- “In Zootopia, anyone can be anything!”
- ―Lionheart's slogan
Lionheart is a large, imposing lion with golden brown fur. He has brown eyes, a large black nose, and a big chin with whiskers. Lionheart wears a pale blue business shirt and a red tie; over this he wears a deep blue business suit. Lionheart is able-looking and muscular, with a wide chest and strong paws with white claws. If is clear he carries himself with dignity and pride, showing off his magnificence with every step, from his long, lashing tail to his thick, golden mane.
Lionheart is a rather controversial figure. He generally presents himself as a charming, noble and inspiring leader. His will to ensure all mammals are treated equally within his city supports this, as his goals are primarily focused on keeping his citizens, and the city itself, safe. Lionheart is willing to do whatever it takes to keep city life running smoothly, coining the phrase which Judy Hopps lives by: "In Zootopia, anyone can be anything", and enacting the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, an act which provides all animals with high-ranking opportunities to ensure equality among the predator and prey citizens. In addition to his nobility, Lionheart was one of the extreme few individuals in Zootopia to never show any signs of bigotry, instead of judging mammals by their character rather than their species, and was notably annoyed by those who did otherwise.
However, Lionheart is not devoid of negative traits. Though his main goal was to keep Zootopia safe, he was willing to do almost anything to achieve these goals, even if it meant committing illegal acts. When predator mammals start going savage, Lionheart takes the issue of solving the problem into his own hands by ordering a team of elite wolf guards to capture those gone savage and keep them imprisoned until a cure can be found, purposefully keeping the entire situation under wraps as a means to avoid civil unrest, an illegal practice. Furthermore, his success can be attributed to his affirmative-action styled policies and espousing equality. This could be considered a lip-service, as outside of his noble public persona, he is a proud and boisterous career politician that displays a certain amount of pompousness and sarcasm, as well as impatience, intolerance and disregard towards his inferiors. This can be seen with his deputy mayor Dawn Bellwether, whom Lionheart treats more like a secretary and a stooge than an actual assistant mayor, and his head officer Chief Bogo who, despite being against some of Lionheart's political decisions, refrained from doing anything to upset the latter, even becoming visibly anxious when his name is mentioned.
Despite his nobility, Lionheart's actions were not always out of pure selflessness; he appears to care greatly about his own reputation, and in fact, many of the decisions he made were done at least partly to secure his position as Mayor. This was a partial reason for creating the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, as creating opportunities for prey meant winning the favor among the majority of Zootopia. This was also a partial reason for his illegal imprisonment of the savage predators; during the confidential operation, Lionheart is directly advised to come forward due to the urgency of the situation, but he immediately refuses, expressing his fear of losing his job as a result of the prey citizens (the majority of the population) revolting against having a predator as their mayor.
Lionheart tends to justify his negative traits by claiming them to be done for the sake of the greater good. Though he is truthful in this regard, this probably indicates that he sees no harm in doing something illegal if it's for the sake of something he values.
Role in the Film
Lionheart first appears during the graduation ceremony of Judy Hopps from the Zootopia Police Academy, praising her as his first police officer to be a rabbit. Judy's impressive record prompts Lionheart to assign her to the highest precinct in the department, located right across from City Hall at the heart of Zootopia. However, when Assistant Mayor Bellwether starts talking to Judy on stage, Lionheart rather rudely pushes Bellwether aside and takes photos with Judy. Unbeknownst to Lionheart, his head officer, Bogo, disapproves of the mayor's decision to add Judy as a member of the force, but begrudgingly abides out of fear.
Meanwhile, Zootopia faces a crisis: various predator mammals across the city have lost their sanity and become mindlessly aggressive, violent and "savage". The cause of the outbreak has yet to be discovered, with Lionheart being one of the only citizens to have knowledge of this. He takes the issue of solving the problem into his own hands by assembling a team of elite wolf guards to patrol the city and capture the savage animals, imprisoning them in an old asylum on the outskirts of the city, where Dr. Madge Honey Badger is stationed to find a cure; the entire situation was purposely kept confidential as a means to avoid civil unrest, making it an illegal operation. Over the span of two weeks, a total of fifteen savage predators occupy the asylum, and uncovering the mystery behind their disappearances becomes the top priority at the ZPD.
