooked walk, to quickly coming after his prey in an environment that's just as menacing as he is; whether he's being surrounded by green smoke, hot burning flames, or is kept in the dark shadows. The best part about Scar's menacing design and presence are that in some scenes Scar just appears out of the blue when you least expect him too. Such as him appearing over a cliff to watch his henchmen do a hit for him, only to see them fail at it, as he watches the victims walk away with that creepy dead-pan look on his face; and seeing a tiny mouse in the opening scene being taken away by his fast moving paw, that still to this day catches me off-guard every time his paw suddenly comes down, no matter how much I try to prepare myself for it. Speaking of that scene, did you ever come to realize that Scar is one of the few Disney villains to carry the first line of dialogue? That doesn’t really happen too often.
As good as Scar's villainous personality and intimidating design is, the main reason that draws many of us to the character is his motivation to be King! This is a character who was "First in line" to take over as King after his brother dies, only to find himself being stepped over by his brother's spouse knowing that even if he does rule after his death, he would only rule until Simba is old enough to take over, rather then controlling the Pride Lands until his time has come. And the fact that he has to listen to his nephew constantly tell him how happy and excited he is that he's going to be King, just adds insult to injury. We obviously want Simba to rule as King, but how can you not feel just a tiny bit bad for Scar, who has his hopes and dreams being suddenly crushed. He does take drastic measures to achieve what he wants, and we of course despise him for that. But in the very least we can understand why he would stoop to these lows. It's not that he wants to rule as King for the sake that he's a villain; it's mainly because he believes that he deserves that power, and that he can run things better than his brother ever could. That's why we find him and his motivation so interesting.
What's also cool about Scar is he's the type of villain that uses brains instead of bronze. I'm not saying that many other Disney villains out there don't have that skill either, because they do. I'm just simply implying that Scar hardly ever gets his paws actually dirty; he usually leaves that to his Hyena henchmen to do the dirty work for him. What Scar pretty much does is set-up the plan, and lure his prey to the bait. And what's so cool about how he lures Simba to the traps that he set-ups for him is he hardly ever lies! He does tell Simba not to go to beyond the waters for being too dangerous, and he does tell Simba that the surprise waiting for him is "to die for". But even when telling the truth, or a part of the truth, he still makes sure that Simba would be tempted to walk into his trap. He gets Simba to leave the kingdom by playing on his ego telling him that only "the brave Lions go there", while also maintaining the knowledge that he'd be blown away knowing that there's an Elephant Graveyard in the land that he's forbidden to go too. And he manages to keep Simba waiting in the gorge by simply reminding him of all the trouble he caused when he didn't listen to his Father. As well as humbly suggesting that Simba should work on his "little roar", knowing that he would since he wants to be as great as his Father (And what Lion wouldn't). Scar even humbly agrees to Simba's comment about him being so weird by telling him that he has "no idea" (A line taken from Irons Oscar winning performance in "Reversal Of Fortune", after being commented for how strange he is), because Simba doesn't know how "weird" he actually is! But as good as Scar can be with telling the truth to set-up Simba for his supposed doom, he still does resort to lying as well. Simba wouldn't be in the gorge in the first place if Scar didn't tell him that his Father had a surprise him. And Simba wouldn't have believed that he caused the stampede (That Scar has perfectly orchestrated) with his roar if Scar didn't tell him that it was his fault, which is very disturbing the more I think about it. He does comfort Simba, and understands that what he did was "an accident" like what any rational adult would do. But he still flat out tells him that if it wasn’t for his actions his Father would still be alive, and goes as far to give Simba the impression that his Mother may no longer love him anymore! I mean good god, this is a kid that he's lying too and trying to make feel guilty! What kind of person does that to a child?! And when Simba finally comes back as an adult to take back the throne, Scar keeps the lie of Simba being responsible for Mufasa’s death going, by taunting him for his false crime in front of shocked Lioness (Including his Mother and love interest). Ironically though, every time when Scar actually does lie, he does get severely punished for it! Maybe it was best for Scar to only at least admit a part of the truth!
