It was announced at last year’s SDCC that Joe and Anthony Russo, the sibling tag team responsible for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’, among others, were turning their attention to another group of spandex-clad champions by adapting the 1970s-80s anime ‘Battle of the Planets’ into a live-action movie. Now the brothers are offering a small update, but it sounds as though this project is still a few years off.
Speaking to Collider, Joe said:
“We’re in what we call the development phase. The way we work, we do what we call IP Incubation, and it is a protracted process. We have to take something like Battle of the Planets, take it through a filter, find out what it is that we loved most about that show growing up, reinterpret it – because it is not going to be an exact adaptation of the series… It’s going to be our own story to tell surrounding a group of genetically altered kids who are involved in a space war.”
He elaborated, adding:
“That is the approach we take, and that can take months of gestating and trying to figure out what the new mythology is. Then we commit that to a bible and from that bible we do some artwork as exploration. Once we have artwork which we’re inspired by, we write the script. So we’re at the Bible phase of Battle of the Planets.”
The cartoon that Americans know as ‘Battle of the Planets’ was originally released in 1972 in Japan as ‘Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’. Five orphans were augmented with cybernetic implants and equipped with high-tech weaponry and vehicles in an effort to halt the alien invasion from the planet Galactor. The series was created by Tatsuo Yoshida and Tatsunoko Studios.
After the success of ‘Star Wars’ in 1977, Sandy Frank Entertainment imported ‘Gatchaman’ and reconfigured it for American audiences, emphasizing the science fiction elements, and giving it the name ‘Battle of the Planets’ which sounds vaguely like ‘Star Wars’. More violent imagery was edited out and replaced by newly animated segments featuring the robot narrator 7-Zark-7, who looked like R2-D2 and spoke like C-3PO. 7-Zark-7 was also responsible for inserting lines like “Luckily, the entire city was evacuated before it was destroyed,” or “These airplanes and tanks were all piloted by robots so no one was killed when they exploded.”
Later seasons of ‘Gatchaman’ were adapted for the U.S. and other countries under the names ‘G-Force: Guardians of Space’ and ‘Saban’s Eagle Riders’. But as the popularity of anime increased globally, and the fan base grew up, most fans have embraced subtitled versions of the original Japanese series versus the sanitized U.S. releases.
The original ‘Gatchaman’ has remained popular in Japan and new versions have been released periodically over the decades. The most recent, ‘Gatchaman Crowds’ was released in 2013, but bore almost no resemblance to the classic anime. Also in 2013, a live-action movie was released in Japan, but was not well-received.
Check back for updates as this project develops.