It's been a long time since we've heard anything about a ThunderCats movie - with the last tangible information coming in the form of leaked test footage for a cancelled animated film adaptation at Warner Bros. The CGI video showcased fighting between a young as well as cocky Lion-O and a reptilian evildoer, along with the trademark ThunderCall and Sword of Omens, but was poorly received by fans due to extremely-cartoonish animation. Since that time, Cartoon Network debuted a new ThunderCats cartoon series in 2011 - which ran for a single season before the network neglected to renew the show. At first, it was expected that the series would eventually return for season 2 but, two years later, and no further ThunderCats episodes have been planned.
Despite the numerous attempts by Hollywood to capitalize on one of the most popular kid properties from the eighties, interest is still high (at least among nostalgic young adults) to see the characters brought back in a meaningful way - especially as a modern blockbuster adventure. Professor Xavier actor James McAvoy is one such fan - who recently expressed interest in playing Lion-O for a big screen ThunderCats production.
Speaking to Total Film, McAvoy gushed about the prospect of a big budget ThunderCats movie as well as rattled off ideas for which characters should and shouldn't be included. The actor even starts out by praising Wormy TV's fan-made ThunderCats movie trailer which cast Brad Pitt as Lion-O, Vin Diesel as Panthro, Hugh Jackman as Tygra, Gigi Edgley as Cheetara, and Richard Cetrone as Mummra, among others.
You can check out the aforementioned Wormy TV ThunderCats trailer followed by the full Total Film interview with McAvoy below:
After McAvoy geeks out over the fan-made trailer, interviewers press the actor for which ThunderCat he'd want to play (given the chance). McAvoy answers "maybe Tygra" before spending a lengthy amount of time discussing why he'd be honored (and excited) to portray Lion-O, a character that he teases could even be an Oscar-contending role - given the ThunderCats' leader is essentially a 12 year-old who suddenly finds himself in the body of a ripped, muscly, fighting man who is meant to be a king. The actor further explores his pitch by likening the Lion-O character to Charlie Seymour in Vice Versa (the 1988 Freaky Friday-like comedy starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage) but with superpowers and the Sword of Omens.
While some (read: many) fans will probably have a hard time picturing McAvoy (at 5-foot, 7-inches) as the heroic leader of the ThunderCats, the actor actually does have some realistic insights into how a film based on the cartoon series could work - especially when it comes to the tone. McAvoy is quick to throw ThunderCat pet/sidekick Snarf (aka Osbert) under the bus - asserting that the character will come dangerously close to Jar Jar Binks level camp should he be included in a live-action ThunderCats movie. No doubt, certain die-hard ThunderCats lovers would be upset if Snarf didn't make the cut, but it's easy to see what McAvoy means - especially in a movie culture where "grounded" approaches to superhero characters have generated billions at the box office around the globe.
Still, probably the best indication of whether or not we'll see a ThunderCats film in active development will be the success or failure of Jonathan Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, scheduled for an August 8, 2014 release. The TMNT franchise has significantly more brand recognition in the current entertainment landscape, and already earned major profits in theaters during it 1990s live-action installments, meaning it's hard to imagine producers revving up production on a new ThunderCats effort if the Ninja Turtles don't do enormous business in 2014.
There are currently no plans for a ThunderCats film but we'll keep you up to date if anything changes.
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Source: Total Film