X-Men Howard the Duck for 50th Anniversary
(Marvel Comics)

We Demand Lea Thompson Get to Direct the Howard the Duck Sequel

Get down, America, this is the shot in the wing the MCU needs.
X-Men Howard the Duck for 50th Anniversary
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From True Believers to non-believers, the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on everyone’s minds. It’s true: even people who self-proclaim their hatred of the MCU seem to love to talk incessantly about the franchise and its perceived failures. Yes, the MCU has real let-downs, but some purported flops were really anything but. Take the 1986 film Howard the Duck, for example—the campy Lucasfilm classic that could save the MCU and the good ‘ol U.S. of A.

Yesterday, when Marvel Comics released it’s 50th anniversary issue in celebration of Howard the Duck’s first appearance in Adventure into Fear #19 by Steve Greber, Val Mayerik, Sal Trapani, Stan G., and Art Simek, cover dated December 1973 (though that’s not the actual publication date), I had an epiphany. It’s not about bringing back the OG Avengers, but about bringing the OG duck from Duckworld. WAUGH! He can save the MCU—indeed, save America—if we just let Lea Thompson direct the Howard the Duck sequel like she wants.

When Howard the Duck, played by NAVA voice acting icon Seth Green, made a cameo in Marvel Studios’ animated series What If…? in 2021, it caused a stir among fans on social media. In response to “Howard the Duck” trending on X (Twitter), the badass dancer, actor, and director Thompson asked: “What If… I directed a Howard the Duck movie?”

Joe Quinones, who drew Thompson into the comic itself once, quickly agreed, and I’ve been a one person hype-squad ever since.

Lea Thompson, the right woman for the director’s chair

The animatronic Howard and Lea Thompson in Howard the Duck

Thanks to her appearance as the sexy rock star turned superhero Beverly Switzler in the 1986 live-action Lucasfilm adaption, Thompson is inextricably linked to Howard the Duck. But what do you do when no one can hear your name without bringing up comics?

In the mid-1990s, Thompson took advantage of the fact that she had been forever linked with Marvel Comics by starring in Caroline in the City. The sitcom debuted on NBC in September 1995 and ran for four seasons.

Caroline in the City starred Thompson in the eponymous role of Caroline Duffy, a newspaper cartoonist. (The cast of characters also included her comic coworkers, comics colorist Richard, and her ex-boyfriend Del, who runs a greeting card company that features Caroline’s comic art.) In the series, Caroline is shown to be a successful cartoonist, with many people recognizing her work, and there was even an episode where a Thanksgiving Day parade float commemorated her comic.

Since then, Thompson has become an accomplished director. She’s directed episodes of The Goldbergs and Star Trek: Picard. She has even directed work based on comic books, directing episodes of Stargirl and Katy Keene. Could there be a more perfect candidate for the helm of a Howard the Duck movie?

Trapped in a world he’s grown accustomed to

Lest you think that Thompson has ever turned her back on Howard in the years since she appeared in the movie, think again!

First, an early episode of Caroline in the City contains a winking reference to Howard the Duck.

But more recently, Thompson appeared in Howard the Duck (2015) #8 – 9 by Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Raolo Rivera, Jordan Gibson, and Travis Lanham. In addition to the comic’s story breaking the fourth wall, Thompson carried the meta element into our world. She did this by wearing a jacket on Dancing with the Stars that was identical to the one her comic book counterpart wore on the cover of Howard the Duck #9, the very same jacket depicted in the Quinones art posted to X (Twitter) seen above.

For these reasons and many, many more, I submit that Thompson is the ideal candidate to direct a Howard the Duck movie.

Howard, the MCU’s fixer

When the original Howard the Duck was released, it became somewhat infamous. But from our vantage point in post-Reign of MCU 2023, this cult classic must surely be reassessed as “ahead of its time.”

Having an influence on everything from Guardians of the Galaxy to Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, the once-maligned vibe of Howard the Duck might be just the all-new, all-different direction the MCU needs. And since meta machinations are part the Howard formula, maybe this sequel could even affect a documentary approach that reflects on the original (see: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off episode 5).

Plus, with the X-Men’s recent return to the MCU, the campy version of Howard the Duck can join that universe, allowing Green to stay on as the character in the prime universe and What If…? Campy, practical effects Howard can join Monica Rambeau with the X-Men in the Fox Universe that she just popped herself into.

But who better to usher in this brave new world, that has such Howard in it, than Thompson? Get down, America! Let Thompson direct a Howard the Duck MCU movie.

What do you think about a potential Howard the Duck movie directed by Thompson?

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Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he) is a comics critic and entertainment writer, who's dipping her toes into new types of reporting at The Mary Sue and is stoked. In 2023, he was part of the PanelxPanel comics criticism team honored with an Eisner Award. You can find some more of his writing at Prism Comics, StarTrek.com, Comics Beat, Geek Girl Authority, and in Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority, which she co-authored with her wife, Avery Kaplan. Rebecca and her wife live in the California mountains with a herd of cats.