Ten Nostalgia Cartoons That Should Be Movies
I've been feeling a little nostalgic these days. Remember Ecto Cooler? Remember Gak? These were, sadly enough, defining cultural milestones in the life of many people in America, and while we've all grown up, we still look back fondly on an era of crass commercial sell-out cartoons that existed almost exclusively to sell us toys. Incidentally, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is in theaters now. It's better than the last G.I. Joe live-action movie. That's not saying much.
The beautiful thing about nostalgia, from a capitalist perspective, is that the kids who grew up loving 1980s and 1990s cartoons have by now grown up and started having toy-mongering kids of their own. Or, if they haven't "grown up," they're still buying toys and cartoons exclusively for themselves. That's why movies like Transformers and G.I. Joe are such big blockbusters. Kids want to see them, and parents aren't going to say no, because they want to see them as well. They're arguably not as good as the original series – G.I. Joe: The Movie is still marginally better than any of the live-action installments – but the potential for good stories is still there, and the series themselves have a built-in appeal that makes studios more like to take chances on making them. The odds of a big budget movie about little blue people fighting Hank Azaria will get made increase exponentially if you call it The Smurfs.
But Hollywood seems to have gotten pretty stagnant with ideas for nostalgia cartoons to turn into big budget blockbuster movies. The obvious ones, like G.I. Joe and Transformers, have already been taken. There's a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie in development right now. But the 1980s and 1990s were rife with cartoon series that not only have the potential to make money, but also have a lot of potential to make a good movie. In the interest of feeding the movie industry with good ideas for a change, CraveOnline has put together a list of Ten Nostalgia Cartoons That Should Be Movies. Some of these shows were hits, some of them were bombs, but they all have the potential to entertain new generations if done right.
That's a big "if" obviously.
“M.A.S.K.” is one of many 1980s cartoon series that are better remembered for their toys than the actual TV show itself, but man, those toys were cool. The acronym “M.A.S.K.” stood for “Mobile Armored Strike Kommand,” complete with a sigh-worthy misappropriation of the letter “K,” so perhaps it’s not meant to be adapted into a very serious movie. The heroic agents of M.A.S.K. use high-tech vehicles that transform into other vehicles – motorcycles that turn into helicopters, for example – to fight off an enemy organization called V.E.N.O.M., which of course stands for “Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem.”
Okay, “M.A.S.K.” would need a lot of massaging to be taken even remotely seriously nowadays, but there’s a lot of potential here for an action-packed thrillride (with endless merchandising opportunities, naturally) with a story that’s certainly no worse than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. With a little luck, it might even be as fun as Battleship. And with a lot of luck, it might even make more money than Battleship.
“Dinosaucers” ran for only one season in 1987, and if it looks like just another “Transformers” knock-off, that’s because it was. The series was about a group of teenagers who encountered an alien race of anthropomorphic dinosaurs who have crashlanded on Earth, and repeatedly fight off their mortal enemies The Tyrannos, led by a humanoid Tyrannosaurus named Genghis Rex. The stories were simple, and the characters were largely forgettable, but the image of anthropomorphic dinosaurs is such a fun one, and the implication that every child’s favorite giant monster managed to escape extinction into the stars, is bound to put a smile on everyone’s face. With a great concept, the promise of memorable special effects and a storyline that nobody considers too sacred to adapt into something fresh and different, “Dinosaucers” could make an excellent summer tentpole release, if not necessarily a high-minded, brilliant film.
“Freakazoid!” was a TV series years ahead of its time. The idea was that Dexter Douglas, nerd computer ace, was zapped into cyberspace and had the entirety of the internet downloaded into his brain. He was transformed into a superhero, but the enormity of all the pop culture references made him mentally unstable, albeit good-natured and heroic. “Freakazoid!” ran from 1995 to 1997, years before the internet became the predominant cultural force on the planet, and would probably be more marketable and relatable now than ever before.
But would it be funny? “Freakazoid!” boasted a madcap sense of humor that would be hard to duplicate, and a living cartoon concept that Hollywood tends to turn into unintentionally disturbing family fare like Son of the Mask and The Cat in the Hat. Add in the fact that superhero comedies tend to bomb amongst mainstream audiences no matter how good they are, and you’ve got the potential for a movie that could be great, and should be great, but might be too challenging for a studio to adapt faithfully. We’d still like to see it though.