We’ve been keeping a close Eye [of Thundera] on the development of the new ThunderCats series that’s set to hit Cartoon Network later this year. We’ve broken down how the new ’Cats compare with the originals, a first look at the new toy line from Bandai at this year’s Toy Fair in NY, and even an exclusive look at Mezco’s classic ThunderCats line. And for us, well, it’s just not enough! We need to know more! So here’s a quick breakdown of our 10 biggest question marks around the new cartoon.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi of Third Earth. How will Jaga be portrayed in the new series and will he regularly appear to provide Lion-O with a much needed nugget of Thunderian wisdom when he’s in despair? He’s certainly one of the characters we’d like to see changed as little as possible, but knowing that probably won’t be the case we’re curious how they’ll update the ThunderCat spirit. If we had to guess, given the younger design for Lion-O, Jaga might be portrayed more in his late 40’s than in his 60’s. Perhaps to add a little weight to his death he might be the brother of Panthro (or his father if they keep him older). If we wanted to really push it, maybe Panthro got that nifty new scar trying to save Jaga but then had to leave him in order to save Lion-O, leading to the loss of his brother/father and Lion-O’s mentor, but leaving an underlying bitterness to this new,’ edgier’ looking Panthro who may harbor some resentment towards his young Lord. Actually, we like that a lot, Cartoon Network are you listening?
There’s been no indication whatsoever that the Berserkers will appear in Cartoon Network’s new series but we’re going to go ahead and say they’d be fools not to include them. Mum-Ra and the mutants can’t present the only threats and, presumably, the mutants are aslo displaced, making Mum-Ra the only native we know of. Thus Hammerhand and The Berserkers are a perfect fit. They have very different motivations than Mum-Ra or Slithe and his cronies, and present different tactical challenges for the ’Cats. The Berserkers would also give the writers a chance to flex some creative muscle since we could easily see a couple of new team members here. Besides, who doesn’t love psychotic, cybernetic, super-powered pirates?
Again, this is more of a question of “will they appear” rather than “how” but we’re going to again place our bets that the new writers will pay homage to these characters, if not outright giving each a guest-starring role or their own episode(s). Mandora in particular is in much need of a redesign (and perhaps a better name, and they could raise her voice an octave or two). Interstellar Police Officer or not, we hope she’d look more ’Domino Harvey’ and less ’Judge Dredd reject’ if she makes the cut.
7. Sight Beyond Sight.
And while we’re at it we’ll throw in Tygra’s illusion and invisibility powers and Cheetara’s precognition. The effects used in the original series were pretty damn cool but today’s technology should allow the artists to really take it to the next level.
These ThunderCats joined the team following the events of the ’ThunderCats Ho!’ movie and probably won’t make it into season 1 of the new series, but we’d love to see them teased during the destruction of Thundera. Maybe they’re with a group of Thunderians who get separated by a seemingly unsurpassable object as the planet crumbles! We’re left to wonder if they made it out alive! Just enough for old school fans to have something to smile about. But please, give Ben-Gali a better weapon than that lame hammer. Fer reals.
We caught some glimpses of Slithe at the NY Toy Fair but what we really want to know is will there be a new Castle Plun-Darr and will there be hoards upon hoards of mutants? The original series had hundreds of ’em, but whenever there was any action it only seemed Slithe, Monkian, Jackalman, and Vultureman were around. So will the new series only have a handful of baddies or will there be an army of mutants the ’Cats need to deal with on a regular basis?
4. The Destruction of Thundera.
Will Thundera still be destroyed? Probably. Will we get the same ’Superman’ treatment? Probably not. This is one area we predict the new writers will want to put their own stamp on and set up for multiple future story payoffs. Expect there to be much, much more to the destruction of Thundera this time around with many layers of political intrigue.
“Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!“ We know he’s back, we know what he looks like. This is another character we expect much more of a backstory on, even though that may not be a good thing. Mumm-Ra was kind of a perfect villain for the series the first time around. We know he’s evil, we know he’s a bad-ass, and we know there’s much, much more to him that we don’t know, but that’s what made him appealing. The mutants already have a history with the Thunderians so we don’t want him involved in anything that would seem too petty. Here’s to hoping that they don’t explain too much about Mumm-Ra. We’d like to point out at this time how much more interesting, and how much more scary, The Emperor, Darth Vader and Boba Fett were before the prequels. Just sayin’.
One of the coolest team headquarters of its era, on par with Castle Grayskull and the Hall of Justice, the redesigned Cat’s Lair should hack up a hairball of pure awesome. But more impressive than a tweaked facelift on the outside, we’re hoping, will be an even more revamped interior. We expect much improved living quarters, training facilities that put the Danger Room and Holodeck to shame, engineering and science labs, ship docks, holding cells, a war room, and some remnant of or shrine to Thundera.
1. The Opening Theme.
Though not integral to the story, how the new opening is treated may make or break the series for many existing fans. In fact, the original opening might be the biggest reason the series took off in the U.S. When held against 80’s brethren He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, the various Super Friends/Justice League cartoons, or anything from Hanna Barbarea, ThunderCats just crushes. The music is perfectly paced, the animation so energetic, the lyrics both super cool and easy to remember, and the introduction of each key character in the series is laid out in about a minute. We’ll go as far as saying this is, definitively, the greatest opening for an animated series in the history of the medium. The new open has a lot to live up to.
So do you agree? Have some questions of your own? Let us hear ’em!