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Of all the unexpected TV announcements that have populated the first two months of 2019, nothing has been as finely feathered as the news of Hulu's upcoming Howard the Duck animated series. The show is being written by Aqua Teen Hunger Force creator Dave Willis and the comic-loving filmmaker Kevin Smith, and the latter made a most interesting reveal about plans to tie things back to the 1986 feature.
I can’t spoil where we’re going, but I can tell you this: I already asked movie-Howard heroine Lea Thompson to lend us her vocal Quack Fu in a to-be-revealed-later role! And she did NOT say no!
Kevin Smith's wording there isn't solidifying any official casting decisions being made for Hulu's Howard the Duck about Lea Thompson. (Or anyone else, really.) However, Smith did make it clear to curious fans everywhere that one of the first moves he made after the show's greenlight was reaching out to Howard the Duck's Lea Thompson about coming aboard.
Considering how polarizing a cult flick Howard the Duck is, it's probably a tricky process to choose how heavily the upcoming TV show should pay tribute to it. Hulu's animated series will definitely draw more from the character's comic book history than from Willard Huyck's movie, but if there's one element above all that fans would likely want to see utilized anew, it's Lea Thompson.
Going by the wording of Kevin Smith's Instagram post again, I believe we're meant to take away the implication that Lea Thompson would not be reprising the role of Beverly Switzler, Howard's friend, sidekick and occasional girlfriend/lover. I suppose that's understandable, considering it's been 33 years since she first played the role, and she may not have the time or the desire to take on a major role in an animated series again. She did reportedly pitch a new Howard the Duck movie to Marvel in 2018, but not much news followed.
None of that is to say that the new Howard the Duck series will be leaving Beverly out of the running altogether. Kevin Smith confirmed she and other fan-favorite characters would be around. In his words:
Dave and I are going Full-Gerber on Howard: Beverly, Bong and the entire cast of characters that made this fowl legend fly! I saw tests for Hit Monkey and M.O.D.O.K. already and holy duck, are they astounding! Like, legit next level shit! So Dave and I have our work cut out for us. But since Dave’s the cartoon genius behind Meatwad and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Howard is in some fine feathered fingers!
I'm sure it would be impossible to make a Meatwad cameo happen on Howard the Duck, but if there was ever a time and an opportunity for pop culture's stars to align in just such a way...
The question now becomes one of what Lea Thompson's mystery role could be, assuming she takes it. Hulu is really opening up some of the wilder areas of Marvel's comic stories, so not even the deepest reaches of outer space are limiting factors for this animated universe.
Lea Thompson had a fairly quiet 2018 on the TV front. In 2017, she wrapped a five-season run on the drama Switched at Birth, and a two-season stint as part of the Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero voice cast. On the film side of things, she appeared in Clare Niederpruem's adaptation of Little Women and the teen comedy Sierra Burgess is a Loser.
Kevin Smith also got us excited about the prospects of getting Hit Monkey and M.O.D.O.K. TV shows on Hulu in the future, of course, by talking about the early test animations for each show. Not to mention the Tigra and Dazzler show that's being co-written by comedian Chelsea Handler. The Marvel situation may be at its grimmest over at Netflix, but things are coming up ducky over at Hulu.
Howard the Duck and the other Marvel shows won't be around in time to make it onto the midseason TV schedule, but fans can expect to see them hitting the streaming service in the less-than-distant future. (Meanwhile, you can actually catch Kevin Smith on this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory along with William Shatner.)