Almost too much Howard the Duck content.

§ May 31st, 2017 § Filed under howard the duck, pal plugging § 4 Comments

Now I generally like the Howard the Duck movie, as I’ve noted before. No, it’s not a terribly accurate reflection of our favorite fowl Trapped in a World He Never Made, but it has its moments, and more importantly, it has Lea Thompson…and so I don’t end that sentence in an overly sexist fashion, it also has Tim Robbins, who’s a lot of fun.

But Howard the Duck has been coming up in conversation at the shop a lot more often lately, thanks to his cameo appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I even had one kid (“kid” i.e. approximately late teens/early 20s) point at a Howard the Duck somethin’-or-other in the shop and exclaim “hey, it’s that guy from Guardians of the Galaxy!” so the cultural rehabilitation of Howard amongst today’s youth continues apace. I mean, it has been 31 years since the movie’s release, so I imagine there’s at least a generation or two who either have avoided direct exposure to the film (though it’s been occasionally available via online streaming) or, more likely, weren’t there for the huge bombing of the film and its subsequent equivalence with “disaster.”

I’ve been asked a handful of times if I think Howard may get another film of his own. Despite what I just said, about Mr. Duck experiencing something of a — “popular” resurgence isn’t quite the right term, but you know what I mean — that film still casts a long shadow. As a trusted advisor once informed me, it seems unlikely any studio executive would want to be the fella/lady on record saying “yes” to a new Howard the Duck film. Even though…right now, Marvel Studios has yet to have a poorly-performing release, so if there was a new Howard flick, just on Marvel’s rep alone butts would meet seats. Or it could be Marvel’s first big flop, and we’d be right back where we started.

For the time being, it’s probably just continuing cameos for Howard, which is just fine, and frankly, it’s something of a miracle we’re even getting those. That aforementioned Marvel Studios rep for continuing hit films is most likely what got someone to say “ah heck, a Howard cameo might not hurt anything” and let it in.

Anyway, the reason for all that typing is that, on the occasion when someone unfamiliar with the comic asks me how the movie compares (and believe it or not, the topic comes up quite a bit at the shop), my go-to example has been the particular bit of business regarding “quack-fu.”

“Quack-fu” in the comic is the hook by which writer Steve Gerber (along with artists John Buscema and Steve Leialoha) examines the then-huge pop culture faddish-ness of martial arts:


…the movies, the magazines, the “learn the secrets of the masters” ads, even Marvel’s own Master of Kung-Fu series. It’s an extended and pointed satire of a contemporary cultural trend with the additional contemplation of violence and its acceptance in media and society.

The movie strips “quack-fu” of all that context, and suddenly it’s just another duck joke:


…and a way to move the plot along by having Howard kick butt when it’s convenient.

This may be the most blatant example of Howard’s misuse in the film. Like I said, the movie does have its moments, and overall it’s likeable enough, but you’re not getting the satirical commentary of Howard’s comic in here. (Sorry if I made anyone’s monocle pop out by saying that.) And I wonder if that’s the sort of thing that would translate to a new big-budget Marvel action movie anyway. Can you imagine? “It’s like Network, but with a talking duck!” I mean, it’s not impossible, and would certainly be different from the usual superhero fare, but I don’t know if the world is quite ready for it.

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4 Responses to “Almost too much Howard the Duck content.”

  • adam says:

    hey mike did you ever read the novelization of the film? i remember it had a nice meta tone to it.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    A novelization of the Howard the Duck movie? They should’ve done a comic based on that.

  • Tegan O'Neil says:

    As always, thanks for the kind words.

    I’ve been thinking Howard wowuld be perfect for something like a low-risk/low-reward web series.

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    The Mike Sterling/MykeHavoc/Chip “Mike” Zdarsky thing is no coincidence but irrefutable evidence of a “Mike” hive mind that is slowly spreading. Pretty soon we’ll all be Mike.

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