Hollywood! Adapt This: Disney’s GARGOYLES

by     Posted 2 years, 85 days ago

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We’re currently in a time when Hollywood seems more likely to revamp, reboot, remake or re-adapt an already established property than to take a chance on something wholly original.  Financially, this makes sense as the general public is already aware of the franchise in question and may be more likely to go see a new iteration out of a sense of nostalgia or plain old curiosity.  We’ve seen Hollywood continually mine our rich, fertile and imaginative childhoods as a source of box office fodder (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant/Alien Ninja Turtles) and that’s not likely to stop any time soon.  So I’m here to take the initiative and offer up some forgotten franchises, some lesser-known vintage properties and some downright obscure media to sacrifice to the box office gods.  Our initial feature will plead the case for a re-imagining of one of my favorite mid-90s animated shows and you can read it after the jump.  Hollywood! Adapt This: Disney’s Gargoyles 

disney-gargoyles-goliathAs a child of the 80s and 90s, it’s been tough, at times, to see my cherished childhood memories be treated as nothing more than dollar signs.  Hollywood reboots are a double-edged sword: some people hold their memories of those properties so dear that to alter them is tantamount to sacrilege, while others are enthusiastic for a revival of a forgotten franchise and eager for a re-imagining.  I waver between those positions depending on the project in question.  I was fully behind the feature adaptation of the first Transformers (not so much the sequels) and am vehemently opposed to Disney’s possible reboot of The Rocketeer.  So my aim today is to distract Disney with a shiny property they left behind: Gargoyles.

What It’s About:

Created by Greg Weisman, the animated, half-hour series originally ran from late 1994 and ended in early 1997.  The premise was fantastic: stone gargoyles, imported from Scotland, awoke at night to shake off their rocky shells and  soar across the New York City skyline to protect the innocent.  With the exception of their leader, Goliath, the rest of the gargoyles took their names from the city’s notable landmarks: Brooklyn, Broadway, Hudson, Lexington and Bronx.  Each of them had their own strengths: Lexington was the brains, Broadway supplied the humor and Bronx was the fiercely loyal gargoyle dog.  They also came with built-in weaknesses (turning into vulnerable stone statues at daybreak and an ability to glide, but not fly) that were seamlessly blended into the plot.  The voice cast was exceptional, anchored by the robust and commanding presence of Keith David while also featuring Ed Asner, Frank Welker, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis to name a few. The pre-HD animation was rich and atmospheric, while Carl Johnson’s score was an orchestral force.

disney-gargoyles-clanBut it was the tone of Gargoyles that really set it apart from other animated shows of the day.  Perhaps not as dark as the earlier running show, Batman: The Animated Series (which I hold as the shining example of what animated episodic television can be), Gargoyles still took on a Gothic tone, often emulating Shakespearean dramas.  Complex character arcs were woven in throughout the series with shifting alliances, grudges held unawares for centuries and oftentimes a murky moral ground that determined a character’s motivation.  Betrayals were a common theme and alliances outside the central gargoyle clan were tenuous at best.  Humans initially betrayed the gargoyles in 10th century Scotland and the clan differed on how much they trust people in the present day.  Billionaire industrialist David Xanatos is both the reason for their revival and main antagonist to their existence (along with a host of other gargoyles and powered up villains).  New York police detective Elisa Maza acts as the main source of information and the most trusted friend to the gargoyles (plus some weird Beauty and the Beast-type interactions with Goliath).

How Could / Why Should It Be Adapted?

The marketing potential is endless (the original franchise spawned action figures, video games and eventually a comic series).  A feature treatment could easily be done today with present movie-making technology that wasn’t available in the mid 90s.  A precedent for blending magical fantasy with sci-fi elements has already been established with the success of The Avengers and the continued progress of Disney/Marvel’s second wave.  Gargoyles is a high-concept property with franchise potential that’s family-friendly and already owned by Disney; in other words, this one is right in the Mouse’s wheelhouse.

goliath-gargoyles

But other than a potential cash cow, why bother? What possible worthwhile plotlines could center on a group of colorful grotesques come to life to defend New York? Well, Shakespearean tragedies are a good start.  No one lays out a good old fashioned back-stabbing like Will.  And there’s plenty of treason to go around.  Aside from the inciting incident where the humans betray their own protectors,  Goliath eventually finds out that his lady mate, Demona, survived the centuries as well, but she is not what she first appears.

