Making movies out of video games is a trick Hollywood has yet to fully master. Gaming is a hugely influential part of modern popular culture and long-established enough that classic franchises like Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog and others hold the same nostalgic cache for many audiences as popular comic book superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman. However, previous attempts to turn them into movies haven’t gone so well – both in terms of adaptations like Resident Evil or Prince of Persia and would-be tributes like Adam Sandler’s Pixels.
On the other hand, video game adaptations have historically fared better in the realm of TV animation than live-action film, and one classic hero might now be getting another chance to do it again. A new Mega Man series could be on track for the character’s 30th Anniversary in 2017.
Dentsu USA and Man of Action Entertainment (the studio best known for Ben 10 and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble) are reportedly behind this new animated series featuring iconic robot hero Mega Man – one which is aiming for a 27 episode first season order of half-hour episodes. No concept art or official description of the project was offered at the time, outside of a vague commitment to deliver “something new that still respects the long tradition of the character.” Though many thought the project scrapped after a lack of news, Dentsu recently updated their launch page with a new logo for for project and word that it’s still on-track for 2017.
It has yet to be specified whether the Mega Man series will take its inspiration from the main series of games, one of the alternate continuity spin-offs or establish a new story of its own. The traditional Mega Man mythology involves a conflict between a pair of scientists, Doctor Wily and Doctor Light, in a future world where artificially-intelligent robots are a commonplace technology. In the original series, when Doctor Wily reprograms six industrial robots into warriors in a bid to conquer the world, Doctor Light rebuilds Rock – the male half of his housekeeping robots, Rock and Roll – into Mega Man in order to defeat them. The central conceit of the games is that Mega Man is capable of assimilating weaponry from other robots he defeats, challenging players to find the best sequence in which to defeat the evil robots who are often weak to their counterparts’ specific attacks.
Created in 1987 by Akira Kitamura, Keiji Inafune and a small development team at Capcom under the title “Rock Man,” Mega Man is one of the most well known characters and most widely-circulated franchises in the history of the gaming medium. Between the main series, spin-offs, remakes, re-releases and alternate reworkings, Mega Man games have appeared on almost every major game console ever produced, and versions have been created for PC and mobile audiences as well. The franchise features hundreds of colorful characters and has often been viewed as a potential merchandising goldmine, but has struggled to find footing outside of the gaming audience in the West.
A previous attempt at an American Mega Man series from Ruby Spears ran for two seasons starting in 1994 along with a line of action figures, but neither arrived with overwhelming success. A pair of series from Japan (where the franchise is more popularly-merchandised) based on the spin-off series MegaMan NT Warrior and Mega Man Star Force were also exported to the U.S. with mixed results. The new series seems to be unrelated to the live-action Mega Man film rumored to be in development at 20th Century Fox.
We’ll bring you more information on the Mega Man cartoon series as it becomes available.