Is Howard The Duck Marvel? What is this Howard The Duck?

Is Howard The Duck Marvel? Howard the Duck is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. Howard the Duck first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19 (cover-dated Dec. 1973) and several subsequent series have chronicled the misadventures of the ill-tempered anthropomorphic animal trapped on a human-dominated Earth. Echoing this, the most common tagline of his comics reads ‘Trapped In a World He Never Made!’.

Howard’s adventures are generally social satires, while a few are parodies of genre fiction with a metafictional awareness of the medium. The book is existentialist, and its main joke, according to Gerber, is that there is no joke: “… that life’s most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view.” Gloria Katz, producer of the notorious, ill-fated 1986 film adaptation of the comic, expressed a diametrically opposed opinion of the character, “It’s a film about a duck from outer space … It’s not supposed to be an existential experience.”

Howard the Duck was portrayed by Ed Gale and voiced by Chip Zien in the critically and commercially unsuccessful 1986 self-titled film. Starting in 2014, the character, voiced by Seth Green, appeared in cameos in several Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, the Disney XD animated series Guardians of the Galaxy (2015–19) and Ultimate Spider-Man (2016; with Kevin Michael Richardson), and the Disney+ series What If…? (2021).

 Howard The Duck Marvel

Is Howard The Duck Marvel?

Comic book movies are more popular than ever right now, but there was a time when the genre was thought to be a major risk. After the failure of 1997’s Batman & Robin, audiences assumed that superhero films were simply a fad that was destined to fade away. It took the success of Blade to relaunch the genre. Blade was followed by X-Men and Spider-Man, and cinema has never been the same ever since.

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Although Blade was the Marvel Comics adaptation that broke through, it wasn’t the first attempt to bring one of the classic characters to life. There had been various animated series, serials, and TV film adaptations since the 1940s. Believe it or not, the first Marvel movie to ever hit theaters was the notorious disaster Howard the Duck.

Nicknamed “Howard the Turkey” upon its release, the film was so reviled that it took another decade for Marvel to recover. Howard the Duck is strangely one of the most influential films of its era; many of the successes of today can be traced back to this pivotal failure.

‘Howard the Duck’ Was Marvel’s First Film

Making a Howard the Duck film the first Marvel adaptation was an odd choice from the beginning. Following the success of Star Wars in 1977, science fiction films were more popular than ever. Wouldn’t it make sense to center a franchise around a galactic hero, like the Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four, or Captain Marvel? The Howard the Duck comics were subversive parodies of characters like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The Howard the Duck film was trying to lampoon a genre that hadn’t launched yet.

However, Howard the Duck comics were among the top-sellers for Marvel in the 1980s. Howard was essentially the Deadpool of his era; he was a rude, obnoxious womanizer who lampooned self-serious sleuths and heroes. The comics’ popularity almost caused legal issues, as the Walt Disney Company attempted to confront Marvel about the similarities to Donald Duck. The popularity of the character inspired Lucasfilm to begin developing an animated film. However, a contractual discrepancy forced Lucasfilm to make a live-action film instead.

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One of the first changes that screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz made to the original source material was turning Howard into a more likable, charming character. This immediately created a confusion of tone.

The film begins with a sly opening sequence that includes some adult jokes, including the infamous reveal of a naked female duck on Howard’s home planet. This would seemingly set the film up for a more satirical tone, but once Howard turns into a hero, it turns into a more conventional crowd pleaser. It was too inappropriate for children, but took itself too seriously for adults to enjoy.

Although Huyck didn’t go on to direct any other feature films, he’s hardly a nobody. Huyck was among a group of film students known as the “USC Mafia,” whose members included George Lucas, Walter Mutch, John Milius, and Randal Kleiser. Huyck also received an Academy Award nomination for co-writing American Graffiti.

Thanks to the involvement of Lucas, Howard the Duck featured some fairly groundbreaking special effects. Unfortunately, the use of a practical duck suit didn’t work; since multiple actors were playing Howard, there was no consistency within the characterization. The budget ballooned to $37 million.

Gerber was consulted during the film’s production, but the project eventually steered away from the original source material. Among the issues of the film’s confusion of tone is the awkward, borderline sexual nature of Howard’s romance with Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson). Thompson was riding high after the success of Back to the Future a year earlier. After Howard the Duck was released, Thompson said that she had to turn down Some Kind of Wonderful. Gerber essentially disowned the film.

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Howard The Duck Marvel

Howard the Duck Lays an Egg

The film was met with a disastrous response. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel lampooned the film’s disastrous creative decisions, and cited the unlikeable lead character as their chief criticism.

Howard didn’t fare any better with audiences. It ended up grossing a measly $38 million. It was an embarrassment for Lucasfilm following the success of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Lucasfilm was suddenly facing financial problems; Labyrinth, Willow, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, and Radioland also ended up underperforming. Although none of these projects were as reviled as Howard the Duck, Lucasfilm’s streak of success was over.

Lucas had just gotten divorced from Marcia Griffin. Due to the legal arrangement, he had to give up half of his assets. Between the investment in Skywalker Ranch and the series of cinematic failures (Howard the Duck chief among them), Lucas was forced to sell his blossoming Pixar company to Steve Jobs. Marvel was forced to yield box office supremacy to its competitor when DC’s Batman became a smash hit in 1989.

 Howard The Duck Marvel

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