When the new DuckTales premieres on Disney XD this weekend, prepare to see a different side to Donald Duck. The hapless cartoon duck has always had a bit of a short fuse — you would too if you were as unlucky as Donald — but at the end of the day he picks himself up by his sailor shirt and tries again, as optimistic as ever. In the DuckTales revival, however, Donald has traded in his adventures for fatherhood, raising his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie on his own.
Introducing Donald Duck, the helicopter dad.
“He’s still fundamentally Donald Duck,” executive producer Matt Youngberg told MTV News and a group of reporters at Disney’s fan expo D23 last month. “Life still gets him down, and he loses it, and he gets mad, and he gets enraged. But now we’re approaching him as this single father.”
For Donald, who’s now a regular on the show, that means he’s a little more world-weary these days. “We call him the Louis C.K. of Duckburg,” co-producer and story editor Francisco Angones added.
Sure, life may knock him down on a daily basis, and he and his wealthy uncle, Scrooge McDuck (voiced by David Tennant), may not be on speaking terms when the series kicks off on August 12, but he’s still dedicated to being a good dad — and that’s a side of Donald we often don’t get to see. “He’s usually a very reactive character, you’ll see him reacting to things and getting frustrated by things,” Youngberg said, “and now we want to see why he’s frustrated.”
His frustrations may have something to do with the stress of raising three boys. For starters, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are a bunch of troublemakers, and now they have more personality than ever. When Youngberg and Angones took on responsibility of reviving DuckTales for a new generation, they wanted to do something that was both true to the original series and a bit more modern.
“We originally identified with Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby — and now we’re identifying with Donald,” Angones said. “The core of our version of the show is this relatable family dynamic… Family means different things to different people.”
So they gave Huey, Dewey, and Louie their own personalities. Huey (Danny Pudi) is the first-born — by seconds — and, as such, he’s the brainy, responsible one. Meanwhile, Dewey (Ben Schwartz) is a typical middle kid, always trying to stand out and break free. And Louie (Bobby Moynihan), the youngest, is totally cool with slipping under the radar. Next-door neighbor Webby Vanderquack (Kate Micucci) is also now a more prominent member of the group. As a result, Angones said they no longer refer to the group of tiny adventurers as “the nephews.” Now, they’re just “the kids.”
But, at its core, DuckTales hasn’t lost its sense of adventure. It’s still about a group of kids going on crazy excursions, d-d-d-danger lurking around every corner, with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck, his cool gadgets, and his eccentric acquaintances.
“There’s definitely a feeling that someone gets when they hear the word DuckTales,” said Youngberg. “It’s usually woo-hoo!”
DuckTales premieres with a one-hour special on Saturday, August 12 on Disney XD that will air for 24 consecutive hours (!), starting at midnight ET.