The 80's was a halcyon time to grow up. Every few months there'd be an awesome new cartoon series to enjoy, often with a whole line of toys you could get.
The pinnacle, of course, was Transformers - this was a show that transcended it's origins as a way to sell action figures. It was high concept, it had a strong visual identity and was able to translate to animated movies almost immediately, attracting top level talent. Orson Welles made his last ever performance as Unicron in Transformers: The Movie! Just let that sink in for a moment and then you realise how big it was back then.
Since then we've seen several 80's properties revived, turned into movies and new shows. Transformers has been a juggernaut under Michael Bay, even if it's not quite how we like to remember them. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has also become a major series and of course, who can forget those Marvel shows and toy lines. The first complete set I ever got was the Secret Wars set, but I knew the characters from the cartoons.
GI Joe has had 2 relatively successful movies and now we see the somewhat bizzare choice of Jem. It was an updated version of Josie and the Pussycats even then, but a movie version today? If THAT can get made, then why not the 3 properties below?
One of the cooler 'hybrid' shows and toys of the period, brought together the ideas of transforming vehicles and secret/superhero style identities.
M.A.S.K were a group of secret agents, and as the song told us, they were
Matt Trakker & his son Scott were the leads, supported by an array of colourful characters, each of whom had a special skill. The villains of the piece were V.E.N.O.M, led by Miles Mayhem. The origin story was somewhat skated over, but involved betrayal, the murder of Matt's brother and stealing masks for nefarious purposes.
The interesting aspect of the show was the masks themselves. Each character had their own, that offered a unique power. It was a lot like Mission: Impossible, in that each episode could call on different team members, and each had access to 2-4 different vehicles AND their mask power. So it had a little more variety than most shows.
This is all cinematic as hell, think the crazy, high octane action of the Fast series, mixed with the MI-style intrigue and superpower/transforming aspects.
.This could be cinematic gold, if done right. Sadly the perfect Matt Trakker has now left us (Paul Walker) but Liam Neeson would be a great Miles Mayhem! Under the direction of someone like James Wan or someone like Christopher McQuarrie, this could be an awesome left-field franchise to replace Fast.
Masters Of The Universe
The tale of how a toy line intended to be for Arnold's Conan movies became one of the biggest selling in history as He-Man has been told many times. The show it spawned was staple viewing of the early 80's, had a colourful and exciting array of characters and was one of the few 'parent-friendly' shows.
Sure the moralising cut-in at the end of each was patronising, even aged 7, but it meant you rarely got any problems when you wanted a He-Man figure, despite them having swords, guns or other vicious weapons. Certainly in my case there wasn't as much complaint about the cost of a Castle Grayskull compared to some other playsets.
MOTU had a strong hero and 'sidekick', secret identities and of course, the coolest villains of the 80's. How many of us would tend to get the villain toys first? Cos they were so much better!
Trap Jaw, Modulok, Beast-Man and Skeletor all captured our imagination. Lots of people even had the female baddies like Evil-Lyn. It was rare for there to be a female character kids wanted to buy, let alone a villainous one.
What was fascinating even then was the implied history that was never covered. How DID Skeletor get that way?, who was he before and why did Skeletor and He-Man have the same relationship as Batman & Joker - they'd never kill each other, even if they'd screw each others lives up forever.
Rumors were that Skeletor was his best friend, or his uncle or even his real father but we never found out.
Of course there was a movie made with Dolph Lundgren in 1987 and while it was reasonably fun, it wasn't what we, the fans saw a He-Man movie being. It was a cheap Cannon pictures version of it. The only real saving grace was Frank Langella as Skeletor, which was one of the better villain performances of the time and the one thing Gary Goddard got right.
Since then we've seen scripts leak a few times and false starts aplenty. It's time to get this movie going. Dwayne Johnson could get this going tomorrow although it's perhaps a little too close to Shazam in concept.
There are two ways I can see a Masters movie working, an R-rated, Game of Thrones-esque epic series OR a Starsky & Hutch style comedy, where they half know they're in a movie.
Alan Taylor or Ken Branagh could easily make the epic version, Jason Isaacs as Skeletor and perhaps Chris Hemsworth or Channing Tatum might see it as a go-er. Personally I think Joe Manginello is almost perfect for the role, despite being a little older.
If they went the comedy route, I'd be less enthused but could really see it working if done affectionately in the same way Starsky & Hutch was. Someone like Hemsworth would be perfect here, he's a funny guy and while I wouldn't want an out and out spoof, a fun romp in the vein of Princess Bride or Your Majesty aimed at the grown ups who used to play with MOTU figures would be very cool indeed. Either would do well at the box office as something different right now.
Thundercats was the last toy craze I was part of and even then I was just too old. The show itself was memorable for it's exciting opening and theme, for it's characters and that it was slightly more adult about things.
Cheetarah was portrayed as out and out smokin', arguably to cater to slightly older pre-pubescent boys, they had 'relationships' (you know she and Tygra were at it) and the series dealt with death and adult responsibility from the first episode.
The rogues gallery was one of the strongest out there. Mumm-Ra was a great concept. While he had fewer minions than other shows perhaps they were effective in what they did.
Of all these 3, Thundercats is the one that would do best, although a HBO style series might work even better than a movie. As good as shows like Game of Thrones have been, they wouldn't translate well to the big screen. They tried a new version of the cartoon a few years back, it was great but it still needed to be live action.
Thundercats has a universe MADE for the 'little big-screen' and characters that would attract big names. I could easily see Vin Diesel as Panthro, Emma Stone or Emma Watson as Cheetarah, and Daniel Radcliffe as Tygra.
Lion-O, if they were quick, Luke Evans is still perfect but failing that someone like Jamie Bell could easily do the role. As for Mumm-Ra, that's surely an Andy Serkis special right there!
These are just 3 that could easily translate to the big screen and bring a buzz with them. All 3 could make money, maybe not Marvel money, but enough to potentially get a franchise going. All 3 have strong male leads, female characters that kick ass and gadgets, vehicles and epic battles that are possible. It's all about having the foresight to take a risk.