Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

Eighties babies have been equally delighted and terrified to see some of their most beloved childhood television programs adapted for the big screen in recent years. From Transformers to Dragonball Z to The Last Airbender, Saturday morning cartoons have either made waves or sunk at the box office, and a slew of upcoming projects, from The Smurfs to Johnny Quest to Voltron, will follow. However, if I got to pick a few of my favorite shows for celluloid conversion, the slate would look something like this:

The Centurions

This was/is my single favorite program from my formative years. Starring the “Daring” Ace McCloud, the “Rugged” Jake Rockwell and the “Brilliant” Max Ray, The Centurions were a trio of tech-wielding warriors who tirelessly fought the cyborgs Doc Terror, Hacker and their faction of Doom Drones by air, land or sea using cutting edge assault weapon systems. Though the show first hit airwaves in 1985, its themes of both man vs. machine and man and machine (Power Xtreme!) are as relevant today as they ever were.

I envision a scenario that would take place in the near future, in which an entire generation of war veterans is kept alive through mechanized prosthetics. The maniacal Doc Terror (who would be played by Ciaran Hinds), wrought with anger over the failures and atrocities of his own government, weaponizes his and Hacker’s prosthetics and together they create an army of Doom Drones that wreak havoc on the cities of the world. Earth’s most powerful countries pool their defense funds to create a new breed of weapons systems and train some of the top soldiers on the planet to counter the attacks of the crazed Cyborgs and hence, The Centurions are born!

With three charismatic leading men in the fore mentioned starring roles and cutting edge filmmaking technology, The Centurions wouldn’t have to just dwell in the dark and often demented corridors of my memory; they could be the next generation of film heroes.

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  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron

If a production company wants to cash in on America’s crush on cats, avoid making Cats & Dogs 3 and try something different. Hanna-Barbera’s show about a pair of crime-fighting felines was the number one syndicated animated program of 1994 and amassed a rather large cult following thanks to its blend of humor and action.

The story followed Chance “T-Bone” Furlong and Jake “Razor” Clawson, who were members of Megakat City’s paramilitary law enforcement agency, known as the Enforcers. They constantly clashed with the Enforcers leader, the overbearing Commander Feral, who had them demoted to salvage crew after they crashed into and severely damaged the Enforcers Headquarters. Using discarded military parts and weapons from the salvage yard, Chance and Jake built themselves a three-engine jet fighter called the “Turbokat”, the “Cyclotron”, a motorcycle built into the jet and a slew of other combat vehicles that they used to defend the city against any and all threats.

With a plot that involves walking, talking cats that populate a modern, technologically advanced city, it’s safe to say that the SWAT Kats needs the kind of CG-3D treatment that has turned Monsters, Cars, Robots and Fish into screen icons. I liken the tone of the series to that of The Incredibles – always witty and even poignant at times – and that would make it easy for audiences of all ages to enjoy.

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  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

ThunderCats 

Many studios and filmmakers have tried to get a big budget ThunderCats movie off the ground, but even the likes of John Woo and Joel Silver couldn’t make it happen.

The property itself is ripe for a film series, complete with its own mythology, eclectic cast of characters and global fan base. The story follows the titular ThunderCats (cat-like humanoids) of the planet Thundera, who escape their dying home world and the onslaught of their sworn enemies – The Mutants of Plun-Darr – before landing on Third Earth and making the planet their new base of operations. The Mutants follow them to Third Earth, where they are recruited by the powerful Mumm-Ra who wishes to acquire the Eye of Thundera (the source of their power) and destroy the ThunderCats so that his evil might continue to hold sway over the planet.

Overall, it’s a classic good vs. evil story that, with proper casting, a balanced and intelligent script and a capable director, could make Michael Bay’s Transformers series look like an amateurish mess (wait, isn’t that what it already is?) I wouldn’t change a thing either – stick to the core characters Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro, Tygra, WilyKit and WilyKat, and Snarf and avoid the excesses of Mr. Bay’s ever expanding sci-fi franchise and a whole new generation of fans will supplement the millions who already love the franchise.

