Disney fans will be hearing a few familiar voices in the new The Lion Guard animated series, including Simba’s father himself: James Earl Jones will be returning to the role of Mufasa for the series’s kick-off TV movie this fall.
Jones’s signature deep, booming voice was introduced to a post-Star Wars generation when he first appeared as Mufasa in the 2004 Disney film The Lion King. Mufasa’s death and reapparearance to Simba still resonates to this day, making this potentially James Earl Jones’s most iconic role to 90s kids, even over Darth Vader. Though we’re not sure what Jones will be doing back from lion heaven, people are definitely excited about the news, with Vulture reporting that “Mufasa lives!”
James Earl Jones is not the only familiar voice making a comeback, though. Ernie Sabella will be returning as Pumbaa, Broadway World reports, and the characters of Simba and Nala will return — albeit voiced by Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union instead of Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly.
The Lion Guard tells the story of Simba and Nala’s second cub, Kion, as he becomes the leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals who patrol and protect the Pride Lands. The story will be kicked off in The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, in which James Earl Jones features. There’s no indication that Jones will reprise his role as Mufasa in the TV series proper when it begins airing in early 2016. However, there’s a large cast of characters being introduced, voiced by actors including Max Charles, Atticus Shaffer, and Joshua Rush.
Earlier today, A.V. Club posted a clip showing Kion facing off against a pair of hyenas. The clip does not feature James Earl Jones’s voice, but it does feature a horde of lion-shaped clouds that could be indicative of what Jones as Mufasa is doing back on the scene:
According to ComingSoon, part of the intent of The Lion Guard is to introduce young viewers to the variety of animals that can be found dwelling in Africa. Education and Science experts from Disney’s Animal Kingdom were consulted during the making of the series, giving input on animal behaviors and suggesting storylines based on their own knowledge and experience.
Disney’s The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar will be premiering this November in Disney Channel, featuring the return of James Earl Jones. The Lion Guard, as a series, will appear on Disney and Disney Junior channels worldwide.
[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]