There’s news this week that the famous Cartoon Network show ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ is getting a live-action reboot, continuing the trend of re-making popular cartoon properties into live action … for some reason. This news has left us (along with many other online folk) just a little worried. While we are open to the idea that it could be surprisingly good, we can’t help but be concerned with the information surrounding it. For example, Craig McCraken – the creator of the Powerpuff Girls – doesn’t seem to be attached to the live-action reboot at all which is a bad start in anybody’s eyes.
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We have always been super-fans of the original Powerpuff Girls (although not quite as keen on it’s 2016 release) for its action, humour and memorable characters both good and evil. According to this week’s reports, the live-action Powerpuff Girls series will focus on Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup being in their 20’s and harboring resentment about a childhood lost to being superheroes, a situation apparently caused by their guardian and creator, Professor Utonium, pressuring them to be superheroes. We are not completely against the idea of the girls being aged-up and working through deeper and darker matters but reading this makes use concerned that, much like the 2016 reboot, the planners may have missed the point of the original show completely. For example, yes there was a lot of crime fighting, but the Powerpuff Girls generally had normalish home lives with many episodes focusing on daily activities and problems familiar to any regular kid e.g. having a bad hair day, getting money from the tooth fairy, sibling rivalry and general school dramas. Also, an important part of the show is that the Powerpuff Girls ENJOY crime-fighting and being superheroes. It is possible that may have changed when they were older but, from the way it is portrayed in the original Cartoon Network series, we get the impression that they were not forced into it.
This notion of them being ‘put upon’ could also pay a great disservice to Professor Utonium who was always an incredibly supportive figure to the girls right from the start. In fact, he sometimes REFUSED to let them crime-fight either because he thought it would be too dangerous for them (which he is usually proved wrong about) or if it was interfering with their normal lives e.g. making them go to bed at a certain time even though the city was under attack. In one episode he even became a sort-of superhero himself so he could spend more time with his girls … unfortunately he became such a hazard to himself and everybody that the girls had to trick him into quitting. If the Powerpuff Girls live-action reboot turns all of this around and makes him the cause of their problems it would be an insult to us long-standing fans of the show.
Another thing concerning us is how the characters may be changed in a Powerpuff Girls live-action reboot . There are so many amazing and colourful characters in the original Cartoon Network cartoons, both good guys and bad guys, and we are worried that they will either become a shell of their former selves or just not exist. For example, we know Blossom as the smart leader, Bubbles as the cute happy one and Buttercup as the tough tomboy one. While they can have their original Cartoon Network characters expanded upon, it might be tiresome if we are just told that is who they are rather than being shown that is who they are. Powerpuff villains are some of the best villains in the world! … Mojo Jojo, HIM, Fuzzy Lumpkins, Princess Morbucks, etc, and they have often outshone the heroes themselves; we hope this is not lost in a remake by concentrating excessively on the girls’ angst or by portraying them as bland or in a token way. It is also possible that the special effects to create the villains could be … well … terrible … so there is that to think about too. The 2016 reboot also removed the character of Ms Bellum (the Mayor’s assistant) because it was considered that she was ‘sending a bad message to kids’ due to the way that she was shown on the screen. This might suggest that many other characters may not be PC enough to achieve conversion into the Powerpuff live-action reboot.
There are a couple of other concerns we have that don’t come from the release statement. One is the studio that will be hosting it i.e. The CW Network, who are known for producing DC shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow but perhaps they are best known for their shows Supernatural and Riverdale. Supernatural is coming to its sad but nevertheless long-overdue end and so it makes sense that they’re looking for a new ‘something’ to fill the TV viewing slots. A lot of people on-line are worried that the Powerpuff Girls live-action show will be like Riverdale which is an edgy teen drama apparently based on the characters from Archie comics but which has only used the characters’ names and locations … and just went crazy from there. Even fans of Riverdale will tell you that it’s just doing whatever it wants and there are concerns that the Powerpuff Girls reboot will try to introduce themes that are way too adult or inappropriate or both.
Finally we, like many others, are getting tired of studios remaking existing cartoons in live action format. This is mostly because the reactions to them are extremely poor (with few exceptions) with even the best responses being a “meh!” or a sombre “it was pretty good … wouldn’t rush back … but it was OK”. This seems to happen to so many Disney movies, popular Anime series and even video games; maybe one day something will come along and break that curse but that day has not yet come. A problem that these re-boots tend to have is that they try to make everything more ‘realistic’ which often just ends up as ‘let’s make it dark, sad and depressing’; even Craig McCracken admitted that he went too dark in the 2002 Powerpuff Girls movie which had very mixed reviews.
Overall we do want a Powerpuff Girls live-action reboot to succeed, but if Cartoon Network cannot remake their own property successfully, then no one can. We notice that it is not looking good for the Netflix live action version of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ if the original creators have left … so imagine what could happen to the Powerpuff remake if the creator is not involved at all!
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