Tarzan v. Mowgli: An Analysis

Recently, we were reminded that the Disney-verse has two jungle-dwelling, raised-by-animals individuals, Mowgli and Tarzan. We started wondering: was their experience the same? How did they each get there? What happened to them? Clearly, we had to re-watch both movies and find out just how similar (or different) these two “man cubs” really are:


Origin Story
It seems like both boys had bad experiences with boats. Tarzan’s family was in some kind of boat wreck and fire, and Mowgli was found alone in a basket on a boat. Unlike Mowgli, Tarzan still had his parents… until Sabor interfered. Mowgli was discovered by Bagheera, who took him to be raised by wolves, and Tarzan was adopted by Kala, after she lost her own son to Sabor.
Baby Mowgli The Jungle Book


Both Mowgli and Tarzan are happy-go-lucky children, seemingly without a care in the world. We take this to mean they are extra happy, since they actually should have lots of cares in the jungle. Lots. We won’t go into it, but note the previously mentioned evil leopard, Sabor.
Tarzan Diving
Mowgli and Baby Elephant The Jungle Book


Both man cubs have good friends, but other animals do make fun of them for being different. They get equally bummed out over this.
Child Tarzan
Sad Mowgli The Jungle Book


Tarzan essentially devotes his life to becoming the best gorilla ever, and even winds up as the leader of the entire family. Mowgli was technically raised by wolves, but he’s more of a friend than one of the pack.
Tarzan and family
Mowgli and Wolf Pack The Jungle Book


We don’t really need to spell this one out… Tarzan is a lot stronger and more physically intimidating. He is older, but we bet child Tarzan could defeat child Mowgli, if it came to blows.
Tarzan swinging on vintes
Mowgli Climbing The Jungle Book


They both have some troubling primate encounters (excluding Tarzan’s actual family of gorillas).
Baboons in Tarzan
Mowgli Fighting Monkeys The Jungle Book


Big Cats
Big cats are also not amazingly friendly towards either man cub, with the exception of Bagheera.
Sabor Tarzan
Sher Khan The Jungle Book


Mowgli can’t compete with Tarzan’s strength, but they could go toe-to-toe in bravery. Nothing much can scare these guys… we bet they’d even go on Tower of Terror, if pressed.
Tarzan with Spear
Mowgli and Sher Khan The Jungle Book


Mowgli’s fighting skills leave something to be desired (until the fire scene at the end), but Tarzan is king of the jungle.
Tarzan fighting
Mowgli Combat The Jungle Book


Stage Presence
Mowgli can sing and dance with the best of them. Tarzan tries… but he just doesn’t have the natural entertainer essence that Mowgli possesses. (Maybe Tarzan needs to hang with Baloo for a while?)
Tarzan and Jane Dancing
Baloo and Mowgli Dancing The Jungle Book


The Ladies
Tarzan’s love for Jane almost takes him back to London, and Mowgli is drawn to the village by the girl fetching water. The verdict? These guys are major softies when it comes to the females.
Tarzan and Jane
Village Girl The Jungle Book


The End
While they wound up with opposite destinies (Tarzan and Jane stayed in the jungle and Mowgli went to the man village), they both ended up exactly where they belonged. Tarzan convinced his new family to stay in the jungle, and Mowgli followed his heart to join the other humans in the village.
Tarzan and Jane End of Tarzan


Which man-cub is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

Posted 7 years Ago
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