King Louie is a fictional orangutan who kidnaps Mowgli in Disney's The Jungle Book. He made his first appearance in the original Rudyard Kipling stories.
King Louie appears to be natural, but he just wants to be human; he is the classic misunderstood villain. He sings the song "I Wanna Be Like You" after he kidnaps Mowgli, and asks the boy to show him the secret of "red flower" so he can be human.
Appearances in other media
A slightly different King Louie character appeared in the Disney 1994 live-action Jungle Book movie starring Jason Scott Lee. Once again he is an orangutan, and the 'leader' of a group of monkeys that make their home in an abandoned human city. His name arises in this version from the vast wealth that humans left behind in the city, and in particular to his habit of wearing a crown similar in appearance to that worn by the King of France, Louis XIV.
King Louie did not appear in The Jungle Book 2 (though a shadow puppet of him can be seen at the beginning). His absence was primarily due to Louis Prima's widow, Gia Maione (aka Gia Prima), filing suit at Disney for unauthorized usage of her late husband's voice and persona in previous Jungle Book projects, such as Jungle Cubs (Jim Cummings, who provided Louie's voice in these projects, had done a near perfect job impersonating Prima's voice). So after Disney settled out of court, they have since refrained from using King Louie in any of their projects to avoid further conflict with Gia and her attorneys.
However, in one of the Disney TV Shows, House of Mouse, there is a King Louie look-alike orangutan who is referred to as King "Larry", and is said to be Louie's identical twin brother. It was to star King Louie, but had to be changed to Larry so as not to violate their agreement with Gia Prima. He also Made a Cameo Apperence in the Film Champitoons'' Along with the others Jungle Book Characters and Several of more Disney Movie Characters.
King Louie appears in the Fables comic series published by Vertigo comics. He is one of the revolutionaries who wish to overthrow the Fabletown government out of resentment at the apparent second-class status of non-human-appearing Fables. Due to his peripheral involvement, he is given a sentence of hard labor---twenty years, reduced to five years conditional on good behavior.
The characterization of King Louie has frequently been cited as an example of racial stereotyping in Disney films. Mark Plinsky, however concludes that, though the stereo typing does exist, that a child would not be aware of it.
- Bell, Elizabeth; Lynda Haas, Laura Sells (1995). From Mouse to Mermaid. Indiana University Press. pp. p. 92. ISBN 9780253209788. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pdCrF4JxKDIC&pg=PA92&dq=%22King+Louie%22. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Pinsky, Mark I. (2004). The Gospel According to Disney. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. p. 91. ISBN 9780664225919. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YGtbYTyulb4C&pg=PA91&dq=%22King+Louie%22. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Schiappa, Edward (2008). Beyond Representational Correctness. SUNY Press. pp. p. 65. ISBN 9780791474235. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WyZKNP2hMucC&pg=PA65&dq=%22King+Louie%22. Retrieved 2008-10-16.