Betrayals are great, but only if you care about the protagonists to begin with.  What makes the gargoyles so appealing is that they are instantly likable for kids while also being great foils for dramatic interpretation.  Much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a lot of fun can be had watching these strange creatures attempt to adapt to a human way of life in the modern world.  As anachronisms, the gargoyles are equal parts terrified, mystified and curious about modern machines, buildings, clothing and the like.  (I’m pretty sure Goliath says, “What sorcery is this?” a number of times in the early episodes.)  But this setup of the gargoyles as “the other” makes for an interesting through line. I’m not saying that Gargoyles is on par with “A Stranger in a Strange Land” or the savages of “Brave New World,” but perhaps a common plotline of mutants vs humans in X-Men stories is more appropriate.  The gargoyles are visibly very different from society and yet are still a part of it.  There’s an individual struggle (and yes, dissension within the group) on deciding whether to become a part of this new world or to retreat from it and go into hiding.  Later episodes of the series even addressed the growing anti-gargoyle movement with a hate group who called themselves the Quarrymen.  There’s plenty of social context to provide a rich story to go along with the stock and stone of Gargoyles, which could appease fans of all ages and sensibilities.

The Final Word:

gargoyles-broadwayWould I like to see a Gargoyles feature treatment or reboot? Absolutely. (I’d settle for Disney releasing the whole series on DVD finally.)  My own personal take on it would be, obviously, an origin story, showing the numerous gargoyles defending their human caretakers in the distant past, only to be drastically reduced in numbers by treachery.  Now that we have the audience’s sympathy, jumping them to the present day should be a piece of cake.  Honestly, one of the coolest parts of the show was watching the sun go down, seeing the shadows slowly descend over the gargoyle statues and then seeing their eyes glow before they burst out of their stone shells.

The main sticking point would be in giving Xanatos a viable reason to spend the money to fly the battlement of an ancient Scottish castle all the way to New York (Because he’s an eccentric billionaire and he can? Because he’s a history buff and a mythology nut? Because he’s a power-hungry misanthrope obsessed with the occult like a modern day Hitler?) Maybe Xanatos is using them as muscle in some sort of nefarious corporate plot that Elisa Maza exposes, causing Goliath and his ilk to have to put their faith in one human or another yet again.

gargoyles-dvdWhen you get down to it, the gargoyles are a family unit, albeit a dysfunctional one.  Lexington’s brains help the gargoyles adapt while Brooklyn’s character arc evolves from a rebellious youth to a capable leader; Broadway is the friendliest of the bunch and most awed by modern culture, while Hudson is a curmudgeonly grandfather type.  The familial core of Gargoyles keeps the story accessible and lets it get away with some of the more “after school special” type life lessons.  But other than that, let the guys explore the city, get into trouble, fight some crime and bring some social issues to light. As long as the dulcet tones of Keith David are onboard, so am I!

If you’re interested in buying the Gargoyles episodes on DVD, check out the links below (unfortunately, Disney hasn’t released the entire series yet):

Not familiar with the series? Check out the badass trailer for Gargoyles below:

What do you think? Should Hollywood revive Disney’s Gargoyles or leave it well enough alone?  Let us know in the comments below! As this is a new editorial we’re featuring on Collider, feel free to give us your suggestions on future obscure properties to explore.  As a teaser for next week’s installment, we’ll take to the high seas and search for the lost treasures of Rule!

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  • Mavro

    Oh, hell yeah, Dave! This was my favorite animated series of the 90s next to BATMAN: TAS. Truly epic storytelling.

    • gcm443

      I second this. Hell of an idea!

      • gcm443

        Also if Robert Downey Jr wasn’t already a billionaire playboy in another huge franchise, he would have been the perfect Xanatos

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, tons of potential.

  • Oviraptor

    Just don’t like Michael Bay anywhere near it or he’ll have them be aliens.

    • Dave Trumbore

      You’ve got a lot of support on this one. I think it should be a basic assumption going forward that I wouldn’t support Bay for any of these adaptations unless, God forbid, I think he could actually enhance them. I’ve got one property in mind that Bay might actually be tailor made for. Stay tuned!

  • Frank

    I’ve been dreaming about this for years. If they kept the same voice cast and did the gargoyles as cgi, it would be amazing.

    • stove

      if instead of straight up cgi, doing a mixture of Henson like costumes (TMNT, the original with Casey Jones as a badass claustrophobic dick head) and then added cgi to enhance the costumes and throw in some real stunt work then we might have something worth standing the test of time. Like the effects in Where the Wild Things Are, use real costumes then use cgi to touch them up, that way we don’t have to stare at bullshit weightless characters (looking at you Spider-man 1). There aren’t enough practical effects used in today’s movies, if the Ninja Turtles still look awesome (we are mainly talking the first one, by the third one it’s the reason why attentiveness needs to be applied when taking this approach) by today’s standards, yet old cgi (Dragonheart, anyone) holds up like a week old mayo left in the sun.

