Duck Dodgers is the meta-fictional star of a series of cartoons produced by Warner Bros. He is actually the famous (but still fictional) cartoon star Daffy Duck, cast in the role of an intergalactic future "hero".
Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century
Duck Dodgers first appeared in the 1953 cartoon short Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, directed by Chuck Jones. Jones created a spoof of the popular Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Flash Gordon science fiction serials of the 1930s, casting the brash, egomaniacal Daffy Duck as the hero of the story. The cartoon is widely praised as one of the greatest and funniest Warner Bros. cartoons of all time. It is available in the DVD compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1, and is also available for download on the iTunes Store in the Daffy Duck collection.
The plot of the cartoon involves Duck Dodgers' search for the rare element Illudium Phosdex, "the shaving cream atom", the only remaining supply of which is on the mysterious "Planet X." Just after Dodgers has claimed Planet X in the name of the Earth, Marvin the Martian lands on the same planet and claims it in the name of Mars. The stage is set for a battle of wits, not to mention various forms of weaponry, most of which tend to backfire hilariously on Dodgers.
Considering the period in which the cartoon was produced (the Red Scare was in full swing during the 1950s era), some scholars have used the cartoon to parallel the futility of the Cold War and the arms race.
Duck Dodgers sequels
The first sequel, also produced by Chuck Jones, was titled Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century and was released in 1980. The plot of this sequel cartoon was nearly a carbon copy of the original though this time Marvin says he is trying to solve the Earth's energy crisis (by blowing up the Earth); Marvin succeeds in launching his missile and at the end of the cartoon reminds everyone that it's only a cartoon.
The second short, titled Marvin the Martian in the Third Dimension, was a 3D cartoon released in 1996 to select venues. These included the flagship Warner Bros. Studio Store in Manhattan, and Warner Bros. Movie Worlds on the Gold Coast, Australia and in Bottrop-Kirchhellen, Germany. It included a range of interactive effects including a splash with water. Unlike the other Dodgers cartoons, Porky Pig did not appear.
A third short, titled "Attack of the Drones" was made in 2003 and was part of a series of new shorts, but because of the failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action they were not released theatrically. The shorts sometimes air on Teletoon in Canada and as of now can be seen on YouTube.
Duck Dodgers also made an appearance in a Tiny Toon Adventures segment titled "Duck Dodgers Jr." (in the episode "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone"), where Daffy Duck's pint-sized protege and student Plucky Duck also visited the futuristic world of Duck Dodgers. Here Marvin the Martian, appears with another humanoid Martian, Marcia. Duck Dodgers also makes an appearance in Star Warners.
An SNES and Game Boy game called Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions, as well as a Nintendo 64 video game, entitled Duck Dodgers, have also been produced.
The original cartoon also appeared in a 1994 episode of the science fiction series Babylon 5, (also produced by WB) where it was revealed that Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century was Security Chief Michael Garibaldi's "second favorite thing in the universe". One episode shows Garibaldi laughing uproariously at the cartoon, as Ambassador Delenn watches it with him, appearing totally bewildered.
Portions of this cartoon can be seen and heard in the background in a scene from the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Duck Dodgers appears in the 2003 feature Looney Tunes: Back in Action when Daffy notes that the only character that could save the film's proverbial day was Duck Dodgers; he then realizes that Dodgers is his alter ego.
In a way, an infant version of Dodgers appeared on an episode of Baby Looney Tunes - in this episode, Daffy dresses up as Dodgers on Halloween. This episode also featured young versions of the "Instant Martians" from Hare-Way to the Stars - they were mistaken for kids in costumes (very realistic ones at that).
Use by NASA
In 2003, both Duck Dodgers and Marvin the Martian were featured on separate !st Space Launch Squadron mission patches for that year's Mars Exploration Rover missions.
- ↑ Marvin The Martian and Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers Prepare for Upcoming NASA Missions to Mars, press release from Warner Bros., Monday, June 2, 2003