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Upcoming Live-Action Remake Of A Classic ‘80s Cartoon Has A Major Challenge After This 2019 Box Office Bomb

March 25, 20245 Mins Read


  • A ThunderCats live-action film is confirmed to be in the works, but potential pitfalls seen in 2019 movie Cats could be a problem.
  • The design for ThunderCats could easily become unsettling, so Adam Wingard will have to find a method that works.
  • The ThunderCats movie can find a balance between practical costume design, makeup, and CGI to make its characters look believable.

A live-action ThunderCats is in the works, and a box office bomb from 2019 has already proven where the upcoming film could go wrong. Rumors about a live-action movie remake of the popular 1980s cartoon have been abound for years, but we finally have confirmation that one is on the way. Though still in the beginning stages of development, ThunderCats should be brought to the big screen within the next few years. However, given the cartoon’s unique premise, it’s difficult to imagine precisely how this will work.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire director Adam Wingard was attached to the ThunderCats live-action movie back in 2021, but there had been radio silence about the project for years. However, as Wingard prepared for the release of his 2024 Monseterverse movie, he confirmed (via Screen Rant) that ThunderCats is still happening and that he and pal Simon Barrett would be returning to work on the script as soon as possible. This implies that very few details have been fleshed out regarding the remake, including how ThunderCats will avoid the unfortunate fate of the 2019 movie Cats.


ThunderCats: Everything We Know About The Live-Action Reboot

Everything we know about Godzilla vs. Kong director Adam Wingard’s ThunderCats live-action reboot film- crew, release date, and story details.

What Will The ThunderCats Characters Look Like In Live-Action?

thundercats lion-o attacks

The 1980s cartoon ThunderCats follows a team of humanoid cats who work together to protect their home planet from aliens known as the mutants. The breathtaking art and character design were a major draw of the original animated series. Though admittedly strange, the bright, flashy, and powerful-looking cat-like humans were highly appealing to ’80s kids, which is why, all these years later, the idea of a live-action remake is so exciting. However, ThunderCat’s design makes it difficult to imagine in live-action.

The feline-inspired race from the planet Thundera wasn’t an issue in animation, but in “live-action,” they could easily become unsettling. Similar projects in Hollywood have inspired the “uncanny valley” phenomenon, making audiences feel more uncomfortable than entertained. Of course, there are a few ways that Wingard could go about this. The actors for ThunderCats could wear practical costumes and prosthetic makeup, but this could look cheesy or cheap. There’s also always the possibility of heavy CGI work, but 2019’s Cats proves this isn’t as easily said as done.

Cats Proves How Difficult It Will Be To Get ThunderCats Right In Live-Action

2019’s Cats had the makings of a smash hit. It was based on one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time and had a star-studded cast that included names like Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Judy Dench, and many, many more. However, Cats was a devastating box-office bomb, only bringing in $75 million at the global box office. The musical adaptation was also critically panned, barely managing a 19% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. Ultimately, this failure came down to Cats‘ bizarre look.

When imagining how ThunderCats will look in live-action, it’s hard to keep from picturing the hideous felines from the Cats movie.

While the musical version saw the actors and dancers in practical costumes, 2019’s Cats movie attempted to duplicate a similar look using motion capture and CGI. However, while Universal Pictures might have imagined an Avatar-like experience, the resulting Cats characters came out looking downright terrifying instead. When imagining how ThunderCats will look in live-action, it’s hard to keep from picturing the hideous felines from the Cats movie. Naturally, this is the very last thing that fans of the classic ’80s cartoon want.

What A Live-Action ThunderCats Movie Needs To Work

Of course, just because Cats failed doesn’t mean ThunderCats has to. Wingard can learn a lot of lessons from the 2019 flop and, therefore, find a way to bring the heroic feline aliens to life without giving audiences the heebie-jeebies. First, depending entirely on CGI might not be the best way to go. While movies like Avatar created humanoid creatures to great effect, this is something ThunderCats may not be able to afford. The biggest problem with Cats is that the characters didn’t look finished, possibly due to time and budgeting constraints.

Ultimately, Wingard may need to find a happy medium with his character design in ThunderCats. The combination of practical costumes, makeup, and CGI could lead to something truly spectacular. Additionally, the upcoming live-action movie shouldn’t be afraid of embracing the ’80s charm of the original ThunderCats series. The completed look should be full of texture and color, and the expert use of lighting and shadow can help the live-action movie avoid the sterile look of Cats. This will be no easy task, but since we’ve already waited this long, Wingard might as well go all the way.

Thundercats poster


Thundercats is a multimedia franchise that started in 1985 with Tobin “Ted” Wolf’s series about a team of cat-like humanoid aliens protecting their planet. Like many animated TV shows in the ’80s, the series was released simultaneously with a line of toys. Since the ’80s, the Thundercats franchise has expanded to video games, comics, and more TV shows. 

Created by
Tobin Wolf

Bob McFadden , Larry Kenney , Earl Hammond , Earle Hyman , Lynne Lipton , Peter Newman , Gerrianne Raphael , Doug Preis , Víctor Trujillo

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