Ducktales, “The Duck Knight Rises” Review
When there’s trouble, you call DW! DARKWING DUCK! I may not have been alive when the show came out, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that I am a fan of Darkwing Duck! It also helps that he’s voiced by Jim Cummings, a man with a thousand voices. I ended up watching the show years later online, and I fell in love with it almost right away. So when I heard that DW was going to make an appearance in Ducktales, I was over the moon! No offense to Della!
After watching the new episode of Ducktales, and then rewatching it at least half a dozen times, I conclude that this episode was a love letter to Darkwing Duck. The thing that stood out the most to me, though, was the conflict that I saw between the different aspects f Darkwing Duck’s fandom. I’ve seen how these conflicts can tear a long-lasting fan base apart, and it’s not pretty.
First, we have the old guard, the original generation of fans and actors personified by Launchpad and Jim Starling. Launchpad has always been Darkwing’s biggest fan, be it the reboot or the original. So when he hears they’re rebooting the show as a film, he’s esctatic beyond belief. The same goes for Jim Starling (played by Jim Cummings). They’re overjoyed, but for different reasons. And when they discover that they hate the movie, it’s also for different reasons.
In Launchpad’s case, he’s mad because the director’s idea of Darkwing’s channeling the worst aspects of the DCEU’s Batman. He’s worried that what he loved will be tarnished. Jim, whose channeling the worst apsects of the classic DW (his giant ego), is only made because he’s lost his one chance at winning back his fame. So they team up to save the movie.
Then we have the writers and directors and the people who have to make sure the film sticks the landing. None of them see all that cut out for it, though. The director’s a copy of Francis Ford Coppola, because he’s overbudget, wants to make this a psychological look “at the inhumanity in humanity” or whatever, and the trailer he made is pure nonsense. And Scrooge (who owns the studio) is of no help, for once. He’s the old guy who has no clue about what the film’s based on and only cares about money. He insists that the villain has a mustache! And there’s Dewey, who doesn’t get what the director’s trying to do and wants to add in things that he thinks are cool, but has no idea what he’s doing. He’s the problem with trying to make a film appeal to the youngest target audience when they don’t know what makes a good movie! It’s a recipe for disaster that almost always angers fans.
Then, we have our third party, the new guy who’s playing Darkwing Duck, played by Chris Diamntopoulous . While some people may only take the role for the fame or money, his reasons are more altruistic. He’s a true fanboy of the show, and most important, he took the lessons of the show to heart. He got bullied a lot as a kid, but it was seeing Darkwing that taught him to always get back up and keep fighting. He truly loves the role he’s gotten, and he wants to pass that love and inspiration to the next generation. Make it his own while respecting where it came from.
When Launchpad how much the young actor cares about the role, he realizes that he’s the best person to take up the role. I see this as a reconciliation between the two generations of fans, united by a common love for something. It doesn’t have to be the same thing in each iteration. Look at Batman or Doctor Who. Countless people have played them over the years. The fans may not always like them, but they still love the character.
Jim Starling… doesn’t see it like that. He ends up going crazy with jealousy and starts a fire on the set.
That’s when the new Darkwing appears to save the day from the original. The fight between these two was by far the best part of the episode. And the Chris Darkwing proves to everyone that he owns the role, matching the Jim Cummings Darkwing in hamminess, determination, and ability to handle slapstick. It was EPIC! And then that tragic explosion that seemingly claims the life of Jim Starling.
Fed up, Scrooge pulls the plug on the film, and it seems like Darkwing’s days are done. But in a meta twist, Launchpad inspires the young actor to become Darkwing Duck in real life. To be a hero. This could either lead to a spin-off, or at least more episodes featuring the new Darkwing Duck fighting crime. My brain’s already thinking up fanfiction where he teams up with Gizmoduck and the Duck Family.
In the second meta twist, we finally learn the actor’s name: Drake Mallard, Darkwing Duck’s alter ego. He was truly born to be the Duck.
Then, in the episode’s final moments, we get the biggest twist possible. Jim Starling survived the explosion, but the man he once was is gone. His bitterness over losing his rule and the explosion have driven him insane, and as we see him in the sewers, his costume’s take on a color scheme that any Darkwing Duck fan should know.
I clapped so hard at this moment. The original Negaduck was an evil twin from a parralel universe, but having him be the original Darkwing Duck!?!?!? That’s so brilliant!!
Now that fanboying is over, it should be apparent that I think this was one of the best episodes in the entire show. Am I saying because I’m partial to superheroes and Disney? Maybe. Or is this because I’m acknowledge the fact that the show’s writers remained faithful to the original show while telling a new and exciting story? Without a doubt. This episode opens up new doorways for story in Ducktales, and I hope the writers are smart enough to capitalize on them.
Sadly, we have to wait until September when the new episodes come out. And now I have nothing to distract me from the fact that another hit Disney show, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, is clocking out (until they make a movie or something. I’m hopeful). Or that Game of Thrones is ending.
If there’s one thing this decade has taught me, it’s that good cartoons are never confined to one generation. That’s why I keep watching them, and why I want to make sure future generations can see that as well.
I Give “The Duck Knight Rises” a 5 Purple Hats out of 5.
- Did you guys notice the model of the Thunderquack in Drake Mallard’s trailer?
- What is it with Scrooge and twirly mustaches? None of his enemies have mustaches.
- Did you guys notice the fat guy in the parking lot? His shirt had the same design that Saitama from “One Punch Man” has on his shirt. The “Oppai” one, but censored.
- I just realized that those electric tower things were Powerline from A Goofy Movie
- “I added chainsaw jugglers. You’re welcome”.
- I really should have gotten Jim Cumming’s autograph when I had the chance.
- Darkwing’s hatred of Gizmoduck is universal!
- They made the opening credits purple!