Episode: 216 "The Duck Knight Returns!" 5/17/19
Starring: Launchpad McQuack and Dewey Duck
Costarring: Scrooge McDuck
Featuring: Jim Starling/Negaduck and Drake Mallard/Darkwing Duck
Introducing: Alistair Borswan
Special Appearances by: Megavolt and Commissioner Haggard (both as actors)
Setting: Duckburg (Siesta Rick’s and McDuck Studios)
“Are we not all both the heroes and the villains of our own story?” For washed-up actor Jim Starling, truer words were never spoken. At his peak he was the eponymous star of the television series Darkwing Duck. Now he’s lucky if he gets more than a handful of fans to show up to an autograph signing for the grand opening of a furniture store. Poor Jim is at a crossroads and he’s about to break… bad.
As if things aren’t bleak enough, Jim learns that a theatrical reboot of Darkwing Duck is already nearly finished and his role has been recast with young actor and superfan, Drake Mallard. Once Jim is rebuffed, he completely loses his mind. He violently attacks Drake and is forcibly removed from the studio. But he returns in full Darkwing regalia, having coerced his newly minted sidekick, Launchpad, into incapacitating Drake in his trailer so Jim can usurp the role and convince the director that he’s the better actor. Once the hero, Jim Starling has officially become the villain.
This “grim, complex masterpiece” is about to get “dangerous.” After Launchpad bonds with Drake over their mutual love and reverence for all the good Darkwing represents, he attempts to appeal to Jim’s better self. But reality and fantasy have been inextricably blurred as Jim attempts to stage a coup while the cameras roll and Drake is forced to actually become the hero and does so with aplomb by “getting… back… up” in the face of explosions, a dropped piano, and electrocution.
Then, tragedy strikes. Through a truly eloquent speech, Launchpad finally does get through to Jim. When he catches a glimpse of his reflection in the chainsaw he was wildly wielding, he snaps out of it just in time to shove Launchpad and Drake clear from a massive explosion (although, only because he insisted on being the hero). But Jim bore the brunt of the blast and has gone missing. Now completely cuckoo and lurking in the sewers, he finds himself warped beyond all recognition as the super villain and Darkwing Duck’s arch-nemesis, Negaduck.
After a lot of foreshadowing (from all the way back in Season 1!), this episode brilliantly reintroduces and integrates Darkwing Duck into DuckTales canon while also providing plenty of runway for the characters going forward. Giving full time hero’ing a shot, I’ll venture to guess we see a lot more of Drake Mallard as DW (with a little sidekicking from LP) along with a cast of villians (Negaduck!) going forward.
The episode opens on a cityscape of St. Canard before settling on a shot of St. O’Malley’s Kitten Orphanage. This could be in reference to O’Malley the alley cat from The AristoCats (1970).
It’s a nice bit of continuity to see Dewey and Launchpad hanging out since they are best friends after all.
The celebrity who was originally scheduled to sign autographs at Siesta Rick’s grand opening was Johnny from Ottoman Empire.
According to social media, these are the Worldwide Trends:
The logo for McDuck Studios, looks a lot like the one for Walt Disney Pictures with Scrooge striking the same pose as Mickey Mouse.
The director of Darkwing: First Darkness is Alistair Borswan who is voiced by real-life movie director Edgar Wright.
Before producing Darkwing: First Darkness, McDuck Studios only made cheap office safety videos. Some of the titles are:
Scrooge reveals that he hasn’t seen a movie since 1938… back when all villains twirled their moustaches.
Once Dewey expresses his confusion over the plot of Darkwing: First Darkness, Scrooge demotes the director and puts Dewey in charge of the movie. His reasoning is that his demographic is the one that matters and “Dewey is the childest child” he knows.
When Jim Starling names Launchpad his sidekick, this mirrors Darkwing Duck ‘91 where Launchpad actually costarred as his sidekick.
While never appearing in the original series, Hot Couture is a villain in DuckTales’ “Darkwing Duck” canon.
The “Adventures” font on Drake’s comic book collection is taken from the logo of the Disney Adventures magazine (1990).
While Jim Starling was never a character in Darkwing Duck ‘91, Drake Mallard was the name of Darkwing Duck’s mild mannered, secret identity.
The footage of Dewey dancing looks a lot like the “Perfect Cast” from A Goofy Movie (1995).
Following its “grittier” vibe, Megavolt’s redesign looks a lot like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Negaduck’s backstory from Darkwing Duck ‘91 is as an evil twin of DW’s from the parallel universe, the Negaverse, of which he rules over. He rose to prominence as the leader of the Fearsome Five - a rogues’ gallery of villains including Megavolt, Quackerjack, Bushroot, and the Liquidator (of which are all featured during Drake Mallard’s comic-themed flashback to his youth).