  • AgentOfFate

    Also one of my favorites as a kid, have a lot of fond memories watching this alongside the animated batman series. It would actually make a pretty awesome movie if they did it right, and it would almost be worth it just to see how they would bring the gargoyles to life with the awesome CG we have nowadays.

  • JennyL

    I love this show. Between this and Batman: The Animated Series, I loved my after school special.

  • Daniel

    I rember this series as being the first thinking boy’s animated series. Now in our thirties, me and my brother still talk about the complexity of the story lines, Story arcs spaning numerous episodes and seasons. I agree to a reboot. Please not Micheal Bay or M. Night Shamamilanian…. used to love him before he screwd up another great animated series “the last air bender”.

  • Keegan

    Gargoyles was one of the greatest animated shows of all time (totally cancelled prematurely). I love Gargoyles and I’d love to see a movie. But who knows what garbage Hollywood bullshit could be the result? And if it was ever put into production, you just know that Michael Bay would be involved somehow. I think has potential to live up to the show, but only if the project is trusted in the hands of someone who isn’t Michael Bay or M. Night Shaymalan or else all we would see is Transformers in monster form or a Gargoyles movie where the gargoyles weren’t gargoyles at all: they’re alien werewolf terrorists… from the future. (South Park reference)

  • Pablo González

    I have some suggestions for future posts. I hope you like it!:

    1. Jem and the Holograms
    2. Adventures of Johnny Quest
    3. Voltron
    4. Bionic Six
    5. Robotech
    6. Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
    7. Turbo Teen
    8. Thundercats

    • Dave Trumbore

      You’ve got the right idea, sir! Keep checking back on the weekends and I’m sure I’ll get to these in due time. (How has Johnny Quest not been adapted? Seriously!)

    • ScaredForMovies

      Jem and the Holograms was terrible but you’re right it could be girl gold.

  • Rockslide

    This is an idea that I heartily agree with. Wasn’t it last year that Disney said they were making a Gargoyles movie but that it had nothing to do with the 90′s property? I plead on those threads that they scrap that crap and make the Gargoyles movie everyone had wanted since the 90′s. I would love a live-action/CGI hybrid. The first four part miniseries could be beefed up a bit and be script ready.

  • Scurvy

    I think this is a great idea

    Keith David would have to voice Goliath. The rest of the gargoyles I think could be recast.

    Kenneth Branagh would be the perfect director.

    Jonathan Frakes would be great as Xanatos.

  • SP1234

    They could definately do the Gargoyles through CG/motion capture (I see Andy Serkis all over this!!!) and the mythology could work well for Disney as they dealt with the Loki and Thor stuff in Avengers. This could probably work with the right director involved.

  • Angel of Death

    Guillermo Del Toro should write/direct
    Javier Bardem as Golliath
    Bradley Cooper as Brooklyn
    Nick Frost as Broadway
    Anton Yelchin as Lexington
    Ian McShane or Brandon Gleeson as Hudson
    Kate Beckinsale as Demona
    Josh Brolin as Xanatos
    Genesis Rodriguez as Elisa

    Now someone give me a million dollars for coming up with the best casting calls ever!

    • Hunter

      props on the casting could def see most of these

    • Spec_Hops

      Wonderful cast line up….. but i think that Brian Cox would be Hudson, hands down. :)

  • John

    Yes, this idea is brilliant! But the it really depends on the productive talent thats gonna get involved to ake this great. Anyway a movie about Gargoyles or Mummy’s Alive! would be fantastic , or a non-Michael Bay Beast Wars.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Dude, Mummies Alive! They’re on my list but probably not for a while. Keep checking back!

  • John

    Yes, this idea is brilliant! But the it really depends on the productive talent thats gonna get involved to ake this great. Anyway a movie about Gargoyles or Mummy\’s Alive! would be fantastic , or a non-Michael Bay Beast Wars.

  • John

    Yes, this idea is brilliant! But the it really depends on the productive talent thats gonna get involved to ake this great. Anyway a movie about Gargoyles or Mummy\\\’s Alive! would be fantastic , or a non-Michael Bay Beast Wars.

