See Disney Bring Back Classic Character For First Time In A Century

By Sean Thiessen | Published

Walt Disney Animation Studios is celebrating 100 years of bringing its unique brand of magic to the silver screen with a brand new short film. The hand-drawn short marks the return of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character created by Walt Disney in 1927. Walt Disney Animation shared the latest return of Oswald on Twitter.

The black and white short features Oswald animated in classic rubber hose style animation as he tries to get from a movie theater seat into the movie itself where a kiss awaits him. Disney’s latest story of Oswald trying to get back on the screen where he belongs echoes the real-life tale of this largely forgotten character.

Oswald won the hearts of critics and audiences alike in the late 1920s. Not long after, the fresh-faced Walt Disney lost ownership of Oswald to Universal in a taxing negotiation. One look at Oswald probably reveals who Walt came up with next.

disney oswald

The successor to Disney’s Oswald was none other than Mickey Mouse, a creation that Walt Disney would cling to for decades to come. Had Oswald remained under Disney’s discipline and direction, it just might have been the raggedy rabbit who would become the face of one of the largest entertainment enterprises history has ever known.

As Universal competed with Disney, Oswald evolved to look more and more like Mickey Mouse. Eventually, the mouse won out. Since Oswald’s discontinuation in the 1930s, the ill-fated character has faded into obscurity. Ever the lucky rabbit, Oswald’s story didn’t end there.

In the early 2000s, CEO Bob Iger, who recently resumed his post at the company in a surprise takeover for Bob Chapek, set out to bring Oswald back to Disney. A report by Collider tracks the strange path Iger took to accomplish this goal. He essentially traded NBC Al Michaels, a popular sports commentator looking for a way out of ABC, for Oswald.

Though the company claimed a symbolic victory in reclaiming rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the character remained relatively unknown. Oswald later appeared as a character in Disney’s Epic Mickey video games, and his creation played a part in the 2015 movie Walt Before Mickey. 

The latest Disney short marks a grand return to Oswald’s original form. For the first time in close to a century, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is the star of the show under the Disney banner. The animation studio shows reverence for its roots with this homage to the past.

The centennial celebration for Disney Animation comes at a tumultuous time for the studio. The company’s restructuring after the return of Iger, compounded by reports of Marvel fatigue, lower-than-expected viewership on the Star Wars front, and the massive flop of Strange World represent the turbulence at the Mouse House. With the resurfacing of Oswald, Disney shows the depth of its character catalog is greater than what meets the eye – which is already a lot.

Whether or not Disney decides to give Oswald continued life beyond their latest short is a question for Bob Iger and co. For now, fans can celebrate together with Oswald, who is finally back on the screen where he belongs.