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- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Shere Khan from the 2016 movie. The mainstream version can be found here.
|“||Shere Khan: Does my face not remind you of what a GROWN man can do? Shift your hunting grounds for a few years, and everyone forgets how the law works. Well, let me remind you; a man-cub becomes man, and man is FORBIDDEN!
Raksha: What do you know about law?
Raksha: Hunting for pleasure. Killing for power. You've never known law. The cub is mine! Mine to me. So, go back to where you came from, you burnt beast!
|~ Shere Khan showing his scars and expressing his hatred for mankind, before Raksha stands up to him by revealing the true personality of the evil tiger.|
Shere Khan is the main antagonist of the 2016 Disney live action film The Jungle Book, a remake of the 1967 animated classic.
He is a notorious, fearsome and scarred Bengal tiger who serves as the tyrannical king of the jungle and is obsessed on killing the man-cub Mowgli due to him having a vendetta against mankind after getting his face burned which blinded his left eye and gave him facial scars. He also serves as the most feared animal of the jungle as well as the one responsible for Mowgli being adopted and raised by Bagheera and the wolf pack in the first place. He is based off his original incarnation with the same name.
He was voiced by Idris Elba via motion capture, who also played Colin Evans in Good Deed, Russell "Stringer" Bell in The Wire, William Roque in The Losers, Krall in Star Trek: Beyond, Brixton Lore in Hobbs & Shaw, The Commandant in Beasts of No Nation, Macavity in Cats, and Bloodsport in the upcoming 2021 film, The Suicide Squad.
Shere Khan first appears during the drought, when the animals gather to drink during the Water Truce from a watering hole where the animals maintain a truce not to attack each other while quenching their thirst. Upon scenting Mowgli, he threatens to kill him as man is not allowed to live in the jungle. He also shows the scars on the left side of his face as proof of the man's cruel and destructive nature and issues a warning that when the Water Truce ends and the Peace Rock disappears, he will come for the boy and that the wolves should decide how many of their own kind they would be willing to sacrifice to protect a man-cub. He then leaves afterwards.
This causes Akela and his wolf pack to debate whether to have Mowgli leave the jungle or not, resulting Mowgli to leave the wolf pack with Bagheera to head over to a near-by Man-village. But Shere Khan ambushes them en route through a buffalo herd and fights Bagheera. He severely injures Bagheera and chases Mowgli, who manages to outrun him with the aid of the stampeding buffalo. Shere Khan returns to confront Akela's pack and demand Mowgli be turned over to him, throwing Akela off a cliff to his death shortly after learning that Mowgli is on his way to the Man-village. He then takes control of the wolf pack, deducing that Mowgli will return when he learns the news.
During Kaa's attempt to hypnotize and devour Mowgli, she reveals that Shere Khan himself is responsible for Mowgli being found by Bagheera as he killed Mowgli's father (an event that left him with his facial scars and undying hatred for humans). While reigning as the pack's leader, Shere Khan tells stories to the wolf pups about the other creatures of the jungle (in particular, a cuckoo, which preys upon the love of other mother birds in order to deposit its own egg into their nest, starving them while benefiting its own chick). He directs his story at Raksha, citing her love for Mowgli as a sign of weakness. When Raksha asked why Shere Khan is doing this, he states that he wants Mowgli dead and that he'll be waiting when Mowgli returns.
When King Louie informs Mowgli of Akela's death, Mowgli returns to confront Shere Khan at the Water Truce with a burning torch stolen from the Man-village, but accidentally starts a forest fire in the process. When he sees how all the animals of the jungle cower in fear at the sight of the fire he holds, he throws away his torch into the water, allowing Shere Khan to attack him, only for him to be confronted by Baloo, Bagheera, Raksha and her pack, who cite their code as they defy him. Shere Khan attacks regardless, saying he will have them all in his teeth before fighting Baloo, the wolves and Bagheera, who give Mowgli enough time to run to the burning jungle and build a trap for the tiger.
Shere Khan eventually catches up to Mowgli on a dead strangler fig tree and chases him into it, although not knowing he has been lured into the boy's trap. There, he confronts Mowgli and mocks him by saying that he never would allow him to grow old while that he will kill him as he killed Mowgli's father and Akela, mockingly asking how much longer the man-cub thought he would last against him than they did. Mowgli replies that he is not afraid of Shere Khan and is done running from the tiger, tricking Shere Khan into pouncing at him before swinging away to safety. However, the branch Mowgli was standing on is too weak to hold Shere Khan's weight and it snaps, causing the tiger to fall to his death into a fiery pit below, avenging Akela and putting an end to Shere Khan's reign of terror in vain. Mowgli, with the help of the elephants, later puts out the wildfire by using an irrigation system, saving the jungle.
|“||Bagheera: You don't understand. The boy is in danger.
Baloo: I know. He told me. He's being hunted...By a tiger.
Bagheera: Not any tiger. Shere Khan.
Baloo: Shere Khan's hunting him?
|~ Baloo and Bagheera speaking about Shere Khan's threat.|
This incarnation of Shere Khan is far more ruthless, manipulative, cold, and monstrous than his original counterpart. He is much less affable and polite than his original counterpart and is actually shown killing both a man and animal whereas his original counterpart never killed anyone.
