Twenty five years ago, an unlikely superhero joined the ranks of cartoon do-gooders everywhere: Darkwing Duck.
An afternoon Disney show, it featured a cast of familiar looking ducks and other anthropomorphic animals. Even more, it featuring Ducktales supporting character Launchpad in a major role, and had appearances from other Ducktales characters like Gizmoduck and the Beagle Boys. But now creator Tad Stones says that Darkwing Duck actually ISN’T a spin-off of Ducktales. What?!
Two Universes, Two Launchpads
According to Stones, even though the two shows share characters, Darkwing Duck actually takes place in an alternate universe:
“Because Launchpad appeared in DuckTales and we used Roboduck as the Superman character, the hero who gets all the glory as opposed to Darkwing, fans try to connect the two realities. They are two different universes in my book. We work in the alternate Duckiverse,” says Stones.
(By the way, Stones used the name “Roboduck,” but he’s clearly referring to Gizmoduck. It’s been 25 years — we’ll forgive him for the slight).
Darkwing Duck came about when Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg was impressed by a Ducktales episode called ‘Double-O Duck,’ which featured goofball pilot Launchpad McQuack as a secret agent.
When Katzenberg asked Stones to try and spin the idea into a new series, he didn’t care for the pitch that Stones delivered. A second attempt moved away from Launchpad and the secret agent angle (it turned out that James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli owned the rights to the “double-o” name anyway).
The new version was inspired by Golden Age comic book heroes like The Shadow, Green Hornet, and Batman. It featured mild-mannered Drake Mallard living in the suburbs with his adopted daughter Gosalyn in the city of St. Canard. With the help of his sidekick, Launchpad, he spends his nights as the titular hero, Darkwing Duck — the terror that flaps in the night.
Disney Continuity Confusion
If the revelation that Ducktales and Darkwing Duck take place in separate universes is shocking, an explanation may lie in Stones’ opinion of continuity as a whole:
“It drives fans crazy, but I was not a huge fan of continuity,” says Stones. “I grew up with Silver Age continuity with the comics. Yeah, I know Lois Lane doesn’t know Clark Kent is Superman. She suspects something. Jimmy Olsen’s his pal. He went to high school with Lana Lang. The basics everybody knew. But there was really no arc or change. Every time you picked up a comic, you knew where you were starting.”
Darkwing Duck Forever
While there are currently no plans for Darkwing Duck to the return to the airwaves anytime soon, Ducktales is currently being rebooted for a brand-new animated series to debut sometime in 2017 on Disney XD. If you’re still hungry for more adventures with Darkwing and Launchpad though, fear not. A new ongoing comic book series from Joe Books was launched earlier this year with writer Aaron Sparrow and artist James Silvani, both of whom worked on Boom! Studios’ Darkwing Duck title in 2011.