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Villain Overview

I can smell your fear. I can almost taste it!
~ Phango searching for Khumba.

Phango is the main antagonist of the 2013 South African computer-animated film Khumba. He is a vicious leopard who wishes to kill Khumba so he can become a more powerful hunter, making him his arch-nemesis.

He was voiced by Liam Neeson, who also played Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, Clinch Leatherwood in A Million Ways to Die in the West, Harry Rawlings in Widows, Bad Cop in The Lego Movie, Raccoon in The Nut Job, High-T in Men In Black: International, and himself in Family Guy.

Personality

Phango is a cunning, cruel, violent, vindictive leopard who shows no pity or mercy to other animals. He is also sadistic, as he enjoys hunting, killing, eating and tormenting his victims. A notable example of this is when he taunts Khumba and gleefully declares his intent to eat him "slowly, one stripe at a time."

Phango's vicious and wrathful nature stems from being neglected, abused and then abandoned by his own family when he was a cub for being half-blind, an event which left him traumatized and consumed with anger. When he became a ferocious and intimidating hunter, he killed them as revenge, but also to kill Khumba for himself. Despite getting his revenge, Phango is not satisfied and is obsessed with being 'whole', as he has only half of his sight. He is very superstitious of ancient myths, particularly the one of the half-striped zebra, and believes that eating the half-striped zebra (Khumba) will give him great powers and make him 'complete'.

Phango is a Social Darwinist and abusive lone ranger with a dislike for just about everyone. He routinely achieves his goals through intimidation and violence, notably shown when he violently threatens and intimidates Skalk into telling him where Khumba is. During this, he viciously strangles Skalk after he accidentally reveals that Khumba is half striped and then lets go, but pins Skalk down and roughly tells him that he couldn't see his power. However, he did let Skalk leave unharmed after the wild dog showed where Khumba went, suggesting that Phango is capable of gratitude, although his comment after doing so implies it might have only been because he dislikes the taste of wild dogs.

It is implied Phango suffers from PTSD as a result of his past, as he seems to have mood swings and when he and Khumba fall into the pond in Phango's cave and Khumba starts loosing air, it causes Phango to have a flashback of when his mother left him to drown in the same pond, which makes him freeze for several moments as if genuinely hesitating to kill Khumba, although he does eventually snap out of it and gets back to trying to drown Khumba.

Phango is also shown to be stubborn and relentless, as he almost never gives up once he chooses a victim, and refuses to listen to Khumba's attempts to reason with him.

Biography

Backstory

Phango was born with one blind eye and was outcast by his clan as the runt of the litter. It is suggested he suffered much neglect and physical abuse. In one event as a cub, he was carelessly kicked into the water pond in the clan's cave and nearly drowned. However, the deficit of good sight gave him an extra, almost mystical sense of smell which he began to use to his advantage to become a mighty hunter.

As an adult, Phango rose back up and killed his entire clan as revenge for abandoning him. According to the Black Eagle's story, it seems that it was not enough for him, as he continued to kill without reason or need, causing the entire Karroo to live in fear of him. Due to his obsession to become "whole", Phango believes the myth of killing and eating a half-striped zebra would make him the most powerful hunter who ever lived, thus making him "complete".

Role

Phango is first seen roaming the desert sniffing out specific scents. Khumba the half-striped zebra opened the zebras' enclosed fence for security to let some Gemsboks in. The Zebra Clan were very disappointed and the Gemsbok Elder gave up. Outside the perimeter, Phango was attacking Gemsbok and was soon able to enter past those gates. The Zebra Clan freaked out when they found out that Phango was near the opened gate, but was unable to enter before it was closed again and more branches were added and then taunted the zebras.

Khumba later left to get to the magical waters in which he could gain his stripes. Outside the perimeter, he meets a quirky opportunistic African wild dog named Skalk. Skalk agreed to get him to assist him in getting to the final destination in exchange for some water for him and his buddies. Khumba explained to him he had no water. When he led Khumba to his pack they were only interested in eating him, even though Skalk tried to tell them that he was their ticket to water. Though they don't listen and proceeded to attack him. But a motherly Wildebeest named Mama V interrupted and attacked the wild dogs and scared them off. Khumba then befriended her and her friend the paranoid eccentric ostrich, Bradley. Mama V and Bradley decided to help Khumba get to his destination after they heard his story. Soon after, Skalk left his pack.

Later, Phango encountered Skalk in a junkyard, after the dog's encounter with Khumba. He paws Skalk down and menaces him with threats to eat him. When Skalk mentions the half-striped zebra he met earlier, Phango violently strangled him. Skalk fled from his grip, but Phango insulted the wild dog by saying that he "scavenged so low on the food chain so he couldn't possibly see his power." Terrified, the wild dog revealed information about the half-striped zebra Khumba. Phango, maliciously intrigued because of his lifelong obsession with the legend, demanded to know where Khumba was last seen. Phango pawed Skalk down and forced him to tell him where the zebra's going, so Skalk did. Skalk said he's got a natural herbs and flowers, but he mentioned cat, which pissed off Phango, who grabbed him, when Skalk said that he tried to avoid that. Phango roughly let Skalk go, believing the wild dog to be beneath mighty hunters like him to eat.

Khumba, Mama V, and Bradley encountered rock rabbits who worshiped The Black Eagle. The Eagle told Khumba the story of Phango. The Eagle told Khumba the directions to Phango's cave.

Mama V tore up about her child, Elijah that Phango killed. Mama V and Bradley had a close confrontation with Phango when Bradley blurted out where he was going but he'll never find him.

