'ThunderCats' premiere review: Lion-O and Mumm-Ra were back... but different

The new version of ThunderCats that premiered Friday night on the Cartoon Network is both faithful to the original 1980s-era, charmingly schlocky cartoon series, and a rather canny rethinking of a series that probably didn’t take a lot of thinking to conceive in the first place.

This ThunderCats features familiar characters in an anime-style version of the feline-and-sorcercy saga. The central cat-like humanoid remains Lion-O, whose story has become a test of maturity and bravery. There was war against evil lizards and traps set by the series ultimate villain, Mumm-Ra. In this new version, Tygra is now Lion-O’s adopted brother, an aggressive sarcastic fellow, to add some sibling rivalry to the derring-do. Pantho began the premiere dead, but the twist about his character was clever by the end. Cheetara is now a luxuriously buxom babe in the anime manner, curvier than her original version.

The premiere set up a pretty good premise for a hunt for the Book of Omens — get it before Mumm-Ra does, “Lion-O, lord of the ThunderCats!” He’s a man on a mission.

I’d watch it again to see where the series goes — with a show like this, all borrowed mythology and hoary adventure tropes, narrative momentum is everything.

What’d you think?

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Comments (236 total) Add your comment
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  • Michael

    im shock that Panthro, was killed off so I wonder who will fill his spot

    • McDork

      I doubt they’ve actually killed him off. I actually think they’re paying homage to an episode of the original series where Panthro is cloned by Mumm-Ra. He still appears in a great deal of the concept art, which means we’ll probably be seeing quite a bit of him–the rest of the Thundercats will just have to find him first.

    • Thundercats_HO

      I liked seeing Lynx-o in the show.

      Hated seeing mummra. His whole entrance was weak and pathetic. Mummra was just out of place in this cartoon. He was more epic in th 80′s show(until ma-mutt came along)

      • Larinda

        Old Ken Tucker managed to creep me out while I read this article.

      • Daijin

        No, Mummra was not epic in the original, he was lame and mostly stayed in his casket. The fact that he was a main part of leading the mutant assault in the new version as well as killing the king with his own hands, as well as all but two of the thundarian clerics, makes this mummra way more epic and actually now has a sense that he’s a truly dangerous enemy. Not just some stupid ’80′s villian you know the good guys well beat every episode.

      • Ryan

        Mumm-Ra was a joke in the original. Watch him in the old one’s first episode, all he does is growl and fly around Lion-O in a forest. Mr. Boogedy and Dr. Claw were more sinister. The new show is really cool.

    • @ Michael

      You’re an idiot. He’s not dead; he’s obviously in the series.

    • Chris

      Snarf is the obvious replacement for Panthro. He’s snarf-tastic.

    • alex

      They didn’t kill him off. A) the author of this article says there’s a twist and we just originally think he’s dead. b) don’t criticize it unless you watched it.

  • JJ

    “…is both faithful to the original 1980s-era, charmingly schlocky cartoon series.” [and...??]

    You need to either remove that pesky “both” or provide the second point.

    • @JJ

      You need to find something better to do than nitpick someone else’s grammar.

      • The Sword of Omens

        You need to find something better to do than nitpick at someone else’s post about nitpicking someone else’s grammar.

      • Katie

        You need to find something better to do than nitpick at someone else’s post about someone else’s post about nitpicking someone else’s grammar.

      • Just a Guy

        I need to find something better to do.

      • JJ

        It’s not a nitpick. It was a glaring error. A nitpick would have been some minor, obscure rule, perhaps a misplaced comma or minor mis-usage. If you think fundamental word usage/sentence structure is a “nitpick” then congratulations, you’re an example of why our society is in decline.

        Also, thanks for fixing it, Ken. You’re a shining example of professionalism in issuing the correction.

      • Marina G

        Realize that the person is nitpicking himself. JJ replied to JJ.

      • me fail English?

        that’s unposisble!

    • thatoneguy

      “both faithful to the original 1980s-era, charmingly schlocky cartoon series, AND a rather canny rethinking of a series that probably didn’t take a lot of thinking to conceive in the first place.” Re-read it if you don’t understand :) (my emphasis)

    • Justin

      Um they did provide the second point: calling it “a canny rethinking” of the series.

