I have a complicated history with Howard the Duck.
One of the movies that is synonymous with egregious Hollywood waste and the empirical hubris of a post-Star WarsGeorge Lucas (who produced the movie and with his longtime collaborators Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz writing it and Huyck directing – it would be his last film as a director), Howard the Duck was one of the costliest flops of the 1980s and for years was widely regarded as a bad film. With the advent of cable television and the advancements in home entertainment technology the movie began to develop a healthy cult following and its notorious reputation mostly faded over time.
Howard the Duck was also the first big-budget movie to be based on a Marvel Comics title. Twelve years passed before the next one was released: Blade.
I first saw Howard the Duck in a syndicated television airing in 1989, when I was just 10 years old. Back then I lacked discerning judgment so naturally the movie became a personal favorite of mine. If I recall correctly I begged my mother to rent the uncut VHS the next weekend. It was then that I was introduced to the concept of “edited for television” versions of a film because my first viewing of the full theatrical cut of Howard the Duck left me awe at what was deleted from the TV edit. Truth be told it wasn’t too offensive or retina-scarring to my youthful eyes. My love for the movie inspired me to seek out back issues of the character’s late-1970s solo comic title at my local comics store. I amassed nearly every issue before losing interest midway through the 90s.
In the years that followed as I grew older and developed a more diverse taste in cinema I fell out of love with the movie. Now that I knew what a good movie is supposed to look like the realization that Howard the Duck was far from being one was not difficult to ascertain. But although I can easily recognize its dearth of flaws I still am able to enjoy the movie for what it is: a sweet but misguided attempt to build a high-concept blockbuster vehicle around a fringe Marvel Comics character who often stood in direct contrast to the costumed heroics of his fellow denizens of the House of Ideas, which is why Lucas and his creative cohorts felt it necessary to soften Howard’s rougher edges for his PG-rated movie debut. The film is funny at times, corny as hell the rest of the time, but overall it remains a goofy but watchable relic of 80’s cinema.
In 2009 Universal Pictures stopped holding back and Howard the Duck was finally released on DVD with a remastered picture and sound transfer and a slew of decent extra features, more than enough proper respect for a movie long regarded as an industry punchline. Two years the movie celebrated its silver anniversary, but the studio expressed no desire to give it an upgrade to Blu-ray to mark the occasion. Universal may wish the matter to be closed, but Marvel ain’t having any of it.
Joe Quesada, Chief Operating Officer of Marvel Entertainment, has decided to throw his considerable weight (not a fat joke – the dude has some major influence) behind the movement and has taken it upon himself to offer Lucas the kingly sum of $1732.27. He makes his appeal in a video that opens with a clever animated skit where Howard – the real Howard – complains about the oversight during a card game with Deadpool, Modok, and Deadpool at the table as well.
You can watch the video here below.
Putting Howard the Duck on Blu-ray wouldn’t be that bold of a move for Universal and Lucasfilm; the film’s enduring cult status has made it a popular catalog title for the studio. The A/V quality of the DVD release was already pretty tip-top; giving it an HD upgrade would not require much more effort and cash from the participating parties. They could even throw in some more extras to supplement the previous bonuses, maybe even an audio commentary or two.