He caught up with Mama V and Bradley in the Valley of Desolation, after they separated from Khumba. Phango chased them through the canyon, making a point of terrorizing and taunting them all the way, much to the horror of the traumatized Mama V. When he finally cornered the two on a ledge, he demanded information on the location of the half-striped zebra. Out of fear, Bradley accidentally revealed Khumba's intent to travel to Ngow Mountain — Phango's Cave, the location of the magic water hole — and Phango abandoned the hunt.

Phango realized that Khumba was heading for his cave and returned there. Mama V and Bradley realized he's heading towards Phango's cave. Discovering the map led to Phango's lair, the two fell out and decided Khumba should finish this solitary. Khumba was saved by the Gemsbok Elder. Mama V and Bradley become concerned and decided to turn back and warn Khumba.

When Khumba finally arrived ar the water hole alone, Phango was already waiting for him. As Khumba haf a moment of hesitation, the leopard revealed himself. Phango, while regarding drawings and stone etchings on the cavern walls of the prophecies, told Khumba of the prophecy that a half striped zebra would be born and would make one member of the leopard clan the most powerful leopard that ever lived. He explained that he killed his entire clan to have Khumba to himself. Phango then he charged at Khumba, who kicked some stones in Phango's eyes, causing the leopard to yell in pain and thus giving Khumba a head-start. Phango quickly recovered and chased after Khumba through the cavern, trying to terrorize the zebra just as he threatens everyone he encounters. In his reckless, desperate attempts to catch the elusive zebra, Phango knocks over several columns, causing the cave to begin to collapse.

As the chase continued, Phango gloated he will savor slowly eating Khumba after the chase and once eaten, Khumba will "complete him." Khumba tried to reason with Phango, saying that the leopard can't change what he is. Phango retorted that there was only one way to find out, and then jumped at Khumba, knocking them both underwater.

During their epic underwater battle, Phango head-locked Khuma's body to a rock while a large chunk of rock splintered it and cracked the walls of the cave. As he tried to drown Khumba, Phango suddenly had a traumatic flashback of the day he almost drowned when he was a cub, making him freeze. Taking advantage of the distraction, Khumba swam out of the water, stepping on Phango's blind eye as he did so. However, Phango quickly recovered and pulled Khumba down again, pinning him to a rock. As Phango prepared to strike a final deadly blow, a waterfall emerged and eventually a watering hole at the surface as the two started spilling out. The zebras, antelopes, and friends were gathered watching in suspense.

Phango soon cornered Khumba on a ledge. The zebra tried once again to reason with the leopard, but Phango once again refused to relent. He followed Khumba onto a loose rock and scratched his flank, but Khumba managed to kicked Phango in the face, disorientating the leopard. The rock teetered on the edge of the cliff, and Khumba, in an altruistic attempt to save his foe, tried to apply counter-pressure to the rock. Phango again tried to attack the zebra, causing to Khumba flinch and let go of the rock, sending the evil leopard to falling to his death into the gorge below, with two boulders crushing him, ending his threat and reign of terror for good.

Quotes

You can't keep them hidden from me forever, Mkhulu.
If it doesn't rain soon, you'll have to let them out.
What's wrong, Skalk? Abandoned by your pack?
~ Phango meeting Skalk
Give me one good reason. Go on. Give it your best shot.
As in heart still beating fresh.
Half striped? Finally, as it was foretold.
~ Phango strangling Skalk
I knew there is something different about him.
(Skalk: Half a zebra's better than nothing, right?) BETTER THAN NOTHING!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? You scavenge so low on the food chain, you couldn't POSSIBLY see his power!
~ Phango intimidating Skalk after the latter failed to capture Khumba.
Where is he? (Skalk: He was attacked. A herd of giant wildebeest. A pack of crazed ostriches.) Show me.
~ Phango interrogating Skalk.
Dog. Dog. Dog. All I smell is….Dog.
''DEAD Dog
~ Phango grabbing Skalk and throwing him
The Karoo maybe going to the dogs. But It doesn't mean I have to eat one. The heartburn is a killer.'
Where is he? It's no use running. Tell me where he is. Why don't you go right? No, the other right.
~ Phango interrogating Mama V and Bradley.
Oh, bad choice.
WHERE IS HE!?!?. He was WITH YOU.
There you are. (GROWLS) In the flesh at last.
~ Phango finally found his Khumba.
Phango: (upon cornering Khumba) But you're not the same, are you? They hardly get my pulse rate up. You are the one I've been waiting for. It was foretold that a half-striped zebra would be born, and make one of us the most powerful leopard that ever lived. But I KILLED my own clan so that I could have you. You I'd savor slowly. One stripe at a time.
~ Phango meeting Khumba at the cave.
YOU are the half. The half the world that will complete me! (Khumba: You can't change what you are, Phango!) There's only ONE WAY TO FIND OUT!
~ Phango before fighting Khumba in the water.
Surrender to your destiny.
~ Phango to Khumba.
(Khumba: Killing me won't make a difference, Phango.) But eating you will!
~ Phango in the final climax, also his last words.

Trivia

  • Phango is the second villain by Triggerfish Animation Studios, the first is Budzo.
  • Phango's name means "hunger" in Swahili, Xhosa, and Zulu.
  • In a way, Phango is a dark reflection of Khumba; they've both been shunned and rejected by their own species for being born different; Khumba for being half-striped, Phango for being half-blind. However, whereas Khumba still had his loving parents and a few good friends, Phango received no support or love from anyone, not even his own mother. Also, whereas Khumba is eventually able to accept being different and he can't change what he is, Phango does. So in some ways, Phango can be seen as an example of what Khumba might have become if he had never experienced love or friendship, or if he hadn't been able to accept being different.
  • Phango has more screen-time than the African wild dogs. They wanted to eat Khumba but Mama V defeated the wild dogs. It's possible that the wild dogs worked for Phango, but, despite the fact they were afraid of him.
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