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– by Brendan Hughes

In the early 1990s, there was a duck whose only mission was to rid the streets of evil. No, I am not talking about Howard the Duck. I am referring to one of the best cartoons to grace the small screen, Darkwing Duck (Drake Mallard). In the newest episode of the DuckTales, we saw the triumphant return of the Masked Mallard—kind of. In ‘Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!’ Dewey is watching television at Launchpads’ which reveals that Darkwing Duck is actually just a show within DuckTales featuring an over the hill actor with an ego. This reboot perfectly captured the mannerisms of Darkwing, mainly attributed to Jim Cummings voicing the character, and the show played a lot like the 1960s Adam West Batman series. There has been speculation about the return of Darkwing but with it being a show within a show is the return actually possible?

Bringing the character back has been a constant request by most fans since the show went off the air. In 2015, it seemed that the wait would be over when a leak surfaced that Disney was thinking of bringing back the character. This rumor picked up steam when Animation Xpress released the below quote from “Disney XD.” Unfortunately, this was likely a misunderstanding as Darkwing returned as a comic by independent publisher Joe Books. Though this 8-issue series was a great addition to the legend of Darkwing, it wasn’t quite what everyone was hoping for. The reappearance of Darkwing would take another 3 years when he reappeared for a minute of Disney’s firstly and only, as of date, duck reboot.

“Our new series will bring that same energy and bumbling crime-fighting spirit that fans have come to love about Darkwing Duck. We’re also going to add a gritty look that this generation of kids love. It’s our goal that fans of old and new will enjoy the new Darkwing Duck.”

Returning to the question on hand if Disney is able to spin Drake Mallard out of DuckTales and into his own show. Seeing Darkwing return in any fashion was a nice callback to the original “Duckverse” but the show within a show aspect can be the biggest deterrent to a reboot. ‘Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!’ was full of throwbacks to the late 80s and early 90s featuring Gizmoduck, voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Darkwing which makes it seem that this is a one-off type of deal here. Darkwing appearing as an Adam West type shows that his appearance was a gag for the older fans who view the show through the perspective of Launchpad—whose birthdate is that of the original DuckTales.

Having said that, it isn’t impossible for Darkwing to return in his own series if there is a call for it in the fan community. Disney having a one-minute teaser can be seen as just a gauge on the fans reaction and may secretly have ideas about a full-blown reboot.  Given that Gizmoduck was introduced in the latest episode the groundwork of a spinoff may have just been laid without anyone actually realizing it. In the original series, Gizmoduck first interacted with Launchpad before becoming an ally of the Masked Mallard. With this being the exact method that ‘Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!’ revealed last week it may just point to the return. But the major question is how they would escape the box they made for a Darkwing spinoff.

The most plausible option is that Darkwing will become either bored with the television show or become engrossed in his character and become a real hero. This option would fit the character as his lack of common sense usually has him in the immediate range of danger. The potential series of him evolving from fake crime to real crime would be an interesting take on the character. However, given that the Darkwing show was dated to when Launchpad was a child that would put Drake Mallard into retirement. This would likely result in a potential series playing out like Birdman where an old actor relives his past as a former hero. Aging Darkwing would match the older fanbase with the time between the series which would fit the fashion of callbacks in the rebooted “Duckverse”.

However, given that Darkwing was the most competent superheroes in the 90s making an older version may not be the best fit. Though I’m not saying that an elderly hero can’t be competent it may not be the best fit for Darkwing. In order for this to work, this would likely work best if the potential series was the show within a show or taking place in the past. Out of these options, I prefer the later which would give more of a sense of realism rather as the television show aspect would make Darkwing less competent. Having the show take place in the past would also allow it to take place where the last series left off while adding additional material from the newly released comics.

Disney knows all too well that heroes are at an all-time given that they are the proprietors of Marvel’s cinematic success. Making use of one of their best-received duck characters is an option the company needs to at least explore. ‘Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!’ laid down the groundwork for Disney to gauge the fan interest behind the two superheroes they reintroduced to DuckTales, Gizmoduck, and Darkwing Duck. Introducing Darkwing as an old show in the newest DuckTales doesn’t bode well for the chances of a spinoff series. However, nothing is impossible and there are certain ways that could possibly reintroduce us to the Masked Mallard. From the options, I laid out above having Darkwing portrayed like the movie Birdman would be an interesting take and be a retrospective view on the passage of time of the original fan base. With the superhero phase still going strong Disney would be smart to cash in on the hype of one of their most eccentric characters. Let’s Get Dangerous.

Let us know your thoughts. Would you like to see the return of Darkwing Duck in Disney’s new “Duckverse”?

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SOURCE: Animation Press