The new DuckTales series is fun, but it’s a reboot and not a straight-up continuation of the original cartoon. As such, there are many ways in which it differs from the source material that became so beloved across countries and generations. While this may disappoint some, it also keeps it fresh for old-timers while giving newcomers to Duckburg an interesting and diverse sampler to enjoy.
The key differences between the 1980s edition and the newer one lie in the DuckTales characters themselves.
Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck are pretty much the same as they ever were — they’re timeless icons with a deep repertoire to represent, so that makes sense. Even charmed cousin Gladstone Gander, in his few reboot appearances so far, cleaves close to his roots. But the nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie have distinctly different personalities and voices, whereas their original TV selves were largely swappable. Overall, though, they’re the same mischievous heroes they always were — just unbundled.
Webby (aka Webbigail Vanderquack) is the first character you’ll notice to make a radical departure from the original character. Always adventurous with a knack for getting herself into trouble before, this version of Webby is more likely to get herself — and others — out of a jam with her obsessive knowledge of lore and strategy, rather than lead them into danger just because she wants to tag along. And even if she does lead them into danger, she’ll probably be the one to get them out of it. Neurotic but capable, she’s a tactical genius and basically a straight-up ninja. (Call her a Mary Sue and we’re going to have a problem, you and me …)
Her grandmother, Mrs. Beakley, also takes a sharp turn from the wholesome, domestic doyenne of the classic series, hinting at a clandestine ops past and able to go toe to toe with, foes and inspire fear from afar in, even the baddest of Beagles. Bottom line: Don’t mess with this bird.
Gyro Gearloose may represent the most stark change when he enters the show a few episodes in with “The Great Dime Chase.” No longer a nice-guy inventor, he’s less concerned with helping people than keeping his funding, even if it means introducing an evil contraption into the world. Ultimately a good guy who will do what’s right, he lacks basic people skills and doesn’t necessarily want to be liked or included. If the people of the world are foolish enough to be conquered — again — by one of his A.I. marvels, they probably deserved it…
Gyro’s intern, Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, couldn’t be more different from his boss. In the original DuckTales, Fenton was an accountant savant who literally stumbled into the Gizmoduck robot suit, but now he’s basically Gyro’s right-hand man and conscience — a good quality to have while moonlighting as a cybernetic superhero. It’s still early to get a read on Fenton and his alter-ego Gizmoduck in this version of the show, but, despite the Cuban cultural upgrade, so far he’s more or less the same bumbling hero.
Launchpad McQuack is much like the Launchpad of old, but he’s even more himself — dumber, I mean. Much as recent incarnations of Scooby-Doo took those Mystery Inc. characters and exaggerated them to the point of ridiculousness (especially trap-thirsty Fred), Launchpad is made so determinedly dumb here we can hardly believe a person like that can exist, let alone earn the trust and ongoing employment of the world’s richest duck. Yes, we’re talking about anthropomorphic avians here, but characters should still be believable … mostly.
Scrooge’s nemesis and second-richest duck in the world Flintheart Glomgold, too, gets the airhead treatment, but with a touch of sad shabbiness, enhancing his villainy with a blind boneheadedness that calls to mind another golf-crazy alleged billionaire from the real world. …
Unlike the other DuckTales characters, it took a long time for Duckworth the butler to show up, only appearing in the late-season “McMystery at McDuck Manor!” However, on the surface Duckworth has perhaps undergone the biggest change of all: He’s dead! A magical incantation gone awry summons his ghost back to defend Scrooge’s mansion, though, and apparently he’s now back in the game, albeit in spirit form. Still snooty as ever, his relationship with Scrooge seems to be more outwardly warm than it was in the old series — perhaps a mellowing born from the fondness that comes from a mortal separation that will pass with time?
About some of those other DuckTales characters…
This one may be unforgivable, and yet it may not even really count here: Darkwing Duck was always connected to the DuckTales universe, since the two shows shared Lanchpad and, sometimes, Gizmoduck. And the Terror that Flaps in the Night did, indeed, show up in the new DuckTales as was promised — but it was as an in-universe fictional character, the star of Launchpad’s favorite TV show (evoking Adam West’s Batman in no small measure) and as a “bobblehead” collectible. Maybe they’re toying with us, and DW will indeed show up “in person” with the new Duckburg crew — or maybe not.
Turning back to the actual “canon,” though, the Beagle Boys are a more multifarious bunch these days than we’ve ever seen on screen, where the old series focused on just a few homogenized samples.
We’ve had only fleeting glimpses of Scrooge’s other nemesis, Magica De Spell, so apart from being voiced by comedienne Catherine Tate, and having a duplicitous niece named Lena Le Strange, we don’t yet know much about her — such as whether or how the power-hungry sorceress will depart greatly from the original cartoon’s depiction of her, like the aforementioned DuckTales characters.
Only “dime” will tell, I guess. …