If you grew up during the '90s, regardless of whether or not you watched the show, there's a good chance that you know the theme song to Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? The animated series was part of a multimedia array of educational entertainment, including TV shows, comic books and video games. Now, after three decades of eluding authorities, the red-hatted master thief is returning in a major way. In addition to a new animated series from Netflix next year, the streaming service has also acquired the live action feature film rights to the character. Carmen Sandiego will be getting her own live action Netflix movie, with Annihilation and Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez in the title role.
The actress, who is increasingly becoming a feature film presence, will also produce the film through her I Can and I Will production company, according to Deadline. The Carmen Sandiego character has been consistently depicted as a Hispanic woman, so it is cool to see the Golden Globe-winning actress, who is Puerto Rican, cast in the role. Netflix is going all in on Carmen Sandiego it seems, with the rebooted animated series, set to debut in 2019, receiving a 20-episode first season order. Gina Rodriguez will also voice the titular character in the animated show, so she'll really be the face and voice of Carmen Sandiego for a new generation. The live action film is set to be a standalone adventure that embraces the edutainment property that taught so many kids about geography and history.
Clearly Netflix has a lot of confidence in the power of Carmen Sandiego either as a brand or for its nostalgic properties for the company to be committing to both an animated series and a live action film. I am curious how much of the edutainment aspects of Carmen Sandiego's various iterations will be maintained here. It would be a shame for a property that once taught as well as entertained to lose that educational element. I imagine that the animated series will probably allow for a little more teaching than the movie. Also of note is that the animated series will explore the origin story of the title character and why she is who she is.
Carmen Sandiego was primarily a villain in previous depictions; she was an international thief who stole for the fun of it and was the leader of the V.I.L.E. criminal organization. The animated series, and I have to imagine the new movie, will be painting her as more of an anti-hero. While I tend to loath the retconning of villains into simply misunderstood heroes, like in Maleficent, Carmen Sandiego is simply a thief, not anything worse, so she could be a really fun protagonist. I imagine that Gina Rodriguez's portrayal of the character will see Carmen Sandiego as something of a globetrotting adventurer like Lara Croft, with perhaps a little Indiana Jones and Nicolas Cage's Ben Gates from National Treasure as well. This could make for a fun action-adventure movie with a bit of spycraft and mystery thrown in for good measure.
There is no word yet on a director or writer for the live action Netflix film. Those of you still waiting for your favorite childhood property to get a feature film adaptation, stay patient, there's always tomorrow and just now there is a premium on nostalgia.