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  • Anonymous

    Fuck yes

  • Adrian

    I’ve never watched the show so I’m unaware of its potential, but from the look of it, it is very 90s – 80s heavy show and I’m not sure how well it would translate to modern cinemas or audiences. It would need to be done by the right people to work and avoid being too campy or cheesy.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Maybe I’m just nostalgic for this property, but honestly, its plot is heavily derived from timeless Shakespearean works and the protags are no stranger than those of TMNT, Transformers or X-Men. You make a good point in that it would certainly need to have a contemporary update, but part of the allure of Gargoyles was that they were creatures out of time adapting to our modern world. Should be an easy fix. Check em out if you have a chance!

  • ScaredForMovies

    I remember when Disney announced a Gargoyles movie. Everyone went nuts thinking it was this series but it was a crap movie “in the spirit of The Sorcerers Apprentice.” How’d that movie turn out again?

  • Tony Bada-Bing

    It has been a very long time since I’ve seen this show, but I did like it and I am FOR a movie adaptation. I think to make the gargoyles they could use that motion-capture tech. I also think they could make this a trilogy of movies- show their origin and whatnot. Or maybe take some of the episodes and either combine three episode stories into one long movie (I think they did that with the “Tintin” movie- combined two or three of the stories into one film.)
    Now, not to be a wise guy or get too far off topic but there’s another Disney cartoon that I always thought would be cool to see be turned into a full-length movie:
    Tailspin. (The show where Balloo from “Jungle Book” flew a cargo airplane-for those who forgot.) I think that show, with the air pirates, other enemies and adventures would make a great idea for a film. But that’s just me.

    • Dave Trumbore

      I’m with ya! I loved TaleSpin. Baloo was like the Han Solo of the animated Disney world. I’ll revisit this one in a future post!

  • Stephen

    Honest to God, I have telling my friends for years that they should make a Gargoyles movie. I am glad someone else agrees :)

  • Hunter

    I absolutely loved this show when i was a kid and had the movie. I hate how this just faded away and was not adapted to anything else. Also, does anyone remember the Street Sharks?

    • Dave Trumbore

      I’m gonna go ahead and say that Street Sharks would be a much tougher sell, but I remember them just the same. Right up there with Biker Mice from Mars, Swat Kats and Bucky O’Hare! We’ll come back and visit these properties in the future as well!

  • Jono

    I’d like to see a live action Captain Scarlet reboot. Not a kiddie version though. It should be Dark & Tense.

  • SPE

    I wanna see Pirates of Dark Water!

    • ScaredForMovies

      I watched it again recently. Great concept but the cartoon left a lot to be desired. The problem with it was although it was imaginative it failed as a product and therefore Hollywood won’t touch. I’ve always felt the same way about the Visionaries.

      • Dave Trumbore

        I think PoDW is a case where the property can actually be improved with an adapted feature under the right circumstances. Think “Pirates of the Caribbean” series with more of a solid quest plot. As a fan of the show, it’s always bothered me that they never completed the quest (or even outright failed it). I’d love to see that go to completion…and we’ll visit it this week!

  • Gargoyles Fan

    Her name was Demona, not Desdemona.

    But yeah, would love to see this.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Good call. I fixed it. Desdemona came later (with Coldheart, I believe) and that always confused me.

  • Hunter

    is there anywhere online to stream Gargoyles: The Heroes Awaken movie. I remember having the VHS a long time ago (long gone now) and want to watch it so bad now haha

    • ScaredForMovies

      You can get a torrent off pirate bay for the entire series but it’s illegal. Muhahahahah.
      The quality isn’t the best but I have no problem downloading shows they haven’t released in their entirety.
      Such a good show and still holds up really well.

  • Greg

    Pirates of darkwatet

  • Strong Enough

    i think this is a horrible idea.

    • Thundersauresrex

      course you do……………………………………………………………………………..

  • tom

    sorry i’m tardy to the party. but i loved Gargoyles growing up. i totally agree with everyone when they said it was Batman TAS, and then Gargoyles. that was my shit. but i was thinking about some other old properties that i loved, and what about Mystic Knights. i remember that being pretty cool too. i have the black dude’s action figure. that show also goes along the same lines of a blend between fantasy and magic and stuff

  • Someguy

    If they do reboot it, tell them to not repeat pretty much everything done to the franchise after they fired the head writer and moved the show to Saturday mornings. That killed it for me.

  • Roland Deschain

    Freakin’ loved this show growing up!

  • Dedpool

    YES PLEASE!!! I mean it’s one of the ebst written animated shows EVER! It preceeds Avatar as one of the most engrossing shows, and one of the first with serious continuity. It drew inspiration from Shakespeare, and was original. And yet we still can’t even get it all on DVD!!!!

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