One of the great things about cartoons like Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold has been that they've used the star power of characters like Superman and Batman to shine a light on a few of DC's lesser-known properties. What's interesting, though, is that even before he became a recurring team-up hero on Brave and the Bold, Plastic Man almost had a modern-day animated series of his very own!
As revealed by voice actor Tom Kenny (best known as the voice of Spongebob Squarepants and the narrator on The Powerpuff Girls) revealed in an interview with the Onion's AV Club, an 11-minute pilot was produced in 2006 for a show that would've pitted DC's pliable third-stringer against the strangest villains that he and artist Andy Suriano could've imagined. And while it didn't get picked up, the magic of the Internet has once again provided!
If it had been picked up by Cartoon Network, this wouldn't have been the first time Plastic Man had made it to the world of cartoons. A series aired from 1979 to 1981 -- the DVD set for which actually included the elven-minute pilot as a bonus feature -- and boasted plenty of regrettable additions, including a Hawaiian stereotype sidekick and... [shudder] Baby Plas.
With this series, though, Kenny and Suriano wanted to take things in a different direction that played up the cartooniness of a guy who could become a bright red and yellow version of anything:
We both loved Jack Cole's Plastic Man comics, and that led us to talking about the fairly awful '80s limited-animation Plastic Man cartoon series. We just thought it was funny that you would take the most pliable, limitless character in the universe, and then do it in limited animation.
So we just got talking, and we pitched Cartoon Network on doing a little short film of our Plastic Man, the Plastic Man that we would want to see. You know, funnier, crazier, goofier, with more squash and stretch, a Bob Clampett sensibility than you couldn't have done on an '80s Filmation series, or whoever made it. [Ruby-Spears Productions. -ed.]
In addition to Plastic Man's creator Jack Cole and legendary Warner Bros. animator Bob Clampett, Kenny and Suriano's vision of Plastic Man seems to line right up with what the incredible Kyle Baker had done with the character in the Plastic Man series that ran from 2004 to 2006.
In a mere 20 issues, Baker managed to rack up five Eisner Awards for the series. Like the pilot, he also played up the exaggerated shapeshifting and physical comedy, but also introduced a supporting cast that included Plastic Man's vengeful, FBI agent ex-fiancee and their adopted teenage daughter, both of whom would've made a fantastic supporting cast for a cartoon.
Sadly, the show was never picked up, but on the bright side, Kenny went on to play Plastic Man on Brave and the Bold, and recently, Cartoon Network has ordered five more Plastic Man shorts from the same team. That's not surprising, though: If there's one thing we know about Plastic Man, it's that he always bounces back.
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