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  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

 The Pirates of Dark Water

Why is it that some of the best film franchises end up treading water by the end of its run? Sure, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean was a game changer, but by the time the crew of the Black Pearl had reached the World’s End, it seemed that all hope for a sequel deserved of the original had been lost. Nevertheless, the Mouse House is moving forward with a forced fourth film, but I find myself wondering why a rival studio hasn’t jumped on the pirate ship yet.

Warner Bros. owns the rights to one of the coolest pirate properties around. The Pirates Of Dark Water was a swashbuckling fantasy about a group of adventurers on a quest to collect the Thirteen Treasures of Rule, which combined possessed the power to stop an evil substance known as “Dark Water” from consuming the alien world of Mer.

Where Jerry Bruckheimer’s bloated film series failed, The Pirates Of Dark Water would succeed. The biggest problem with the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and co. was that, after the first film, the characters motives were unclear as the story tail-spinned in a dozen different directions. The heroes of Mer, though often driven by personal goals, are united in a single quest to save their planet by scouring the seas to find the Treasures of Rule and it’s this central objective that, like destroying the One Ring in LOTR, would carry The Pirates of Dark Water to box-office glory.

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  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies


Gargoyles
 

I’m sure that many of you reading this article saw the gothic cinematic possibilities within this epic animated series, produced by Walt Disney Television, from it’s very first episode. More than any other cartoon from the eighties and nineties, this wonderful program incorporated self-contained mythology, a strong moral core and a lovable cast of both light-hearted and stoic characters that have the kind of broad appeal that will bring the whole family to movie theaters.

The series features a clan of nocturnal creatures known as Gargoyles that turn to stone during the day. The show focuses on a particular band led by a gargoyle named Goliath. This tribe lived in medieval Scotland, where they helped protect a castle. One day they were cursed by a wizard to remain in their stone form until their castle “rose above the clouds.” In the present day, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the Gargoyle’s castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper. The castle, having thus “risen above the clouds”, causes the gargoyles to wake from their spellbound slumber. In addition to dealing with the gargoyle’s attempts to adjust to modern life, the series also incorporated various supernatural threats to their safety and to the world at large.

Based on the show’s high level of quality and its rabid fan base (so widespread, in fact, that a convention called the Gathering of the Gargoyles was launched in 1997 and ran annually until last year), I believe that a live-action trilogy is in order. I’d go with performance-captured Gargoyles, so someone please get Andy Serkis and Doug Jones on the phone right away. And since the producers have always been able to wrangle great vocal talents for their characters (including Ed Asner, Keith David and nearly the entire cast of Star Trek: TNG) I don’t think it’d be a problem to get today’s A-listers to lend their voices.

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  Six Cartoons That Should Be Movies

 Defenders Of The Earth

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a failed opportunity to make a bunch of classic literary heroes and villains relevant again. Sure, it wasn’t as bad as many of you probably remember, but there’s definitely no reason for a sequel. Instead, I think a new team of costumed all-stars is due for their own blockbuster.

The Defenders Of The Earth was a group comprised of various old-school crusaders, including Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar and the children of these respected heroes. Together, they battled Ming the Merciless and other arch-villains who threatened mankind every Saturday morning in 1985.

Marvel and King Features Entertainment produced the short-lived series, so while we impatiently wait for Marvel’s own team of superheroes to hit the silver screen, I think the company should simultaneously develop The Defenders into a thrilling live-action adventure. My take on the material would require the youngsters to be benched and, in their place, I’d throw in a couple of other popular heroes from the Golden Age – maybe The Shadow and The Spirit (as long as Alec Baldwin and Frank Miller are kept far away from the project). Together, there’s no crisis that they couldn’t handle. The biggest hurdle that filmmaker would have to overcome would be to erase previous cinematic versions of these characters from our collective conscious…and that theme song…

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