In 2011 Warner Bros. released a Thundercats reboot. This cartoon was an updated version of the 1985 show. An ’80s Saturday morning cartoon that focused on a group of cat-like humanoids fleeing their dying planet. Additionally, they settled on a post-apocalyptic Earth. That they defended from their old enemies the Mutants and Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living the series’ big bad. Notably, Thundercats 2011 reimagined their home as not a planet but a kingdom in a fantasy kitchen sink type world. Populated by sentient, civilised animals. After Mumm-Ra and his followers lay waste to Thundera the new Thundercats embark on a walking the Earth-type quest. Moreover, they travel across Third Earth fighting enemies, making friends and learning lessons. Regrettably, Thundercats 2011 was cancelled after only 26 episodes. In this article, I’d like to have a look at what I felt worked in the Thundercats reboot. And what didn’t.
Thundercats 2011 boasted some really strong individual episodes. Chief among these was “Song of the Petalars.” Notably, in this episode, Lion-O befriends a baby plant creature called Emrick whose species live, grow old and die in 24 hours. Indeed, the Lord of the Thundercats holds a dying Emrick, who says that what matters is how fully we’ve lived. Not how long. This was a beautiful piece of storytelling. That holds up against any Studio Ghibli or Pixar offering. Furthermore, Thundercats 2011 had much more mature storylines than its 1985 predecessor. I’m talking here about the Grune/Panthro friendship/rivalry and the Lion-O/Cheetara/Tygra love triangle. Viewers saw Grune and Panthro become friends through flashbacks. Only for Mumm-Ra to corrupt Grune causing him to leave Panthro for dead. What’s more, it was heavily implied that Cheetara was romantically interested in Lion-O. Only for her to kiss Tygra at the end of series 1.
What Didn’t Work
For all its great production values and storytelling the 2011 reboot didn’t say or do anything new. Mumm-Ra felt like a generic anime demon prince with none of the mystery and darkness that his 1985 counterpart had. Furthermore, the show felt a bit too much like Final Fantasy or a Studio Ghibli production. And not enough like its own thing. The 1985 Thundercats featured some brilliant incidental music from the legendary Bernard Hoffer. While Hoffer provided the score for the reboot, it didn’t quite have the same impact, for me at least. I’d say as well that Thundercats 2011 tried to introduce too much of the lore too soon. Instead of gradually building the world and the characters. This was one area where the 1985 Thundercats was superior. Possibly it would have been better if Thundera’s destruction had played out over several episodes. Giving us time to know what it was and why it was important to our main characters.
Thundercats 2011 was a perfectly serviceable show the main problem was that it didn’t really stand out. It’s clear from watching it that a gigantic effort was made. To update the show for the 21st century. Regrettably, however, the 2011 Thundercats seemed to get lost in the shuffle. This is not a knock on any of the actors, writers, or animators. They clearly did their absolute best to make the reboot excellent. Somehow it just didn’t capture the magic of the 1985 original. Perhaps it was just the wrong time for Thundercats to return.
Did you enjoy Thundercats 2011? What did you think of the original Thundercats? Please leave a comment and stay safe.
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