      • Hbyford

        LOL @ Katie that was funny everyone else forumns are used to debate topics and enjoy socializing about it. Ignore the nitpicking it really doesnt matter.

    • UFC iTard

      “and a rather canny rethinking of a series that probably didn’t take a lot of thinking to conceive in the first place.”

    • Webman6

      He did. Read on and see.

    • Kimmie

      LOL!

  • Blueman

    I loved this new series. As a fan of the original (I was a wee lad when it first aired) this show is everything I could have wanted. i wish I had my own kid to watch it with because its the perfect blend of kids show and great adult entertainment with cartoons.

    I tend to think Panthro survived and will be found in future episodes.

    • dave

      totally agree

  • rae

    I liked the original better….

    • Roland

      Thank goodness for your comment, Rae! I was beginning to think the world had turned upside down. The original series was SO much better. Yes, the story may have been a lot more simple in the original series, but the art and style was leaps and bounds above this mess. Why does everything need to look “anime” now? Lion-o looks soft. And what the heck did they do to Cheetara?! Do all female cartoon action characters now have to look like playboy bunnies?? I was very disappointed in everything about this series except the story. The writers did an excellent job.

      • @JM

        Maybe because the original was an American produced, but Japanese animated series to begin with just like most 80s and early 90s tunes. Also did you know every animation gets compiled in South Korea? From Batman The Animated Series, to The Simpsons, to even Naruto. Animatics from both Japan and USA are sent to South Korea for the animation processes. Either way, Thundercats was done by the same Japanese anime people that did Silverhawks, it’s just that anime every decade has a distinctive mainstream look. Go watch the original intro for Thundercats right now, American made cartoons sucked for a long time after that compared to that animation.

    • JM

      I totally agree! i turned this new crap off after 20 minutes!!!!! The voices we awful, I hate anime (plus this originally was an american cartoon, why is everything Anime these days? UGH!!), Panthro is DEAD???? really.. please don’t get me started on that!…..very disappointing.

      • @JM

        Total fail dude. The original was 1980s anime, in fact most our cartoons in the 80s were Japanese animations with American production behind the writing or producing. Pacific Animation Corp., did TC and Silverhawks in the 80s and directed by Katsuhito Akiyama, if you check out these credits you can see that the actual people involved with the artwork and animation of the show were Japanese. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=3898

        This new one is from Studio 4C who are known for doing some of the best animated shorts and weren’t normally associated with big mainstream animes or tv shows, so WB picked possibly the best guys besides Production IG to work on it.

  • ladyt

    shouldn’t have killed panthro off. their is not thundercats without panthro. that was so wrong

    • john murphy

      He obviously isn’t killed off. He will be appearing later in the series.

    • They always kill off

      the black characters first

      • Mr.Post Racial

        I thought I was the only one thinking that hahahaha
        Sure race is very hard to apply to Thundercats but lets
        face it Panthro was the Black allegory Thundercat unless this new series also took the liberty of changing that too.

  • Dani

    They haven’t killed off Panthro. He’ll reappear later in the show.

  • Michael

    That good so will we see 3rd earth on these Thundercats

    • Mike

      This is 3rd Earth. Thundera is just the capital city, not a whole other planet. Which makes sense, they have no technology so space travel is definitely out, lol.

      • Hbyford

        nope it doesnt make since if they had no technology how did they get to Third Earth in the first place.The thundercats are Thunderians from the planet Thundera in the before time LOL

    • jcarla

      The king and others talked about generations since the ‘thundercats’ established the kingdom. So you can think of this as a continuation of the 80′s show, Lion-o the descendent of 80′s Loin-o.

      • Clarke

        LOIN-0!

      • Mr.Post Racial

        That’s what I noticed even Snarf lost some of his higher intelligence. I guess being smart is stupid when you could just become a Pikachu emulated mascot.

  • The Sword of Omens

    Is Panthro still the “black” Thundercat?

    • THE WOMAN

      YOU DAMN RIGHT PANTHRO IS BLACK AND WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!

      • john

        dude, relax and breathe. Why the FU#K are you getting all defensive?! BTW PANTHRO IS NOT DEAD!!!

