Howard the Duck (1986)

In the early seventies, EYG Hall of Famer Steve Gerber created a character for Marvel named Howard the Duck. Howard the Duck’s comic was irreverent, satirical and existential.

Then, producer George Lucas (also an EYG Hall of Famer) got his hands on the property and turned him into a duck from outer space, and he made one of the worst films of all time. The stench of the movie has stained Howard the Duck and potentially ruined any hope for the character to take his place in the MCU.

Yes, Howard the Duck was in the Guardians of the Galaxy (trapped in the Collector’s collection) and even in the final battle in Avengers: Endgame, but no one could consider the chance of a Howard the Duck solo film or Disney + series. That is because of this film.

It is beyond stupid. No one clearly understood what made this character so special.

Howard the Duck (voiced by Chip Zien) gets pulled from his planet Duckworld, by a scientist Dr. Walter Jennings (Jeffrey Jones) during a test of the Spectroscope, a giant laser beam. Howard winds up in Cleveland where he meets musician Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson) and they bond. Unfortunately, further experiments brought an evil Dark Overlord of the Universe to possess the body of Jennings, sending him on a mission to bring the rest of the Dark Overlords to earth.

Howard the Duck was turned into an action/adventure, campy 80s movie with some of the worst dialogue put to film. Fresh off his iconic role from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jones was over-the-top as the Dark Overlord-in-Jennings’ body . Tim Robbins was here too playing Phil, a lab tech guy. Lea Thompson is nothing but a screeching damsel in distress, the police were total idiots, and we saw Howard’s little condom in his wallet.

Of course, the effects are terrible and Howard, himself, looks horrendous. The character is written improperly and is nothing more than a silly duck jokes and sexual innuendo.

There is a fun song at the end of the movie.

There are plenty of moments in the film that are so stupid that you can laugh at them. Not the comedic parts, mind you, but the parts that are meant to be exciting and fun. It is such a disappointment when compared to the comic book. The acting is terrible and the writing is juvenile. There is a remarkably racist scene at a restaurant that totally uses every negative stereotype from the 1980s and played for comedy.

It is a joke of a movie.

2 thoughts on “Howard the Duck (1986)

  1. I watched this at the cinema, I ducked out of college one wet afternoon and popped into the cinema- Howard was playing in screen three, the fleapit auditorium usually reserved for x-rated sex comedies so I feared the worst and still got disappointed. I think it was me in there with a tramp who was after the cheapest seat to get out of the lousy weather: he stuck around for the whole film, which proves the old saying beggars can’t be choosers.

    Really was/is a disaster of a movie and the first real sign of George Lucas’ rep as a genius being shattered (clear warning of what was to come). I could get over the guy in a suit thing if it was just the real Howard from the comic (which I loved back in 1976- being a Brit I didn’t really understand all the Bicentennial nonsense in the Marvel comics of that summer but I adored Howard’s election storyline) but the film was nothing like Steve Gerber’s subversive Howard: a typically bad comicbook adaptation. That being said, is there ever any chance we could ever get a foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping Duck and a vampire cow in a sleazy city like the one in Taxi Driver?


    • Sadly, my guess is no. I do not think Howard is seen as someone to lead his own movie/TV Show. They were doing a Howard the Duck animated series with Kevin Smith, but that has been cancelled.

      This is the problem when creators do not understand a character that they are trying to adapt. Even if they make some changes, that is okay as long as you stick to the heart of the character.

      Thanks for the comments!


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