Netflix announced that they will reboot popular '80s cartoon Inspector Gadget; director Joseph Kahn did a sick fan-film for an imagined Power Rangers movie; and now Ducktales is also making a comeback. Nostalgia fuels the Hollywood machine, but how much of this is a good idea, or will even translate well in modern times?
Right on the heels of America's financial collapse, we're setting out to teach children about the virtue of greed again. In the 80s, this show was about a rich, powerful, grumpy old dude who takes in three nephews and turns them into globe-trotting, adventure-seeking hellions. It was an unhealthy mix, a bit of small-scale British imperialism stirred into a frat party, and the only reason we didn't notice is because it was a cartoon. Now that the world has been turned into a festering, necrotic wound by real life Scrooge-types (picture certain politicians wearing top hats), I can't see how this cartoon is going to translate to another generation. It's possible that this time, when he dives into his piles of gold coins, parents will be throwing shoes at their flatscreens.
According to my co-worker Akilah Hughes, Inspector Gadget is the weirdest choice for a reboot. "We have most of his technology now, save for a gadget copter that pops out of your hat. But, like, we have drones." I think it's cool to prop up any show that focuses on Penny, the clever and scientific niece who ends up solving most of the cases they work on, because we need all the help they can get when it comes to showcasing heroic girls on TV. But that sort of loses its edge when you realize Penny is an underpaid employee and child nurse taking care of her mentally unstable uncle who takes all the credit for her work. Hopefully the reboot will address things like child labor laws and the virtue of sharing the spotlight.
A gritty reboot of a beloved, campy '80s show sounds like an SNL skit come to life. But here's the thing: This fan-created film looks awesome. The creator, director Joseph Kahn, isn't attached to the official Lionsgate Power Rangers reboot, so he just created the best business card ever. James van der Beek has a robot foot and he punches Katee Sackhoff in the face! And then she gets to shoot him! And the black ranger does something called Hip Hop Kido! This is one part Pacific Rim, three parts take all of my money.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.