  • K

    Didn’t Snarf talk in the original? I was waiting for him to say something. I liked watching it with my kids and they couldn’t understand why I kept yelling “thundercats ho!”

    • Hbyford

      Yes he did all snarfs did, he was also Lionos Nanny.

      • Liliaeth

        I’m just glad as hell that they made him more animal like, and took away the talking. He’s a lot less annoying in the new version.

      • Big Ken

        Wat yall crazy snarf was way better when he could talk he was way better invloved in the story..

  • Hbyford

    Thats it they always butcher original series, and its no different with this one, watched it and of course its a mess. The only thing i liked was that they didn’t change the characters names, the new artwork was fine but the story line lost forever. First off Liono and Tigra where never brothers, snarf was not Lionos Pet he was his Nanny and spoke, I hope Classic Thundercats fans didnt waste your time, Mummra never resided on Thundera, Jagga died of old age in transit to third Earth, and if Panthro is truly dead that makes it even worse, oh and Wily Kit and Wily Cat where not pick pocketing street urchins, What the heck where they thinking, i watched the promo, i read the articles they said they where keeping the original story line, they did not, at first i thought it was just a back story to make the show a little more informed but i doubt they are even gonna leave there original planet, the planet went nova it wasn’t conquered by lizards (yes lizards folks not mutants). Why do they always butcher the classics, one of my boys is 11 even he was confused, cause he has seen the classic. My oh my what is wrong with this picture.

    • Rock Music Chick

      Happy I didnt waste my time and watch the new one. Sounds like from comments and the article I would of been totally pissed off watching it and highly disappointed. Ill stick to watching the original thundercats if they air on tv and the re-release of the dvds.

    • The Sword of Omens

      No offense, but if you wanted to watch something like the original series, why don’t you watch the original series? Seriously, I don’t see how you could have watched any of the previews, read any of the articles, or heard anything about this and thought that this was going to be a rehash of the 80s show.

      • Hbyford

        I own the original series and the very article above state that it was faithful to the original series from 1980.

      • Ryan

        Faithful but not exactly the same

      • Ryan

        AMEN sword of omens!

      • JS

        There’s no way to compare this new show with the original. This new show is a failure! Just good animation. And a ray of light upon Lion O’s character. That’s all.

      • Eric P

        I was a huge fan of the original ThunderCats when i was little and when it became available on DVD i rented it and man it was a poorly made cheese-fest. For nostalgias sake i watched the new one and i was pleasantly surprised. Silent Snarf awesome! Wily Kit and Kat not annoying awesome! A story with some depth??? Who knew? If you want to live in the past you dont have to watch it or like it.

      • Brien

        I totally agree with Eric P., I grew up on Thundercats, M.A.S.K., Transformers, He-Man, G.I. Joe, all the great 80′s toons. Go back and re-watch the old Thundercats (it re-runs on cartoon network also)and it truly is cheesy looking at it from my now adult eyes. I was pleasantly surprised by this new one. Still a little cheesy but a lot more grown up than the original. Yes they changed around some of the backstory but the core values that made it great are still there. There are lots of unanswered questions (its only the first episode) but I will add this to my DVR and see where they take it. Good job Cartoon Network.

    • Dani

      I’m a fan of the original Thundercats and I happened to greatly enjoy the remake. Sure they changed some stuff, that’s pretty much expected, but the show was still true to the essence of the original show, which is very rare with a remake. I think did an excellent job and think the show will have a decent run.

      • Eric P

        I agree. Its obviously not a continuation or prequel to the original ppl can’t seem to get past that. The children are adorable in the new version in the old version they were annoying as H*ll and a quiet Snarf is so much better. The story and animation are both well made and entertaining.

    • Joe

      @Hbyford, I watched the Original series when I was 10 years old as it aired on Afternoon television and watched the show like you with me kids and couldn’t disagree MORE with you. Apparently you didn’t understand…this is NOT a remake. This takes place ON third Earth, hundreds or thousands of years after Lion-O and crew crashed on 3rd Earth in their wayward ship from Thundera. These are the descendants of those characters, and you have to suspend disbelief that there’s now a new Lion-O, Tigra, Cheetara, Wily kids, Panthro, etc. just as there was many generations ago. I think the only one who is the same character is probably Mumm-Rah. This new Thundercats was Awesome, and I cannot wait to see the next episode!

