ByS.C. O'Donnell, writer at
"Zombies, exploding heads...creepy-crawlies and a date for the formal - This is classic, Spanky." Wah-hoo-wah! Twitter: @Scodonnell1
S.C. O'Donnell

If there is one thing that Hollywood loves, it's already established IPs. We live in a day and age where nostalgia runs rampant in both TV and films. From to , we've seen '80s and '90s cartoons re-emerge one after the other. However, there's one property that has been left in the dust. The property we are talking about is ThunderCats.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to grow up with this wonderful cartoon, have no fear. We are going to take a journey into the heart of Thundera, examine the reason why this property should be adapted, and explore the vast and interesting universe that the show's creator Tobin Wolf introduced to the world in 1985.

Want more '80's and '90's nostalgia? Check out:

'ThunderCats' Origins

Check out the theme song for ThunderCats below:

The central plot revolves around the young Lord Lion-O who flees the dying planet of Thundera. During their escape from Thundera, Lion-O and his ThunderCats — Tygra, Panthro, WilyKit, Cheetara, and WilyKat — managed to push through the fleet of airships that belong to their enemies, The Mutants of Plunn-Dar.

Once they managed to get past the mutants, young Lion-O and the ThunderCats make the a pilgrimage to Third Earth. This long journey required that they be placed in stasis pods, but Lion-O's pod did not stop his aging process, it only slowed it down. Much like DC Comic's Billy Batson/Shazam, Lion-O has the maturity and intelligence of a child with the physical body of an adult.

The ThunderCats finally make it to Third Earth, but we find out that they were followed by the dreaded Mutants of Plunn-Darr. While the ThunderCats were sleeping, The Mutants struck an unholy alliance with the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra who seeks the ThunderCat's holy relic, The Eye of Thundera, which is housed inside of The Sword of Omens and is the true source of the ThunderCat's Power. This serves as the major plot line for the first season, as well as following Lion-O's evolution to become the warrior that he was born to be.

'ThuderCats' Is Perfect For A Film Adaptation

Everyday it seems like there is another beloved property from our childhood being adapted for the silver screen. Most of these are not very good — we're looking at you Smurfs! — but some are wildly successful, such as Michael Bay's Transformer's franchise. With Hollywood honing in on nostalgia, it would make sense that we would see the ThunderCats pop-up already, but alas they have not.

This is real shame, because ThunderCats has the most potential to actually be good. This has to do with 2 major points:

  • The ThunderCats storytelling was unique to cartoons at the time.
  • The characters are extremely relatable to both children and adults.

So let's look at these points a little more and see how each of them could apply to a major motion picture adaptation of ThunderCats.

Unique Storytelling

Most cartoons of the 1980s were very similar to each other. They had a core plot & overall theme, and each episode, the characters would go on adventures and fight a villain. The best model to compare this sort of storytelling is TV procedural shows, like Law and Order, whose characters are all present and engaged, but there are very few overarching plots between episodes.

ThunderCats did the exact opposite, and implemented story arcs for both individual characters and for the season as a whole. This serialized story telling is great for children, because they can actually learn and grow with the actual characters. The lessons they taught in the episodes were all based on morality and situations you could actually face in real life, not just on a planet filled with humanoid cats.

The children who watched got to grow along side Lion-O, learning important lessons along the way. The first 5 episodes alone are a journey of Lion-O learning about strength, responsibility, trust, honesty and teamwork. All of these character traits were carried throughout the duration of the show and were much more satisfying to watch than just having the character beat up bad guys. This principle leads us into the next amazing thing about ThunderCats: the wonderful characters.

Relatable Characters


The character of Lion-O is wholly relatable for one central reason:he embodies all of us as we mature through adolescence. Through an error with his cryogenic pod, Lion-O is essentially a child trapped in an adult body. This presents a platform of learning for children watching the program, because the character is at the same maturity level as they are, which makes children feel that he is their equal.

His group of ThunderCats act as both friends and confidants, always pushing him to grow and become the best person he can. Each one of the ThunderCats represent a different physical attribute along with giving him moral guidance.

Cheetara - She is the first female member of the ThunderCats and represents speed and agility. She is a fierce warrior, whose bravery is only matched by her compassion.

Panthro - He is a a mutli-faceted and complex character. He has great passion, he loves his family and friends, has a lust for life, but is also a battle-hardened warrior with the skills to back it up.

Tygra - He represents patience and intelligence, as well as being quiet and aloof. He is by far the quietest member of the ThunderCats, but he is also level-headed and analytical.

Wilykit and WilyKat - They are twins who embody youthful mischief. They cause mostly innocent trouble and use tricks and sabotage during battle. The are extremely agile and never shy away from battle, even against the fiercest of foes.

Along with the ThunderCats we have the spiritual guidance of Jaga, who was once the most noble warrior and leader of the ThunderCats. In the series he took on a role much like the late Obi Wan Kenobi did after A New Hope. Also along for the ride is Snarf, who was once a nurse maid and protector of the young Lion-O. He is not a warrior by any means, but most of the time will find a way to contribute.

Each one of the characters brought a specific set of skills to the team. They all served a unique purpose that made them invaluable, even Snarf. ThunderCats is one of the few children shows that had multi-dimensional characters, each individual character had layers and it made them that much more interesting.

Final Thoughts

When you combine the unique attributes of these characters, with the accessibility and thoughtfulness of the story-arcs, you have quite the special television program. While it was aimed at children, it is one of the few '80s cartoon properties that holds up over time, and still has a lot to offer older audiences. Its lessons and the values it instills make it timeless.

This film could be either live action — in the vein of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — with performance capture, or just straight live action. The property lends itself to so many possibilities that it is almost begging to be made. Warner Bros. currently hold the rights to the property and they would be damned fools if they just let it sit on the shelf.

It's a well-known property that has the ability to really be something special if handled the correct way. To be glib, if they are making a Tetris Trilogy and an Emoji movie, why in the hell can't we get a ThunderCats movie?

One fan took it upon himself to make a fan made trailer for a live action ThunderCats and it is glorious:

Sound Off! Do you think a ThunderCats movie should happen? Let it be known in the comments section below!


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