When I was a kid, my friends and I absolutely loved Voltron, the classic 1980’s anime about a group of pilots of five big lion-robots who join up to form one bigger kickass robot… with lion heads for hands. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most logically thought out concept, but damn it was awesome. So much so that my friends and I recreated our very own Voltron adventures every week. Since we didn’t happen to have a couple of lion robots lying around, we had to make due to with a conveniently climbable guava tree in a neighbour’s yard, some pieces of wood and carboard to double as control panels, and a WHOLE lot of imagination as we each sat at our respective “robot consoles” and shook, screamed and laughed away through hordes of make-believe baddies.
Now there may not be anymore guava trees around for me to clamber up, but I’ve still been incredibly excited for Netflix’s upcoming planned remake of the classic cartoon, titled Voltron: Legendary Defender. And that excitement levels have just increased thanks to the short but still cool first teaser trailer and images for the show which debuted over the weekend.
Yes, I know that didn’t show much, but despite the updated modern CG visuals in the trailer, there’s a definite familiarity to things. And that’s completely intentional, says co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery.
“We’re trying to keep as much of that classic feel to it as we can, because ultimately we have huge amounts of nostalgia for (the original) show.”
“It was a big kind of battle on our part to keep it simple and fun and reminiscent to the old thing. Because there are certain people who look at that and go, ‘That looks old,’ because they’re going to think it looks old, they’re not going to want that. We were like, ‘No, we can make it cool and fun!’”
“For me, everything had to pass this squint test. Like, you had to recognize everybody in everything. Voltron had to be recognized, the colors had to stand out, and so it had to retain that level of fun.”
The show will also now have a more serialized approach to story telling. That story focusing on “five Earth teenagers — Keith (voiced by Steven Yeun), Lance (Jeremy Shada), Hunk (Tyler Labine), Pidge (Bex Taylor-Klaus) and Shiro (Josh Keaton) — who are thrown into the middle of an intergalactic battle and become the last line of defense for Arus and other planets against an evil alien force led by King Zarkon.”
Unlike the original show though, where the five pilots were just there to assist the Princess of Arus and kick monster butt every week, Legendary Defender will develop these characters a lot more, giving them “a real purpose for being on this mission and getting involved with Voltron in the first place,” according to exec producer Jaoquim Dos Santos.
“Voltron is nowhere near the scale of a Star Wars in terms of mythology, but it has managed to stick around in pop culture and became this representation of teamwork.”
Montgomery also added that Princess Allura of Arus, (Kimberly Brooks), will also have a lot more to do with a much more realistic representation than her classic counterpart.
“She doesn’t have to be the (greatest) fighter right off the bat. She’s still a princess from a peaceful kingdom. But she’s certainly not fainting at every little thing that overwhelms her.”
But just because some of the characters are handled a bit more respectfully now, doesn’t mean that the “campy” show we knew and loved is getting turned into this grim-dark cartoon. Although Dos Santos admits that who were advocating for a version that was “really military and really serious, everything had chainsaws on it and was really bro’d out,” but luckily in the end “we just didn’t want that.”
“I think some of the ideas that were kicked around, for lack of a better term, [was to] Gears of War or Halo it up a little bit, and put chainsaws and army stuff on everything.”
But while they maintained that more all-ages approach of the original show, what they did do though is up the stakes by making things a bit less predictable than your usual trope-centric cartoon, “giving Voltron an epic Game of Thrones feel with some humor”.
“[When they encounter monsters] you actually feel like, ‘Oh man, is Voltron going to get out of this one?’There are some of those encounters they just manage to survive.”
“Not everything is solved by Voltron alone. Sometimes they need to beat something just as the lions. Sometimes they just do it as themselves fighting as men.”
However, they do it, you can be damn sure that I’ll be there to watch it when the 13-episode first season drops on Netflix on June 10. And, of course, I’LL FORM THE HEAD!!
Sources: USAToday and Nerdist (who also have a great breakdown of each character’s background, a more detailed interview with the showrunners, and also a nice history lesson on how the original anime came to being – it was actually a dubbed, mish-mash of several different shows)
Last Updated: March 29, 2016