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NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of King Louie from the 2016 movie. The mainstream version can be found here: King Louie (Disney).
Just one thing we need to reach our full potential: Bring me that red flower and we will rule this jungle, I will protect you and you will want for nothing, ever again!
~ King Louie wanting the power of the Red Flower.
King Louie is the secondary antagonist in the 2016 Disney live-action film The Jungle Book, a remake of the 1967 animated classic film.
He is a humongous orangutan-like Gigantopithecus who wants Mowgli, being a "Man cub", to get for him the "Red Flower", (the jungle inhabitant's name for fire), so he can grow as powerful as man and rule the jungle. He is also based off his original incarnation of the same name.
King Louie first appears in his temple when several of his followers kidnapped Mowgli and brought him over. After a brief introduction, Louie offers Mowgli protection from the evil tiger named Shere Khan, and in return, he expects Mowgli to be his minion and build the red flower from fire, as part of a plan to take over the jungle.
However, Mowgli does not know how to make fire, and Louie, who realizes that due to his protests, refuses to let Mowgli leave. Mowgli is saved by the arrival of Baloo who distracts the monkeys so that Mowgli can sneak away from Louie. Annoyed that Baloo entered his temple without his permission, Louie orders his monkeys to seize the bear and throw him off the cliffs.
At that moment, he is alerted to Mowgli's attempt to flee by one of his monkeys who sounded the alarm. Together with Bagheera and Baloo, Mowgli manages to get to the inner courtyard of the temple which forces Louie to get up himself to prevent his captive from escaping. While Baloo and Bagheera fend of the hordes of Louie's monkeys, Louie himself climbs after Mowgli who has fled into another part of the temple. Louie later corners Mowgli and offers to spare him if he stays and serves him and his plans. However, Mowgli refuses and decides to go back to Akela. However, Louie reveals that Shere Khan killed Akela and told Mowgli that it must had been because of him but Mowgli refuses to believe him and angrily calls him a liar and tries escape once again.
Louie chases Mowgli though the temple, but in his effort to catch him he smashes the pillars holding up the roof of this temple-part. While Mowgli escapes by jumping through a slit in the wall, Louie seals his fate when he tries breaking through the solid wall, bringing down the entire roof right on top of himself, completely burring Louie underneath in rubble. The monkeys immediately rush over to his aid and start digging in hopes of getting him out and while they do so, Mowgli and his friends escape the ancient ruins. It is unknown whether if King Louie was either killed or if he was badly injured after being crushed by the fallen temple.
During the credits, however, he is shown popping out of the rubble and starts his song again while the monkeys start working on restoring the temple. As Louie sings, he accidentally knocks down some more pillars that his minion monkeys just finish rebuilding.
This incarnation of King Louie is much more sinister, villainous and destructive than his cartoon counterpart. He initially presents himself as kind, suave, polite, charming and delightful, but it is soon revealed that he is actually an impatient, belligerent, aggressive and spiteful brute within moments, especially when things do not go his way. Louie can also be quick to violence, as shown when he orders the monkeys to throw Baloo off a cliff, as well as being utterly cruel and sadistic, such as when he somewhat tauntingly reveals to Mowgli that Shere Khan killed Akela.
What part of the jungle are you from? You, Man-Cub. You come from the south, the north, what part of the jungle? (Mowgli: The south, I guess.) Southern Seyoni. Beautiful I hear though I've never been there myself. So tell me do you have a taste of the pawpaw fruit from southern Seyoni? some people call it the... What's the word? Papaya. Stolen words, There's the sound it makes when it tumbles to the jungle floor. Tryit. Go ahead. (Mowgli: It's good.) You know who I am? (Mowgli: No.) I am the King of the Bandar-log. Call me Louie.
~ King Louie offering Mowgli fruit before introducing himself to Mowgli.
Where are you going Man-cub? (Mowgli: Stay away from me!) You don't have anyone now; I'm your only hope. I can make it good for you here. Where else are you gonna go? (Mowgli: I'll go back to the pack! I'll go back to Akela!) Akela? Oh, you didn't hear? Shere Khan killed him. Must've been on account of you. (Mowgli: No! You're lying!) Don't run away from who you are! You hear me?
~ King Louie informing Mowgli of Akela's death before chasing him.
Louie supposedly meeting his death as the temple crumbles on him.
Christopher Walken with King Louie
"King Louie" Clip - Disney's The Jungle Book
Christopher Walken - I Wan'na Be Like You (2016) (From "The Jungle Book" (Audio Only))
Because orangutans in real-life are not native to India, the decision was made to make King Louie a Gigantopithecus — even though the species has been extinct for at least 100,000 years or more.
Unlike the original King Louie from the 1967 film, this iteration sings a significantly darker version of the classic song "I Wanna Be Like You".
When in his lair, Mowgli summons Louie by ringing a cowbell, this is a reference to Christopher Walken's famous cowbell short on SNL, in which he says the famous line "I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.".