Cartoons have long been fertile ground for the development of big screen films but it’s only been in the last few years that these cartoon-to-film adaptations have grown up and matured into serious films and serious blockbusters with films like Transformers and the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. With that in mind, we’ve decided to look at the annals of cartoon history to find those shows that we think would make great films.*
8. Defenders of the Earth (1986–1987, 65 Episodes)
Three of the greatest heroes from the newspaper strips teamed up in show: Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom and Flash Gordon. Together they battled the forces of Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. But here’s what we’d do: forget this year 2015 stuff. Send these guys back to their heyday of the 1930s. Set everything against art deco architecture for a period piece similar to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Ming the Merciless has an array of awesome weapons that would look fantastic with today’s CGI technology such as the Octon, an octopus-like super computer which advises Ming; Mongor, the giant dragon pet of Ming and Garax, the leader of Mings Robotic army.
7. The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991–1994, 65 Episodes)
Prince Valiant has been a staple in newspaper comic strips since 1937. The animated series brought Hal Foster’s creation to life as the young prince of Thule dreamt of joining King Arthur as one of his Knights of the Roundtable. His dream eventually comes through as he aids the Knights in battling the evil Sir Mordred and the sorceress rival of Merlin the Magician. This could make for an epic, big-budgeted fantasy film.
6. The Zeta Project (2001–2002, 26 Episodes)
A great show that deserved a longer run As a film, The Zeta Project would have an appeal to both kids and adults as a Sci-Fi film loaded with action. It would be perfect for any leading man as Zeta can change his appearance at will into anyone he’s ever seen.
5. Spiral Zone (1987, 65 episodes)
This is one of the more under-appreciated and underrated cartoons of the 1980s. Actually, it was ahead of its time for the ‘80s, Spiral Zone blended elements of action, Sci-Fi and even a little bit of horror. We can totally see this as concept a Sci-Fi/Horror film with the victims of the mists being turned into actual zombies and the Black Widows as henchman mutated by the mists. Almost a G.I. Joe meets Resident Evil sort of thing. Truly a great show!
4. Freakazoid (1995–1997, 24 Episodes)
Freakazoid was originally intended to be a straight superhero show but executive producer Stephen Spielberg decided to amp up the comedic elements resulting in one of the zaniest takes on the superhero genre ever. Dexter Douglas a nerdy, Peter Parkeresque teenager who gains fantastic abilities from a, ahem… computer bug. He gets sucked into the Internet and is endowed with all of the knowledge stored there which arms him with tremendous physical gifts but skews his sanity. Throughout the show he gains and loses abilitieswhile battling equally wacky rogue gallery of villains. Done right, you could make a movie that would be across between Spider-Man and the Jim Carey’s The Mask. It could still be tongue-in-cheek but also provide great action and special effects.
3. Exo-Squad (1993–1994, 52 episodes)
Exo-Squad was a Mecha action show influenced by Robotech as well as Battletech and Mechwarrior. What set Exo-Squad apart from most other cartoons is its more serious plotlines which saw major characters killed in battle and themes of war, slavery and racism examined. Set in the future of the 22nd century, the main plot revolved around the battle between humans and an artificial race known as the Neosapiens. The sense of realism in Exo-Squad made it extremely popular among older kids and even adults. There would not be anything needed to change with this show. Bring this one to the screen with all the ranges of raw emotion and great battle sequences of the TV show. And this also had an outstanding line of toys that accompanied the show.
2. The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (1986, 65 episodes)
Before Firefly and Cowboy Bebop there was The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, a western series set within a futuristic sci-fi universe. This was a space opera of the highest level, at least for an animated series. What made the show unique and made the Rangers different than say, the Green Lantern Corps. was its emphasis on the western theme. The Rangers even rode robotic horses known as Cybersteeds. The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers could be a sure-fire space adventure with traditional heroes and lots of shoot-em ups!
1. M.A.S.K. (1985–1986, 75 episodes)
We’ve had film adaptations of the Transformers and G.I. Joe, so how about a show which combined the best of both worlds: military action with transforming vehicles. Obviously G.I. Joe and Transformers heavily influenced this show, but it was so cool and the toys were equally outstanding. Like those shows, M.A.S.K. also had its own comic book series, courtesy of DC Comics. We’ve already seen transforming vehicles onscreen so it would be no great leap to bring this fantastic cartoon to the big screen.
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