Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins takes the Mystery, Inc gang back to their very first case. Scooby-Doo is a franchise that's been running strong for almost 50 years. The gang first debuted in 1969's Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which established the cartoon's formula of Mystery, Inc and their smart - but cowardly - dog Scooby investigating seemingly supernatural events. The episodes typically ended with the reveal of a very human villain orchestrating events, however.
Scooby remains one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time, and the franchise has spawned countless spinoff cartoons, comics, and video games; he even crossed over on an episode of Supernatural. Mystery, Inc finally hit the big screen in 2002's Scooby-Doo, which was written by James Gunn (The Suicide Squad). The movie received mostly mixed reviews but it was a resounding success with younger viewers, and its reception has improved in recent years. Matthew Lillard was also perfectly cast as Shaggy and has voiced the role in other cartoons. The cast returned for Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and while Gunn was supposed to make his feature directing debut with a third entry, it was canceled due to the second movie's disappointing gross.
The disappointment box-office of the sequel scrapped future big-screen plans for the live-action series, which eventually returned in the form of 2009 TV movie Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. Like the title suggests, this prequel reveals how the Mystery, Inc gang first formed. The origins of the cartoon version of the gang had been explored previously in 1980s cartoon A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, but The Mystery Begins presents a brand new take.
In Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins, the gang - consisting of Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy - are all thrown into detention together after an accident that damages the Vice Principal's car. Like The Breakfast Club, they initially appear to have little in common, but they eventually bond over a shared interest in mysteries. When some ghosts start haunting the school, they and Scooby team up to figure out what's really going on.
While Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins lacks the budget and polish of its bigger budget cousins, it's a surprisingly charming affair. The new cast does a decent job with the characters and it has lots of little easter eggs, including revealing the origin of Mystery Machine and ending with a tease their next adventure will be the museum case they investigated in the first episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! This prequel was a big ratings winner for Cartoon Network and the cast quickly reunited for 2010's Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.
Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins isn't essential viewing for fans, but it's a fun adventure in its own right. The franchise is still going strong, with live-action spinoff Daphne & Velma arriving on home video in 2018, while Mystery, Inc is set to return to the big screen for animated adventure Scoob! The film will feature the voices of Zac Efron, Gina Rodriguez, Amanda Seyfried, and Will Forte.
- Scooby (2020) release date: May 15, 2020