Superhero Shorts: Captain Planet Trailer
Welcome to this week’s edition of Superhero Shorts where I take a look at a different superhero themed short film and get the creator of the film to answer a few interview questions. This week I’m talking with Noah Baron, Matt Kohler, and Robert Santiago, three actor-turned-producers who came up with a different take on the classic 90’s cartoon Captain Planet. Instead of amping up the campiness of the old cartoon, they turned it into a much more realistic and gritty movie trailer that looks seriously good. You can watch it below, or you can see it on any of their own sites.
I can’t say that I was a big fan of Captain Planet when I was younger. I did watch the cartoon a lot, probably because it was better than my other choices at the time, but even at 10 years old, I could already tell that it was pretty cheesy. But I am still familiar with it, so when I turned on this new trailer, I was expecting something akin to the Don Cheadle parody version that came out last year. Instead, I got a trailer that took itself, and the characters very seriously. From Wheeler’s drinking problem, to actually giving Ma’Ti aka Heart a brief moment to shine, it’s actually an impressively solid concept to bring Captain Planet to life. The only thing that I had a slight problem with was that Linka’s accent sounded like it kind of fell by the wayside. Either that, or there was another character that looked similar to Linka. But it goes by so quick, it’s not really a big problem. And I would rather hear no accent than a bad accent. They even managed to get in a little bit of humor at the end, which I also enjoyed. It’s just an all around fun ride, and I can only hope that the planned movie comes out looking anything close to this. But enough from me, let’s hear what the people that actually worked on it have to say. Noah who played Wheeler aka Fire, Matt who played Captain Planet, and Rob who played Ma’Ti aka Heart.
Bubbawheat: Who was it that came up with idea to take this goofy, cheesy cartoon from the 90’s and turn it into something that could actually be taken seriously?
Noah/Matt/Rob: It’s actually really interesting. First thing you should know is that the three of us are first and foremost actors. We became producers because we have such a love of filmmaking that we wanted to create some of our ideas ourselves. Rob wanted to see Captain Planet made into a gritty superhero movie even before he moved to LA. When Rob became friends with Matt in acting class at the Aaron Speiser Acting Studio almost four years ago, Rob approached Matt with the idea because he knew Matt could bring Captain Planet to life. Matt was excited with the possibilities and soon after Rob and Matt began writing up a treatment. They ended up shelving the idea for a while for various reasons.
One year later Noah moved to LA and joined the Speiser Studio. The three of us started talking about projects we could produce, write, and star in to jump-start our careers. Noah came up with the idea of making a Captain Planet parody soon after launching a Fight Club parody called Cuddle Club. Everyone loved the idea and we began working on the script. When the script was close to completion, Don Cheadle came out with almost exactly the same parody. So we decided to go back to Rob and Matt’s original idea to make a gritty Captain Planet trailer á la The Dark Knight Trilogy. We typed up a script that was basically just a bunch of badass shots that we would want to see as fans. Matt had worked with Jay Diaz (Director/Head Writer/Editor) and Tony Joun (DP) and invited them to come aboard with their amazing crew. From there Jay turned the trailer into, well, an actual trailer. He found the heart of it (no pun intended), created a great story, and gave the characters depth. Our trailer would have been far less successful without all of their hard work and dedication.
BW: How many of you were fans of the original cartoon? Was there anyone that had to be brought up to speed, or did they just take the script at face value?
NMR: Rob and Noah were already big Captain Planet fans. Matt was aware of the cartoon but never really watched it when he was growing up. His favorite cartoon was G.I. Joe, and Matt has always wanted to play one of the Crimson Twins (Tomax or Xamot) with his own twin brother. Matt is such a talented and detail-oriented actor that when he took on the role of Captain Planet, he researched the hell out of the cartoon to get into the character of the title role.
BW: Were there any thoughts on updating the costumes at all, aside from the more tattered look for Captain Planet’s… top?
NMR: Top? Bra? Whatever . . . but yeah, there was. We wanted to go for a more badass feel. We bought almost all the planeteers’ jackets and vests from Army/Navy stores. We had a very limited budget so we had to make do. If we had been given a real budget, we definitely would have stepped it up a notch with more modern costumes while keeping the original essence and details. Our amazing SFX guy (Oren Benamor) made the famous globes that we printed on the planeteers’ shirts. They were modernized and made to look like they’ve seen battles. Our head costume designer, Erica Hernandez, and her team did an amazing job with the limited budget we gave them.
