- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of the hyena trio from the 2019 movie. The mainstream version can be found here: Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.
|“||Kamari: Friends, huh? I thought you said we were "revolting scavengers".
Azizi: Yeah! That you wanted to kill us.
Shenzi: There's only one true thing you ever said, Scar: a hyena's belly is never full.
|~ Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi turning against Scar for his betrayal against them.|
|“||Now this is a meal I've waited my whole life for.||„|
|~ Shenzi's most famous quote.|
They are a trio of vicious spotted hyenas who serve as Scar's minions after he formed an alliance with them to kill his nephew Simba and brother Mufasa in order to become the king of Pride Rock. Shenzi serves as the matriarch of the Hyena Clan and later Scar's assistant while Kamari and Azizi serve as her lieutenants and right-hand men. They are also based off their original incarnations.
Shenzi was voiced by Florence Kasumba, Kamari was voiced by Keegan-Michael Key (who also played Alpha Wolf in Storks, Pupa in Let's Be Cops, SkekZok in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and Gustafson in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) and Azizi was voiced by Eric Andre (who also voiced Luci in Disenchantment).
Meeting Simba and Nala
The hyenas first appeared when a young Simba and Nala visit the elephant graveyard against Mufasa's orders. Being aware that Simba is Mufasa's son and true heir to the throne, Shenzi orders her lieutenants Kamari and Azizi, alongside their clan, to slaughter the cubs. Mufasa's majordomo Zazu tries to prevent this by telling Shenzi that killing Simba and Nala would cause the hyenas to start a war with Mufasa. Shenzi replies that hyenas and lions have been at war since the beginning of time, but Mufasa's bloodline would end. Though Kamari and Azizi are able to get their fellow hyenas to surround the lion cubs, their chance is foiled when Mufasa arrives by fighting off the hyenas after being alerted by Zazu. Mufasa then issues a warning to Shenzi that he will come for her and her clan if they ever come near or harm his son and his friend again. Not wanting to incur Mufasa's wrath, Shenzi fearfully obliges and watches as Mufasa and Zazu lead Simba and Nala away from the graveyard.
During the night, Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi were met by the arriving Scar, who happens to be Mufasa's brother. They initially attempt to eat him at first beliving him to be another lion from Pride Rock, but Scar confesses that he was the one who tricked Simba and Nala into entering the graveyard as he intended to have them fed to the hyenas. Scar also states that he has a plan to dispose both Mufasa and Simba so that he can be the new king, and convinces the hyenas to join him in exchange for having free rein of food in the Pride Lands, as he states that a hyena's belly is never full. Finding Scar's proposal to be fair, Shenzi and the hyenas accept the proposal.
Taking Over the Pride Lands
As part of Scar's plan to kill both the king and prince, Shenzi, Kamari, Azizi and another unnamed hyena attack a massive herd of wildebeests and chase them into a vast gorge, putting Simba's life at risk. Scar also lures Mufasa there, where he murders his brother by knocking him into the gorge to his death, where he is trampled by the stampeding wildebeests. After banishing Simba by framing him for Mufasa's death, Scar orders the hyenas to kill him. Though the hyenas are able to catch up to Simba, the lion cub falls off a cliff while the hyena close to catching him falls to its death. Oblivious to the other hyena's fate and believing that there may be a chance that Simba may have survived the fall, Shenzi orders both Kamari and Azizi to go down and find Simba's body before leaving. However, Kamari and Azizi are unable to do so as the cliff is too steep and decided that there is no way that Simba could've survived such a fall before leaving. As such, they lie to Scar and Shenzi that they went down and ate Simba. Unknown to the hyenas, Simba actually survived by hiding behind a ledge before leaving the Pride Lands out of shame for his father's death.
With both Mufasa and Simba gone, Scar takes over as the new King of the Pride Lands, and allows Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi to bring their clan into the Pride Lands to have their free hunting reign, much to their delight. As the years go by, the Pride Lands becomes a barren wasteland due to the hyenas' overhunting under Scar's leadership. When Scar asks Mufasa's widow Sarabi to become his mate, Sarabi refuses by stating that she will never be the mate of a selfish lion. This prompts Scar to furiously declare that the hyenas will eat before the lionesses, leaving the latter to have little to no food, much to the hyenas' delight.
