Now don't try to kid me, mancub! I made a deal with you! What I desire is man's red fire to make my dream come true. So give me the secret, mancub! Come on, clue me what to do! Give me the power of man's Red Flower so I can be like you!
~ Louie to Mowgli after he tells him that he doesn't know how to make fire.
I wanna be a man, Man-Cub! And stroll right into town. And be just like the other men; I'm tired of monkeyin' around!
~ King Louie to Mowgli in "I Wanna Be Like You".
King Louie is a supporting antagonist of Disney's 19th full-length animated feature film The Jungle Book. Though not nearly as threatening as Shere Khan and Kaa, he does kidnap Mowgli and hold him hostage until Mowgli reveals how to make the "Red Flower", or fire, though the accommodations that Mowgli was kept in were upbeat and lighthearted until Louie failed to what what he wanted.
He is also a supporting protagonist in the prequel television series Jungle Cubs, the spinoff TaleSpin, and the 1994 live action adaptation.
He was voiced by the late Louis Prima in the first film, the late Scatman Crothers in Disney on Parade, Jason Marsden and Cree Summer in Jungle Cubs, and Jim Cummings in TaleSpin and other later projects.
Louie is seen as a young ape in the prequel television series, where he was friends with Baloo, Bagheera, Hathi, Kaa, and Shere Khan. At this time, he was known as Prince Louie and has two younger cousins named Benny and Clyde. He usually go with Baloo and their friends on many adventures throughout the series. It is assumed that there was a falling out that caused all the animals to go separate ways and lead some to becoming enemies.
The Jungle Book (1967)
When Louie gets word that a mancub named Mowgli is being returned to the Man-Village against his wishes, he sees an opportunity to get the man to tell him the secret of the "Red Flower", or fire, to secure his power and also help him become more like humans, which he regards as the most powerful and interesting of creatures. He has his minions kidnap Mowgli and bring him to his temple, where Louie offers to help keep Mowgli in the jungle in exchange for something. Mowgli agrees, not knowing what he will have to give, and Louie explains how bored he is of being an orangutan and wants to be like humans.
He then tells Mowgli that he wants the secret to fire, but Mowgli tells him that he does not know how to make it. Louie becomes more demanding and begins to pressure him for answers. However, Baloo and Bagheera arrive to save Mowgli. Louie and his minions give chase, stealing Mowgli back from them. During the chaos, a support pillar breaks and Louie gives Mowgli up to take its place and support it. Baloo begins tickling him, and the monkeys break another pillar. Baloo, Bagheera, and Mowgli flee while the temple comes crashing down. Louie is left unharmed but dumbfounded.
More Jungle Book
The read-along storybook reveals that Louie, Baloo, and Bagheera made amends after the events of the first movie.
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
Louie does not appear physically in the 2003 sequel, though he is mentioned in Mowgli's accounts and shadow puppet show. Later, Mowgli and Baloo hide out at his old temple, where Baloo says that "he's splits-ville". This could mean that Louie passed away or simply left the temple to find a new home in the jungle.
Louie appears as a supporting protagonist and hero in TaleSpin. He owns and operates a popular bar called Louie's Place, which serves as a rest stop and social hangout for pilots all over the world. Plus, the Bandar Log serve as employees as they help out Louie in maintaining his business. He also acts out as the best friend to Baloo, who is serving as a cargo pilot; even sometimes aiding Baloo in his adventures.
House of Mouse
King Louie was a regular guest at the House of Mouse, though in a non-speaking role, as Disney was facing a lawsuit from Louis Prima's widow, Gia Maione, over the use of her late husband's voice. He was going to be used in a later episode, but because of the lawsuit, had to be replaced with King Larry, Louie's brother.
Abu is temporarily transformed into King Louie by the Genie to prove a a point as as a reference to TaleSpin.
In the episode "Mumbai Madness", Mickey is an Indian cab driver tasked with delivering a wise old elephant to a temple on a mountain. He gets lost along the way, resulting in him stumbling across a jungle where Louie and the Bandar-log angrily chase him away.
Louie appears in The Jungle Book Groove Party, where he kidnaps Mowgli and challenges him to a dance-off. However, the events play out like in the movie.
Louie appears in Disney Universe as an unlockable character costume.
Louie also appeared in Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ on two medals during a Jungle Book themed event.
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book
Louie is portrayed by a real-life orangutan in the 1994 film, but in a more sympathetic and heroic role. Just like in the cartoon, he rules a temple occupied by the Bandar log. But unlike his animated counterpart, he has no intention in using fire to become powerful as man. Instead, Louie focuses on maintaining his rule in the temple (which is full of treasure). He also has Kaa to serve for him, as he summons the python with a hand-clap to take down intruders trying to steal the treasure.
When Mowgli arrives to the temple after one of the monkeys stole his hand bracelet, Louie first acted out as a rival to him, but warms up after seeing him defeat Kaa, even giving the bracelet back to Mowgli. During the climax, Louie is seen witnessing Mowgli fighting against William Boone, giving his full support for Mowgli. After Mowgli defeats Boone, Louie happily applauds for a job well done before summoning Kaa again, this time to kill Boone for good.
In the 2016 live action remake, King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken) appears as the secondary antagonist. In this incarnation, Louie is depicted as a Gigantopithecus instead of an orangutan and is much more evil and aggressive than his original cartoon counterpart.
In Disneyland, Louie appears in Micky's Soundsational Parade, Mickey and the Magical Map stage show, Fantasmic!, World of Color: Celebrate!, and Disneyland Forever.
In Walt Disney World, Louie appears in Fantasmic!, and Celebrate the Magic.
At Tokyo Disney, Louie appears in One Man's Dream II: The Magic Lives On!.
At Hong Kong Disneyland, he is seen in Flights of Fantasy and Mickey and the Wondrous Book.
Despite not appearing in The Jungle Book 2, "I Wanna Be Like You" is covered by Smash Mouth during the end credits.
Despite the film taking place in an Indian jungle, orangutans do not inhabit India in real life. Instead, real-life orangutans are found only in the rainforests of the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Because of this fact, the 2016 version of King Louie was changed to a Gigantopithecus (as they were native to India). Despite this, the species have been extinct for thousands of years.
He shares his name with his late voice actor Louis Prima. Originally, he was going to be voiced by the late Louis Armstrong. However, the idea was scrapped as a means to keep away from an offensive stereotype of an ape being voiced by an African-American.
Along with the vultures (Buzzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Dizzy), King Louie is a completely original character in The Jungle Book as he did not appear in the original book.
Louie's plan is loosely based on "Kaa's Hunting" by Richard Kipling in which the Bandar-log had the idea of kidnapping Mowgli to teach them to be smarter than other animals to be noticed and envied by them.