Remake & Reboot: The Howard The Duck Movie

Of all the comic book movies that have made their way to the movie screen, there are a few that stand head and shoulders over the rest; not for their blockbuster performance, thrilling storylines or amazing special effects, but their epic misfires. Chief amongst those would be the movie version of Howard the Duck.

But it didn’t have to be that way.

Created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik back in the early 1970s as a secondary character to the Man-Thing, the diminuitive duck quickly came into his own and became the closest thing to alternative comics Marvel had seen – before or since. Consider it similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? if the rabbit was real and traded in the “yuk yuks” for black humor and political satire. After Gerber left the series, Howard the Duck bounced around Marvel comics with a string of short-lived ongoing series, limited series and special appearance but could never be put down – he even popped up in Secret Invasion.

With all that history and a “can’t-keep-me-down” attitude, it’s time to revisit the idea of a Howard the Duck movie. Let’s go!

The Concept:

A humanoid duck is dropped in the middle of Cleveland, Ohio and tries to live a normal life in a not-so-normal world. The previous film played up on its fantasy and special effects tangent, but I think more could be done if you examine the human condition as told through a feathered animal.


Take the honesty of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, mix in special effects like the recent Paul and you’re close. Imagine a story where the recently transplanted Howard the Duck is abducted by an accounting mage named Pro-Rata in a quest for a device to make him the Chief Accountant of the Universe (Someone has to do Galactus’ taxes, right?). He finds himself abducted side-by-side with a model named Beverly, and they end up hitting it off despite the circumstances and become roommates after that initial accounting adventure. Sharing a room with Beverly’s insane roommate & cartoonist Paul, they eek out a living “hand-to-beak” with Howard driving a taxi and Beverly posing as a model for life-drawing classes at the local community college. Their urban life is thrown into shambles when Beverly’s kidnapped by an ex-classmate-now-stalker who now goes by the name Dr. Bong.

The Director:

To direct this off-kilter affair, I’d go with Greg Mottola (Superbad, Arrested Development). He has everything – comedy roots, experience dealing with special-effects driven movies, and the desire to tell a story of a normal man in unusual circumstances as seen in Adventureland.

The Cast:


Howard the Duck / Neil Patrick Harris: Equal parts serious actor and comic talent, NPH could bring a lot of soul and mirth to Howard the Duck without turning it into flat comedy. Think Looney Tunes with real life consequences.

Beverly Switzler / Anna Faris: Faris has the right mix of looks, acting skill and on-screen humor to be more than just a model but a real person trying to make a living – albeit with her model-looks.


Paul Same / Dylan Moran: Although not a huge character in the series, it was memorable nonetheless (at least for me). Pruported to be based in small part on Gerber himself, I think Black Books’ Dylan Moran could really get to the heart of this.


Pro-Rata / Christopher Lee: A unique role of a mage with a penchant for numbers. He believes true world domination can be done through accounting; he sees the universe as the ultimate flow chart, and whoever can juggle the books can rule it all. Lee isn’t known for his comedic performances, but I really think he could excel at this.


Dr. Bong / Will Arnett: In the hands of a lesser actor or comedian, Dr. Bong could sink the movie – but I think Will Arnett has been on a roll and could bring a sinister and unintentionally comedic performance here.


  1. No stunt casting for Tim Robbins?

  2. The Beverly casting is inspired.

    Arnett could be good for Dr. Bong if he used his GMC Truck Voice, but it might be better to use an actor with some misplaced gravitas. Baldwin is played out in this kind of role now… maybe Ian McKellen doing his best Leslie Nielsen?

    I have serious opinions about this.

  3. Paul Giamatti as Howard!!! He’d be pitch perfect. Greg Mottola is a good choice but it seems to close to paul. I’d like to see Michel Gondry or someone of the like direct. I like NPH just not for the duck(I want him as the flash).

  4. No. Just… no.

  5. yes. Just… yes

  6. In spite of the original’s poor reputation, I think I read somewhere that by it tanking – Pixar was born!
    If that’s true, talk about a classic omelette/egg situation (pun intended).

  7. Soulful apologies for the PS – but is that girl’s last name Faris or Farris (it’s shown as both).
    I’ve been searching for her on the “Mature Video” sites, but no luck yet.

  8. Howard the Duck is easily one of the best comics of all time. Whenever they remake a movie that was GREAT the first time, I always say the exact same thing: Why are they remaking amazing movies, instead of remaking movies that sucked the first time but SHOULD have been great, like Howard the Duck??? I would seriously freak out if they made a great Howard movie. 

  9. @Duncanldunno   Uh…Anna Faris was in “Scary Movie”.  The closest shes been to “Mature Video” was “The House Bunny”.

  10. Beverly needs to be played by Jessica Alba

    Quentin Tarantino should be the director!

  11. Not feeling the Howard voice. I think having a celebrity do his voice or any comic book characters voice in a movie (Silver Surfer) is a bad and plain stupid idea.

    Not seeing Arnett as Bong and let’s ban Alba from comic book movies…or just anything in general.

  12. So I can’t say that Howard the Duck is retarded?

    B/c he is. 

  13. I didn’t think the original Howard the Duck wasn’t that bad.  It’s totally 80’s for sure, but better made and more entertaining than Cat Woman, Ghost Rider, and some of those Burton Batman films.

  14. The film had Jeffrey Jones in it. We’d better bring him back.

    As a famous podcaster* once said “that film had duck tits in it.”

    *I’m talking about, Phil Theobald of the Player1Podcast, old school 90s editor of EGM/GameNow and current freelance reviewer for Nintendo Power.

    *Came from episode 249 “Superlove” (near the end).