News was announced that there will be a live action Kim Possible movie, because of course there will be. Disney has found a new cash cow in making their fairytales live-action, and no animated property is safe.
Now, I understand the urge to make a new Kim Possible movie. In this day and age, reboots are the name of the game, and it’s only a matter of time before a grown-up Zack and Cody move into the Tipton with a set of triplets each. And honestly, despite my laments over the death of original content, I’m here for more Kim Possible.
Kim Possible was one of my earliest TV fandoms, one that has endured to this day. The only time in my entire life that I paid for photos with celebrities, it was for Will Friedle and John DiMaggio, with me in full Ron Stoppable cosplay. I have cried more at Kim Possible movies and finales than is seemly to admit. So yeah, I’m here for more Kim Possible.
But why… why… WHY would they make the movie live-action?!? What would possess them to do such a thing?
Kim Possible has an iconic animated style that allowed it to be what it was – a slightly silly, slightly out there sci-fi spy show. I cannot imagine a photorealistic Rufus being as sweet and charming as the animated one – it’ll look tacky at best, creepy at worst.
It’s also hard to imagine a live-action Dr. Drakken looking particularly convincing if they keep him blue (and if they don’t make him blue, it’s a hate crime against our entire generation). And that’s without getting into all the exotic locations and special effects that’d make the budget for this balloon to unreasonable levels.
Disney began the usual guff about how excited they are with the phrase: “As we embark on the fun challenge of making Kim and Ron fully dimensional…” That statement is as offensive as it is wrong, implying that the animated Kim and Ron were anything less than fully dimensional.
Across 87 episodes, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable developed more as characters than any of their live action Disney Channel counterparts. Kim gains serenity as Ron gains confidence and comes into his own. Theirs was perhaps the most beautiful friendship on Disney Channel, and the best slow-burn romance since Lizzie and Gordo. If anything, the live-action Kim and Ron will be much less dimensional than the animated icons we grew up with.
This decision belies a bigger problem: the devaluation of animation as a medium. Even as we celebrate animated films for being among the best of the current cinematic output, they are treated as a mere precursor to a live-action version. We may all celebrate Coco and Inside Out as monumental achievements, but within a week of Frozen’s release people were discussing the live action-version.
Why is animation considered the lesser medium? After all, it’s not like people eagerly anticipate an animated remake of their favorite live-action blockbusters.
We already ran into all these same issues with Beauty and the Beast. Disney took what was a nearly flawless animated film, remade it in live-action because of the billions of dollars at stake, and got a result that was mediocre at best. All the charm of the animated film was lost amid swirls of gold flake and yellow tulle.
The photorealistic Mrs. Potts was a travesty, losing the very essence of the maternal teapot – just as I fear Rufus will. The actress they got to play the spunky lead couldn’t hold a candle to the animated voice, just as Christy Carlson Romano will leave very big shoes to fill. I left the theatre wondering why I’d bothered when I could just pop in the animated original into my trusty VCR (yes, they still exist!).
Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts herself) even called Disney out for this, saying, “I don’t quite know why they’re doing it. I can’t understand what they’re going to do with it that will be better than what we’ve already done.” (Source) And when such a living legend speaks, it’s worth listening.
Similarly, we’ve already proven the quality of animated Kim Possible films. If So the Drama were released into movie theaters, I would be there opening day with bells and whistles on. There’s really no way to top that movie. But there is plenty of potential in another animated film, a look at Kim and Ron’s college years or adulthood. Why squander it on a passable live-action movie when they could remain true to the heart of the series and stick with animation?
Call me, beep me with your comments: do you want a live-action Kim Possible?