Jordan Peele Wants to Bring Gargoyles to the Big Screen. Disney Should Let Him.
And bring the original series to a streaming platform while they’re at it
My afternoons had one consistent highlight from around 1995 to 97: I had to wait through the Aladdin animated series to get to it, or sometimes even Goof Troop, but even that couldn’t dampen my tiny, proto-goth devotion to my favorite show. It was dramatic, dark and fantastical. And awesome. Yes, I’m talking about Gargoyles. Also known as one of the greatest animated series of all time.
It was the brooding cousin of the otherwise chipper and on-brand Disney afternoon programming block that was popular in the late nineties, and a worthy successor to the dark aesthetic and complex storylines of another iconic half hour, Batman: The Animated Series. Gargoyles has a special place in the memories of kids raised in the 90s, but it seemed that it was doomed to languish there forever, like a hero frozen in stone on the parapet of a forgotten castle.
That is, until recently, when news broke that Jordan Peele was interested in directing a big screen reboot. The pitch reportedly came from Peele himself, and while Disney isn’t yet jumping on the project, the Internet, and especially this nerd, is ready.
When I first heard Peele was the one hoping for a reboot, it didn’t quite click. Peele had a break out year in 2017 with Get Out, a decidedly adult horror film whose real monster is American racism, for which he won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. His next project, Us, looks similarly charged and grim. Beyond his directing, Peele is known for sketch comedy.
Neither of these at first seems like a fit for a 90s cartoon … until you really consider what Gargoyles is about. In case you don’t remember, Gargoyles was about a clan of magical guardians in the year 994 that defended their castle at night and turned to stone in the day. Then a curse made the stone thing permanent, until their castle “rose above the clouds.” Leave it to an eccentric billionaire to plop a Scottish castle on top of a Manhattan skyscraper and voila, curse broken and gargoyles exist in modern New York. The series followed the clan’s adventures as they clashed with the aforementioned eccentric billionaire, as well as their leader Goliath’s ex-lover (and hater of all things human) Demona. Along the way, they allied themselves with NYPD detective Elisa Maza and a host of other villains and friends.
Gargoyles was a great show for so many reasons. The animation was dynamic, the voices were awesome, and it was smart. It had complex over-arching plots, sympathetic antagonists that evolved from foes to friends and back again, and Shakespearean level drama. Literally, guys, Macbeth was a major character and it was AMAZING.
But Gargoyles was smart in other ways too: it addressed serious issues from gun control to survivor’s guilt. Themes of otherness, love, acceptance, and prejudice filled the series and made it a great metaphor for race relations. The female hero, Elisa, was mixed race, black and native American, and Demona was one of the best villainesses of all time, so we have some good building blocks for inclusive female representation as well. If we bring this already-great show into the 21st century, it’s a perfect foundation for some deep stuff.
The Gargoyles were feared, used, abused and were literally treated like property—there’s a lot of room for a filmmaker like Peele to explore things there, especially considering the different ways Demona and Goliath wanted to deal with their oppressors. But Peele has also shown that he can do scary and fun, in the same frame sometimes, and that’s an element of Gargoyles as well.
There are a lot of questions about what a film version of Gargoyles would look like, if it ever happens. One thing that gives me pause is how epic the overall story of Gargoyles was. It might be too big for a single movie—then again, who doesn’t love a franchise these days? I also wonder if it should be live action or animated. Making the classic 2D characters into lifelike CGI could be awesome, or it could be terrible. If it is partially CGI, rather than practical effects, I would hope (and I can’t believe I’m writing these words) that it follows in the footsteps of Transformers, and keeps some of the original voice cast.
Keith David is iconic as Goliath, as were the plentiful Star Trek alumni that peppered the cast: Marina Sirtis as Demona and Johnathan Frakes as David Xanatos, the bad boy billionaire—plus Michael Dorn as Coldstone, Kate Mulgrew as Titania, Nichelle Nichols as Diane Maza, and Brent Spiner as Puck. There were also legendary guest star voices like Tim Curry, Alan Cumming, and John Rhys-Davies. Did you know that Ed Asner voiced Hudson?
There are improvements to be made to the show as well. As awesome as Elisa, Demona, and Angela were, they were the only women in the main cast and I’d like to see more female representation. I’d be fine if they flipped the gender on some of the supporting cast, as long as the spirit of the characters were still there. There are fan theories that Lexington, the cute flying squirrel gargoyle, was gay, so let’s throw that in there too.
Now, having read this, I bet that you want to hop right on to Netflix and watch some of those classic episodes or discover a great show for the first time. Well, sorry, but that’s not a possibility. It’s not on Netflix or any streaming service, and the DVD release is a decade old. Unless you want to break the law or watch crappy versions on YouTube, Gargoyles is hard to get ahold of, which is a shame because there’s nothing I’d like to binge more.
I’m crossing fingers that all the Disney afternoon classics will be available when Disney launches its very own new streaming service next year. But heck, if Disney is iffy on bringing Gargoyles to the big screen, even with a director like Peele, maybe their new Netflix competitor would be a great place to launch the reboot!
Whether it’s a relaunch, a movie, or just allowing fans to easily access the original series, I hope that all this renewed focus on this great series generates some movement. This one is a defining show of so many childhoods and it deserves to be rediscovered and honored in any way possible.
But seriously, Disney: let Jordan Peele make this film, and give him all of the money. We’re more than ready to hand over our own.
Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.
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