We live in a world where Howard the Duck has appeared in two movies. That’s something we never thought would happen to Marvel Comics’s premier water fowl, especially after the release of 1986’s Howard the Duck, a movie that contains quack-fu, duck boobs and more than its fair share of implied interspecies sex.
The everyman duck was trapped in a world he never made, and shoved into a movie that shouldn’t exist, but even still the character is thanks to a and a relaunched comics series. And while it may be one of the most notorious box office bombs of all-time, we still give the film some credit for trying to poke fun at funny animal stories like the comics did.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of Howard the Duck, and to celebrate the legendary flop we’re taking a look at some of our favorite anthropomorphic animals from film. We just hope Howard is proud of our list, even though he’d probably hate on all these silly characters.
Considering his whole crew is anthropomorphic animals, it can be easy to forget that Goofy is in fact a walking, talking dog. And while he’s best known for numerous Disney cartoon appearances, the famed character lands on this list thanks to his starring turn in 1995’s .
The animated feature put Goofy in the spotlight like we’d never seen, featuring the character’s trademark slapstick comedy in a story centered on his relationship with his teenage son Max. We learned that Goofy isn’t just a big dweeb, he’s a caring father just trying to do right by his son.
2. Roger Rabbit
In a world of greed, sex and murder, only one man can rise above the filth to be a shining knight of justice. And of course, that man is Roger Rabbit.
The title character in 1988’s stands alongside the likes of Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck (all of whom appear in the film) as one of Hollywood’s top toons. Roger may be a fool, but he’s a good-natured fool with one purpose in life — to make people laugh. Luckily, he pulls that off throughout the movie, and in the end manages to successfully live up to the legacy of the various cartoon legends in the movie.
3. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have appeared in various forms throughout the years, from their to and even . But our favorite take on the turtles comes from their 1990 feature film debut.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pulled the team out of their animated comfort zone and into live-action for surprisingly effective results. The movie managed to blend their goofy animated adventures with their grounded comics stories for an action-packed adventure. And of course, who could forget those expertly designed turtle suits? They were the perfect blend of animatronics and costume design, and managed to be pretty believable even though we knew we were watching for dudes run around in turtle costumes.
4. Judy Hopps
was a hit with audiences thanks to its breathtaking animation and a surprisingly powerful message brought to us through a cast of memorable characters led by bunny cop Judy Hopps.
Brought to life by Ginnifer Goodwin, Judy Hopps is a . Recent years have seen the introduction of some of Disney’s best female characters, like Anna and Elsa of Frozen, but Zootopia took that innovation and put it in a contemporary setting that more closely mimics the real world. She might live in a world of anthropomorphic animals, but Judy Hopps still has to contend with real world issues of discrimination to achieve her dreams of becoming Zootopia’s first bunny cop. In the end, she’s a realistic, fleshed-out character, which is more than we can say for most cartoon animals.
5. The Country Bears
isn’t one of Disney’s most memorably movies, but it makes this list for one solid reason — it features a cast of walking, talking bears in the real world.
There’s something both silly and charming about the film’s musical bears, brought to life with a combination of massive furry suits and puppetry. They aren’t even remotely believable, especially when you try to consider how bears with gigantic paws can shred guitar solos, but their soft fur and funny outfits make them more than appealing. The film came out in 2002, just before computer-generated characters would become a mainstay in movies, and it’s safe to say The Country Bears marks the last time such goofy characters are brought to life with practical effects.
Dogs are man’s best friend, but your run of the mill mutt is nowhere near as great as Gromit, the co-lead of Aardman Animation’s series. The dog is a downright genius, having graduated from Dogwarts University with a degree in Engineering for Dogs he puts to use every day while helping owner Wallace build ingenious contraptions.
He might be a genius who enjoys relaxing with a cup of tea and the evening news, but he hasn’t gone full-blown human. Gromit doesn’t talk, and he refuses to wear clothes. But his dedication to science, technology and walking on two legs make him one special dog.
7. Fievel Mousekewitz
An American Tail is one of animation icon , bringing us one of the cutest cartoon mice of all-time in the form of Fievel Mousekewitz.
Fievel’s quest to find his family in the massive expanse of New York City is filled with both hilarious and touching moments, as well as some wonderful songs we think . But it’s the plucky Fievel who really shines, proving that if you never say never all your dreams can come true.
8. Mr. Toad
The Wind in the Willows is a kid-lit classic, but we don’t all have time to sit down for a book. Thankfully, Disney brought lead character Mr. Toad’s adventures to life as part of 1949’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, providing us with one of our favorite animal characters.
We love Mr. Toad because he’s an absolute baller. He has a mansion by the water, is rolling in cash and even has a suped-up car he takes for joyrides throughout the countryside. He may be stuck living life out in the country, but he’s doing it with some serious style we can all strive for.
9. Puss in Boots
is the best film in the . You can’t argue with me on this one — it’s completely true.
Puss became a standout character in the Shrek movies after his introduction in Shrek 2, and Dreamworks was smart to give the character his own spin-off in 2011. He’s a dashing and daring hero who just happens to be a little orange cat in boots, which is pretty hard not to love. It also helps that his solo film debut is downright hilarious, melding the fairy tale satire we got from the Shrek films with elements of westerns and swashbuckling adventure movies for perfect results.
10. Robin Hood
Of course, we wouldn’t have Puss in Boots if it weren’t for , which provided many with their first taste of animal-based adventure. And naturally, its hard to talk about the movie without highlighting its titular character.
This take on Robin Hood isn’t the hardened fighter we’ve seen in more modern adaptations. Instead, he’s a relaxed do-gooder, ready to fight against the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham but more than content to spend some time strolling through the forest. Really, we just want to hang out with Robin and his band of Merry Men.
11. Rocket Raccoon
Howard the Duck may have had a quick cameo in , but the film’s best anthropomorphic animal is, without a question, Rocket Raccoon.
How do you get people to buy the idea of a talking, gun-toting raccoon? Well, it helps when you cast to voice the character. Like Howard, Rocket’s a pretty tough sell for audiences, but Cooper expertly brings the character to life. You can tell Rocket’s had plenty of adventures throughout the galaxy, and he’s really not interested in dealing with the , but in the end Rocket comes through for the team and helps save the galaxy along the way. In a movie filled with memorable characters, Rocket stands as one of the best. And he does it all while being a raccoon in a little orange suit.
Who are some of your favorite anthropomorphic animals in movies? Let us know in the comments below.
President of the Salacious Crumb Fan Club. Staff Writer at Movie Pilot. Twitter: @Matt_Kranis