Why The Mighty Ducks' Emilio Estevez Returned To Acting For The Disney+ Game Changers TV Show

The Mighty Ducks movies are near and dear to the hearts of the legions of fans who have seen them since they debuted in the '90s, and now the franchise is coming to the small screen courtesy of the upcoming Game Changers TV show on Disney+. Although The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers looks like it will be changing and updating a lot of the core parts of those original three movies, at least one thing will remain the same: Emilio Estevez's Coach Gordon Bombay will be on hand to (eventually) help kids play hockey and learn some lessons along the way.

In The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, the once-misfit Ducks team has become ultra-competitive and elite, to the point that it cuts the kind of kids who made up the original team fronted by young actors like Joshua Jackson, Shaun Weiss, Elden Henson, and Jussie Smollett in the 1992 movie, which was followed by The Mighty Ducks 2 in 1994 and The Mighty Ducks 3 in 1996. When Game Changers picks up in the present day, Bombay has gone from the coach who helped the Ducks fly to a guy who runs an ice rink and claims to not like hockey or kids. What would Charlie Conway say?!

Gordon Bombay is arguably Emilio Estevez's most iconic role, but Estevez (who is also on board The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers as an executive producer) began stepping away from the front of the camera after D3 in 1996. During the 2021 Television Critics Association panel for Game Changers, Estevez explained that he might have seemed like he had "dropped off the radar" because he moved behind the camera to direct, and "exited mainstream motion pictures" after D3 and got into making independent films with "more of a social message" for the last 25 years. As for why he returned to acting for the new Disney+ show, Estevez shared:

So it's interesting to come back now using The Mighty Ducks as a reentry vehicle, and it's really for two reasons. The first is Steve Brill. Steve and I talked about this a couple years ago and he said, ‘Would you be interested in this?’ And, you know, I said, ‘Well, sure, if we can capture the magic of the first films, the magic of the franchise. If we can create a cinematic experience and not just try to sort of cash in on -- on the nostalgia aspect of it.’ And I think that's ultimately what we've done.

Emilio Estevez credits Steve Brill with pulling him back to acting with The Mighty Ducks, and Brill would certainly be the one to know how to recapture the '90s magic of the franchise. Brill wrote all three of the Mighty Ducks films and has gone on to create Game Changers, and he also wrote for the series. Reprising his iconic role as Bombay is definitely a way for Estevez to reenter acting with a character that he already knows well.

All things considered, I think existing Mighty Ducks fans and Game Changers newcomers alike can be encouraged that Emilio Estevez wasn't interested in returning to the franchise if the purpose was to cash in on nostalgia. That's not to say that there won't be nostalgia for those of us who have watched and rewatched those first three movies throughout our lives, but all signs point toward a series that delivers what made the original film a hit.

Emilio Estevez elaborated on his return to acting, saying:

You know, I've spent a lot of time in the central corridor of the country and outside the gatekeeper of the 213, 310 and the 212 area codes and I talk to a lot of people. In fact, I have a home in Ohio, Cincinnati. And in talking to people in the central corridor of the country, a lot of people say, 'Well, we love you on screen. Where have you been? If you ever were to come back, we'd love to see you in two roles: One is Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks and the other is Billy the Kid in Young Guns.' And so I've got one of those. We've ticked one of those boxes.

Returning to acting to play Gordon Bombay for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers may be just the beginning for Emilio Estevez, as he sounds interested in potentially reprising his role as Billy the Kid from Young Guns. His character's fate was left ambiguous at the end of Young Guns II, and this is an era of reboots and revivals on both the big screen and the small screen. If he can be Bombay again, why not Billy the Kid?

For now, fans can be absolutely certain of seeing Emilio Estevez back as Gordon Bombay, surrounded by new castmates rather than the Ducks from the first three movies. (That's not to say there aren't some movie characters who would make great additions to the show, though!) Estevez is joined by Lauren Graham, who is a co-executive producer on the series and had her role on another show impacted by Game Changers.

As for whether any of the original kids will turn up as adults and maybe even meet the next generation of scrappy hockey youngsters, only time will tell. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers premieres on Friday, March 26 on Disney+. For a Mighty Ducks fix in the meantime, you can find all three movies on the Disney streaming service as well, and even Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, although the animated show is definitely not based on the movies.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).