Many animated franchises have now become live-action films, from Transformers to Pokémon to Sonic the Hedgehog. Nothing is off limits now and the premise of a show does not indicate success or failure of a live-action adaptation. Here are five shows worthy of their own shot of a live-action film.
5. Sailor Moon
Now this would perhaps be the trickiest to tackle from a story point of view, given the complexity of the story in Sailor Moon. So, it is a film that would need preparation and planning of a series of films to cover all the franchises rich story waiting for interpretation. But at the core it would be essentially a modernised superheroine story of love surpassing time and space. However, one major criticism of the superhero market is the untapped potential of the female audience. Enter Sailor Moon who has hardcore fans in every corner of the planet. So, it is a good contender to tap into this market if done correctly.
The major benefits are the diversity of the personality types within the Sailor Senshi warriors, enabling every viewer to at least identify with one of the many heroines. It also has no barring on ethnicity. Yes, the characters are predominantly white, it is a Japanese franchise, so heavy white presence in the media is common for anime. This means anyone could be altered at the drop of a hat, Sailor Moon does not even need to be Caucasian to work. As long at the fundamental core is what makes Sailor Moon the heroine she is, she could be literally any ethnicity.
Speaking of inclusion, another aspect was Sailor Moon being one of the first mainstream franchises to feature an LGBTQ+ couple as a pair of the superheroines. Granted some countries censored this to become cousins in the 1990s, but those days are long behind us and now audiences would embrace the LGBTQ+ powerhouse couple of Sailor Uranus & Sailor Neptune. While Sailor Moon would be an ambitious choice to be turned into a live-action film franchise. It does house all the aspects sought to tap into a female market of superhero fans.
4 - Captain Planet
One topic is the threat our planet faces due to the environmental danger we face due to human influence. Well, in the 1990s kids had a show telling them this on a weekly basis with Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The premise being simple, five chosen teenagers (no not the Power Rangers) are given five power rings of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water & Heart. Individually each of the teenagers can use their ring to tap into that element to aid in resolving environmental issues. But when required, their five elements can be combined to create Captain Planet, an interplanetary hero with the purpose of repairing the environment.
Now some may say this is a pretty childish format and no adult would be interested in this. However, if tackled correctly it could introduce the right amount of action and drama while also educating the viewers of real environmental crisis being faced by our planet. As for far too many, evidence and facts are not good enough but put those issues in to a film and they will suddenly listen about those issues. So, it is one of the few cartoons that if adapted could not only educate but also entertain at the same time.
The characters also present a diversity that would be appreciated as the Planeteers are from across the globe. Kwame the leader and wielder of the Earth came from Africa, Wheeler the street-wise wielder of fire hails from New York, Linka the elegant but strong willed wielder of wind from Eastern Europe, Gi the intelligent wielder of water originated from Asia and Ma-Ti the youngest of the team and wilder of the power of heart came from Brazil. But on a personal note, if they ever do create a live-action Captain Planet they had better hire Whoopi Goldberg to reprise her role of Gaia to guide the young heroes.
Now if this was listed ten years ago many would have said there are far better options out there for a live-action remake. However, in the last few years Netflix have shown how if handled properly She-Ra is a strong enough character to carrier her own story away from her twin brother He-Man. With audiences radiating with the first Wonder Woman film, She-Ra presents the same levels of enjoyment. As both characters are warriors born but are also captive by the constraints of what they have been taught before going out and discovering who they really are.
But what She-Ra presents is a different way to justify where her story takes her. Where Wonder Woman pulls greatly on Greek mythology, She-Ra is an alien and well in space all rules are off. There is not limits to where a creative mind could take the princess of power and her magical Sword of Protection. One thing that could be revamped is her steed Swift Wind, as typically he looks like an Alicorn. However, with some creativity an alien creature with strong horse features but being something completely alien at the same time could be created. This could also be applied to many other aspects of the show, which would help differentiate it from its previous animated counterparts.
One thing that a successful adaption could do is spur on a spin-off of a He-Man live-action film. While yes one does exist from the 1980s, a new He-Man film coming off the back of a successful She-Ra film would see a reverse in how She-Ra first debuted. As in the 1980 She-Ra was introduced in an animated He-Man film which then led to her having her own show. It is also again another avenue for Hollywood to tap into the audience who want to see strong superheroines saving the day, or in She-Ra’s case Etheria.
With Pokémon & Sonic both cashing in on live-action remakes, why not the Digital Monsters next? Digimon would actually present options that Pokémon & Sonic would struggle to justify for fans. One benefit the franchise houses is not set rules on how a story is told. As long as there are protagonists fighting evil with Digimon that change forms to get stronger, it is set and done for a Digimon series. It also does not have constraints of how many characters have to have their own Digimon. As each series have played by its own rules with the number including how many are partnered with Digimon and on the odd occasion how many Digimon that are partnered with. But what is also presents is the options for gigantic monster fights.
It is an animated show that effectively allows a writing team to go down any rabbit hole they wish to find where the story goes. The film could be set in the real world or have the characters pulled into the Digital World or even combine the two. They could have two or three protagonists or more. As long as they present a threat that needs defeating with monsters evolving and gaining new powers, fans would accept it as Digimon. Essentially, Digimon has the potential to fall in line with other Kaiju films such as Godzilla but with a digital aspect thrown in the mix.
What would be key is ensuring they choose the correct protagonists and antagonist Digimon. For the protagonists, fans will expect some diversity in the types of Digimon and for the evolutions to looks more powerful but still identifiable to its previous form. A dragon themed Digimon & beast themed Digimon will be expected within the roster of protagonists and nostalgia for popular Digimon would pay off if the live-action counterparts are animated correctly. The antagonistic Digimon needs to have a genuine threat and thankfully in the recent years global networks have exploded compared to when Digimon was first created. This enables an easy access point for a story to create a global threat needing solving.
Honestly, what else could be at the top of this list other than the Thundarian refugees that find a home on Third Earth. It is a franchise that constantly gets mentioned for live-action remakes with plans often set into motion to make it happen. However, these plans often come to a grinding halt and eventual cancellation of the production. This has made many fans wonder if a live-action version will ever come to screens. But it is a franchise with good possibilities for live-action adaptations.
The primary issue being is the complexity of the set-up for the franchise from the 1980s. As in the first film you have to cover the destruction of Thundera, how the young 12-year-old Lion-O turns into a fully grown adult while in cryo-sleep, them settling on the planet Third Earth and then encountering their foe Mumm-Ra. However, this all changed when a reimagined story of Thundercats came 2012, which saw a new plot set-up the plight of the Thundercats which greatly differed from the original. This series was even met with high praise but cancelled due to poor toy sale. That’s right, not due to poor writing or fan reactions, but simply down to not enough toys being sold.
The 2012 reimagined Thundercats series proved that Thundercats fans will embrace a new telling of their feline themed heroines to take if it is well thought out. Perhaps the biggest criticism it would receive today is the heavy male presence in that cast of both heroes and villains. But Mumm-Ra is a villain that as long as portrayed as the evil scheming villain he is, fans would embrace a female variant. Another option would be also to create a new Thundercat to be part of the team, as a leopard was never one of the felines channelled in the original Thundercats team. But needless to say, this is one franchise that is long overdue for a live-action remake. Just do not let Micheal Bay near it, as he would have difficulty justifying so many explosions in this 1980s cartoon turned live-action.
What are your thoughts? What cartoons have you always wanted to see turned into live-action flicks?
About the Creator
A guy who was raised on comic books, sci-fi and the love of superheroes, thanks for that dad. I am also studying Film Production and Cinematography giving new insight into the craft.
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