Now usually with most Disney villains, they would either have a sidekick or an army of minions at their feet. But with Scar on the other hand, he has a whole nation at his side. And I'm not talking about when he rules Pride Rock. I'm actually talking about before he rules Pride Rock, where he roams a land outside of Mufasa's Kingdom ruled by vicious and loose cannon Hyenas who hate Lions and love to devour them when they are cubs! But despite their hatred towards lions, Scar was the only one who they accepted. It's not really quite explained why he is, but given that Scar is good at manipulating people and gives the Hyenas food for whenever he visits them, it would seem more than likely that the Hyenas would be persuaded to be on Scar's side. However, despite that Scar has a whole land of evil green eyed glowing Hyenas at his feet, the ones that he's closest too the most are the infamous Hyena trio Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. These three are on the same level of over the top comical henchmen as characters like Br'er Bear, Iago, and Smee are. They do have a savage nature to them (Like all the other Hyenas), that actually comes off as intimidating (They're trying to kill and eat two cute and innocent cubs). But the way these three henchmen overall behave is hysterical. There's never a dull or unfunny moment with them. Every scene you see them in together, they're always laughing and joking around. And the hilarious part about their constant joking around is it would actually at times get them sidetracked from killing off their prey! No wonder why Scar feels like that he's "surrounded by idiots". The casting of Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings as these three wisecracking Hyenas is so spot-on and endlessly enjoyable, that even though they're meant to be pure evil, I honestly can't help but find them likable. There's just something about the way they joke around and interact with one another that makes them come across as characters that I would love to hang around with. But regardless, they still are on the villain’s side that serve him faithfully, and are always ready for the kill when Scar gives the order, and Scar knows it too. That moment when he orders the Hyenas to kill Simba after he runs away, by simply ordering the hit in only two words with his emotionless delivery and dead cold stare is truly one Scar's best moments that makes him out to be such a badass villain and leader.
With Scar being a villain in an animated Disney musical, unlike Shere Khan who had no song in "The Jungle Book"; Scar on the other hand does. And its truly one of the greatest villain song sequences that I've ever seen on film! It pretty much has everything that makes a villain song great. It's catchy, it's menacing, its got a nice choir, its beautifully animated, it has visuals that are both fun and creepy, its greatly sung by Irons, and adding in some comedy doesn't hurt it either (Considering that he is singing to his goofy Hyena henchmen). No matter how many times I hear this song, or watch the sequence itself, I always find myself being sucked into it, for how cool and epic it all looks and sounds! The one image that sticks with audiences the most when they think of this number is Scar standing over a rock to watch his singing Hyenas march for him. As kids, many of us see this image as a cool and intimidating moment with Scar and his army of Hyenas. I actually remember getting chills when I was a kid as I watched these evil eyed Hyenas march and look at their leader, with the sound of their marching adding to the levels terror that this scene creates. But as we all got older, this particular part of the sequence that we found to be unsettling when we were kids, gets even more unsettling when we begin to realize that this march is supposed to mirror the Nazis marching at one of Hitler's rallies! I don't think any of us can look at this scene the same way again with that piece of knowledge imprinted in our brains. What I also find very impressive about this song sequence is the fact that towards the end of the song, Irons singing voice had to suddenly be replaced by the talented and gifted voice actor Jim Cummings, since Irons threw out his voice when he yelled out the line "YOU WON'T GET A SNIFF WITHOUT ME"! And with keeping that piece of knowledge in mind, I still find myself being fooled by Cummings singing voice, since he and Irons sound so much alike when performing this song! As much as I love the song, I don't know if I would call this one my overall favorite Disney villain song of all time since it didn't take as many risks as some of the others did. But it is still one of the best ones out there from Disney! Definitely top 5!
Out of literally everything that makes Scar one of the most awesome Disney villains of all time, is the fact that he actually gets to kill-off a leading character. Sure many Disney villains have come close to killing off a lead character (Or a character), but very few of them have ever succeeded, which I think is the main reason why people admire Scar as a villain so much. And the character he kills is not just the most awesome character in the whole movie, but he's also his own brother! That's pretty messed up, especially for a Disney film! His brother is dangling over cliff above a crazy stampede as he begs for his brother to lend him a paw, and what does Scar do instead? He pierces his brother's paws with his sharp claws, gives him some parting words as he smiles at him, and throws him off the cliff to be crushed by the stampede below him, which then leads too the most traumatizing scene in the whole movie! Originally Scar was going to be a rogue Lion seeking for power, but the writers thought that making him the brother of the King would make his relationship with him a lot more interesting and threatening, which would make Mufasas' death appear to be more tragic. And taking that extra mile to relate the villain to the person that he wants to kill, became more emotionally effective then what the writers anticipated it to be.
