|“||You have the word of Bagheera.||„|
|~ Bagheera's most iconic catchphrase|
Bagheera is a wise black leopard, a friend among many in the jungle and a "second father" to Mowgli, the man cub. He is the tritagonist of the 1967 animated Disney film The Jungle Book, a supporting character in the 2003 sequel, The Jungle Book 2, and one of the protagonists of its TV prequel Jungle Cubs.
The Jungle Book
Bagheera was the one who discovered Mowgli as a infant alone in the jungle. He could not raise him himself, and brings him to a family of wolves who just had puppies. The mother agrees to raise him but Bagheera was unsure if the father, Rama would. Rama sees the baby smile and agrees to raise him as his own pup. Bagheera helped raise Mowgli, taking him to the jungle and learning about it. Mowgli considered himself a wolf of the jungle but Bagheera knew that she would have to follow the ways of man someday. That day came when the wolf pack learned that Shere Khan, the tiger had returned and if he learns of Mowgli being in the jungle, he would kill him. Rama had no choice but to let him go but Bagheera suggested he'd be taken to a man-village and volunteered to take him there.
Of course, Mowgli did not want to go but Bagheera was determined to bring him there. They encountered Kaa the python and Colonel Hathi and his band of elephants along the way and almost got killed by them. After several failed attempts to get Mowgli to leave, Bagheera gave up and left him. Mowgli met Baloo and the two became best friends very quickly. Bagheera didn't approve the friendship but did not see any harm to it. When Mowgli gets captured by King Louie and his monkeys, Baloo and Bagheera go and rescue him but got injured in the process.
Later that night, while Mowgli slept, Baloo and Bagheera talked it out about the current situation. Baloo believes Mowgli will be fine in the jungle but Bagheera reminds him of Shere Khan's return and Baloo knew that the tiger would not rest until Mowgli was dead. Bagheera asks Baloo to persuade Mowgli to go to the village to which he hesitantly agrees. When he suggests to Mowgli that he should go, Mowgli became furious and runs off, leading the two animals to search for him.
Bagheera heard Colonel Hathi nearby and asked for his help. Hathi had no recollection of Mowgli and the panther had to remind him again. Unbeknownst to Bagheera, Shere Khan was nearby overhearing the conversation and began to search for Mowgli himself. Hathi refused to search for the man-cub but his wife, Winifred threatened to overthrow him if he does not help find him. For the sake of his own son, Hathi agrees and splits his herd into small groups and had them search all over.
Shere Khan found Mowgli but so did Baloo and Baloo tried to keep the tiger away from Mowgli. Shere Khan had the upper hand and injured Baloo. Mowgli found a branch caught on fire and scared Shere Khan away with it. When Bagheera arrived, she found Mowgli distraught over Baloo's death. She gives a powerful and touching eulogy about Baloo and leaves his body be. Baloo was not dead and asks Bagheera to continue talking about him, which angers Bagheera. Mowgli sees a girl nearby, falls in love with her and follows her into the man-village. Bagheera was glad that Mowgli went to the village and Baloo was sad. Baloo decided to make Bagheera and her new best friend and the two walk off singing "The Bare Necessities".
The Jungle Book 2
In the second film, Bagheera's role is not as big. He is first seen watching in sympathy as Baloo dances with a dummy version of Mowgli. Bagheera's sympathy turns to fury as Baloo makes way for the Man-Village in an attempt to get Mowgli. Bagheera halts him over a fallen tree bridge, telling Baloo that he needs to leave Mowgli in the man village, as his future lies with his own kind, and that it's not safe for him to be in the jungle due to Shere Khan searching for the boy, bent on revenge. Baloo, however, thinks he can protect Mowgli from the tiger and avoids Bagheera having him result to Plan B: Colonel Hathi and his troops. They create a giant wall to block Baloo, but the bear manages to escape through swimming underwater. Bagheera orders the troops to search but they're too bumbling to succeed.
Later on, Bagheera is taking a walk through the jungle when Hathi and his troop come stampeding in his direction. They cram into a cave with Bagheera with them. Hathi informs Bagheera that man is in the jungle. By spying on them in the cave, Bagheera learns Mowgli is missing and immediately finds Baloo guilty. He pays a visit to Baloo but Mowgli is nowhere to be found. Oblivious to Bagheera, Mowgli is hiding in a close range. Baloo convinces Bagheera that he hasn't seen Mowgli and Bagheera departs, suspicious, however. Near the end of the film, Bagheera is continuing his search for Mowgli when he witnesses another man-cub, Mowgli's adoptive brother Ranjan, riding atop Baloo's shoulders. He goes to investigate to find that Mowgli is being pursued by Shere Khan at that very moment.
The follow leads to a hidden temple. While Baloo goes in to rescue Mowgli and his friend Shanti, Bagheera waits outside and watches over Ranjan. After Khan is defeated, Bagheera reunites with Mowgli and meets Shanti who is actually the girl that lured him into the village in the first film. Mowgli, Shanti, and Ranjan rejoin their village. Bagheera is proud to see Baloo letting Mowgli go but becomes suspicious as Baloo's sorrowful frown turns into a clever grin. Soon after, it is revealed that Mowgli, Shanti, and Ranjan are now allowed to visit Baloo and Bagheera in the jungle. Bagheera is last seen being chased by Ranjan, who enjoys playing with his tail, and rides atop Bagheera's back with his friends as they sing "The Bare Necessities".
- In the Russian dub of the film, Bagheera's gender was swapped due to the fact that the Russian word for "panther" is considered feminine. Bagheera also appears as a female in the Soviet animated version. In The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story, Bagheera is also a female.
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