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Mayor Lionheart
Okay, Officer Hopps; let's see those teeth.
~ Lionheart promoting Judy Hopps as part of the ZPD.

Mayor Leodore Lionheart (simply known as Lionheart) is a major character and an anti-hero from the 2016 Disney animated feature film Zootopia. As his name suggests, he is the mayor of the eponymous city.

He is voiced by J.K. Simmons who is best known for voicing as Ford Pines from Gravity Falls and Kai from Kung Fu Panda 3.

Background

Leodore Lionheart is the 52nd mayor of Zootopia, having served as a City Hall councillor prior to being elected. As the head of the city, Lionheart serves as a mighty ruler, with genuine pride in the unique community that is Zootopia, primarily in its diversity. As mayor, Lionheart has one particular goal in mind: to ensure all mammals are given a chance to live their dreams, coining the phrase which Judy Hopps lives by, "In Zootopia, anyone can be anything". To do so, Lionheart enacted the Mammal Inclusion Intuitive, an act which provides all animals with high-ranking opportunities to ensure equality among the predator and prey citizens. This was met with controversy, specifically with Chief Bogo, the head of Lionheart's police department, but even so, Lionheart was one of the few characters in the film to never show any sign of bigotry, instead judging mammals by their character, rather than their species, and was notably annoyed by those who did otherwise.

He is often accompanied by his deputy mayor, Dawn Bellwether, whom he treats more along the lines of a secretary and a stooge, despite the hefty amount of work she puts into assisting him. Unknown to Lionheart, Bellwether holds a fierce grudge against him due to his treatment of her, and she secretly plots to someday exact revenge by taking over his position as mayor.

Personality

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. However, he is willing to go to illegal lengths to achieve these goals, establishing that, despite his nobility, he is not devoid of negative traits.

He is strictly intolerant of incompetence, especially during urgent matters. When angered, Lionheart becomes an imposing figure, using his size and ferocious lion image for intimidation, which makes him a feared individual to those who work closely enough with him to witness this side. This can be seen with Chief Bogo who, despite being against some of Lionheart's political decisions and in fact harboring a certain amount of animosity towards him, refrained from doing anything to upset the latter, even becoming visibly anxious when his name is mentioned.

This is also seen with Lionheart's treatment towards Bellwether, whom he treats with little respect, though their relationship is not purely black and white. When with Lionheart, Bellwether appears to suffer from anxiety, somewhat, possibly due to her dislike for predators, or perhaps because of the huge amount of work she receives. As a result, she can often fumble, which occasionally annoys Lionheart to the point of lashing out, going as far as to calling Bellwether derogatory names, making him seem cruel and cold to his inferiors. Nevertheless, Lionheart at least makes attempts to keep his temper, and show compassion towards those who assist him. At one point, when ordering Bellwether to take care of other matters while he tends to something more important, he does so gruffly, but somewhat sympathetically adds "please" to his demands at the end, in response to his own roughness. Later on, Bellwether reveals that Lionheart made an effort to actually get her a gift, though it was merely a mug labeled as "World's Greatest Dad" with the "Dad" bit scribbled and replaced with "Assistant Mayor" through a marker. It seems Lionheart isn't the best in handling too much at once, and can be rather neglectful towards other needs as a result.

However, 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, though he refuses, alluding to his fear of losing his job as a result of prey citizens (the majority of the populous) revolting against having a predator as their mayor.

Lionheart tends to justify his negative traits by claiming them to have been done for the greater good. Though he is truthful in this regard, this probably indicates that he sees no harm in committing illegal acts if it's for the sake of something he values.

Film Role

Lionheart is first introduced during the graduation ceremony of Judy Hopps, from the Zootopia Police Academy; a success that he credits to have been produced by his Mammal Inclusion Initiative. Judy's impressive record prompts Lionheart to assign her to the highest precinct in the department, located across from City Hall at the heart of Zootopia. 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 sanity and become mindlessly aggressive, violent and "savage". The cause of the outbreak is 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 establishing a base at the old Cliffside Asylum, and assembles a team of elite wolf guards to patrol the city and imprison the savage mammals where they are subject to painful expairiments to find out what is happening to them. Scientist Dr. Madge Honey Badger was hired to oversee the expairiments. The entire operation was purposely kept under wraps, an illegal practice, though Lionheart's fear of civil unrest, should citizens learn the truth, keeps him from announcing the situation to the city.

The situation also takes a toll on Lionheart's mental health, with his temper more unruly than usual, and unintentionally taken out on Bellwether. He orders his assistant to cancel his afternoon to allow him time to visit the asylum for updates (though the latter half remained confidential), and that night, he aggressively confronts Dr. Honey Badger on her failure to find a cure, despite the predators having turned weeks prior. Honey Badger suggests that biology may be to blame, implying her belief that the predators are simply reverting back to their primitive instincts, and that the best thing to do is tell the public. Lionheart rejects this idea, knowing the balance between predator and prey would be destroyed by fear should the word get out, while also expressing concerns over his position, as the rapid distrust towards predators, such as himself, could easily ruin his reputation. Just then, Lionheart hears a phone's ringtone go off nearby, and evacuates the area, as Badger alerts the guards. The spies were Judy and her accomplice, Nick Wilde, who inform Bogo of Lionheart's operation.

The asylum is subsequently raided, while Lionheart is arrested. As Bogo escorts him to the patrol car, Lionheart tries to explain that he was trying to help the city, though Judy unsympathetically accuses him of only caring for his job and nothing more. Lionheart warns Judy of the danger that the savage outbreak holds, and if a cure is not found, it could lead to the destruction of Zootopia; his words are neverheless dismissed and he is subsquently imprisoned and 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 discrimination and prejudice flooding the city. As more predators become victim of the infection, the state of the city worsens, though Lionheart is now powerless to stop it.

In the end, however, it is revealed that the predators were not turned savage through "natural instinct", but through a serum created by Bellwether's henchman, Doug the ram, from unique flowers called "night howlers", in her scheme to get all predators alienated from the city and usurp Lionheart. When informed and interviewed on the matter, Lionheart explains that he had no knowledge of Bellwether's plot, but fully confesses his crime of illegally imprisoning the savage predators during his confidential mission to protect the city, confidently declaring it to have been done for the "right reasons".

Despite this, he remains in jail since he technically is still a criminal as he was involved with illegal experimentation and jailing.

However, it was revealed that he was released from custody and became once again the mayor of Zootopia.

Trivia

  • Lionheart's inspiration is Mufasa, the father of Simba who is the protagonist of The Lion King.
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