DuckTales Producers Talks About the Reboot and Love of the Original Series
It’s been a few weeks since I attended my first D23 Expo and I’m still bringing you awesome information. During our DuckTales experience, we chatted with Executive Producer Matt Youngberg and Co-Producer / Story Editor Francisco Angones. During our interview, we talked about their love for the original series and why they thought it was time for a reboot. Since the screening, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the one hour premiere.
Our interview started immediately after the screening and the guys came out and shared with us a few details about the second half of the hour long premiere. “We hope you liked it. As we said coming into this, it’s a real labor of love for us. Frank likes to say, we’re terrified of screwing it up.” stated Matt Youngberg. Understandably it was a great way to start because as a fan of the original it was all I was thinking when I found out about the reboot. It didn’t take long though for us to realize that these guys are huge fans of the original.
Opening Up About Their Love of the Original Series
When talking to us about the new series they pair discussed the new project with passion and always reiterated their love for the original. Their goal was to introduce a new generation to the DuckTales gang.
We love DuckTales so much that the only thing we want is to present a DuckTales to a new audience that gives the audience the same feeling that we had. And hopefully that in 30 years, they’ll be coming around and creating the next version of DuckTales, and loving it as much as we love the original. – Matt Youngberg
If you’re a fan of the popular Dr. Who show you’re going to love David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck. He was an excellent choice for the character and we had to ask about the casting process for Tennant.
I mean, David Tennant, seemed to be the natural choice for this. We really wanted to find somebody who was legitimately Scottish. We thought that was really important in this iteration. But someone who had the character to bring this icon alive. And David is an amazing actor. He’s morphed into this role in an incredible way. Because, when you think David Tennant, you think young and kind of vibrant and all of these things, and Scrooge you think of as old and miserly.
In our version, he is miserly and old, but he has a youthful energy to him, adventuring has kept him young. And, I think David has really balanced the feeling of an old character who has a ton of like left in him. – Matt Youngberg
“Yeah, you can say he’s the Willy Wonka of adventure,” Francisco quickly added. He continued by adding more details about the series pilot that is split into two locations.
To the point that Matt made, one other thing, ‘cause we know that DuckTales is a globetrotting adventure show. It’s part of the reason why in our pilot premier we do half of the episode in Duckburg, which is this amazing adventure local, and the other half going all around the world.
And one of the things that we wanted to try to set up every time we go to a different location, we always want to try to be authentic. So, we would genuinely try to find voice actors. If we go to Egypt, we try, gonna try to find Egyptian voice actors. If we go to China, we’re gonna try to find Chinese voice actors to bring that extra level of interesting diversity and authenticity, and present a world that kids actually see around them every day. – Francisco Angones
Dealing with Challenges of Making the Show Modern
Any series facing a reboot from the past have to deal with the challenge of making the show appeal to a modern target audience. Things that worked great in the original series may not make sense in the reboot, so the guys talked about a few of those challenges with us.
I think our, our approach to that was to just present a world, like Frank was saying, present a world that kids understand and know, but without beating you over the head with it. Like, we didn’t want the characteristic of Louie to be, I have an iPad. That’s not his, that’s not his character trait. – Matt Youngberg
But if Louie is trying to break into a room, he’s gonna do the same thing that every kid would do, pull out a YouTube video and look up how to do it. We wanted to be conscious of it without really paying too much attention to it. They’re not gonna get stuck in virtual reality. – Francisco Angones
And, and so we, we even rely on the character, the characteristics of the characters kinda tell us how they would live in this world. For example, in the screener Donald has like an iPhone type phone. And then Scrooge has a full gold flip phone, because he hasn’t upgraded in 30 years. – Matt Youngberg
There Is A New Billionaire in this Series
This series also has a few new characters including a new billionaire and he’s a villain who’s out to beat Scrooge.
DuckTales has all of these rival wealthy billionaire types that are industrialists, and one of the things we love is, they always upstage one another, who Scrooge’s rivals are for the new age, to keep him relevant. So, in addition to Glomgold, who you saw in the very last scene of this, the cliffhanger for the next episode, who is our, kind of our go-go 80’s billionaire. Then we also have a new character we’re really excited to introduce called Mark Beaks, and he is our tech billionaire who cares more about buzz than bucks.
He’s constantly trying to sell the next big innovation. And he’s the one person that Scrooge and Glomgold hate more than each other. – Francisco Angones
New Animation Techniques
One of the things we noticed with the reboot was the new look of all the characters. There are quite a few changes to their look, Mrs. Beakley being the most notable change. We asked about this new look and the process.
We decided early on as we started developing the show. We wanted to make sure it still had a hand drawn feel to it. We wanted to make sure it felt hand crafted. We didn’t wanna go the CG route, because there was a few reasons for that. One was the original series, when it was brought onto the air it was just a bunch of Disney animators making a TV show, and it was like the best.
