In the ever-evolving landscape of fandom, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This!, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved geek properties.
“THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT GEORGE LUCAS HAS EVER MADE SINCE… anything not Star Wars or Indiana Jones related.” – The Nostalgia Critic
I’m at war with myself, PoPulation. On one hand, I hate it when people judge something without seeing it. If you haven’t experienced something, what makes you qualified to say it sucks? I’ve seen the horrors of Twilight and read Chuck Austin’s runs on Uncanny X-Men and Action Comics, so I feel like I’m justified in bashing them. On the other hand, I love Steve Gerber. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get into his stuff until after he died, but everything I’ve read so far I love. His work on Man-Thing should be mandatory comics reading, his run on Defenders was a gleefully subversive look at super-hero teams, his last work on Dr. Fate was truly magical, and Omega the Unknown (co-written with Mary Skrenes) is on par with Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run for brain-melting concepts and sheer ambition. But even with all this, his work with his creation Howard the Duck surpasses them all. Funny, thought-provoking, insightful, touching; I could go on and on about it. His dislike of the film adaptation is well known, and it’s because of this I refuse to see it. So call me hypocritical if you want, but I’m not budging on this one.
By nearly all accounts the movie is horrid. I’ve rarely been told by anyone that they enjoyed seeing it. (One of my fellow PoP!-Stars may come to it’s defense. He might say it’s a decent film. He is wrong.) The bits I have seen from the Nostalgia Critic’s review seem to confirm it’s suckitude. Heck, even the filmmakers said they were shifting it away from the tone of Gerber’s comics: “It’s a film about a duck from outer space… It’s not supposed to be an existential experience…” said screenwriter Gloria Katz. The character of Howard himself was even greatly changed. The comic’s cynical, multi-layered fowl was made into a wise-cracking blank slate. To compound the pain, puns involving the word “duck” were littered throughout the film with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
The saddest part is that because of it’s reputation and previous box office performance, Howard will probably never get the film treatment he deserves. (The history between Howard and Marvel’s new owner Disney doesn’t help, either.) It’s a shame, because a film based closer on Gerber’s works could be a great, cerebral alternative to Marvel’s usual fare. Imagine a subversive, thoughtful piece written by someone like Charlie Kaufman and helmed by a director like Spike Jonze, with a CG Howard interacting with a live action cast. It could be fantastic. As it is, all we have is the original flop, which I can sum up my feeling for with a Howard-esque “WAUGHHH!”