      • Dani

        It is a remake. It’s supposed to tell what happened to the Thundercats before they crash landed on Third Earth.

      • Hbyford

        It is a remake because they are on thundera they mention it several times in this very show. That is Liono that is his father some of the story line is still there. Jagga is the same charecter as before, you must not have payed close enough attention, Just sayin.

      • Ryan

        SPOT ON JOE!

    • Mike

      Again, was no one paying attention? This planet is not Thundera, it’s Third Earth. The city is Thundera. There is no ‘planet’ Thundera in this version.

      • Hbyford

        we will see i will be watching it again.

      • Hbyford

        Oh by the way,its mentioned that this is thousands of years later and they are the decendants of the original. Please explain how two females, and four males created all of those thundarians. Did they groe them in Cat Patches. lol

      • Ryan

        Mike you are correct

      • UnclScrewtape

        @Hbyford: You’re kidding right? These are cats. They probably could repopulate the entire planet in a couple centuries.

      • Greg

        had ya paid attention the first time around Hbyford, you also would have noticed that the city was built around the original spaceship/headquarters that the original Thundercats came to 3rd Earth in.

    • steve

      thank you for posting all the same problems I had with this version of so called “thundercats” truly a disapointment

      • Hbyford

        @UnclScrewtape point taken, your ar right about that.

    • Al

      Ok — so I am an avid Thundercats fan. Or at least I like to think so. I just finished watching this and I really enjoyed it. I also though, went into it knowing it was a “re-imaging” of the series, not a “re=hashing” of the series. Which to me, meant all elements which bound and made the original were game for change. And yes change they did. Gone is PLANET Thundera. Now it’s CITT Thundera. And so now Lion-O and Tigra are brothers. But all the basic Elements are there. It is a good story if a bit rushed I felt. But Thundera was still destroyed. I like the idea that they have no technology, but the Mutants do. To me it’s a whole new re-boot of a series. I think it’s silly to expect them to just “re-do” the series. That would just be the hokey series (as much as I love it, it is hokey) updated.

      The characters are there. The mythos is there. The setting is all in place. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

      • vanka

        Agree!!!

      • Brien

        My sentiments EXACTLY.

      • Paul

        I agree, although I assumed that they eventually named the city Thundara after their original planet, since it was, by all appearances, generations later on Third Earth.

      • watcher

        I thought it was great too. A series that could stand on its own, didn’t need a predessesor to live on.

    • Mindy

      I was like many here, a fan of the original. Watched the new kick off last night and felt upset about a number of things but the biggest conflict is how the new story somehow revolves around Thundara yet we see many 3rd Earth features. (Third Earth is actually Earth for those people who don’t know- u can look that up on Wikipidia for that fact- think of 3rd Earth as being like the Planet of The Apes far into the future after the destruction of all present life and new wild evolution) so I’m confused about how they keep trying to meld the two worlds of Thundara and 3rd Earth. The search for “Technology” would b something from 3rd Earth obviously.
      I love that we get to see Thundara but the storyline that is so key is really up in the air…I’ll have to keep watching more episodes to see if they really ever address those conflicts or just leave it up in the air. If they leave it up for interpretation, feeling like a “Lost” episode I guarantee this series will not make it.

      • Ryan

        Before posting make sure you know what you are talking about. IT IS THIRD EARTH. Take your own advice and look it up on Wikipedia.

    • Joseph

      I complelty agree with you!
      I like a lot of todays animated shows but was so turned off by the new THUNDER-CATS I really wanted to like it, I was looking forward to seeing it, But they destroyed the old classic show.
      it was over blown shit!
      And to make Snarf a stupid squeeking pet is just horrible.
      I will be watching my dvds of the orignal so I can erase what I saw.

    • john murphy

      They are not going to make it exactly like the original, that would be stupid. I loved the original, but I think I will like this one better, it has a darker and more mature atmosphere. You can’t expect them to exactly remake the first Thundercats. You are obviously being too picky and close-minded.

      • Jackie

        I agree, I loved this new series. The characters and storyline are much more complex.

    • Liliaeth

      Actually all the changes you mentioned, were things I saw as improvements upon the original.

