The planned SilverHawks reboot has a whole lot of potential
The 1986 animated TV series SilverHawks, a companion series to the Rankin-Bass hit ThunderCats and the later series TigerSharks, may be getting a revival. An exclusive report today in Deadline says The Nacelle Company, which produces the Netflix nostalgia series The Movies That Made Us and The Toys That Made Us, has partnered with San Francisco toy and culture house Super7 to reboot the show, which ran for 65 episodes in the mid-1980s.
Drawing from the same visual aesthetic and some of the same designs as the earlier ThunderCats spin-offs, Rankin-Bass produced the three shows back to back. However, SilverHawks and TigerSharks never managed the same level of popularity as ThunderCats, and they didn’t last nearly as long. While ThunderCats got its own fantasy-drama reboot in 2011, and was later retooled for a hyperactive comedy-shorts series called Thundercats Roar in 2020, SilverHawks and TigerSharks have remained comparatively obscure, mostly beloved by fans of 1980s animated fantasy.
But just as the 2011 ThunderCats reboot elaborated on the original series’ fantasy setting and added intrigue and deeper character relationships and motivations, a modern SilverHawks reboot has a lot of potential. It could also serve to build a more compelling and fully realized world around what was initially a fairly shallow setup. SilverHawks centers on a group of cyborg space cops, “partly metal, partly real,” fighting the transforming alien mob boss called Mon*Star. Much like ThunderCats, the show focused on the heroes’ found-family team dynamics and cooperation as they went up against a deep rogues’ gallery of adversaries themed around animals, robots, music, and a lot more.
The original 1980s ThunderCats had a strong backbone in its core Egyptian theme: The villain is a mummy who lives in a pyramid, the heroes are cat-people, and the subsidiary villains are humanoid versions of animals that feature prominently in Egyptian mythology, including jackals, crocodiles, vultures, and monkeys. SilverHawks always felt much more thematically chaotic, and like it took place in a far larger setting. (At least until ThunderCats’ final era, when the action moved to space.) The backdrop is an entire galaxy, where the SilverHawks face off against a wide variety of weird schemes. Like so many 1980s animated fantasies, it showcases a lot of variety and imagination, and not much depth. It seemed just as much an echo of Japanese series like Voltron and Space Battleship Yamato (or Star Blazers in America) as its own unique world.
But that lack of a strong and detailed setting gives Nacelle and Super7 a lot of room to work in terms of updating the series for a more modern audience — there are plenty of intriguingly drawn characters, like the non-verbal alien mime elf Copper Kidd, who could finally get more of a backstory and a world to fit into. It just remains to be seen what the companies want to do with the reboot, and whether audiences who didn’t buy the SilverHawks toys and tune into the show back in 1986 are ready to love it now.