Disney Channel’s ‘The Lion Guard’ Roars Back to the Circle of Life (VIDEO)

Disney Junior

Gender equality. Respect for the environment. Death. The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is clearly aimed at the little ones, but its ideas are big. Inspired by Disney’s 1994 blockbuster The Lion King, this Disney Channel movie—focusing on lion cub Kion (voiced by The Strain’s Max Charles), the son of Simba (Rob Lowe)—will again dig into the theme of sibling rivalry that drove the Oscar-winning original. Along with delivering lots of adorable characters, frisky show tunes and fart jokes, of course. (Yes, Pumbaa—voiced once again by Ernie Sabella—is back!)

“In the film, it was Mufasa, King of the Pride Lands, versus Scar, the second born,” notes Guard executive producer Ford Riley. “Now we have Kion, the second born, and his older sister, Kiara (All My Children’s Eden Riegel), will be queen. Kion will not grow up to be king, so what’s his role in this life?”

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As it turns out, it’s a substantial one. Simba appoints Kion leader of the Lion Guard, which is tasked with preserving the Pride Lands, but instead of choosing a backup team of the bravest and brightest lions, Kion calls upon his closest friends—a honey badger, an egret, a cheetah and a hippo. At first, Dad’s not pleased. But the message for kids, Riley says, “is that diversity is to be encouraged and appreciated.”

The Lion Guard doesn’t shy from the realities of the African savanna. At one point, Kiara lectures another lion about the killing of gazelles and how it must be done only out of need, not sport. After all, it is the circle of life.

Watch a clip from the movie below, and then catch The Lion Guard on Sunday, Nov. 22, 7/6c, on Disney Channel.

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