Eventually, a young adult Simba returns to Pride Rock (alongside Nala, Zazu and his new friends Timon and Pumbaa) and reveals himself to the lions and hyenas. This makes both Scar and Shenzi (along with the other hyenas) realize that Kamari and Azizi had lied about Simba's death. With the other hyenas staring at them for their lie, Kamari and Azizi bow down in shame. Eventually, Simba is able to trick Scar into confessing that he was the one who murdered Mufasa to the other lionesses. With the truth exposed, Scar orders the hyenas to kill Simba and the lionesses. Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi attack Simba once their fellow clan members begin to overwhelm him, but Nala pushes them off, saving Simba.
During the battle as Pride Rock is being engulfed by fire, Shenzi faces off with Nala. Shenzi confesses that she's been waiting years for another attempt to eat Nala, but the latter declares that the fact she is no longer a cub anymore. The two fight and despite Shenzi holding her own for a while, Nala eventually manages to throw the hyena queen off of Pride Rock to her presumed death. In the meantime, Kamari and Azizi try to take down Zazu while he is pecking and clawing at them, but Rafiki arrives and saves him by beating both of them and the hyenas down with his staff. Meanwhile, Pumbaa and Timon, having been used by Simba as live bait to distract the hyenas earlier in order to let him and Nala sneak into Pride Rock, are cornered by another group of hyenas, but after Pumbaa is insulted when they call him "chubby", he declares that he dislikes bullies and beats up the hyenas with his tusks in a fit of rage, causing them to retreat in terror.
When Simba corners Scar on the top of Pride Rock, Shenzi (who is revealed to have survived the fall), Kamari and Azizi pursue them to help their leader, but when they witness Scar attempting to frame them for Mufasa's death, denouncing them as 'revolting scavengers' that he intends to kill, they angrily leave to inform the other hyenas about what they heard. Simba won't have any of it, stating that Scar manipulated the hyenas the same way he manipulated him and proceeds to battle his uncle, eventually sending the latter to fall off Pride Rock to his presumed death.
Although Scar survives the fall, he is soon met by Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi, who have rounded up their remaining clanmates. Scar tries to win them over, stating that in time they will build a huge army that will be able to re-take the Pride Lands. Kamari and Azizi angrily confront Scar by revealing that they overheard his attempt to double cross them by calling them revolting scavengers and that he was going to kill them. Realizing the hyenas are turning against him, Scar tries to talk his way out of the situation claiming that he was only trying to fool Simba and that they can still reclaim the Pride Lands. Shenzi coldly appears from the ashes and states that while everything Scar said was a lie, he was right about only one thing: A hyena's belly is never full. Cornered and outnumbered, Scar desperately attempts to fight off the hyenas as they attack him, but is quickly overwhelmed and devoured alive. It is unknown what happened to Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi afterwards, but it's implied that they escaped along with their remaining clan from the Pride Lands after killing Scar.
Shenzi is the largest and strongest of the hyenas. She has sharp, clear, hooded dark brown eyes, a heavy spotted coat pattern, a broad but slender muzzle, a particular long, orange mane, and a distinct forehead marking somewhat resembling a crown, marking her as queen of the hyenas.
Kamari is the smallest and skinniest of the hyenas, being noticeably shorter in height and thinner in build. He has large ears, a distinct light and dark-spotted coat pattern, a rather angular forehead, and a bald patch on the top of his head.
Azizi's appearance is in between that of his leader and his companion; he is larger, stockier and stronger than Kamari, but still slightly smaller and weaker than Shenzi. He is the largest male hyena in the film. Compared to Kamari, his muzzle is somewhat broader, his mane shorter, his coat darker, his ears slightly smaller, and his forehead much less angular. Azizi also has a large chunk missing from his left ear.
Shenzi is a cold, cunning and ruthless leader who is willing to do almost anything to ensure the survival of her clan. Unlike her subordinates, she never tells a joke and hardly ever laughs, although she does chuckle at Simba's attempt to command her. Shenzi harbors a deep hatred for Mufasa and lions in general due to the ancient rivalry between her kind and theirs, though she does also fears and grudgingly respects Mufasa, acknowledging that she and her clan are no match for him. Despite this, Shenzi is no coward, as she boldly takes on a fully-grown Nala despite the latter being both larger and more powerful. Shenzi is also capable of forgiveness despite her ruthlessness, as although Kamari and Azizi lied to her about Simba's fate, despite knowing of the threat he could grow to be, she shows no visible anger and even allows them to travel with her when they hear Scar's confession. Despite her hatred for lions, Shenzi soon agrees to work for Scar when he promises her clan free reign of the Pride Lands. She remains loyal to him throughout his reign, seemingly supporting his every decision. However, after Scar betrays the hyenas by trying to blame them for Mufasa's murder, she does not hesitate in ending their alliance and ordering her clan to kill him, even joining them in doing so.