The situation also takes a toll on Lionheart's mental health, with his temper more unruly than usual, and unintentionally taken out on Bellwether. With his afternoon cleared curtesy of his assistant, Lionheart visits the asylum for updates, only to find that the cause of the outbreak is still unknown. Frustrated with the delays, Lionheart aggressively confronts Dr. Badger on her incompetence, to which the latter response by hypothesizing the outbreak to be linked to "biology". She points out that the only animals going savage are predators, implying that they may be reverting back to their primitive instincts. Badger then advises Lionheart to inform the public of the dire situation, but the mayor refuses, knowing the balance between predator and prey would be broken out of fear should word get out, while also alluding to his own personal insecurities, as the rapid distrust towards predators, such as himself, could easily ruin his reputation. When asked about Chief Bogo's thoughts on the matter, Lionheart admits that Bogo is being kept in the dark. Just then, Lionheart hears the ringtone of a phone and removes himself from the scene while Badger alerts the guards. The spies were Judy and her accomplice, fox Nick Wilde, who recorded Lionheart's admission and argument with Dr. Badger. The pair subsequently informs Bogo of the not-quite-legal operation.
The asylum is raided that night by the ZPD, and Lionheart is arrested along with Dr. Badger. As Bogo and Judy take him away, Lionheart protests his innocence, explaining that he was trying to protect the city, though Judy unsympathetically accuses him of caring for his job and nothing more. Lionheart warns Judy of the danger that the savage outbreak holds, and if a cure can't be found, it could lead to the destruction of Zootopia; his words are nevertheless dismissed, and the disgraced mayor is subsequently removed from office. Bellwether, meanwhile, rises to power in his place.
Unfortunately, Lionheart's fears prove to be correct. The news that predators are the only mammals going savage causes citywide panic, with prey mammals developing a heightened fear of predators, who in turn face direct discrimination and injustice. Over time, many more predators fall under the mysterious affliction, leading to public attacks, though Lionheart is now powerless to suppress it.
In the end, however, it is revealed that the predators were not turned savage through "natural instinct", but through a psychotropic drug concocted by Bellwether's henchman from unique flowers called "Night howlers", in her scheme to get all predators alienated from the city and usurp Lionheart. Due to Judy's heroism, Bellwether is arrested and removed from office, while the savage predators are successfully cured of their afflictions. When informed and interviewed on the matter, Lionheart explains that he had no knowledge of Bellwether's plot, but fully confesses to having illegally imprisoned the savage predators, confidently declaring it was a "classic, 'doing the wrong thing for the right reason' kind of a deal".
Despite this, he remains in jail, as he is last seen reading a Fancy Cat Magazine behind bars during Gazelle's concert. However, despite his previous intense fear of losing his reputation, Lionheart now appears rather unfazed by his fate.
However, as shown in the sequel comic, Skunk Appreciation Parade, he is later released from prison and reinstated as Mayor.
Role in Literature
While not having an actual role in the book, Lionheart makes a cameo on the Zootopia Express, along with his niece, Dandy. Ernie, who thought that Dandy had his Jumbo-pop, is disappointed to see the lioness cub and her uncle.
Mayor Lionheart begins the first annual Skunk Appreciation Parade by cutting a ribbon with a giant pair of scissors. Later in the comic, Nick Wilde snatches the scissors out of Lionheart's paws to help Gazelle on her runaway float.
- Lionheart is the 52nd mayor of Zootopia.
- According to The Essential Guide, Lionheart likes "voters and a happy atmosphere in the city" and dislikes "losing elections".
- Lionheart's position as mayor originally went to Mayor Swinton in early versions of the film.
- Lionheart is the only lion in the film to not have a generic character model.
- Lionheart claims that he invented the slogan "anyone can be anything". However, according to young Judy Hopps, the founders of Zootopia invented this slogan. It's possible that he adopted the slogan to earn himself voters. However, this is questionable, considering the fact that the filmmakers have directly stated that Lionheart "coined" the slogan.
- Lionheart has small scars on his nose; in real life, a male adult lion would obtain these scars from fighting with other lions over territory and pride members.
- When designing Lionheart, Disney animators looked to and got inspiration from Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King. It is also possible that certain features about him, such as his name, personality and appearance, were also inspired by King Richard the Lionhearted from another Disney film, Robin Hood.
- Lionheart's first name is a combination of "Leo" and "Theodore".
- Lionheart having the aid of Bellwether is most likely a reference to the Biblical passage "The Lion and the Lamb".
- At the Cliffside Asylum scene, Mayor Lionheart and Dr. Madge Honey Badger talk about the savaged animals. Dr. Madge mentions biology and Lionheart responds, "What do you mean, 'biology'?" In the Junior Novelization, which is also a deleted scene, he responds, "Biology, doctor? Spare me!"