Thundercats

4 02 2011

by AngryPanda

This logo alone is already a piece of art. Even if they'd screwed up everything else, this would still be iconic.

This is another preparation entry. I actually want to write about Silverhawks but you just can’t do that without mentioning Thundercats first. Many of the good things from them are actually things they inherited from Thundercats. Also there’s news concerning them but more about that later.

The reason I wanted to write about Silverhawks was that unlike Thundercats I’m a fan of that show. Yes, I should say this right away: I am not a fan of Thundercats. I didn’t enjoy the episodes all that much even as a child and I have no desire to watch them again for nostalgia or google obscure facts, get the comics or anything like that. I think it is mostly the designs, I just prefer a more modern look. But I do like Thundercats. Despite the fact that is somehow missed my preferences this series does so many things right and is so unique that I have to respect it. From the unique background, powerful theme and, as mentioned above, absolutely incredible logo.

Thundercats is one of those classic 80s cartoons about a team of super-powered heroes with a similar background and powersource who tend to fight the same villain and his minions over and over. I call this the “He-Man formula”. But then there are some things that are unique to this series (in some cases even more so than in Silverhawks). The most obvious and spectacular: The Thundercats are not from earth. They do not defend the earth*. They do not fight for earth’s values. In fact they don’t even know any humans. I noticed this even as a child and I loved it. This is incredibly special. Usually even in the furthest reaches of space it is humanity that matters (if they can’t make them Americans outright). It felt small-minded to me before I was ten, you’d think we’d grow out of it but we don’t. Even in a series like Green Lantern everyone that matters is from earth (Marvel’s Nova too, yay for copies). The Thundercats have their own culture, magic and traditions and the heritage of Thundera is presented as valuable and good. The ‘Cats don’t have to find some human kids to teach them values or some crap like that. The only other case of this I can remember was Transformers and they hover in their own dimension of unbelievable greatness anyway. So that’s one point for the ‘Cats: Inhuman and proud of it.

*The comics later established that “Earth 3” was actually our earth in the far future after humanity has been wiped out by Mum Ra. But first that was only established after the series and second it is even more special because the oh so ever holy humanity failed and died.

For point 2 I’m going to repeat myself. Not only do the Thundercats have their own values and heritage which is in no way shown as inferior to earth, no they are also different from the ones shown in other cartoons. I realize that this is technically the same point but I still think it is worth mentioning. Usually kids get the “democracy is good” propaganda drilled into their heads with no remorse, even in fantasy settings. There will be a council that has been voted for and advises the king or whatnot. We don’t know how they did it on Thundera but we do know that Lion O is the boss. He’s the king, great messiah and unquestioned ruler. Even though he is technically still a kid and not qualified. And there we already have a nother: A kid can be the leader. Honest to god adults might have to treat them with respect and even bow before them. Values completely different from our own society (well you could argue about the respect).

Another thing Thundercats was differently was how they handled the villains. The mutants were the usual bunch of incompetent twats, only there to be beaten up by our heroes. But unlike in most series the main villain was actually dangerous. Originaly Skeletor was an almost invincible force of Evil in He-Man but they toned him down for the series so kids would not be afraid of him. I think that’s how the tradition of clueless, whiny and weak evil rulers in the 80s cartoons got started. From Dr Scarab to the Shredder, they were all incompetent twats. But Mumm-Ra? Hell, maybe my memories are wrong but I think once he used his cheesy line to transform he was major bad news. The ‘cats had to flee from this guy, not the other way around.

I don’t particularly like Mumm-Ra, his name and look are pretty silly and he only has an army of mutant, not even his own ninja clan or something nice like that. And his mutants can’t even compare to the weird shit the Masters of the Universe had. But still, he works. And he is honestly dangerous. Which is the most important thing about the main villain. That he apparently wiped out humanity is a pretty nice touch in the aftermath. As a kid I had the impression that he might be defeated by Lion-O once he really mastered the sword of omens but that this day was far away. So unlike other series I didn’t feel like things had to go well. The good guys still had to get on top of their game, while Mumm-Ra was already there. Good stuff.

As for the promised news, at least if you live under a rock and haven’t heard of it yet: There will be a new Thundercats series.


And they look good. The new edge is just enough to make me like their appearance. Now there will of course be complains that they look too much like anime but those assholes really need to shut up, especially since they don’t seem to get that every series they ever loved as a kid has been animated in Japan. At least if it was worth shit. In some cases like Bionic Six it was just the intro and transformation sequence, which is why that part looks so much better than the rest. Anyway, I love the new take (especially that they have pants) and while I’m not feeling very nostalgic about the old series, I’m really looking forward to the new one. Aliens, magic, science and superpowers are just a really good mix in this case. I got to admit I would have loved a life action movie too but in the end I’m much more happy about a cartoon. First, they might actually tell a good story here, movies are for a crowd for more stupid than children so they rarely do that Second, they are more likely to make changes to improve than screw things up in a cartoon. And third, I just get  more of it. A movie can entertain me for 90 minutes but a series promises hours of Thundercats goodness. So next week on this channel: Silverhawks!

Update: Fixed the youtube vid to Mumm-Ra’s transformatiuon. Ho!

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3 responses

8 02 2011
The darkness that could have been: He-Man and Thundercats « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] my last entry about Thundercats I was so focused on the design choices that would also appear in Silverhawks later I forgot to […]

24 02 2011
iPad 2 review « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] numbers remained stable though, what’s wrong with you people? I hope I can finally deliver the promised Silverhawks entry tomorrow […]

28 02 2011
Ho! « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] So I write about Thundercats and they launch a new series? God please let this be a gift. Ok so I wrote about Masters of the Universe too but they already screwed up that revamp recently so they get a free pass for that. If they remake the series in my next entry I’m gonna shit a brick. Made of mithril. […]

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