In 1991, iconic animation studio Hanna-Barbera pulled again the curtain on Mer, an alien world overrun by environmental evil. The one factor that would cease the encroaching darkness and the ruthless pirate lord who sought to regulate it was a ragtag group of unlikely heroes: an orphaned prince of a once-great kingdom, the final of his line; a veteran pirate whose obsession with treasure hides a coronary heart of gold; a mysterious eco-mancer with ties to the realm past that of mortal males; and regardless of the hell a monkey-bird is. These had been The Pirates of Dark Water.
The animated sequence arrived at an fascinating time. The toy-first focus of 80s cartoons was nonetheless a money cow because of unique IP like Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and My Little Pony, and diversifications/reboots like G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, simply to call a number of. And but, the race was on, whether or not studio and community execs knew it or not, to make the following nice franchise that will rule the airwaves. The world was nonetheless a 12 months or so away from the industry-changing arrival of the early ’90s animated sequence comedian diversifications, notably Batman: The Animated Collection, with X-Males and Spider-Man not far behind. (We had been blissfully unaware of the glut of such exhibits that had been to return, like WildC.A.T.S., Ultraforce, and the like.) That is all to say that the transition from the ’80s into the ’90s was a chief time for inventive powers to both reinvigorate an present title for the last decade’s excessive urge for food for content material, or to dream up one thing unique that might be the world’s subsequent nice franchise.
Enter David Kirschner, the creator of each notable toy-first properties like Rose Petal Buddies in addition to world-famous unique concepts like An American Tail. Kirschner would additionally go on to provide the Kid’s Play franchise (for a wild departure from animated kid-friendly tales), write/govt produce the I-still-can’t-believe-it’s-real Poochinski TV pilot, write the story of Hocus Pocus, and shepherd the modern Curious George franchise, along with a panoply of ’90s animated sequence and films. It is a wild checklist. And amongst these titles, simply misplaced inside Kirschner’s filmography, is a creator / EP credit score for the formidable, daring, and hopeful animated journey sequence, The Pirates of Darkish Water.
The present had the whole lot you would need in an action-adventure story: Properly-drawn characters (each actually and metaphorically talking) making an attempt the unattainable towards more and more astronomical odds, all whereas dabbling in fliratious relationships and being pursued by an unstoppable pressure searching for nothing wanting our heroes’ annihilation. Fairly sturdy stuff for an early ’90s cartoon. Animated TV storytelling up till that time had been largely episodic, with exceptions like the unique Transformers film and cartoons with a 65-episode syndication order that launched with a five-part intro miniseries.
Kirschner’s The Pirates of Darkish Water borrowed that five-episode plan, regardless of not having a manufacturing order of that magnitude. The mini-series launched the heroes of the present — Ren, Ioz, Tula, and Niddler — and their seafaring adventures to get better the misplaced 13 Treasures of Rule in an effort to dispel the titular Darkish Water from the world and restore the once-proud however now ruined kingdom of Octopon. That formidable narrative would additionally embrace serialized storytelling, which was each a blessing and a curse for Hanna-Barbera and the pirate crew. After two seasons and solely 21 episodes, The Pirates of Darkish Water was abruptly canceled, leaving almost half the treasures uncollected, half the world overrun by Darkish Water, and abandoning what few toys and video video games there have been on retailer cabinets.
Minimize to 2021, 30 years after the daring, vibrant, and adventurous animated sequence hit the (air)waves. A long-running and still-updated fan site, run by the devoted Smitha, has carried out its greatest to maintain hopes alight that the present could someday see a reboot or not less than a decision. Primarily, it is a repository for FAQs and Q&As for followers who stumble in in search of a success of nostalgia or newcomers who by some means discover PoDW for the primary time. Artists like Alex van Caloen are additionally keeping the spirit of the series alive with original artwork impressed by the world of Mer and its colourful characters. However whereas Warner Bros. is blissful to proceed promoting the sequence through print-on-demand DVDs and digital episodes by a variety of their subsidiary websites and different markets, that is about so far as they’ve gone towards reminding followers that The Pirates of Darkish Water exists, unfinished. Kirschner continues to be lively within the enterprise, overseeing new installments of aforementioned Hocus Pocus, Kid’s Play, and Curious George franchises, so clearly maintaining one foot up to now is not an issue for the parents concerned so long as the numbers work out of their favor.
