When it comes to giant robots involved in complex political warfare, Japan sure knows how to craft some compelling stories. What Americans know as Robotech is actually three different anime series set in the same continuity. It’s kind of a Power Rangers situation, but Robotech remained much more faithful to its source material.
Released just a year after the anime concluded, Robotech made its American debut in 1985. For the kids of that time, seeing giant transformable robots duking it out was more than enough fun, and little attention was paid to the series’ extensive main cast.
Live-Action Robotech Movie on the Horizon, Rhys Thomas at the Helm
Like hopping from the past into the future, Robotech is finally moving again.
When a piece of media is being adapted from one form to another, it can be stuck with problem after problem. Trials with the rights to the Intellectual Property, problems with time, creative team members coming and going and changing the feel of the overall product halfway through, you name it. Robotech is no different and has struggled immensely trying to make its way from animated series to live-action films.
Robotech Animated Series
Robotech is an animated series from the 1980s that originally came from Harmony Gold. There were three different Japanese animated series that came out of the Intellectual Properties: Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. All three of the series were redubbed and recut so that they could work together to form one overarching storyline that all worked together cohesively.
The story of Robotech is set during a time when humanity found an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific Island and used it to develop giant robots to protect themselves and fight off an alien invasion. Japan does love their giant robots and giant reptiles, but this animated series was one of the more popular ones, and its popularity wasn’t limited only to Japan.
Production companies have been trying to make a film adaptation of Robotech for a while now. The project has been in production for as long as 15 years. Warner Bros. initiated the project in 2007, wanting to develop a live-action film with Tobey Maguire’s production company. The project was then taken over by Sony Pictures in 2015 who were planning on “moving quickly towards the production of a future global franchise,” which never came to fruition.
A massive legal battle commenced between Harmony Gold and the advertising firm Big West (who own the rights to the original Japanese series Macross) which held up production further until the two massive companies could agree on the intellectual property. Finally, production was able to commence in 2021.
The film adaptation was initially intended to respect the origin of the material but was adapted so that it could tell a modern story. Harmony Gold is involved with the project to ensure that it stays loyal to its source material. The film adaptation is now finally in development after Marcum & Holloway were able to work with the script, which has also been rewritten by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka.
The project has had a few directors playing musical chairs with the director’s seat. The original director that was attached to the live-action film adaptation was James Wan (The Conjuring 2), however, he had to leave to make the first Aquaman movie. Then, IT and The Flash director Andy Muschietti briefly sat in the chair before he too had to leave. Now it would appear that the movie has finally found a director in Rhys Thomas.
Rhys Thomas has climbed the directorial ladder since the debut of Disney+’s Hawkeye starring Jeremy Renner and many other characters from the MCU reprising their roles. The director is credited for the first, second, and final episodes of the show, and is the executive producer of the series. He is currently on a bit of a streak and people are expecting great things from the live-action adaptation.
Let’s hope that the production of the animated series can maintain the new momentum that they have found and that it won’t be too long before we are hearing another update from them.
Our Picks for Cast in a Live-Action Robotech Movie:
In our age of revitalising 80s franchises as a live-action film, and our eternal fascination with bombastic giant robots, we’ve decided to make a list casting our ideal Robotech live-action movie.
Dean Norris as Dolza
The core of Robotech’s conflict is the battle between the humans and the evil Zentraedi aliens. This militaristic race has been creating clones to invade other planets for centuries, and their advanced technology makes them a veritable threat against even the most powerful of Robotech’s mechs.
Dolza is the second oldest Zentraedi, acting as Supreme Commander of his species. Dean Norris has a physical resemblance with the character, not to mention that the amazing acting skills he displayed in Breaking Bad would help him immensely with this character.
Tom Hiddleston as Khyron
One of the most fanatical Zentraedi warriors, Khyron is determined to sacrifice himself for the glory of his galactic empire. However, his unconventional methods, including drunkenness and occasional backstabbing, have garnered him a shady reputation among the Zentraedi forces.
Tom Hiddleston would be perfect for this character. He could use his experience playing Loki, the god of mischief himself, to play an eccentric backstabbing general that’s also a member of a powerful alien race. Khyron is just Loki but taller, in more ways than one.
A young and very skilled pilot, Max Sterling serves under the orders of Rick Hunter, the show’s main character. He’s also the father of Dana Sterling, who plays a major role in Robotech’s second arc, known as The Masters.
While he might be more recognizable as a dramatic actor rather than an action one, we still believe that Alex Wolff would be great for the role. He’s young, and his frame somewhat matches that of Max Sterling. The blue hair might be just a bit too overkill for live-action, though.
Jennifer Lawrence as Lisa Hayes
Lieutenant Commander Lisa Hayes is a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire Robotech saga. Her rivalry with Rick Hunter can’t stand in the way of fulfilling her duties as the First Officer in the SDF-1, as she’s a professional soldier over anything else.
After her long hiatus, it would be great to see Jennifer Lawrence spring into action with such an explosive role. After all, her acting in The Hunger Games series proves that Lawrence is more than capable of carrying an action franchise on her back.
There’s hardly a more popular young actor right now than Timothée Chalamet. Like Alex Wolff, Chalamet is more of a classical drama actor. However, his recent role in Dune might have been enough to prove his talents as an action lead and has even gained him some fans in mainstream circles.
Rick Hunter is your typical mecha anime hero: the son of an army pilot, Rick displayed an incredible talent for flying and piloting from a very young age. He eventually became a hero during the First Robotech War, saving humanity and defeating the evil forces of Dolza.