Another big topic was the famous mullet. Noah personally loved the mullet, but we had to be real and serious. Although Captain Planet’s mullet was a signature trait, we looked at a calendar and realized it’s 2012, so we nixed it.
BW: With superhero movies becoming more prominent in recent years, and lesser-known properties like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man getting movies made of them, how possible do you think it would be for an actual Hollywood Captain Planet movie to get made? Who would you like to see play Captain Planet?
NMR: The production company Angry Films currently owns the rights to Captain Planet, and the feature film is “in development.” We’ve spoken with Angry Films and they and everyone else involved in the original cartoon love our trailer (so amazing to hear!). We pray that they will make it and make it great. All of us—including all the amazing other people who worked on the trailer, in front of and behind the camera—would LOVE to be a part of the feature. We feel we have a lot to contribute and would love to get the opportunity.
Nowadays I’m sure Captain Planet will be CG (computer generated), especially since he’s ”larger-than-life” and made up of all the elements. However, I think the producers should create Captain Planet the same way Joss Whedon created the Hulk in The Avengers. Hook an actor up to all those sensors and create a real, live character in post. Of course we would love to see Matt play Captain Planet. Not being a name actor at this point in his career wouldn’t be a deal breaker to our way of thinking because Captain Planet should be an unknown, fresh face. If the studios want a name, then we’d probably go with Ryan Reynolds, although he’s already Green Lantern AND Deadpool. He’s got the physique and the wisecracking personality. Other big names might include Armie Hammer and Josh Duhamel.
BW: And don’t forget Hannibal Kane from Blade: Trinity. Josh Duhamel’s an interesting choice, I think he could make it work. Who’s your favorite planeteer? Do you think anyone ever picks Heart?
NMR: The group’s favorite planeteer is Wheeler, and Noah was thrilled that he got to play him. He’s got the Fire ring, let’s be real here. And no, we don’t think anyone EVER picks Heart. We gave Rob a ton of shit for that since day one. As actors, we intuitively understood which roles would work best for each of us, and Rob knew exactly who he would be from the start. He found MaTi’s importance in the group. Without MaTi and his power, Captain Planet has no heart. That’s the truth and he’s sticking to it. Gotta give Rob credit though, he made Heart pretty badass, am I right?
BW: He’s definitely not just the little kid from South America anymore. What do you think about the Don Cheadle version done last year? What do you think about the fact that most of the press for your trailer features, or at least mentions the Cheadle version right alongside yours, considering it is a very different take on the character?
NMR: We touched on this earlier, but we think it was pretty hilarious, seeing as it was almost exactly the concept we came up with originally, ha-ha. We personally think it’s great that we’re featured next to Don Cheadle’s version. Captain Planet doesn’t get the credit it/he deserves. We were raised on Captain Planet. Anyone who takes the time and energy to make something good about Captain Planet is alright in our book. Don Cheadle’s version was great, so being featured alongside it is really an honor. And, come-on, he’s War-Machine . . . ‘nuff said!
BW: And I ask everyone this question, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
Noah: Ya know what, I MIGHT have to go with The Avengers. That’s weird for me to say, but I really loved it. Seeing all those characters on one screen was pretty epic. Iron Man, Spiderman 1, The Amazing Spiderman, and The Dark Knight are all closely tied for my second place. My absolute dream job/role would be to play Peter Parker/Spider Man. I tried getting into the room with Marc Webb, but to no avail. However, Andrew Garfield did an absolutely spectacular job with that role.
Rob: Difficult to pick because I am a huge fan of all comic book superheroes. It would have to be X-Men, because the X-Men are my absolutely favorite superheroes and I’ve always wanted a mutant ability. Comic book geek right here! I did really enjoy the Amazing Spider-Man, too.
Matt: The Dark Knight, I absolutely love what Christopher Nolan has done with Batman. I actually have the trailers to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises on my iPod; they kick up the intensity of my workouts! There are several GREAT superhero movies on my list of favorites though. I’m also interested in seeing what Warner Bros does with Superman with Man of Steel coming out soon.
Thanks so much to you all for answering my questions. I’m glad to see all the attention your trailer has been getting, it’s really a great piece of work and I hope the live action version does get made, and you can get to be a part of it in some way. Even though I don’t see myself going back and watching the cartoon again any time soon, I do think it’s a great character and would love to see it back in a serious way, even though every time I watch this trailer, I get that old theme song stuck in my head for hours. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.