ByHarrison Martin, writer at
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Harrison Martin

“1000 years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night. We were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, here in Manhattan — the spell is broken! And we live again! We are defenders of the night. We are GARGOYLES!”

If you were a kid during the ‘90s you know where this monologue is from — Gargoyles. The cartoon was created by Greg Weisman, the man who also created two of the best animated superhero cartoons: Young Justice and The Spectacular Spider-Man. features a species of nocturnal creatures that turn to a stone-like state during the day. After spending a millennium in their petrified state due to a spell, the gargoyles are reawakened in modern-day New York City after having been transported from Scotland. They take on roles as the city's secret nighttime guardians and befriend NYPD Detective Maza, who helps the gargoyles get up to speed with modern times.

Wyvern/Manhattan Clan [Credit: Walt Disney Television]
Wyvern/Manhattan Clan [Credit: Walt Disney Television]

During its three-season run, Gargoyles was known for its relatively dark tone and complex story arcs. This garnered favorable comparisons to Batman: The Animated Series, which was in syndication around the time Gargoyles aired. The use of melodrama in conjunction with character arcs was heavily utilized throughout the series, as were Shakespearean themes. As a matter of fact, many of the show’s main and recurring characters are based on characters from Shakespeare’s plays, including Oberon, Macbeth and Puck.

The story arcs and characters presented in Gargoyles would be great to see on the silver screen. Given the fact that Gargoyles is a Disney property and Disney has been doing well with its Marvel, StarWars and Pixar franchises, I’m sure they would be successful in adapting this show as well. The gargoyles themselves even could be brought to life using the same motion capture technology used by James Cameron in Avatar.

Strong Female Characters

Elisa Maza, Demona and Fox [Credit: Walt Disney Television]
Elisa Maza, Demona and Fox [Credit: Walt Disney Television]

There's no denying the female characters in the Gargoyles universe are very well written. There is strong character depth and growth that is not seen in many other cartoons. One of the primary characters, Elisa Maza is a great example of this. She is presented as a dutiful NYPD detective at the beginning and grows into a hero as the show progresses. Even with this arc, she is still portrayed as a flawed character who can be selfish and stubborn at times. She is very accepting of the gargoyles, even though they aren’t human. This is partly because Elisa has experienced prejudices due to her own mixed heritage: African American on her mother's side, and Native American on her father's side.

Demona and Fox have similar arcs in the series, even if they are the opposite of the other. Demona starts out as a kind gargoyle like the rest of her clan, but since she was not under the same spell as they were, she lived for a millennium experiencing how bad humans can be. Thus, when we are introduced to her in the modern day, she hates them completely. Meanwhile, Fox starts out as a villain, but becomes reformed and helps the Manhattan Clan from time to time, usually when it benefits her. Watching these character arcs unfold in a film series would be interesting to see. If the franchise was to run long enough, then we could even be introduced to Angela, a headstrong young gargoyle, who is the child of Demona and Goliath.

Character Relationships

Elisa and Goliath [Credit: Walt Disney Television]
Elisa and Goliath [Credit: Walt Disney Television]

The way the relationships work out in this show mirrors James Cameron’s Avatar in some aspects (or perhaps Avatar mirrors this). Eventually, Elisa Maza falls in love with Goliath, even though they are different species. Their love transcends their anatomy and it is beautiful. At the same time, Demona, Goliath’s former mate, is disgusted by this. Seeing this unfold in a film would be bold, but somewhat familiar for audiences. The parallels it could have to society's view of interracial relationships would be great.

Other interesting relationships include Xanatos’s relationship with Fox and Broadway’s relationship with Angela. Xanatos — being a self-made man — was hindered from finding true love due to his trust issues and his enormous wealth. When meets Fox, he realizes she is his equal and falls for her. Broadway’s feelings toward Angela are even more complex. Aside from the fact that his other, younger clan members are also attracted to her, he sees Goliath as a father figure. With Goliath being her dad, he doesn’t know if he’s worthy — a feeling many men have when meeting the father of their significant other.

Xanatos and Fox [Credit: Walt Disney Television]
Xanatos and Fox [Credit: Walt Disney Television]

The saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” describes this series perfectly, as alliances are always changing. Just like a soap opera, former heroes become villains and former villains become heroes — or at least antiheroes. Apprentices become leaders and older leaders learn to follow. The fluidity of these relationships makes for more interesting stories to translate into film.


The key to any great film is the casting. Picking the right actors for the leading and supporting roles can make or break a film. For the gargoyles, Disney will need actors whose voices have a presence. Keith David did a phenomenal job voicing Goliath in the television show, and many original fans wouldn't mind him coming back to do the voice, but if they were casting a live-action reboot of Gargoyles, then Idris Elba would do a great job as the leader of the Manhattan Clan. He has both the physicality and voice to play this character. The human actors would be best if they resembled their animated counterparts. Zazie Beetz would make a great Elisa Maza and Jake Gyllenhaal could fit nicely as David Xanatos. Of course these are just suggestions, many actors could do just as well.

This is a show that Disney would be smart to adapt. Gargoyles has many stories that are ripe for building a film franchise, possibly making enough films to rival the Harry Potter franchise (a boy can dream). Only time will tell if Disney will ever go back and start mining their old animated shows for potential films. If they do, I hope this is at the top of their list.

Would you like to see a live action reboot of Gargoyles? Leave your comments below!


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