Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon (2013) – Directed by Michael Goguen – Starring Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Mindy Cohn, Diedrich Bader, Jeff Bennett, Fred Tatasciore, John DiMaggio, Dee Bradley Baker, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Billy West.
SCOOBY-DOO! MASK OF THE BLUE FALCON is ridiculously good.
This is the first movie I watched after hearing of the passing of both Roger Ebert and Carmine Infantino, so perhaps I was ready made to be charmed by a delightful animated movie that featured two enjoyable parts of my childhood: Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt. Certainly, there’s a nostalgia aspect at play here. If you grew up on Hanna-Barbera cartoons there’s all kinds of old favorites hanging out in the background of BLUE FALCON: Speed Buggy, the Herculoids, Penelope Pitstop, Frankenstein Jr., Space Ghost, the Flintstones, Captain Caveman, the Jetsons, Black Lightning, Mightor, Apache Chief, Hong Kong Phooey, El Dorado, Johnny Quest, and a host more.
It’s more than simple nostalgia that makes BLUE FALCON such a fantastic movie, though. It’s fun, engaging, smart, colorful, beautifully paced, and just clever enough that I appreciated it without being turned off by it.
To be clear, this is not a continuation of the ’70s cartoons. In this movie, Scooby and the Mystery Incorporated gang are not former allies of Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, but rather exist in a world where they watched all of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, too. Shaggy and Scooby are huge fans of Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, respectively, and they’re excited to head to an analog for the San Diego Comic Con where they discover the original Blue Falcon, Owen Garrison, has an autograph booth.
I won’t lie and act like I knew this before I started reading the Wikipedia page for the original Dynomutt TV show, but it’s clear that this film’s Owen Garrison is named after the original voice actor for the Blue Falcon, Gary Owens. That’s a nice touch and wasn’t shocking for me to discover given how much love for the old HB cartoons is in evidence throughout this film. I hope the animators were old Hanna-Barbera fans, too, or else they must have been mighty confused being asked to draw Quick Draw McGraw and Wonder Twins cosplayers.
When they get to the convention, they’re disappointed to find that Owen Garrison is kinda crazy and embittered. Turns out there’s a new Blue Falcon movie about to debut and it is, in Fred’s own words, a “new, updated, darkier, edgier Blue Falcon.” Full credit to the creators of BLUE FALCON for not only giving us the darker, edgier Blue Falcon, but basically using it to allow for some extended mocking of the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Check out this exchange between Brad Adams, the actor playing the new Blue Falcon, and Freddy and Shaggy:
Brad Adams: “I bring to the Blue Falcon a clean slate, seeing him as a divided soul in an endless debate over the choices he’s had to make in a very real and dangerous world.”
Freddy: “What does that even mean?”
Brad Adams: “That the Blue Falcon is an enigma living a life trapped within the impossibility of certainty. Makes you think.”
Shaggy: “You take that back! I don’t have the slightest idea what you just said but you’d better take it back, like, now!”
It’s nice to see Warner Brothers has at least some sense of humor about their multi-billion dollar franchise, and given that Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, the “Dog Wonder” were playful nods to Batman and Robin back then, it’s nice to see that connection continue.
What is a little surprising are the two big nods to Spider-Man. In one scene, Velma explains that she doesn’t like superheroes because they don’t make sense, that you wouldn’t really get superpowers if you were bitten by a radioactive spider. And later, after Scooby takes off his Dynomutt costume because he feels like a failure, he dumps it in a garbage can in an alley, a clear nod to Amazing Spider-Man 50.
The whole movie is a nod to kids’ cartoons, favoring the simple over the complicated, the vibrant over the dark. It’s done in a really smart, really fun way, and the story here about one of Blue Falcon’s old villains seemingly coming to life is well done. I love the scene where Fred, Daphne, and Velma sneack back into the convention dressed as the Herculoids, and I love how everywhere in the convention is a poster or cosplayer giving constant nods to Hanna-Barbera’s back catalog.
There’s only one letdown here and that’s the almost total lack of Dynomutt himself. With the film’s take being that Blue Falcon and Dynomutt weren’t friends of Scooby but characters on a TV show, it follows that there is no actual Dynomutt. Owen Garrison has a beat up Dynomutt next to him but we never get to see the actual Dynomutt hanging around.
It’s to Michael Goguen’s credit, though, that MASK OF BLUE FALCON is so good and so fun that whenever I started wishing Dynomutt would make an appearance, the film would give me something else that caused me to smile. I watched this movie via Netflix (the Blu-ray; it’s not streaming) but I like this movie so much I’ll be buying this Blu-ray in the future.