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Cartoon Series that Deserve Their Own Movie
With the recent demise and rebith of the Ninja Turtles movie, the terrible reputation of the Transformers movies, and the inoffensive yet forgettable entry that was G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, it seems like cartoons are having a hard time becoming live action movies. It’s too bad, because who doesn’t like seeing their childhood series made real? But there are good ways to adapt our cartoons, and there are bad ways. Making Bumblebee a Camaro instead of a VW Bug? Good. Making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens? Bad.
Still, I’d hate to see this fad die so soon. In hopes of bringing some good adaptations to the big screen, I’m offering, for free, my suggestions to the Hollywood think-tank.
Gargoyles was the dark Disney cartoon. Where Aladdin and Bonkers were fun series, Gargoyles was more inspired by the Batman cartoon of the nineties. Since the titular characters were stone during the day, the series took place at night and benefited from it. These were monsters, out of time and place, learning to adapt to a new world with new rules. It could be intense, it could be sad, but it was most always good.
How to do it right: CGI monsters done with motion capture, like Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Give each of the gargoyles a decent personality that resembles their cartoon ones, but let the movie focused on Goliath and Elisa Maza.
How to do it wrong: Make the gargoyles aliens.
Centurions: Power X Treme
While G.I. Joe and Thundercats are the ones that people rave about, some of us remember Centurions: Power X Treme as the series to talk about. Three men; Max Ray, Jake Rockwell, and Ace McCloud wear exo-frames that give them control of assault weapon systems. Think Iron Man’s armor, only much more specialized. McCloud is the flight guy and his suit lets him fly, Ray is the water expert and is like a human torpedo. It’s a series about the fusion of man and machine and is under-appreciated by nostalgia goons.
How to do it right: Cool tech, awesome weapons, and intense action. This movie should put Iron Man to shame. We could spend time watching them develop the suits, but it would be better to start with the Centurions already established. Casting is imperative, since producers love casting cardboard cutouts in these movies.
How to do it wrong: The Centurions should be fun. Trying to make it too serious will hurt the movie more than help it. Let the action and characters pull us in, treat us with nuggets of science-fiction coolness, and leave the dark man and machine material to Robocop.
It’s strange that in the rush for cartoons to become movies, Captain Planet seemed to be ignored. Focusing on five teenagers who all have a different power ring and can summon an Earth elemental to fight pollution, this series has a lot going for it. True, it can be heavy handed when pushing for a “green” world, but it did it first. The Planeteers are great characters, even Ma-Ti. Plus, Wheeler’s ring shoots fire. It’s a show where a teenager has a miniature flamethrower to fight Eco-Villains.
How to do it right: This is a light hearted affair if there ever was one. Sure, it can get somber when dealing with pollution and deforestation, but it needs to be fun. We remember Captain Planet as a cool show, but we know it had bad jokes. The movie should play on that and even go all in with the villains. If the Planeteers aren’t fighting a bad guy named Hoggish Greedly, the movie is taking itself to serious.
How to do it wrong: Make Captain Planet an alien.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is actually based on a comic book called so it’s a one-two punch for adaptation. It’s a world turned upside down where humanity is just trying to make due, while dinosaurs have returned to roam the Earth. Think of it as a Land of the Dead but with dinosaurs instead of zombies. It has that cool post-apocalyptic feel to it and a great lead character, Jack Tenrec. Xenozoic Tales
How to do it right: This can be two movies; one for car nuts and one for dinosaur fans. In the same way Michael Bay’s Transformers show off its vehicles to almost pornographic levels, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs will have some cool wheels. Not only that, it would be the first big movie to feature dinosaurs since Jurassic Park. Work in some ecological warnings, a fun cast, and a big, third act stampede and you've got a summer hit.
How to do it wrong: Movies like Cowboys and Aliens and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are the warning. You can’t have a movie with a name like those and play it straight. Try to be too much like Jurassic Park or The Book of Eli and you miss the point.
Pirates of Dark Water
I didn’t even remember Pirates of Dark Water until I found it on Youtube a while back. As soon as I watched the intro, it all came rushing back. It’s Hanna-Barbera’s entry into the world of fantasy and continuity storytelling. The world of Mer is being covered by Dark Water and our heroes, led by Prince Ren, are on the hunt for the thirteen treasures that will save their world. The show was never finished, which is too bad when you rewatch the series.
How to do it right: Think Pirates of the Caribbean or the The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. True, it’s on a world where the water itself is looking to devour them, which will have some fun moments of escape, but it’s a pirate/fantasy movie. This might be the hardest to adapt, as pirate movies can be hit and miss. This one will need a clear concept and recognizable cast; otherwise it might go the way of John Carter.
How to do it wrong: Make the pirates aliens.
Which decade has your favorite cartoons?
The 90's are waiting...
I didn’t mention Batman Beyond because I brought it up already in one of my other articles, and I ran out of room for shows like SwatKats but there’s still a world of adaptations waiting to happen. Everyone wants the big five of the eighties; Transformers, Voltron, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, and He-Man, but those shows never impressed me. Let some lesser known and more charismatic cartoons show the world what they can do. Interestingly, aside from Centurions: Power X Treme my choices all hail from the nineties. Maybe the eighties aren’t where we should be looking anymore?