After all the trouble that Scar has caused to get himself into the position of King, this is where Scar starts to become a weak villain. I'm not at all implying that Scar is no longer an interesting villain, nor do I find him not to be intimidating for that matter because he still is. As I mentioned earlier, he still has his moments of being threatening when we get to the film’s climax. His dry sense of humor and love to torment his victims still remains (My favorite moment is when he has Simba in the same near death situation that his Father was in, as he tries to figure out why this all looks so "familiar"). And he still has his Hyena henchmen at his side acting as his enforcers. But while still maintaining all the things that made him so awesome in the first half of the film, his weaknesses are however exposed all through-out the second half. He can't rule for crap. Everybody (including his own henchmen) can no longer stand him to the point where they think about turning against him. And he starts acting like a huge coward instead of maintaining his dignity, where his cowardice leads him to his own demise! Now is that really a bad thing, far from it! If anything, showing his weaknesses while the Pride Lands are going down the crapper seems like the perfect time to be exposing this villains faults, and why nobody (With the exception of his Hyena friends) ever wanted him to be King. Do you know who Scar almost reminds me of, he reminds me of Tony Montanan in "Scarface". Now I'm not saying that he is actually based off him, but considering that he was inspired by characters and political figures like Hitler, Claudius from "Hamlet", and of course Shere Khan from “The Jungle Book”. I wouldn't be too surprised that a little of that inspiration came from the famous drug smuggling gangster that Pacino had once played. They both have Scars on their face. They both carry an insane lust for power. They both kill their leader to take over his empire. And when they finally do get their power, they suck at it which leads them to their downfall. Maybe this is all just a coincidence, but I still can't help but think that Disney may have gotten a little inspiration from "Scarface".
If I really had anything to nitpick about Scar being a lousy King, it would have to be the sequence that never made it in the film; his reprise of "Be Prepared". Scar asks Zazu what made Mufasa such a great King, and as Zazu names a few of the things that made Mufasa such a great King, the item that Zazu listed that catches Scar's interest was that he had a Queen. And by having a Queen by his side, he can produce many cubs (That he refers to as "Little Scars") to keep his legacy as King going to make him immortal. And while he's legitimately thrilled about the idea, Simba's friend Nala suddenly comes to talk to him about the Pride Lands. But instead of listening to her concerns, he tries to seduce her to make her become his Queen. Unfortunately his attempts to seduce Nala fails, and when Scar orders the Lioness to banish her, they refuse to listen him, which causes Scar to send his Hyena friends to send Nala way as he reveals to the pack (In song) that the reason why the Hyenas are in the Pride Lands is because they work for him. Even though the scene was obviously cut because of Scar's sexual harassment towards a character that he knew since she was a cub, it’s actually a very interesting scene that captures the madness of Scar's struggles as King really well. And despite that I love the scene when Scar tells the Lions that they will be joining forces with the Hyenas, after giving a mourning speech about the loss of Mufasa and Simba in the final cut. I honestly did like the concept of Scar explaining his plans by combining forces with the Hyenas through song, a lot better. But as much as I wish that this sequence was in the final print of the movie, the scenes that Disney decided to go with are still more than satisfying. Plus Disney did manage to create a musical number that's similar to this deleted sequence in their long running Broadway musical adaptation, so at least it’s not a total waste of a good scene.
Unlike Shere Khan's anti-climatic defeat, Scar gets a pretty violent demise! After being thrown off of Pride Rock by Simba, Scar soon finds himself being cornered by the Hyenas, who at first think that they're coming to comfort him after his fall in power, when their actual intentions are to eat him for telling Simba that they're the real enemy so that Simba won't kill him. I know that we don't see the Hyenas kill Scar on screen, but the overall tension that scene has just builds and builds as the Hyenas come closer and closer to Scar as he begs for them to spare his life. And as the Hyenas surround him, the camera begins to tilt up to a rock wall, where we see Scar's shadow being covered with Hyenas as the flames rise up above the shadow to avoid us from even seeing the shadows of the Hyenas eating Scar alive. It's a very intense scene, and the result of not showing Scar getting torn apart before our very eyes by leaving it to our imagination is actually more terrifying, than it is for us witnessing the Hyena attack for ourselves. Scar was originally going to get burned alive from the fire rising above Pride Rock, as he laughs like a madman thinking that he had killed Simba after tricking him from saving him from the same fate that killed his Father. But Disney found the original demise for Scar to be way too dark for a Disney film (really, because I think his "family friend" death that's in the film is way worse), and decided to give Scar the demise that Gaston in "Beauty Of The Beast" was originally going to get. And incase if you're wondering how exactly Gaston was originally going to die, well that's all in good time!
Just for laughs, even though I do believe that Scar was eaten alive by his own henchmen, I'm almost willing to bet that they either turned him into a throw rug, or that he somehow manage to escape to ancient Greece where he was then hunted. Why do I say this? I think the picture below explains it all.
Scar maybe one of the worst Kings in all of film history, but he still stands tall as one of the greatest Disney villains of all time, thanks to his interesting motivation; his fun and villainous personality; intimidating design; skills of force and manipulation; army of Hyenas that serve him faithfully (Until he screws them over); having one of the best villain songs of all time. And above all, being one of the very few Disney villains who succeeded with killing a character that we've all grown attached too just as much as Simba did. He’s a bad King, but is still never-the-less an awesome villain!
"Long live the KING"
Shere Khan and Scar may have their major differences, but given the fact that these two British cats ruled Africa with their brains, class, strength, and determination, is good enough to give them both the 23rd spot on my list. And if you still call BS on it, just remember that this is my personal list.