And it was an amazing, amazingly animated show. And it had the hand-crafted feel that we wanted to retain. But also, as we got into developing the show, we looked at the source material beyond just DuckTales.
We looked at the comic books that inspired DuckTales that were made by Carl Barks, and other artists. And, we wanted to be able to harken back to the roots a little bit more. And so, we developed this style, not only in the having it be traditionally animated by hand. But also in creating a style for the world that looked like it was inked by, an artist brush. So, that like it looks like comic book pages come to life a little bit. It was really important for us to kind of pay homage to where it came from. And that also to me helps kind of ground it a little bit and make it feel more tangible and real. – Matt Youngburg
The Importance of Strong Female Characters
I mentioned earlier that Mrs. Beakley’s character has gotten a big change. In the original, she’s more of a regular old lady who helps watch the boys and keep Scrooge’s house. In the reboot, she gets a new look and a new role.
And then when it came to Webby, the idea came at it from looking at all these old Cark Barks’ duck family portraits, and they’re all very nice. It was like, well, if Scrooge McDuck, in our version of Scrooge McDuck is the world’s greatest adventurer, he’s not just gonna have a housekeeper. He’s gonna have a housekeeper slash bodyguard, because people are constantly trying to break into his mansion to steal his money and his riches, and do him harm, because he has a very long list of sworn enemies. So, once we figured out that Beakley was the housekeeper, and she kept Webby in the house with her.
This was a girl whose grandmother, the woman who raised her is incredibly skilled at combat, has all this training. So, she would train her and know that she was in for a lot of danger, ‘cause she’s deflecting Beagle boys every day. But she’s also surrounded by all of these artifacts of Scrooge’s life, all of these relics and tones and stuff. And, she’s essentially being built for adventure, but she’s never been allowed outside the house because Scrooge hasn’t been adventuring for a long time.
We’ve always wanted to make sure that whatever, whatever we did update, it was based on character and story and situation. – Francisco Angones
The pair who are fathers to five girls between them wanted to make sure they showcased a strong female character that could hold her own and didn’t need to be rescued.
It was also really important for us as fathers. Uh. Frank has two daughters, I have three daughters, and, and it was really important to be able to present a female character that they would gravitate towards, and not be a character who was written off as someone who needs to be rescued, who is like, “Ew, a girl.”
Like, we didn’t want that feeling to come across with Webby. We wanted to make sure that she was somebody that kids could relate to, and that’s why we really dug into her character. It’s like, okay, this character who lives this way with these people, how would she really be? And that was really important to us to present a real well-rounded character so that she could go toe to toe with the boys and with Scrooge. Like, she definitely stands up to Scrooge, you know? – Matt Youngberg
Adding A Latino Superhero
As a minority, it’s important for me to see diversity in all parts of my life, including the shows and movies I watch. I was thrilled to learn about the addition of a Latino superhero to the series.
I was a comic book nerd, and we only had one Latino superhero, his name was Vibe. He had breakdance superpowers, and he was a member of a street gang. Every time I saw Latino representation, even to this day in movies, there’s not a lot of Latino superhero representation, and I wanna be able to give my kids a Latino superhero.
I was like, wouldn’t it be great if the main superhero character, for people who don’t know, Lin-Manuel Miranda is playing Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera slash Gizmoduck in our show. Wouldn’t it be great if the main superhero of DuckTales was Latino? Not just a token side superhero. This is our, our Peter Parker meets Tony Stark Ironman. And so, as we looked at adapting the character, we looked at the original traits, and he always had another idea. He was always fast talking. He was always putting together a scheme. He was very earnest and I was like, this is Lin-Manuel Miranda, and we’ll never get him.
But I had the good fortune to write that episode, and I wrote it as if it was Lin. I was like, even if we can’t get Lin, there is a Lin-ness about this adaptation of this character. And, we sent him the script, and I sent him a letter explaining that, and saying, you know, telling him why this was important to me, and I’d been a huge fan of his. – Francisco Angones
The new animated comedy adventure “DuckTales” will premiere in a one-hour television movie to be presented for 24 consecutive hours, SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 (beginning at midnight EDT/PDT), on Disney XD. Then, the series will debut with two new episodes SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m. EDT/PDT). Each will also be available on the DisneyXD app and Disney XD VOD on these same dates.
Based on the Emmy Award-winning series treasured by a generation of viewers, Disney XD’s animated comedy-adventure series “DuckTales” chronicles the high-flying adventures of Duckburg’s most famous trillionaire Scrooge McDuck, his mischief-making triplet grandnephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, temperamental nephew Donald Duck and the trusted McDuck Manor team: big-hearted, fearless chauffer/pilot Launchpad