Eight cartoon-related film adaptations that should happen


Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Need proof? Well, yesterday we reported that Illumination Entertainment is developing a Woody Woodpecker movie. Not too long ago, we also mentioned Popeye was returning to the big screen in 3D and CG. No one was clamoring for either of these, but then again, no one was pining for The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, or The Flinstones and we got them anyway. They even managed to turn a profit through some unknown deviltry. On the other hand, people did clamor for Transformers and GI Joe, and even though I don’t care for those movies, the franchises have been wildly successful.

This has all made me think of cartoons I’d want to see adapted for the big screen. Maybe they won’t have the same draw power as The Smurfs (which is a ridiculous thing to write), but there are a lot of other people whose fond memories of their childhood favorites haven’t faded.

Here’s a list of eight cartoons or cartoon-related properties that I think deserve a film adaptation or have been overdue for a new film.

Danger Mouse

Even though I never saw the full-run as a kid (a problem that still has to be remedied), Danger Mouse was one of my favorite shows at an early age. The eyepatched rodent super spy was inspired by Patrick McGoohan’s show Danger Man, so maybe my childhood enjoyment of Danger Mouse was just a precursor for my eventual super-fandom of McGoohan’s The Prisoner. There’s been speculation about a possible revisit with DM and his hapless hamster sidekick Penfold, but no one’s made it happen yet.


DuckTales was also another favorite growing up, and years later I’d get into Carl Barks’s incredibly inventive Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics, a number of which inspired episodes of the show. It’s been 21 years since DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, and it’s high time that Scrooge, his nephews, Wendy, Launchpad, and the rest of the gang embark on another search for untold quintillions. Heck, bring Darkwing Duck into the film too. Let’s think big and adventurous tales of wonderment and derring-do, just like Uncle Scrooge taught us.

Krazy Kat

Thanks to reprints and enthusiasts, George Herriman’s surreal slapstick comic strip remains an influential cult favorite. Marked by its absurd sense of humor and artistic unpredictability, the strips center on Krazy Kat’s infatuation with a brick-hurling mouse named Ignatz. Numerous animated shorts of Krazy Kat have been made (including a gorgeous 1996 stop-motion short by Derek Mogford), but never a feature film. It might take a super-genius to come up with a story worthy of a feature, but there ought to be a wonderful movie about oddball love somewhere in all that inspired madness.

Space Ghost

This is a case where two paths present themselves to anyone who takes up a Space Ghost movie. They could go the intergalactic superhero route, doing a pulpy science fiction adventure film the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time. They could also do an offbeat comedy that checks what Space Ghost, Zorak, Brak, and Moltar have been doing since Space Ghost Coast to Coast was cancelled. Either path is worth exploring, though I think I want the space heroics a slight bit more.

Little Nemo

There have been film adaptations of Little Nemo before (most recently the Japanese production of Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland back in 1989), but it’s about time to revisit the beautiful dreams of Windsor McKay. Whether it’s live action or an animated feature, I think they ought to do segments of it in IMAX to really convey the scope of vision in McKay’s original comic strips. If you can, check out the two full-sized, full-color Splendid Sundays reprints of Little Nemo for yourself.

Mighty Mouse

Though he’s been MIA for years, there’s been interest in a Mighty Mouse movie for some time. This interest was renewed after Paramount’s baffling success with the Chipmunks movies. (Seriously, The Chipmunk Adventure is superior in every way.) While they probably won’t do it, it could be interesting if they got animation legend Ralph Bakshi involved in the project, who steered the show Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures back in the late 1980s. I have one request for the people who might make the movie: please make the animals anthropomorphic — none of that Underdog nonsense.

Cat ‘N’ Mouse

Not Tom and Jerry specifically, but an adaptation of Steven Millhauser’s peculiar short story about a cartoon cat chasing after a cartoon mouse. The scenarios of familiar cartoon mayhem are accompanied with the existential reflections from the cat and the mouse. It’s not as boring as it sounds, guys; it’s Sisyphus with whiskers. A film like this could look into the recurring stories of classic cartoons, where hunters are always bested by their prey, and where inhabited trees are never chopped down or holes dug up. However, I fear that like The Illusionist (also based on a Millhauser short story), the adaptation probably won’t be anywhere near as good as the source material or its potential.

Gatchaman (aka G-Force, aka Battle of the Planets)

Whatever name you know it by, Gatchaman was such a fun show, with some great action for its time and a well-rounded team dynamic. The last time Ken and company were on the big screen was back in 1978, and that was basically re-edited portions of the show. Development of a CG film had been on and off for years, yet despite some promising teaser trailers, the project is now dead in the water. Perhaps someone will take up the adaptation again, though it would be a major undertaking to do it right.

And of course there are a ton more that I’ve forgotten to mention or that didn’t quite make the cut. For instance, I love Duckman, but is it necessarily suited for the big screen? Same with Freakazoid, Animaniacs, Spaceketeers (aka Starzinger), SuperTed, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and Invader Zim. And it’s been years since I’ve seen Inhumanoids and C.O.P.S. so I didn’t include them on the list, but something inside seems to think there’s the germ of an idea in each of those that could make for a worthwhile movie.

Then again, maybe it’s just nostalgia, that force that makes me romanticize drive-in theaters and hope — against common sense — for a Superman movie in the style of a Max Fleischer cartoon. It can cause people do stuff that’s completely unreasonable… like make Yogi Bear or see Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.

But whatever the case, there’s such a rich past of cartoons out there worth watching, revisiting, and adapting into film. What cartoons or cartoon-related film adaptations would you like to see?

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.