|“||Zuba: Before I kick your butt, lemme ask you: Why do you even wanna become the alpha lion?
Makunga: I'm better looking, I have better hair, I'm deceivingly smart. And I want everyone to do what I say.
|~ Makunga to Zuba, explaining why he wants to be Alpha Lion.|
He was voiced by Alec Baldwin, who also played Dennis in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, President Donald Trump in SNL, Fred Frenger Junior in Miami Blues, Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross, Mark Cordell in The Juror, Jed Hill in Malice and Larry Quinn in The Cat in the Hat. In the film's videogame adaptation, he was voiced by the late John Cygan, who also played Hedley in Treasure Planet.
Makunga is very stingy, mean, tricky, egotistical, and overall cocky in nature. Makunga is also especially shrewd, sneaky, deceitful, and manipulative, as he tricked Alex into challenging the huge bulky lion Teetsi, knowing well enough Alex would easily fail and Zuba wouldn't have it in him to exile his son for his failure, thus Zuba resigns the alpha lion position and Makunga takes it. His manipulative tendencies stemmed from the fact that at the beginning of the movie, he failed to best Zuba in a challenge to be the Alpha Lion in a physical battle, so he mostly relied on his wits to get what he wants.
When Makunga takes the role of the alpha lion, he's not very good at it, due to his incompetence he tries to hide and he comes up with nutty solutions to the drought (like having to fight for the water or leaving the reserve to find it). All in all, Makunga's supreme ego leads to his downfall when Alex tricks him by giving him Nana's purse as a gift, and then he releases the old lady, who proceeds to give the conceited jerk the beating that he deserves.
Makunga is an overweight dark tan lion with green eyes and a black mane with a gray streak in it (when he is older).
Makunga is seen at the beginning of the film, watching Zuba training his young son Alakay, who is more interested in dancing, much to Zuba's dismay. Makunga reveals himself and says that it is disappointing that Alakay is not growing up the way that Zuba also wants him. Zuba is annoyed and questions Makunga if he is challenging him again. Makunga replies that once he becomes Alpha Lion, Zuba will have more time to spend with his "pathetic excuse of a son". Zuba asks Makunga why he wants to become Alpha Lion to which he responds "I'm better looking, I have better hair. I'm deceivingly smart. And I want everyone else to do what I say." While Zuba fights Makunga (and defeats him rather easily), Alakay wanders off, and gets captured by poachers and eventually ending up in New York and is renamed Alex.
Years later, an adult Alex and his friends wind up in Africa, and Alex reunites with his parents. Makunga thinks of using him as an advantage to finally become the Alpha lion. At Alex's welcoming ceremony, Makunga suddenly stops the celebration and reminds Zuba that Alex must perform the Rite of Passage in order to be officially accepted into the pride. Alex, believing it to be a breeze, accepts the opportunity.
As Alex prepares for the Rite of Passage, Makunga comes along and tricks him into choosing Teetsi (a large, slender, muscular lion who is also Makunga's henchman) as his opponent. As Alex "fights" With Teetsi (mistaking it to be a dance battle), Makunga laughs, saying to himself, "This is even better than I thought!" When Alex loses the fight, Makunga dethroned Zuba as Alpha lion and banished him, Alex and Florrie and makes Alex wear the Hat of Shame (which is a ridiculous-looking coconut shell decorated with a whole bunch of fruit at the top).
When the water hole is dried, Makunga suggests that the animals would have to fight for the water. When the animals object to this insane proposal, Makunga tells them if they are thirsty, they will have to look for water off of the reserve. The animals object to this notion as well, knowing that poachers are outside the reserve. However, Alex steps in and states that he himself went off the reserve and survived. He then states that he himself will leave the reserve to bring the water back. While the other animals are amazed at Alex's bravery, Makunga laughs derisively at him and sarcastically suggests to the young lion that he do a rain dance. Determined to prove the pompous Makunga wrong, Alex sets off on his quest and Makunga continues to insult and mock him as he leaves. Realizing that Makunga has no regard for anybody but himself, the animals criticize his leadership and demand Zuba back, making Makunga seethe with fury.
Alex and his friends soon learned that a couple of tourists (led by Nana) created a dam that dried up the water hole in the first place, so they managed to destroy it, thus the water is finally returned. Although the other animals are praising Alex and his family for retrieving the water, Makunga refuses to surrender his authority by stating that none of it changes anything. However, Alex and Zuba trick Makunga by giving Nana's handbag to him as a "token of appreciation", then releasing the old lady. When Nana sees Makunga holding her purse, she proceeds to attack him as she kicks him in the crotch, steps on his foot, whacks his paw with a ruler, gives him wet willies, burns his arm, and spanks him, before dragging him away by the ear as the other animals cheer happily.
The DVD commentary confirms that "Nana brought Makunga back to New York in a kitty cage".
- Despite being one of Alex's more personal enemies, Makunga is the least evil main antagonist of the Madagascar trilogy. While the Fossas and Chantel DuBois, the main antagonists of the first and third installments, were genuine threats, Makunga was just simply a pompous jerk who, despite his trickery, never went as far as to try to kill the protagonists, with the exception of Alex and Zuba.
- Additionally, Makunga is the only main antagonist of the Madagascar films who does not meet or interact with any of the movie trilogy's other main characters. The only one whom he meets and interacts with is Alex the Lion.
- Taking into account what Alex said at the end before revealing Nana, it could be implied that Alex and Zuba wouldn't have allowed Nana to beat up and take Makunga away if he had accepted them again in the pride, technically offering him a chance of redemption. However, Makunga's jerkish ego gets over him and as a result, he ends up losing his position as Alpha Lion and gets dragged by Nana to New York for good.
- Josh Brolin, Timothy Olyphant, Toby Stephens, Steve Guttenberg, and Danny McBride were all considered for the role of Makunga before Alec Baldwin was cast.
- The name "Makunga" means "crazy" in Swahili.
- His goals are somewhat similar to Scar.