TOP 10 Potential Cartoon Remakes from the 1980s

I’m feeling nostalgic. I just found an article I wrote for my college paper The Roosevelt Torch. It’s my birthday today, so indulge me. I wrote this December 2, 2005. This is before we had Alvin, The Transformers or G.I. Joe on the big screen. This is also before I created TOP 7 lists, so there are ten choices. Again, it’s my birthday so you have to accept this.

The best of 1980s cartoon remakes

By Jeff Bayer

Hollywood likes the remake. This much we know. It seems fresh, interesting ideas are a rare commodity. Newsweek recently reported He-man, The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Transformers are all cartoons that are set to become live-action, big budget movies.

He-man failed once before with Dolph Lundgren but this time John Woo will be directing. Still, can the line “I have the power!” ever work? Michael Bay is directing The Transformers and it has potential. Special effects will make it look good and as long they focus on the Autobots and Decepticons and not whatever humans they include in the story, it should be safe.

I grew up on ’80s cartoons and there are list that could/should be made. There are obvious choices to stay away from which include “The Jetsons,” “The Snorks” and “Turboteen” (about a boy who becomes a car whenever he wants) but that probably won’t stop the studios from doing them anyway.

I have formed a list of perfectly good ideas, only using ’80s cartoons. All of these should get green lights before anyone is dyed blue and cast in The Smurfs.

10. Space Ghost
His wristbands shoot lasers and he had his own talk show for a while in the ’90s. The humor has to be quality and mainly of the quick-witted variety. Give Bruce Campbell the lead he finally deserves. The key would be direction, which I would hand off to Garth Jennings who proved himself with A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

9. Dragon’s Lair
It was a video game first, but then it became a Saturday morning cartoon. Dirk the Daring attempts to protect Princess Daphne from a fiery dragon. This is your standard knight and dragon story except for a key quality in the lead character – he is very clumsy. The physical humor would be perfect for Jim Carrey but we have all seen him do it enough. If Ed Norton wants to be in a blockbuster, it would do for him what Johnny Depp received for acting like a pirate. I’ll even let him direct it.

8. Mr. T
No, this has nothing to do with “The A-Team.” This is the show where Mr. T coaches a group of American teenage gymnasts. They travel to competitions and in their spare time capture criminals. If they don’t make it campy, and play it straight, there is tons of potential comedy in this idea. It can’t become “Scooby-Doo.” Best of all, Mr. T should be available for the starring role.

7. Galaxy High
Doyle and Aimee are two humans from Earth who attend a high school called Galaxy High in outer space. High school movies have stalled as of late and this could take them up a notch. The story would be typical stuff like popularity, jocks and nerds, except they are aliens which could lead to even better social commentary on our current schools. Casting doesn’t matter.

6. Gummi Bears
The Lord of the Rings proved that Orcs can look very realistic. This would be a film for kids but I think there are many twenty and thirty year olds that remember this cartoon really well. The key to this movie would be similar to The Transformers, a focus on the CGI characters and not the humans. George Lucas could be the producer. Actually he could even direct. He doesn’t like directing people and he really isn’t that good at making a movie for adults so maybe a focus on the kids would do him some good.

5. M.A.S.K.
This could be the easiest no-brainer on the list. It stands for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and they are a secret group who fight crime with specially charged masks and vehicles. J.J. Abrams could direct when he is done with MI: 3 and maybe bring Ben Affleck, as Matt Tracker, along for the ride. Affleck has made awful decisions, he is not a bad actor. It would be an action movie with Abrams typical humor thrown in. Tracker leads a team of specialists (kung fu, technology, disguise) against the evil forces of V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem).

4. Dungeons and Dragons
There is a large group of nerds who would start lining up tomorrow if this movie is announced. There is a hole now that LOTR is finished. This could help replace it. If you don’t remember the cartoon, it is about a group of kids that get sucked into another world. They are all given special powers (barbarian, cavalier, acrobat, ranger, thief and magician). There is a Dungeon Master (think Yoda) that helps them against sorcerers and monsters. Marc Ashton had to learn something while working with Peter Jackson on King Kong and LOTR. It could be his first as director.

3. Pitfall
Once again, the video game loop hole applies here. It was a short-lived cartoon as well. Pitfall Harry is a treasure hunter. The show also has his niece Rhonda along for the ride. Anyone else getting sick of waiting for another Indiana Jones? As long as they made it more like Jones and less like The Mummy it is a safe bet. The lead character and a basic action/adventure story are the crucial parts. For the lead, someone suave is needed like Don Cheadle (time for this man to get paid) but maybe even Kevin Bacon would work. And the niece could stay at home.

2. G.I. Joe
Give this one some time to sink in… The same people that gave us Ocean’s Eleven could do G.I. Joe. What was cooler than “G.I. Joe” when you were a kid? Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney and the others love working together and are great when redoing material, not so great when creating original material (Ocean’s Twelve). Here is the cast: Duke – Clooney. Flint – Brad Pitt. Cobra Commander – Andy Garcia. Scarlett – Julia Roberts. Cover Girl – Catherine Zeta-Jones. There are plenty of other characters to divide up with the rest of the cast; Destro, Zartan, Stormshadow and Snake-Eyes just to name a few. The main reason they should make this is because all trailers would only include “and knowing is half the battle” moments. They wouldn’t show any actual footage. It is tongue-in-cheek humor and just like the cartoon, plenty of red and blue lasers with no one getting killed.

1. Thundercats
Their planet has been destroyed and eight Thunderans escape to Third Earth. Lion-O becomes their new leader and though he has the body of a man, he has the mind of a child. Other characters include the children, Wilykit and Wilykat (both highly agile), Cheetara (very fast and armed with a staff), Tygra (can be invisible and armed with a whip), Panthro (mechanical genius and armed with battle sticks), and Snarf. Yes, Snarf is annoying but as long as he doesn’t reach Jar Jar Binks level, the audience will put up with him. The first film (there needs to be at least three) would focus on the new planet, Lion-O discovering his powers and leadership, and the climax would be Mumm-Ra finally awakening from his lair. Casting no-names, and focusing the dollars on the special effects and sets would be best. Pay Sam Raimi all he wants. The movie needs to be dark and have an edge.

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2 Comments

  1. CMF says:

    John Woo has long gone from the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (He-Man) reboot project, which has been from studio to studio and writer to writer for about 10 years now…

  2. daniel says:

    I don’t think Hollywood should keep cashing on our childhood. Hollywood screws all these remakes up so hard. To be honest with you the top 10 list is real weak, MASK was like a poorman’s GI JOE/Transformers, I hate Thundercats, it’s the same exact episode every damn time, it’s like the Zoolander of cartoons. The 10 I would do: 10. C.O.P.S. , 9. Beany and Cecil, 8. Captain N (about that kid that plays all the nintendo games), 7. Adventures of Johnny Quest, 6. Sky Commanders (mainly because those were the coolest toys ever), 5. That show, about that Prince kid from another planet that could catch comets in a net, 4. Centurions, and 3-1. JEM

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