Kamari is crueler, smarter and more cunning than his partner Azizi, but less than his leader Shenzi, whom Kamari holds a deep fear and respect for. He is constantly annoyed with Azizi due to the latter constantly invading his personal space. Despite his respect for Shenzi, Kamari has shown that to avoid potentially falling to his death, he has no issues lying to her about Simba's fate, though he does show shame once she and the other hyenas discover his deception. But despite this, he is shown to value loyalty, as once Scar reveals his intent to double-cross his clan, he has no issues being one of the first to attack the treacherous lion. He also has a sarcastic, albeit slightly malicious sense of humour, mockingly asking if Simba and Nala would stay for dinner while preparing to kill them. This is again shown when after being knocked off of Pride Rock and being confronted by the hyenas, Scar reassuringly calls them friends, only for Kamari to mockingly remind the lion of his statement that Kamari and his kind were "revolting scavengers".
Azizi is the least intelligent of the lead hyenas and the goofiest (although not to an extent of his animated counterpart) . This is shown when he fails to understand Kamari's jokes and constantly invades his personal space (though the latter claims he does it on purpose). Like Kamari, he has no trouble lying to Shenzi, despite his respect for and fear of her, to avoid potentially falling to his death, though like Kamari, shows shame once their deception is discovered. Like his fellow hyenas, once Scar reveals his intent to betray them, Azizi is perhaps the angriest over the lion's treachery. While Kamari and Shenzi keep a calm, if not mocking tone, Azizi makes no attempt to hide his rage, and once Shenzi gives the order, is the first of his clan to attack the traitorous lion.
- There are several differences between Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi and their original counterparts:
- While the hyenas are presented as comic relief in the original film, Shenzi is the only one presented in a more menacing role as she acts as the de-facto leader of the hyena clan (which is accurate considering female hyenas are leaders of their clans in real life) while Kamari and Azizi retain their sense of humor. Even so, the hyenas are generally depicted as more dangerous than comical in comparison to the original film; director Jon Favreau and actress Florence Kasumba themselves acknowledged this, as the former felt that the trio's original personalities didn't match with the film's vision.
- Ed only laughs while Azizi is capable of speaking.
- The hyenas were friends with Scar in the original film. But in the live-action film, they never met Scar until he came to them for help in his plot. Likewise, while in the original film the first time the hyenas faced Mufasa directly was when they tried to devour Simba and Nala (not counting most of the franchise's early literary material, which is often disregarded as non-canonical due contradictions with further stories), in the remake it's implied that Mufasa, along with Zazu, at least knew about Shenzi, because he referred to her by name, hinting that they may have met before. The novelization of the film reveals that Simba had heard about Shenzi before meeting her.
- The hyenas in the cartoon questioned Scar's reign due to shortage of food and water (to which he completely ignores), but in the live-action film, they actually supported him due to him making good on his promise by personally overseeing their hunts and allowing them free rein of food.
- While the three mostly acted as equals in the original, here Kamari and Azizi are both subordinates to Shenzi and are visibly afraid of her.
- Due to the film acknowledging the true nature of hyena clans unlike in the original, it is unknown why Shenzi keeps Kamari and Azizi, two males, as her lieutenants rather than other females, as in a real-life hyena clan, the lowest-ranking female would still outrank and (most of the time) be stronger than the highest-ranking male.
- A running gag in the movie is that Azizi and Kamari argue about personal space.
- Kamari was the first role Keegan-Michael Key played in a Disney live-action remake. He will next play Honest John Worthington Foulfellow in the upcoming live-action remake of Pinocchio for Disney+.
- It has been recently confirmed that a sequel to the 2019 live-action remake of The Lion King is currently in the works. As such sequel has been stated to explore the origins of Mufasa, there may be a chance that Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi will make an appearance as well and possibly reveal how Mufasa came to know about Shenzi at least, as the film implies that they had met before. Furthermore, it is possible that the sequel will reveal whether or not they survived the fire.