Today, Netflix announced they were making a new Voltron animated series. This new show will be aimed at kids, but I think they are missing an opportunity here to mine some rich material.
Voltron, because everything from the 80s has to be dusted off and rebooted.
About 10 years ago, there was a live-action film in the works that would have been set in a desolate future Earth. (I am working from memory here; I could not find the plot summary I had read. If you can find it, please post in the comments.) Somehow, Earth and Arus are “twin worlds”, which allows the technology for Voltron to flow from Arus to Earth, allowing five young people to build the five lions from whatever they have at hand, ending in a Mad Max-esque Voltron defeating alien invaders.
Sounds like an interesting take, but consider the opening sequence of Voltron.
The group that’s sent to Arus is to bring Voltron back. This has elements of colonial exploitation. Rather than a kids show, what if this was an imperial power, which sees itself as benevolent, stealing a natural resource from an indigenous people?
More than that, the show hinted that Voltron was seen as a god. Whether the robot was worshipped, the robot was based on the deity, or somehow the deity manifested as the robot (like Primus in the Transformers comics) all offer possibilities. More than that, how would a culture view its deity being coopted by a colonial power?’
And not only the physical object stolen and cultural element coopted, but used as a weapon of war to, perhaps, expand its influence and territory, conquering more worlds.
I know, I’m reaching. Any maybe it doesn’t need the Power/Rangers treatment.
But I fellow can dream.
So, below is my take on an opening scene of a serious, live action Voltron film. (As serious as it can be titled Voltron.)
INT. MILITARY OFFICE – NIGHT
GENERAL HAWKINS stands at the window, looking over a futuristic city. Heavily-armed military vehicles move through the air. We can see battle damaged buildings and, further on, a deep crater.
Behind Hawkins, the door CHIMES.
HAWKINS (to the door)
The door slides open and CAPTAIN KEITH KOGANE enters. Fit, early thirties, he is a man who has seen hard combat, but he is a committed soldier who has not lost his optimism that he can win this war. He stands before Hawkins’ desk and offers a crisp salute.
Reporting as ordered, sir.
Hawkins returns the salute and motions to a chair. Keith and Hawkins sit across from one another.
How long have you been back on-planet, Captain?
About 5 hours, sir.
Don’t unpack. I have a mission for you and your team.
Hawkins presses a button on his desk and the hologram of an Earth-like planet appears above it.
This is the planet Arus. Know it?
It’s in the Gyrus Cluster.
Keith reacts to the name.
What do you know about the Cluster, Captain?
It’s a graveyard, sir.
Settlers reached it around 650 SE. Three core worlds and a handful of colonies.
It was cut off in the Second Drule Incursion in 809. There were two attempts to retake the Cluster, but both were pushed back by the Drule fleet. Around 40 years ago, a third attempt found the Cluster deserted. No sign of the Drule fleet and the core worlds had been nuked. Same with the colony planets they checked. Radiation made re-colonization impossible, so it was abandoned.
What you haven’t heard is five years ago we caught a freighter coming out of the Cluster. They called it salvage. We considered it grave robbing. But they said the colony on Arus had survived.
So we sent a ship to check. And found a colony that hadn’t just survived, but thrived. Agricultural, industry, government, arts and culture. Almost half a billion people in the middle of a graveyard. Cut off from the Alliance for over 400 years.
Keith considers this.
Either they made a deal with the Drule—
Which no other world has been able to do in over two hundred years of war.
Or they have some kind of advanced weapons system. Something that kept the Drule from Arus. Maybe even drove them from the Cluster.
Hawkins nods, impressed.
We’ve been getting our asses kick in the Dairugger system. If we get pushed out, seven more systems could fall. Something that could push the Drule from an entire cluster could change things.
We’re going to Arus, aren’t we sir?
We’ve had a diplomatic mission on-world for the last 6 months to re-establish relations. With them we’ve embedded intelligence operatives as cultural attachés. They’re learned the locals talk about a god named Voltron that could command five massive, mechanical lions to defend the planet.
Understanding dawns in Keith’s eyes.
No one has seen Voltron in decades. The only people who claim to have seen him were children when it happened. But they said they lions kept the Drule back.
Hawkins changes the holographic image. The planet is replaced by the head of PRINCESS ALLURA, a woman a little younger than Keith.
This is Princess Allura, sovereign of Arus. They’re a constitutional monarchy, so her power is limited, but she is quite popular with the people.
Yesterday, the Arus Parliament agreed to rejoin the Alliance and this morning Allura gave royal approval. As part of the Alliance, they’ve pledged to meet their obligations in placing military forces under Alliance control, but Allura denies that Voltron exists. ‘A myth,’ she said, ‘to rally the people.’
Her family crest is a lion within a five-pointed star, by the way.
Keith is intrigued by the mission. He stares at the confident gaze of the princess.
The diplomats don’t want to rock the boat. That’s where you and your team come in. Your mission, Captain, is to go to Arus and confront Princess Allura over the existence of the Voltron weapon system. If she agrees to turn it over, take command of it and arrange its transport to Earth.
If she doesn’t cooperate, you and your team are to locate Voltron, steal it and get it to Earth.