Why it’s time to remake Marvel’s first movie…
Think you can name the first movie based on a Marvel Comics character? Spider-Man? X-Men? Blade?
Nope, none of those.
That’s closer, but still not right. The first Marvel movie to hit the big screen was actually the notorious 1986 bomb Howard the Duck. We also think it should be the next Marvel movie. Here’s why…
For those of you who weren’t alive in the ’80s or just never felt like spending a few bucks on a DVD copy to see just how low the pits of ’80s cinema go, Howard the Duck really is as bad as you’ve heard. The jokes are lame and just kind of weird for weird’s sake, the story and dialogue are generally uninteresting, and the duck costume looks like something a serial killer put together in his spare time.
A lot of reasons have been given over the years for why the film is such a failure. The duck costume and other unlucky circumstances caused a lot of problems with shooting. The film was at one point meant to be animated (which likely would have been a much better flick), but contractually had to be live-action. And of course there was the ever-looming presence of George Lucas as producer long after his creative juices peaked with The Empire Strikes Back.
But the biggest problem with Howard the Duck was that it bore little resemblance to the character who was so beloved in the years prior that he actually received several thousand votes as a write-in candidate in the 1976 presidential election.
The Howard the Duck comics were always satires, poking fun at the excesses of politics, religion and even other comic books. They were always meant to be more than a goofy alien adventure movie with no real substance. Howard isn’t funny because he’s a giant talking duck, he’s funny because he’s pointing out the insane hypocrisy of the human race. The Howard the Duck movie took the material of Bill Hicks and turned it into a half-hour Larry the Cable Guy show.
And it’s exactly because Howard the Duck was treated so poorly in 1986 that it’s time for a new movie. After a surprise post-credits cameo in last year’s fantastic Guardians of the Galaxy, Howard the Duck is officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that 30-second teaser was truer to the character than the entire 90-minute abomination he starred in back in ’86.
Despite how intricately connected the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are, there are supposedly no plans for a new Howard the Duck movie at the moment. His appearance was just a one-off joke. But if Marvel was to run with a new Howard the Duck movie, it could make something unique and true to the character.
Superhero movies have been enjoying a renaissance for more than a decade now, but there haven’t been any great satires of the genre. A new Howard the Duck film could poke fun at all the nonsensical tropes of these movies, like the constant need for reboots and origin stories, the crazy amounts of money that heroes like Tony Stark must spend on his gadgets, and why no one can make a decent Fantastic Four movie. This could be either a standalone film or feature cameos by other characters from the MCU. CGI has finally advanced to a point where Howard’s very appearance on-screen won’t terrify children for decades to come.
One of the reasons that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is so beloved is that it’s true to the characters. Marvel Studios doesn’t try to completely reinvent characters just to make them hip and pander to what’s popular, Marvel takes what made those characters great in the comics and adapts it to the screen. Howard the Duck never had the chance to show the world who he really was, and Marvel had little control over that initial movie. But if 2015 Marvel, now backed by Disney, is brave enough to take another stab at one of the biggest flops of the ’80s, they just might be able to turn him into their best movie yet.