Last week I appeared as a guest on the latest episode of The (title pending) Movie Podcast to talk about G.I. Joe: Retaliation. After hearing co-hosts Tank and Fogs review a few movies currently in theaters and then sharing thoughts on Retaliation with guests Howie Decker of UnderScoopFIRE.com and myself, it as time to put on our movie producer thinking caps.
Each of us on the show were given the opportunity to pitch a movie reboot of a popular property from the 80’s. For our reboot pitches, we announced our cast, a few details on plot and for some of us the potential for sequels. It was a lot of fun, which you can hear in full here. Howie chose to reboot The Silverhawks, which you can read about here.
As for me… I choose The Mighty Orbots!
Although this cartoon series only aired for four months in 1984 (September to December) and was overshadowed by similar transforming robot properties like Voltron, Transformers and Go-Bots, Mighty Orbots resonated a great deal with me when it was launched. Similar to Voltron and later iterations of Power Rangers, The Orbots were a team of six robots who combined to form a super-bot who vanquished various villains and kept the peace across the galaxy.
What made Mighty Orbots different than Voltron was instead of human-operated lions, each robot was its own autonomous being with its own unique personality. The characterization of the various Orbots as well as the addition of human allies and fearsome villains made this Saturday morning cartoon an instant classic! This series was also notable for the quality of the animation for its time. Tokyo Movie Shinsha and Intermedia Entertainment partnered with MGM/UA Television to produce this show for US television and Japanese home video. Unlike other shows of its kind, Mighty Orbots was much more than a translated Japanese import.
The tone of the series is set in the 23rd century, among robots and aliens. People of Earth have joined with other peaceful alien races to form the United Planets, which created the Galactic Patrol as its peacekeeping force under the leadership of Commander Rondu.
The Galactic Patrol and the U.P. face off against SHADOW, a powerful criminal organization led by Umbra, a massive cyborg–computer. In order to battle Umbra and his various sinister agents, inventor Rob Simmons created six special robots with unique powers who combine to form Mighty Orbots.
Considering that most of the characters in this thing are either robots or monsters, I expect that we would employ some motion capture to CGI technology. What that means is much of the cast will be voice actors, with the exception being any human characters, which can be cast as is.
Rob Simmons is the human Orbots Commander. Piloting the Orbots using his omni-suit and riding with co-pilot Ohno in the Galactic Patrol’s Beam Car, Rob is also a geeky scientist who has a crush on Rondu’s daughter Dia. To play Rob, I’d cast ole Samwise Gamgee/Rudy himself, Sean Astin.
Ohno is the second-in-command of the Orbots. She co-pilots The Mighty Orbots along with Rob and is the only Orbot who can’t fly, thus having to ride in the Beam Car. She is diminutive in size, yet she is the one who gets the other Orbots into shape. What better voice actress to play Ohno than Meg Griffin herself, Mila Kunis?
Tor is the torso of the Mighty Orbots and the powerhouse of the team. He’s a large strongman character who sometimes butts heads with Ohno for second in command for the Orbots, but is not as bright. Tor is also constantly trying to impress twin Orbots Bo and Boo with his strength. To play him, I’d get the voice talents of a similar character- Max Greenfield, who plays Schmidt on the hit TV show New Girl.
Bort is a fearful , indecisive shapechanging member of the Orbots. He forms the right leg of Mighty Orbots and is good friends with left leg teammate Crunch. Considering we are bringing back an 80’s cartoon, let’s get the voice talents of a former child actor, Doogie Howser himself! Yes, fresh off his run on How I Met Your Mother, we choose Neil Patrick Harris.
Bo and Boo are twin sisters who form the two arms on Mighty Orbots. Bo can control the elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and manipulate temperature and shoot beams, among other powers. Boo is able to project illusions, force and invisibility fields and can teleport. Together, the sisters provide the firepower for Mighty Orbots. Bo is the more outspoken and aggressive of the pair, whereas Boo is more of a shy and quiet good girl. Since they’re twins, why not get WWE divas The Bella Twins to provide their voices? (@
Crunch is the left leg of Mighty Orbots and can munch metal and convert it to energy. As you might have guessed, Crunch has an unending appetite and a round form to match. He isn’t that bright, however, and is usually getting in trouble for eating some valuable piece of equipment or one of Rob’s experiments, however his insatiable hunger and massive energy reserves have helped out the Orbots on several occasions. Crunch should be voiced by motion cap veteran from King Kong and Lord of the Rings, Andy Serkis. (Gollum!)
To round out the cast of the Galactic Patrol, I’d have Rondu played by Family Ties‘ dad Michael Gross and Dia played by child-actress turned bona-fide movie veteran Drew Barrymore. Both roles would be played on-screen.
As far as the villains of Shadow, check out this lineup…
Kattron didn’t get much screen time in the cartoon, but I’d expand his role as a space samurai warrior and have him voiced by Spawn and Black Dynamite— Michael Jai White.
Plasmus is a shape-shifting agent of Shadow who in the episode “The Wish World” tricked Ohno into becoming human, thus putting Mighty Orbots at a temporary disadvantage. I would have this play out in the movie and would have Andy Serkis pull double duty as the voice.
Draconis is a Shadow agent who infiltrated the prison planet of Devil’s Asteroid when the Orbots were sentenced there in an episode of the cartoon. He would be voiced by The Transporter and Death Race star Jason Statham.
Doctor Phoenix is a cyborg scientist from Earth who creates a mechanical virus for Shadow called Mechanogen. As a pivotal bad guy, I would have him played by Deadwood star Ian McShane.
The main villain of Mighty Orbots, Umbra is the master of Shadow and a massive five-eyed cyborg super-computer fixated on ruling the galaxy. His various schemes to take down The Galactic Patrol and Mighty Orbots causes him to recruit several agents throughout the series. When I think of villains, I would only ask a few to provide such a voice, and I’m going with one of my favorites of all-time, Gary Oldman. After all, if you follow me on twitter, you know about my favorite Oldman scene…
Well, there you have it. As far as plot, I would likely adapt a combination of Mighty Orbots episodes “The Wish World” and “Devil’s Asteroid“, or I could tell each story as its own stand-alone movie and rake in extra $$$ off the sequels. Check out the episodes linked above and then tell me what you think of this reboot and my casting in the comments below!
*credit to Arioch’s Mighty Orbots page for much of the photos and background facts.
Want more 80’s movie reboot fun? Then you need to check out the M.A.S.K. Movie blog and podcast!