If someone asked you “which was the first Marvel Comics-based movie?” you would probably say Blade. And indeed, Blade was the first Marvel superhero movie. But the first big-budget Hollywood feature based on a Marvel property was actually Howard the Duck. Yes, the notorious 1986 flop produced by George Lucas has that honorable distinction. Marvel’s cult comic book about an anthropomorphic alien duck trapped on Earth served as source material. George Lucas plus Marvel sounds like box office gold, right? Yeah, not so much.
Released on August 1, 1986, the movie made $17 million total, after a hefty investment. The film soon became synonymous with box office failure. But in the 35 years since it premiered, Howard the Duck has become a cult favorite among many fans. And according to a story celebrating the film’s anniversary in The Hollywood Reporter, star Lea Thompson has nothing but fond feelings for the film. And she even pitched Marvel Studios to do a reboot of Howard the Duck recently.
Usually, stars of comic book properties barely know the source material. Actors are often even told to not read or reference the comics at all. But Lea Thompson is not only a fan of the movie she starred in, despite its reputation as a mega-bomb, she loved the original comics too. Artist Joe Quinones, who illustrated a recent run on the Howard the Duck comics with Chip Zdarsky, worked on a pitch with Thompson. At the time, Marvel Television was working on a Howard the Duck reboot with Kevin Smith. Chances are, this ultimately killed their pitch.
Thompson says “I still think I could do a really good job because I feel like I am the one who really understands the fans, both of the movie and the cartoon.” Lea Thompson has gone on to quite a directing career since her ’80s acting heyday, starring in Back to the Future, Red Dawn, and many others. Recently, she’s helmed episodes of Stargirl and Star Trek: Picard.
The original Howard the Duck comics were pretty wild and subversive. Especially for a Marvel book. Largely written by the late Steve Gerber, they attracted an audience that was more into indie comics than Spider-Man. But sometimes cult comics don’t find their audience in theaters. Just look at the reception to Scott Pilgrim, back in 2010.
Honestly, we think that Disney+ should give her a new version of Howard the Duck, starring the MCU iteration voiced by Seth Green. The Seth Green version cameos in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and will soon appear on What If…? It could tap into the nostalgia for the first movie, and also have someone in charge who knows the original comics. So c’mon Kevin Feige, what have you got to lose? Give us Lea Thompson vision for the duck from outer space already.