Beyoncé, the person who declined to audition for the role of Princess Tiana, is finally a Disney princess (and eventually, a Disney queen). In the new computer-animated Lion King, the singer’s character spends about 20 minutes onscreen, including silent shots of Nala running around the Pride Lands. (Exactly 18:51, if you trust my stopwatch skills, but even I can’t vouch for them.) During those minutes, Beyoncé the human, the superstar, is inescapable. She sounds like she’s from Texas and every time a line even vaguely comes off like a song lyric, my bush-baby brain started playing it in my head. Here’s every little thing Beyoncé as Nala does in The Lion King — titled according to which Beyoncé song each conjures.
When we first meet grown-up Nala, she is begging Sarabi to fight for the Pride Lands after Scar has run them to ruin. She’s an insurgent, she’s ready for the revolution, and she’ll break chains all by herself.
So, she leaves Pride Rock in the dead of night, almost getting caught by Scar but convincing the dutiful Zazu to distract the king for her. Nala left a note in the hallway. By the time Sarabi reads it, she’ll be far away.
After traveling long and far (actually, time is sort of nebulous in the movie — I have no idea how long it’s been), she encounters some delicious warthog to eat, straight-up ignoring the fact that the warthog is doing a beautiful rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” She’s the titular character! Politely smile and clap like Beyoncé does at awards shows, Nala. Chasing Timon and Pumbaa leads her to Simba. They fight just like old times and she’s pins him, just like how Beyoncé bodies Jay-Z on every track they’re on together.
“Simba, we need to leave,” she tells the defector, hoping that he’ll return to Pride Rock with her and defeat Scar. But no. That no-good, grub-eating scrub declines. If she were a boy, even just for a day, well, they wouldn’t be in this situation.
They tour Simba’s new home, and maybe it has something to do with the waterfall, seeing each other after such a long time, or their adolescent animal instincts to procreate, but Nala and Simba fall in love. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” featuring Beyoncé plays over the scene. “You have to come home. We’ve really needed you. You’re the king,” she implores. He says no. “I guess I made a mistake,” she says, which is really how every single instance of chasing after a man ends. She is literally crying and deserted, but he doesn’t care.
While heading back to the Pride Lands, presumably choreographing her own version of Lemonade in her mind, Simba catches up to Nala and the chorus of “Spirit” rises. Now Simba knows that if he tried that shit again, he’d lose his wife.
The team assembles and when Simba asks Nala if she’s comfortable with the danger, she cackles: “Danger! I laugh in the face of danger!” She’s dangerously in love as we speak!
“Are you with me, lions?” she yells to the lionesses with all the force of “Azul, are you with me?” from “Mi Gente” and “Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.” It’s also the rallying call the Beyhive hears every time someone says something slightly negative about the queen. Gotta give it to “Formation” because it’s a song about black women going hard to fight oppression and that’s basically what this scene is.
Nala battles the previously indomitable hyena, Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), who tried to eat her as a kid. But this time she’s a grown woman. She can do whatever she wants. She’s a grown woman. “I’m not a cub anymore!” she yells.
And for the rest of the film, her computer-animated shell is pretty quiet, appearing to comfort Simba. Then, in a flash-forward, she and Simba present their child, Blue Ivy, to the world. They went through hell with Heaven on their side and now they’re all happy and in love. Until the Lion King 2 live-action movie, of course. All we can hope is that we get a Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen Lion King 1½ to soften the blow.