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ThunderCats 2011

Just recently someone took the initiative to record off of Cartoon Network a promotional bit for the upcoming ThunderCats remake. While there's no official trailer yet, you can take a look at the YouTube snippet after the jump and try and form an opinion about this new, "anime" version of the beloved 80s cartoon. Laura watched it and weighed in:

It's really hard to make a judgment call on this trailer for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the video quality is poor. For another, it jumps around a lot, only allowing quick glimpses of things. Also, it looks like all of it takes place on Thundera, before they escape to Third Earth, which makes it hard to get a feel for what the series will be like, since, presumably, that will take place on Third Earth, like the original series.




Laura went on to say:

I'm also not really getting a sense of the bad guys. Those were definitely Mumm-Ra's eyes, but not much else. It looks like all the key players are there though. I am liking the younger looking Lion-O, and I am going to continue to hope that they found a way to make Snarf not suck so hard. I really wish Cheetara didn't have such a boobtastic character design.

I'm not an anime fan at all, but overall I'd say this looks pretty OK. It certainly seems like there will be a lot of action, which, if you go back and rewatch the original series, is not something that can be said for it (oh, those long stock sequences of Mumm-Ra flying through the desert). I hope it's a good series, since I think there's a lot of potential in ThunderCats.

Last year at New York Comic Con we had the opportunity to interview ThunderCats and Batman: Brave and the Bold writer Michael Jelenic about a number of topics. We've included here the portions where he discusses his opinions on ThunderCats, and ThunderCats fans.

The interview began with Bruce Timm urging us to ask Michael about his "Bieber Hair." And then Michael said we can't ask him about his hair. So, we asked him about his hair.

Are you trying to get in character for ThunderCats?

MJ: Yes. This is my Lion-O mane.

How is ThunderCats going?

MJ: It's going well! It's an up and down thing. Whenever you're developing anything, there's lots of challenges. With a show like Brave and the Bold, I sort of know everything about that show, and it's not a mystery. ThunderCats is a mystery, what makes it work. We're still discovering, but it's going well, there's a lot of great talent. Studio 4C in Japan is doing the animation and it will be good.

Is there a difference in tone between Batman: Brave and the Bold and the ThunderCats reboot?

If I get a bad Brave and the Bold script, people can't tell. People think I'm being ironic. Like it's purposely bad, like the old comics. With ThunderCats, because it's more serious, you can instantly detect the bad. If something's bad, you're going to know, so there's a lot more pressure. It actually has to be good, you can't be ironically dramatic.

Are you using any of that same kind of witty dialogue in ThunderCats?

Well, you know, I could say that's one of my trademarks, if I could be so bold to say that I have a trademark (which I don't.) I always try to insert humor in to even the most serious thing. So hopefully ThunderCats is funny. One thing about superheroes and all this stuff -- I think they need to be fun. I find it amusing that people take it so seriously. You have characters that are wearing tights and capes! But it's like: "This is not realistic! There is only one way to interpret these characters! Life and death!" But you have to say, "Hey, wait a second. The whole conceit is fun to begin with."

So, I always try to inject humor in to everything I do. I always wanted to be a comedy writer. I find I'm funnier writing comedy for superhero stuff than if I was a comedy writer. The bar's lower. (laughs)

What was the creative process like for ThunderCats?

ThunderCats has got like, 150 episodes. It's impossible to watch every -- well, it's not impossible, but I would have to devote like a year of my life to watching every single episode. You try to find the iconic episodes, the fan's favorite episodes, and watch those. I'm all about the iconic stuff. So the secondary characters won't make it in to an episode right off the bat, I want to focus on Lion-O, Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKit and WilyKat, Snarf, Mumm-Ra. Once we build that world with those characters, then that's when we can go back and look at whether it's time to put in Lynx-O or Pumyra -- some of those more obscure characters.

The best thing I find for understanding what clicks about a character is usually going to the fan boards and seeing them argue over characters. People go crazy over that stuff. That's where I usually see what the hardcore fanbase is into. Sometimes I check the fan pages a little too late for my own good, and find out "OH! I shouldn't have done that."

Is there any other 80s series you'd like to try and reboot?

It seems like ThunderCats is the last iconic 80s series! Someone was telling me GoBots is ripe for a redo. I would like to be behind that, I think it could be bigger than Transformers! My favorite show as a kid was Transformers, so I would've loved to have worked on that. But I think working on Batman is pretty cool, too.

Is there any chance of a musical ThunderCats episode?

Doesn't it make sense? "CATS"? I think it's obvious. I have a feeling if I did that, people on this show would kill me. I had this idea where there was a musical villain, and the ThunderCats are forced to sing the old theme song. That was quickly shot down.

Are you revisiting any of the old storylines from ThunderCats?

We'll definitely reference old arcs, but it's pretty much a new take on it. If there's a five part episode like the "Trials of Lion-O" from the original series, we were talking about how we could do that in this series. The old series had a bunch of five parters because it aired Monday through Friday. Now, with it airing once a week, it wouldn't have the same effect. So we have those kinds of discussion, like how we do our take on it.

Are you scared of ThunderCats fan backlash?

Yes! Definitely! ThunderCat fans are very passionate. I worry all the time. I go to message boards and see what lines I can't cross, because they will tell me. We do change the mythology a little bit, and I'm a little worried that we will make some people upset. Hopefully they understand we're trying to be respectful.

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Comments (1)

Even at poor video quality the animation and base drawings look good, almost on par with Avatar: The Last Airbender. I'm curious about it. Loved the show when I was a kid and will give the new series a shot. Agree with Laura that it all looks like it comes from the pilot and it's hard to get a grip on what the full show is like. Do we know how many episodes they have in the can yet?