Like all of his past counterparts, Shere Khan possesses an immense and irrepressible hatred for humanity.
Shere Khan at first sight pretends to rescind the law of the jungle by demanding that Mowgli leave the jungle or kill him himself but that was obviously pure hypocrisy, because when Mowgli wanted to use a burning pelt against the tiger, Shere Khan used this same law for all the animals including the pack to turn against Mowgli, forcing even the Man-cub to abandon the torch. Instead of being impressed, Shere Khan just described with a grim smile Mowgli's gesture of stupidity, showing that Shere Khan does not care about any law and is ready to use the honor of others against themselves. Another example is when Raksha calls him out for hunting for pleasure and killing for power, he simply puts his grim smile instead of trying to defend himself and his point of view.
Despicable and ruthless individual, this tiger is known to hunt only for pleasure, to inspire fear, killing for power and to make anyone who dares to stand up to him suffer. This can be seen when he kills Akela for not doing what he says or trying to turn the cubs against Raksha with a mix of history and manipulation. The terrible reputation of Shere Khan is enough that all the animals present during the truce shrink back in fear with each step of the tiger.
He is utterly violent, bloodthirsty, and savage, so he mostly enjoys antagonizing and harassing Mowgli by not only gloating about him being a human but also gloating about his father's death as well as Akela's demise. He is attempting to make Mowgli afraid of him, and he briefly succeeds, but it does prove that the fear of him is what gives him the stage and the power to control the animals in the jungle.
As Mowgli confronted him and said that he is no longer afraid of Shere Khan, he roared on him, most likely because this claim made him angrier as Mowgli is taunting him and his power. A similar thing happened earlier, when Raksha stood up to him and called him "burnt beast", Shere Khan furiously growled at her.
Powers and Abilities
Powerful and fierce, Shere Khan is a very strong tiger both physically and mentally. In terms of physical strength, Shere Khan is undoubtedly one of the strongest creatures in the jungle, capable of defeating Baloo in a relatively short time, repelling the pack with a few powerful blows, defeating Bagheera and freeing himself from the wolves' assault successively and without getting tired. Shere Khan also has a muscular and solid body, capable of absorbing multiple hits and bites without too much damage. One of the things that can seriously hurt Shere Khan is fire. Like all tigers, Shere Khan has powerful fangs and claws, handy for wounding or killing. He can also climb trees thanks to his claws. Despite his blind eye, this does not hamper his fighting skills. Besides his physical abilities, Shere Khan's best weapons is his wicked spirit and his ability to cause fear among all the creatures of the jungle.
This portrayal of Shere Khan by Idris Elba is heavily praised.
Cath Clarke of Time Out compared this Shere Khan to Scar from The Lion King, calling him "baddie of the year". Matt Zoller Seitz of rogerebert.com also had high praise for Elba's portrayal of Shere Khan stating: "His loping menace is envisioned so powerfully that he'd be scary no matter what, but the character becomes a great villain through imaginative empathy. We understand and appreciate his point-of-view even though carrying it out would mean the death of Mowgli."
- Unlike his original incarnation:
- This version of Shere Khan has little fear of fire.
- He is a manipulator.
- He is the ruler of the jungle.
- Appears at the beginning instead of appearing towards the end and learns directly the existence and the name of Mowgli. He also directly threatens the life of every wolf if they attempt to protect Mowgli.
- Has scars and a blind eye.
- Doesn't act like a gentleman to hide his evil nature, despite remaining faux affably evil.
- Is more of a wild and deadly beast.
- Has scenes with Bagheera and the wolf pack and has no scenes with Kaa.
- He is responsible for the death of Mowgli's father and Akela. The original Shere Khan didn't kill anyone (At least not on the screen).
- He dies at the end of the first film.
- He is also much stronger as he was able to defeat Baloo, Bagheera and the wolf pack in combat.
- This version of Shere Khan is the second Disney villain to die falling into fire, the first was Judge Claude Frollo.
- In the novelization The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack, Shere Khan goes an extra mile in his evil ways once he kills a jackal for begging for scraps of food in return for his information on Mowgli's whereabouts-despite the fact that said information turned out to be useful.
- Shere Khan taking control of the pack is likely based on the original novel when he urged the young wolves to take Akela's place. The difference is that while his original counterpart only divided the pack and pitted the wolves against each other, Shere Khan directly killed Akela in front of the wolves, thus subduing them with fear.
- It is the second version of Shere Khan to have facial wounds, the first was Shere Khan Shonen who was cut to the left eye by Mowgli. The original Shere Khan and the 2018 version of Shere Khan had a crippled paw from birth.
- Although he is a Bengal Tiger, his musculature combined with his size and his imposing figure makes him more similar to a Siberian Tiger.
- One of the only things he really shares with his original counterpart is his reputation as a feared vicious predator in all the jungle. Something that the first Shere Khan, the Rudyard Kipling's incarnation and that gave birth to all the exciting incarnations of the tiger, never owned.
- If Mowgli had stayed on the dead tree branch and Shere Khan had caught him, they would both fall into the fire and die together.