So what, actually, are the hopes for a brand new Pirates of Darkish Water seeing the sunshine of day? Properly, Thirtieth-anniversary avoidance apart, it is really Disney who’s making the very best case for Warner Bros. to kickstart their very own excessive seas journey ASAP.
In 2003, the Mouse Home opted to drift a big-budget, waterborne, pirate-themed journey film based mostly on their theme parks’ decades-old attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. Fairly dumb thought on paper. Waterworld had capsized lower than a decade earlier, thanks primarily to the large expense of filming motion pictures with a considerable water element. Johnny Depp was nonetheless a family identify although removed from a “face of a franchise,” whereas Orlando Bloom‘s profession was simply within the strategy of skyrocketing because of The Lord of the Rings and Keira Knightley‘s declare to fame on the time was bending it like Beckham and searching simply sufficient like Natalie Portman to land a decoy position in Star Struggle: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
That gamble labored out fairly nicely for Disney, all issues thought of; the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise alone is now headed in direction of $5 billion worldwide when taking the upcoming sixth movie and its spinoff into consideration. And that is not even factoring within the relaxation of the PotC licensing offers. By no means one to let lightning strike simply as soon as, Disney is now hoping to spark success once more with their new ride-inspired, franchise-launching journey film, Jungle Cruise, powered by absolutely the pressure that’s Dwayne Johnson. Disney’s about to boast two water-based franchises impressed by 50+-year-old rides whereas Warner Bros. has been sitting on their very own unique untapped IP for the final 30 years.
We all know that WarnerMedia is not averse to revisiting present IP for modern reboots. Sure, they do have a tendency to stay to Scooby-Doo, DC Comics, and Tom & Jerry extra usually than absolutely anything else, Harry Potter included. However HBO Max is prepping the animated prequel Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, tapping right into a franchise that is older than Pirates of Darkish Water, with the stellar group of author/showrunner/EP Tze Chun, co-executive producer Brendan Hay, and EPs Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Sam Register and Dan Krall on board. They’re additionally launching Space Jam: A New Legacy this month, nearly 25 years after the unique launched long-running memes a couple of sequel that by no means appeared to be inside attain.
Jonny Quest needs to be a reasonably straightforward win for the studio, however a contemporary re-do has been within the works for a while; the live-action film’s newest director Chris McKay is bullish about his Indiana Jones-like action-packed take on the property, however Warner Bros. has but to greenlight it. A reboot of Animaniacs is already free on this planet whereas a deliberate replace of Tiny Toon Adventures, dubbed Tiny Toons Looniversity, is on the way in which. That is all to say that the highest brass do look again on previous successes, but additionally that Warner Bros. appears unwilling to take some huge Disney-sized swings with their very own IP.
A Pirates of Darkish Water reboot might show me and different doubters fallacious. If carried out proper, it might please shareholders within the course of, too. The forged of characters are primarily individuals of coloration, heroes and villains alike, they usually are available in all shapes, sizes, powersets, and persuasions. There’s an overwhelmingly harmful environmental disaster that is slowly consuming the world as they understand it, and solely probably the most evil of evildoers are aligned with the Darkish Water’s nefarious intent. Lessons divide the waterlogged world of Mer a lot the identical as our personal world. Magic and thriller conceal in plain sight or inside coves and islets, or deep on this planet’s jungles or the waters of Mer itself, with untold locations to discover. And journey is discovered round each nook because the wind whisks the pirate crew of The Wraith off searching for treasure to drive the Darkish Water again into the deep, staying one league forward of the Pirate Lord Bloth and his huge ship The Maelstrom each time and nonetheless they’re in a position. (Plus, if somebody very intelligent designs the peerlessly lovable child monkey-bird, Warner Bros. may simply have their very own Child Yoda on their fingers. Lliterally.)
You can actually elevate the precise setup and story of The Pirates of Darkish Water from 1991 and apply it to right now’s world with out lacking a beat. It’d even be higher for having stood the check of time for some 30 years. And in doing so, Warner Bros. could be giving one of the vital invaluable gems of animation’s previous an opportunity to shine. All they must do is embark, as soon as extra, on The Quest.
KEEP READING: Hollywood! Adapt This: THE PIRATES OF DARK WATER
Taika Waititi is genuinely concerned if he’ll be allowed to work again after this film.
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