Clarke My Words

ThunderCats are loose!

ThunderCats promotional image, courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation

Feel the magic, hear the roar, ThunderCats have been commissioned for a brand new run on Cartoon Network. Hmm, perhaps they should just stick with the original lyrics.

In keeping with the modern mania for rebooting old stories, this classic cast of characters have proven sufficiently marketable (presumably via DVD sales) and have been exhumed by Warner Bros. animation.

As you can see in the image above the ThunderCats have been given a stylish anime-style redesign. Studio4°C are the creative force behind the reboot, which is heartening as they have already demonstrated their considerable talents in The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight.

If you haven’t seen either of these outstanding animated feature films, shame on you. They’re both made up of a series of loosely connected short stories each made with a different animation style. As well as being a showcase for the studio’s stylistic range, the films also offer genuinely compelling stories, brilliantly told.

So far so good for the revitalised franchise. The Warner Bros. press release, as quoted by splashpage.MTV.com and blastr.com, promises a “sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes”

There also seem to be indications of a “darker” feel to the series, which would fit with Studio4°C’s modus operandi, and would explain this promotional image, which, for those who can’t bring themselves to click on the link, has more than a hint of 2000AD’s Sláine about it.

An interview with Michael Jelenic, producer of the show, on MTV’s Splashpage blog includes some interesting tid-bits on the topic. He talks about simplifications that have been made to the mythology of the show, “there’s something like three different planets involved, and they all converge onto one planet, and nobody’s really connected. I just wanted to bring that all together.”

This makes sense to me. Every character involved seemed to come from totally different planet/dimension (oh, how those writers loved their dimensions). The Mutants, for example, were bitter enemies of the ThunderCats but came not from another part of Thundera but from the amusingly named planet Plun-Darr, me hearties.

Some commenters on Blastr.com have complained about the youthful appearance of the rebooted Lion-O. I, for one, think this is a great idea. Lion-O was meant to be the youngest of the bunch (with the exception of the always-irritating Wilykit and Wilykat - more on them in a second) and his youth was constantly referred to as an obstacle to his being a good leader to the ThunderCats.

In the original series it was confusing that he looked pretty much the same age as rest but would occasionally whine about his age. It was explained away in the story line (damaged cryo-chamber, he aged a bit in the journey to Third Earth) but essentially the writers wanted to have their cake and eat it. A man-shaped Lion-O with a child’s personality.

As to Wilykit and Wilykat, I’ve heard no mention of these two idiots and am keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way. Funnily enough, despite mention of ThunderCats fans asking if Snarf will be in the new series, no such inquiry has been reported about this headache-inducing pair.

Brilliant, frankly. All they ever did was shout awful jokes with their horrible brassy voices, throw their deus ex machina capsules about and fall off their hoverboards. Another character the programme could probably have done without was Tygra but there he is with his classic bola whip and gun. Wait, gun?

It seems that a sure-fire way to crowbar some cool into this, the dullest character in cartoons, is to add a firearm. After all, who doesn’t look good with a gun? Maybe, instead of being the punning, shoulder-clapping blow-hard he was in the original series, Tygra will be a haunted, emotionally damaged, vigilante walking the thin line between justice and vengeance. We’ll just have to wait and see.

There’s no firm date for when the ThunderCats will appear, beyond “this year”, but as a man with an Eye of Thundera painting on his bedroom wall (it was a gift from my friend Haylee) I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled.

  • 28 January 2011
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