It is with a heavy heart that I come to you bearing news that may ruin your childhood. As Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” And, well, if those are the only two options, let’s just say I wish the Mighty Ducks franchise had been left for dead rather than resurrected in this most unholy of ways.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that Disney+ is creating a 10-episode Mighty Ducks sequel series. That sounds great. More plucky underdogs, more kids who can’t skate, more wholesome content. The report also said that Lauren Graham—she of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fame—will play the lead as the mother of one of the children on the show. Spectacular! Graham is an excellent actress, and she fits well within the ethos of the Ducks Extended Universe. But then, out of nowhere, comes this:
The new “Mighty Ducks” is set in present day Minnesota, where the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan ([Brady] Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom Alex (Graham) set out to build their own ragtag team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of competitive youth sports.
I’m sorry, what?!
The Ducks are evil now? Is Emilio Estevez possibly returning to the show just to turn heel? Where the heck is Charlie when all this is happening? Or Julie “the Cat” Gaffney? Is Disney really trying to get into the “this is the future liberals want” content game?
I have many, many more questions—Is Mr. Ducksworth still bankrolling the team? Is Dean Portman in prison?—but also a statement: This sucks! I understand and acknowledge that showing a powerhouse Ducks team crushing weak opponents isn’t particularly interesting, nor is it within the spirit of the first three movies. But if we’re setting this in “present day Minnesota,” couldn’t the Ducks have simply fallen off? Generations would have gone through the Minneapolis youth hockey system by this point, and maybe Guy and Connie’s kids just don’t have the chops that their parents did! Maybe Fulton took a job out of state and his progeny is playing youth sports elsewhere! Maybe Averman founded a successful tech startup and kids aren’t in his plan! (And to be honest: Averman was never that good and his kids are probably bad at sports anyway.) There are plenty of realistic scenarios to explain why the Ducks’ legacy would be in desperate need of repair, leaving Alex and Evan to fix it.
Instead of bringing back the series in that way, though, and once again giving us a reason to proudly shout “Quack quack!” in the streets, Disney+ is turning the Ducks into the thing they’ve always fought against becoming: cake eaters.
I fully support women taking up more coaching and/or front office positions in sports, even if that sport is youth hockey. And it’s great that Disney+ is having Alex play a major role in creating a team for her son (whether that’s purely as an organizer or as a coach, too). But turning the Ducks into the Hawks to do so is a step too far. Gordon Bombay and the Ducks were always a force for good. Chaotic good, to be sure—literally, the team’s origin story is “alcoholic is given the job of baby-sitting children”—but good nonetheless. They railed against ever becoming the type of robotic, dare I say Patriots-esque team that cared only about wins and losses. They were the original “soul skaters” six years before Brink! hit TV screens. They have one of the best “getting the gang together” montages of all time. They beat Iceland. And now that legacy will be tarnished.
Maybe Disney+ has some secret plan where at the end of the series, the Ducks and the Team to Be Named Later will join forces to defeat a greater evil. (Speaking of Iceland?) Maybe Charlie will return and cleanse the Ducks of their immoral ways, and the two teams will coexist. Maybe Gordon Bombay and Alex will fall in love halfway through the season and merge teams. I am hoping against hope that one of these scenarios turns out to be true and that a film series I’ve based my entire worldview on won’t be hindered by the release of a made-for-streaming sequel. Until we have more information, I’m just going to continue singing “We Are the Champions” by the fire.