Remake & Reboot: The Heavy Metal Movie

Although worlds apart from Batman and Superman, the motion picture Heavy Metal was one of the biggest early forays for comics into major motion pictures. Based on the comics magazine of the same name, the 1981 anthology picture was like Disney’s Fantasia if you grew up on Philip K. Dick and Frank Frazetta, and it changed the way some people saw animation. Over the past thirty years numerous comic creators and movie directors have tried to resurrect the franchise, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman and even The Social Network‘s David Fincher. None of their efforts got any further than the drawing board, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a viable property if approached differently.

The Concept:

The strength of the Heavy Metal film concept is also it’s weakness: adult-oriented anthology of animated short films. While you might get some leverage elsewhere, for U.S. audiences animation is still seen as a children’s medium despite exceptions like South Park and The Simpsons. To make a Heavy Metal film work, you have to combat that using Hollywood’s biggest draw: special effects. One of the biggest films ever, Avatar, was by-and-large a computer animated movie with bits of live action inserted into it; think of it as a reverse Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. By blending animation, special effects and live action, some recognizable film-makers could pool their talents — and their name value — to re-create a new platform for movies.

The Directors:

Unlike other films where a lot rides on the actors, for a Heavy Metal Remake & Reboot that lies in the storytellers: the directors. By banding together a group of legitimate A-listers and some talented up-and-comers connected to comics, Heavy Metal could be an eye-opening experience.

Guillermo del Toro: His name is already attached to a dozen films, so why not one more? Seriously, del Toro’s name has been bandied about in previous attempts to re-ignite Heavy Metal, and giving the Mexican director a unique opportunity to do a concise short film could be an ideal opportunity for him to come in, do it, and go out. del Toro got his start in film-making with shorts like Geometria, so Heavy Metal could be just the thing.

Duncan Jones: He’s shown his skills with Moon and Source Code, but this British filmmaker still has a ways to go to show how creative he can be. Imagine giving shows the reigns of an animated/live action short film he could build from the ground up, and he might surprise everyone … even his ardent fanbase.

Kaare Andrews: Comics fans know him best for Spider-Man: Reign and his comic covers, but Kaare Andrews has been directing films for years. After numerous short film works, he got his feature film debut on the 2010 movie Altitude and plans to follow that up with an upcoming action film called The Hunted with Gale Ann Hurd (Terminator, The Walking Dead). All his film efforts have been live action — imagine him getting a chance to bring his illustrations to life in a Heavy Metal short.

Takeshi Kitano: He’s done everything from horror to comedy and high action and has been called “the true successor” to Akira Kurosawa. After recently completing his surrealist autobiographical trilogy of movies, Kitano could step in with a unique voice and vision to a short film for Heavy Metal.

Genndy Tartakovsky: He created Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory. He was hand-picked by Jon Favreau to do storyboards for Iron Man 2. Currently he’s working on his first feature, the animated Hotel Transylvania, but Genndy Tartakovsky could also do great with a Heavy Metal segment. He’s no stranger to short films after doing TV, but imagine what he could do on a feature film’s budget. Sign me up.






  1. Any fans of the old Heavy Metal film (1981), The animated sequence at the end after the title on the dvd “Neverwhere Land”. Corny Cole an amazing animator and artist( and great mentor) has recently passed away. It was a sad day in the animation community.

  2. I’d like to see Paul Pope on this project, his art and storytelling would be something that would work well with this SF theme. A short Martha Washington story by Miller might be interesting as well.

  3. The original Heavy Metal movie was a big part of my highschool existence. The soundtrack rocked from car stereos, and we attended weekly midnight showings of the film. In my community, it displaced Rocky Horror for quite sometime as the de facto midnight movie.

    Not sure if a remake would have the charm of the original. Even though animation has grown by leaps and bounds since HM came out, and even though you can tell where they were forced to cut corners due to costs, the human element is what made it special.

  4. As a comic book fan, and a hard rock/heavy metal music fan, I’ve entertained ideas of an updated Heavy Metal movie for years. I’ve even kept a running a list in my head of great tunes for it, as I believe the music is as important to the final product as the animation, in keeping with the original movie’s vibe.

    Paul Pope being involved is a fantastic choice – as is Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory), Christian Volckman (Rennaisance) and either Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Blood: The Last Vampire) or Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell). An artful blending of cel animation with modern technology would be utterly amazing, I’m sure of it, against the backdrop of a fantastic soundtrack.

    As long as we keep the underlying narrative of the Loc-Nar wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims, I really think it’s time for a new anthological installment in the saga of “the sum of all evils”.

  5. Mehhh… yeah, animation is still ‘childs play’ in THEATERS… but look at the DC and Marvel Direct to DVD scene, or things like Animatrix and I think a direct to DVD Heavy Metal flick would work out tremendously.

    I’d rather good script-writers be matched w/ varying animators rather than blowing money on directors.

    Like, Quentin Tarantino’s animated segments in Kill Bill are terrific… but the whole thing apes anime… so what does it matter if Tarantino directed those particular sequences? Ultimately, the animators deserve more credit… there’s a creative vision that Tarantino might have conveyed, but its the animators that translated it to film.

    That’s why I don’t think Heavy Metal needs Del Toro or Jones or such.

    Tartakovsky… now that’s a good start. And there’s no reason whatsoever that Pixar couldn’t have segment of their own.

    I also think ‘most people still see animation for kids…’ as an old and tired excuse. Especially if you were to slap ‘HEAVY METAL’ in the title, I don’t think too many parents are not going to know what Heavy Metal is or assume its a kids thing. There is more awareness and more fans of this type of thing today than 10, 15, 20 or 25 years ago.

  6. Spike Jonze

    Gore Verbenski

    I’d love to see Warren Ellis script at least one.

  7. this movie is great. thank god i had hippie parent s that like me watched this when i was young. one of my inspirations for appreciating cartoons and art.

  8. If they did a remake I would wach it, I like both of the Heavy Metal movies that are out now.