      The world building in the new version is much better, the characterization is stronger. There’s only been one ep, and I already care more about this version of the characters than I did about the original, and I watched the original as a child as well.

      Also, the entire storyline in the new version happened on Third Earth, they made Thundara a city, rather than a planet and the story works much better this way.

      I also loved how they made the reptiles more nuanced. They clearly aren’t all evil and had genuine reasons to stand up against the cats.

    • It’s a show

      It’s a reinvented show of the original. I loved the first one but this one has more of a story then the first. The first pretty much just throws you out there. I think how they rethought the whole story and the changes they made are great. One die hard saying to all the other die hards, stop living in the past and enjoy the new.

    • JS

      I’m with you Hbyford. I like the new efects and the style, but they made a big mistake. Like Clone Wars and Smallville, you need know what will change. Time, place,details,if you are going to continue the story or fill a void. Not just throwing all the characters at the same time. Thank goodness I didn’t saw Monranah! I was simply a deception for a hard core thundercat fan.

    • Daijin

      the original storyline wasn’t that great. please take off the nogstalia filters please.

    • Daijin

      Also, this isn’t a remake, it’s a reboot. It was no link storywise to the original. If you read any of the interviews with staff working on the show, they clearly point this out.

    • ken

      i agree. it was so bad i turned it off. i couldn’t even finish watching it. it sucked. too many issues to critique i will go buy the original series and reminisce but i wont watch this crap again.

  • star

    Panthro isn’t dead according to my inside source at Cartoon Network. They will find Panthro soon

  • MakenXsoul

    As my brother and I are a big fan of the orignal. So much that my brother works for Cartoon Network and actually is working on this show. They made it different because who wants to watch the same exact stuff. There’s already 30+ episodes ready. IT’s going to get better, I think they did a great setup. And if you’re a true fan you would want them to do something a new. Also check out the new toys by Bandai they’re are totally sick! Give this a chance, the animation is done quite well and was produced with the help one of the Avatar the last airbender cartoon animators. Keep supporting it really did take a long time to get it off the ground.

    • thundercats fan

      The reboot is pretty good. My only complaint is that the new Lion-o doesn’t look enough like a lion.

      • Jackie

        Lion-o is still growing and not fully a lion yet

    • LBurke

      Since they made Cheetara a mystic in this version. I’m really hoping we’ll get to see more of Tygra’s psychic abilities. They were only touched upon in the orginal series. Grew up watching the orginal. Loved the remake!

  • rick

    i have found that many of my favorite childhood cartoons were pretty terrible when i have gone back and rewatched them as an adult. He-man, and voltron were among some of the worst offenders. Thundercats was actually a pretty decent toon, and they havent messed it up with their re-imagining. They have kept the essential concept and characters intact,(panthro is certain to show up very much alive later in the season)while upgrading the quality of the animation and writing. The series premiere had a nice dark undertone to it that i hope to see continue into the regular season. My only gripe is the now tired use of the young/teenage version of an established character. Its been done to death already. Still i found the show to be great entertainment, and will be on my tivo in the coming weeks, as i watch to see if they can keep the quality of the animation and storytelling at the level of the series premiere.

    • Ryan

      Totally agree with you Rick. Too many people are nitpicking about things like snarf not talking. Give me a break people. These are probably the same people that had negative things to say about the movie Avatar. Quit trying to be a over-analytical critic and just enjoy what you’re watching.

      • Hbyford

        Nope I loved Avatar it was an excellent movie evry last bit of it i have the collector edition and dont ever get tired of watching it.

      • Eric P

        THANK GOD SNARF DOESNT TALK!!!

  • communistamerican

    It is NOT AT ALL faithful to the original.

  • eqgmrdbz

    Here to give a bug thumbs up to the new series. I was a big fan of the original and, this new series takes it to the next level. The changes to the characters was to be expected, Cheetara is now Liono’s love interest and Tiagra is family. For the new Gen’s having a love interest is what they want, and making Titgra, Liono’s brother, makes them close and gives them more ways to take the story (flashbacks and stuff). As for Panthro, he is fine, and i bet we will see him later. Again big-ups for Cartoon Network, for this great Re-boot.

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