Banagi is a hyena who appeared in two screenplays of The Lion King written by J.T. Allen and Ron Bass. He was written to be the mastermind behind Scar's pursuit for the throne, and is the prince and leader of the hyenas.
In the concept artwork, Banagi resembles very much an actual spotted hyena; he has gray fur, black spots and an equally black face. His eyes are burning amber. In the January 1990 script, Banagi is described as having yellow eyes and a hump on his neck. In the May 1990 script, Banagi is given the description of having the demeanor of a Venetian ambassador.
Much like the current Scar, Banagi is a master manipulator, using sweet words and charm to win allies. He does not tolerate insubordination, and is quick to strike down anyone who rebels. He is very cowardly and does not like to fight his own battles, but manipulates those stronger, but also stupider, than him.
This hyena is ever calm and even, never raising his voice even when angered, annoyed or offended. In the earlier scripts, he is not as composed, and instead greedy and panting like his underlings, but still smart enough to manipulate Scar.
The Lion King
In J.T. Allen's script for The Lion King, Banagi first appears when he tries to attack Simba and Nala. The cubs run in different directions, and Banagi runs after Nala. Simba goes after the hyena until Kwashi, Mufasa, and Zazu arrive to scare off Banagi.
After seeing Scar (a rogue lion) attacks Sarabi, Mufasa arrives to challenge the rogue, and defeats him. Zazu escorts Scar out of the kingdom, and there, Banagi compliments Scar on the fight. Angered over his defeat, Scar wishes to kill Banagi, but Banagi persuades him not to volunteering to serve as his allies to which Scar is pleased with. Later that night, Banagi tells the other hyenas about the plan to kill Mufasa, and is convinced that Scar is too dumb to turn on them. The next day, with newly found confidence in his new hyena army, Scar marches with Banagi to Pride Rock. Mufasa charges at them, and Scar, Banagi, and the hyenas quickly overwhelm him killing him in the process. After being told to run by his mother, Simba flees with Baasho and the hyenas in hot pursuit of him. After an encounter with Herr Rhino, the hyenas continue to pursue the prince, but Simba escapes them after falling on a dead tree branch.
With Scar as the new king, Banagi and the hyenas quickly feast on the resources of the Pride Lands. When the resources begin to diminish, he forcibly harasses the lionesses to hunt for more food. Also, tensions between Scar and Nala erupt with Banagi telling his puppet king that Nala is the reason why the lionesses are rebelling against him. Nala runs away from Scar until she runs into Simba. When Simba returns with new allies, a fight ensues. There, Banagi leads the hyenas to help Scar, but they disperse when baboons throw rocks at them from the trees. After Scar is defeated, Simba banishes Banagi and Baasho to the desert, and the two hyenas run for their lives.
King of the Beasts
|“And I've become intrigued with your strength, your single-mindedness, your...regal bearing”|
|—Banagi flatters Scar|
In Allen and Ron Bass's script for King of the Beasts, Banagi is known as the prince of the hyenas. In the script, he is discussing with Baasho over whether to keep a disobedient hyena in their pack. Their discussion is interrupted when Simba is being attacked by a warthog. Banagi and the hyenas save the young prince, and when Mufasa arrives, he demands the debt for the rescue of his son to be paid. In return, the lionesses of the Ndona pride hunt down a kudu, and Mufasa flatly gives the hyenas what's left of the kill. The hyenas accept the offer, and feast on the kill until Scar, a rogue lion, arrives. A brief fight between Mufasa and Scar erupts, with the latter leaving. Impressed by the rogue's strength, Banagi begins to plot to use Scar to kill Mufasa.
Later that night, Baasho alerts his leader to Scar's presence, and Banagi attempts to persuade Scar to agree with his plan. At first, Scar is not interested, but when Banagi reveals the numerous hyenas that were hiding at the top of the ridge, Scar slowly smiles and Banagi begins to tell him about his proposition. The next day, Baasho lies to Mufasa that Scar is holding Banagi captive, and that he wishes to fight him at the fire tree bridge. At high noon, Mufasa confronts Scar, and fights him. When Scar begins to lose the battle, Banagi and the hyenas come to Scar's aid angering him who wishes to fight Mufasa alone. After Scar defeats the king, Banagi orders the hyenas to attack Simba, and not return without his tail though Baasho fail to kill the prince. With Scar as the new king, Banagi complains about Scar being around Nala too much, and plots to get rid of her. Daabi, an aardvark, overhears the conversation, and warns the young lioness. Nala runs away, and the hyenas proceed to go after her. At a forest of fervor trees, a returning Simba finds Nala, and escape the hyenas. The next morning, Nala approaches Scar at a riverbank that a new lion wanting to face him in a fight at the fire tree bridge. Banagi arrives overhearing the conversation, but is told by Scar to not arrive at the fight. Scar then orders the hyenas to escort Nala back to Pride Rock, where Nala tries to fake a fight. Meanwhile, Zazu arrives, and the hyenas go after him to see the fight defying Scar's orders. At the fire tree bridge, Scar is angered that the hyenas arrived, but Banagi tells him he couldn't help but to watch the fight.
After Simba defeats Scar, the victorious prince asks Banagi to face him. Along with the other hyenas, Banagi attacks Simba, but they are quickly defeated. Baasho and the remaining hyenas decide to not fight Simba, and bow down before him.
- Although Banagi (a male) is written as the leader of the hyenas, in reality, a hyena pack is led by a female, just as Shenzi does in the finished film.
- It is possible that Banagi was the inspiration for Janja, the main antagonist of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar as like Banagi, Janja is a male hyena who is leader of his clan.