“Captain Planet, heee’s our heeeero, gonna take pollution down to zeeeero.”
The lyrics of a theme song that once was. Many of us 90s kids have seen the Captain Planet TV series: a story about about 5 diverse eco-loving kids from different parts of the world, known as the Planeteers. They were given rings with special powers by Gaia (the spirit of the Earth). Each ring represents a fundamental force of nature- Air, Water, Wind, Earth, and Heart. When these kids come together and let their powers combine, they summon Captain Planet. He then comes to support the Planeteers to combat villains that are destroying the planet.
The series was founded by Ted Turner, media mogul and philanthropist, founder of TBS and CNN. Although the show is not being produced any longer, the spirit of Captain Planet and the Planeeters is continuing to move forward (albeit silently) with the Captain Planet Foundation, founded by Ted Turner himself and now chaired by his daughter Laura Turner Seydel. The foundation primarily focuses on environmental awareness and stewardship in K-12 schools. They have done a lot of commendable work on the micro-level which is very important, although it’s not being aired to the mainstream so much. It's a shame really, especially because Ted founded two major TV networks and has the financial means to make it happen.
Captain Planet needs to come back full force, not only because of climate change, but because it's not just a story of one superhero doing all of the work. It requires actual human beings to come together (from different races and genders mind you) to identify the problem and do what they could at first to solve the problem. I’m not a comic book buff, but I don’t think there are many superhero stories that require the help of mere mortals.
But do today’s kids know who the real Captain Planet is? What fame does he have now, unless they watch old episodes on youtube? What we need to do is dust off this superhero and give him renewed Marvel Comic blockbuster status. Do we really need another rich billionaire superhero movie like Batman and Iron Man? Or could we use a more “down to Earth” superhero (pun intended) that leans on humans like us, so we can fight our own battles? What message do we want to send to society, especially when corporate greed is running amuck blowing up mountains and earth for oil and gas to put billions of profits in their pockets and when humans are just buying, consuming, and polluting all over the place without consciously thinking about their actions?
The hilarious comedy site, Funny or Die, produced a four webisode dark comedy, with Don Cheadle playing Captain Planet where Captain Planet is fed up and starts going insane. It’s pretty funny, sad yet insightful. Go on and give it whirl, it’s definitely worth the time for the laughs and to see Don Cheadle perform.
At the same time, there was Captain Planet fan who produced this pretty good mock trailer, which received of 9 million views and 5,000 comments. It’s very impressive for a low budget production and really makes you want to watch a full-length feature.
But fear not my friends, because rumor has it that Sony Pictures is taking on this challenge to bring Captain Planet back to us by working on a film adaptation. However, much of this talk was in 2013 and not much has been reported since then. My only hope is that they are focusing on filming and will release a trailer soon.
Either way, it’s time for the entertainment and pop culture industry to sing a tune for the environment and what’s really happening in our world so we can do something about it. There’s no better place than here, and there’s no better time than now.
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