You truly can’t keep a good giant-robot-lions-that-become-a-gianter-robot-guy series down for long. A little over three years following the conclusion of Voltron: Legendary Defender, the latest iteration of the Voltron franchise, a live-action movie in development has evidently ignited a bidding war. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a live-action Voltron project, from Red Notice director Rawson Marshall Thurber, is in the works. Evidently, six or seven different studios are fighting for the rights to the film. These include Warner Bros., Universal, and Amazon. Netflix, the platform behind Legendary Defender, is not in the running.
“The package hit the town about two weeks ago,” The Hollywood Reporter writes, “with pitches and a teaser reel. Thurber came up with the story and will co-write the script with Ellen Shanman.” A deal could potentially finalize by this weekend, the report further says.
A Voltron movie seemed like it was destined to happen eventually, given the nostalgia-driven market that has given rise to Netflix’s upcoming Gundam movie and the continued Transformers franchise. However, Voltron has much more in common with Power Rangers than either pure anime or pure American animation; in the early ’80s, Ted Koplar and World Events Productions obtained the rights to two completely separate Toei Animation series.
Beast King GoLion ran from 1981-1982. WEP edited, trimmed, and redubbed it to become the first season of Voltron in 1984. After the show proved a massive success but no more GoLion episodes existed, WEP then adapted the unrelated series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV which aired from ’82-’83. They were similar enough; GoLion had teens riding in giant robot lions which formed together to create a massive mecha warrior. Dairugger XV had teens driving in super cars that would then combine into a giant mecha warrior. The writers made season one take place way further in the future than season two; it made sense!
However, there was no denying the Lion Force season was the more popular with kids and especially toy shelves. After the 52-episodes of Vehicle Force finished airing in 1985, World Events Productions commissioned 20 more episodes of brand new Voltron episodes featuring the GoLion characters and mechas.
The series would come back a few times. First in 1998 until 2000 as Voltron: The Third Dimension, then as Voltron Force from 2011-2012. DreamWorks Animation and Netflix teamed up for Voltron: Legendary Defender in 2016 and the series found new life. Its fandom rivaled the popularity of the original series. Combining elements of both the original Voltron series and the excised elements of GoLion, Legendary Defender proved to be a space opera with heart, humor, and copious action.
No word on what elements Thurber will borrow from any of the various versions of Voltron over the years. But time has proven it’s the original series, the GoLion designs and the American-rewritten characters and story that are the most popular. Sorry to all you Vehicle Force fans out there, but when you say “Voltron,” people think lions.
More news on this story as it develops.