Have no fear, environmentalists: Captain Planet is on his way. If the success of modern reboots of classic 1980s cartoons like Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a sign that nostalgia alone can sell movie tickets (with some impressive special effects included) then Captain Planet and the Planeteers will definitely be putting that opinion to the test.
After years of silence, it seems that the project is in the final stages of negotiation with Sony Pictures, meaning a live-action film could be put into development sooner rather than later. How the studio will go about selling the hero (the butt of many cartoon jokes) to mass audiences is anyone’s guess, but the producers attached are well known for big screen action.
We weren’t ready to write the entire project off when news of a Captain Planet and the Planeteers movie surfaced years ago, but THR claims that Sony is more than convinced, and in the final stages of closing a deal. Global warming and ‘thinking green’ are hotter topics than ever, but anyone familiar with Captain Planet and his band of Planeteers knows that a jump to live-action will not be an easy one.
The same could be said for Transformers or the Ninja Turtles, but the premise for those properties isn’t what we would call inherently ‘silly.’ A boy realizing his car is really a robot from another world speaks to every male from age eight to eighty; humanoid turtles practicing martial arts and dabbling in surf-speak is at least dumb fun. But the ‘Earth Spirit’ sending out magic rings to chosen protectors – rings than can join to summon a blue-skinned, green-mulleted superhero who hates pollution – is far more of a stretch.
Not to criticize the original cartoon; it was a product of the early 1990s, and it shows. But in the grand scheme of things, it made being environmentally friendly seem like a courageous mission. Some would claim that Captain Planet’s dated costume, or the Planeteer’s elemental powers (Water, Wind, and… Heart) could be updated with the help of special effects, and even stand a chance of fueling some serious blockbuster action.
While that’s true, there’s no denying that issues of natural preservation and conservancy are far more charged subjects than the original cartoon ever had to contend with.
Lest we forget, today’s world is one in which an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax was accused of brainwashing, since criticism of scorched-earth-economics is a political statement. We have zero desire to resume that debate, but what chance can Captain Planet – an embodiment of the Earth’s spirit – actually stand?
With producers Don Murphy (Transformers, Real Steel), Mark Gordon (Source Code, 2012) and Susan Montford (Shoot ‘Em Up) all attached to the project, it has the blockbuster cred needed to garner some attention. But whether IMAX-level action can bring skepticism ‘down to zero’ remains to be seen.
It’s hard to know exactly how much the deal will build momentum for the adaptation, but we’ll keep you updated on Captain Planet as news arrives. For now, let us know what you think of the potential for a Captain Planet film; does it need to be live-action, or would an animated children’s film stand a better chance of being made?
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