7 Characters That Need Live-Action Movie Remakes

These animated characters deserve a live-action remake.

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

Live-action remakes of animated films and series can be a tricky business. From M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, which tanked at the box office and was widely derided by critics and audiences, to Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, which were huge at the box office but were still considered mostly awful, there are cautionary tales aplenty. But there is also lots of potential for adaptations that could be fun and offer new takes on older properties.

Captain Planet

live-action remake

We’re going to get perhaps the hardest sell on this list of live-action remakes out of the way first. Captain Planet was an environmentally-conscious animated television series about a group of teenagers who join the titular superhero to help clean up the planet and stop pollution. There is a legitimate question as to whether such a heavy-handed message-based idea could work in today’s world. The original was straight-up environmental evangelism. 

But could the same idea be done in a way that would be engaging? After all, our planetary environmental crises have only worsened since then, even as many advancements have been made. It seems we need all the planet-saving encouragement we can get.

Johnny Quest

The concept of a boy who accompanies his scientist father on an array of adventures is certainly malleable enough for a live-action remake, and there’s plenty of room to grow this 1960s property into something relevant and relatable. And after watching Walker Scobell handily hold his own with Ryan Reynolds in The Adam Project, we can’t help but think he’d be a perfect fit for the role…as soon as he’s done playing Percy Jackson on Disney+. A new take on the character could also provide an opportunity to update Hadji, a character whose racial representation has been problematic in the past.



What 80s kid hasn’t dreamed of a live-action remake of this series? With a giant robot made of lions which are also spaceships, what’s not to love? True, Netflix did a popular and well-imagined (if occasionally meandering) animated update, but there is just something about the prospect of seeing Voltron assemble in a realistic setting that seems irresistible.

Of course, as with several options on this list, there would be a ton of CGI, which arguably means that particular image is just much more realistic animation. But with onscreen actors and realistic settings, the world of Voltron could be reimagined in some very intriguing ways.



Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro, and the whole gang could look stunning in a live-action remake of this series, which followed humanoid big-cat aliens through their adventures in a world of magic and fantastic tech. There have been other animated reworkings of this universe in recent decades, including the questionable and perhaps just plain wrong Thundercats Roar, which inexplicably embraced a CalArts style reminiscent of We Bare Bears. But it is perhaps these failed attempts that best argue for a new approach.

The character designs of the original series should probably not be reproduced exactly, but contemporary makeup and costume techniques provide tools that could give them amazing new looks that honor the originals. And on-screen actors could draw us into a human story that builds on the already complex world of Thundara.


live-action remake

Live-action remakes of video games have arguably been more successful than adaptations of animation, and this would be both. In an age when we’re worried about AI overtaking humanity, the story of a sentient robot who takes on battle abilities in order to stand against other robots who have been corrupted for destruction could be just the hero we need. Amid action set pieces and incredible robotic tech, there is plenty of room in this universe to tell stories of betrayal, heroism, and personal growth. The ‘90s animated series went decidedly cartoonish, but Megaman could be given a more serious approach that could provide a whole new image of the character.

Also, we’re just excited to see that big blaster arm of his in action because it would look really cool!

Carmen Sandiego

live-action remake

Again, this has recently had a very successful animated Netflix upgrade, but that’s precisely what makes it ripe for a live-action remake. The new animated series has reimagined a continent-hopping villain as a superspy who works to thwart an evil organization. But it also deepened the character, giving her a complex family history and a personal mission.

This perfectly sets up an adaptation that could give us an even more nuanced, richer, and more mature version of the character, while still retaining its accessibility to younger audiences and clever style. Plus, we’d love to see Wednesday Addams herself, Jenna Ortega, as Carmen.


This live-action remake would build on an animated series that might be lesser known, but that has devoted fans. Following a group of winged creatures who were magically frozen in stone for a thousand years, only to reemerge in modern times to battle the forces of darkness, the original series was surprisingly complex and dramatically credible for an animated TV series ostensibly targeting younger audiences. That rich narrative sensibility and character depth could be adapted into something very compelling, with prosthetic and CGI wing-enhanced human characters that could feel real, not just visually, but also emotionally.

This could not only be something that would be visually stunning, but meaty enough to attract accomplished actors.

That’s our list of live-action remakes we’d like to see based on animated favorites. There is a wide range of possibilities and today’s cinematic tools open up options never before available for visual dynamism that could also feature dramatic depth. Plus, there could be cool gargoyle wings and a robot arm canon, so let’s make these happen.