Thundercats Part 1

At a certain point, I was asked to stop wasting my time on scripts that I passed on. Eventually, I lobbied for not even wasting my time with the full scripts — if it didn’t grab me by the first act break, I shouldn’t have to waste my time on it. However, I still had to write a paragraph or two to justify my passing, and occasionally I’d be e-mailed with something that required informal notes. Thundercats Part 1 was one of those things, the first part in a proposed live-action trilogy that would be pitched to Warner Brothers (who owned the rights for the original cartoon).

Thundercats Part 1 by Seth Lockhart & Evan Kilgore

There’s a lot of really good stuff here. I like the initial setup of how the Thundercats came to be, the idea of conflict between Thundercats and Thunderians, and the main story of Claudius and Livia, and their Romeo & Juliet-like relationship, ultimately leading to the birth of Lion-O. I also enjoyed the references and the foreshadowing to the planned sequels — those were nice touches.

The only negative thing I have to say is that I just felt like it got too bogged down in the political situation. I understand that the potential for a Thunderian-Thundercat war, and then the attack by the Plunderians — all of that is essential to the story, but isn’t it possible to get across the information that’s building to that without spending so much time in political meetings? It should be scaled back and personalized. In a way, it already is; it’s clear both Claudius and Livia’s parents feel strongly that their relationship shouldn’t be. I think the conflict and the “taboo” of their relationship could be played up, while the political upheaval can be put in the background. Still there, building in the background until it finally boils over into the foreground. Does that make sense?

It seems like some interesting material could come out of a war, intensifying a personal conflict between Claudius and Livia. As the problems between Thunderians and Thundercats become more divisive, they both have the choice: do they choose love, or do they choose conformity? It could reach a point where if Claudius and Livia are even seen together, they’d probably be killed — so do either of them think the other is worth the risk? Ultimately they do, and they sneak around. Some of this is already here, but I just think the personal story needs to be played up in favor of the grand political machinations. I would almost suggest they both be as far removed from the political scene as possible, until it forms problems in their relationship. However, I know Thundercats is an established franchise; while I don’t know too much about it, if the backstory of Claudius as king is set in stone, changing it would be an even bigger problem.

I had a couple of questions that I think are a little unclear:

Only 40 years pass between the Thunderians creating Thundercats and the current story, so why do they act like Thundercats go way back? Are the life spans of the Thunderians and Thundercats supposed to be the same as actual cats on Earth (5-10 years)? The conflict between Thunderians and Thundercats seems like it’s been building through multiple generations, so if they have shorter life spans, that needs to be clarified; if they are supposed to live a typical human life span and this isn’t a multigenerational struggle, then that needs to be clarified, too.

When the Plundarrians are first introduced, it’s stated that they all have to wear encounter suits because of the harsh conditions on the planet. This makes sense later on when it’s revealed they’re actually exiled Thunderians. But let’s pretend we’re before the point where we learn that, because it doesn’t make much sense. If the Plundarrians were indigenous, their genetic makeup would have them adapted to the planet; if they couldn’t survive the conditions, the whole species would die off before they could reproduce. So the reveal that they were Thunderians all along isn’t terribly surprising, because it doesn’t make sense that they’d be native to Plundarr. I actually think this is easily fixed, if there’s some kind of explanation/implication that the Plundarrians destroyed their own planet through pollution or nuclear war or something. That way, the encounter suits make sense, but the reveal that they were Thunderians is a bit more surprising.

I think most of the good stuff is already there; some of it just needs to be either heightened or diminished to make it go from good to great. It’s close, though. I hope this helps.

Posted by D. B. Bates on September 2, 2006 5:15 PM