Behind Netflix’s Cuphead With Original Creators: “It’s Like Watching Your Kids Grow Up”

Because Cuphead creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, seeing their characters come to life on television isn’t just fun – it’s an out-of-body experience.

Chad told IGN: “There are almost no words for it… it blew our minds. “I can’t tell you what it’s like because when I watch it, it feels like I’m watching it but I’m outside of my body watching it… It’s crazy, we don’t even I couldn’t even imagine this before. The indie game we’ve created is now this super high quality, fun Netflix show.”

The Moldenhauer brothers’ dream was to create a TV show reminiscent of the golden age of cartoons that went back years – before Netflix approached them with the idea of ​​adapting the Cuphead video game to a movie. an animated show and even before Cuphead’s development began more than a decade ago. The dream returns to when they were just two kids sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons.

While many of us grew up on contemporary cartoons, Moldenhauers grew up on real classics from the 1930s. We’re talking about characters like Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye, and countless others from the era. It was from this inspiration that Moldenhauers created Cuphead: 2017 run and shoot video that looks and sounds just like those classic shows. Now, their characters have moved to Netflix with The Cuphead Show.

The Cuphead Show is a production made in 2022, but it feels like it’s been plucked from the 1930s and modernized with new colors and animation technology. The upcoming Netflix show based on the video game is both an homage to the characters and concepts from the Cuphead game and the spiritual successor to many of the earliest and most influential animated shows ever made. create.

The new show follows the misdeeds of brothers Cuphead and Mugman as they visit different locations on the Inkwell Isle – the same location seen in the Cuphead video game. Many of the side characters and bosses from the game return, but they’ve been added with new personalities and relationships to suit the TV format. The series emulates the formula of classic animated shows, with 10-minute episodes that focus on cartoon violence and an animation style that is immediately reminiscent of Popeye and Mickey Mouse.

The show seems to have successfully captured the core elements of classic games and cartoons. We call the show “awesome” in reviewsaid, “The Cuphead Show captures the essence of the popular game, providing fans old and new with a delightfully surreal, exhilarating, chaotic, and comprehensive animated series with enthralling characters. memory and beautiful animations.” It makes sense, then, that the show’s producers and executive writers have encyclopedic knowledge of the era of the cartoon they’ve loved reviving.

“When we made the game, we watched a lot,” says Chad. “It’s happening. There comes a point where you start or end your day by watching a lot of cartoons… You build this strange encyclopedia of knowledge just useful if you’re doing Cuphead.”

“If you’re going to have breakfast, why not watch a cartoon or two. If you’re going to have dinner, why not watch a cartoon or two,” Jared added.

How Cuphead Inspired the Game

Chad and Jared are the creators of Cuphead and the developers of the original game (the syllables in Moldenhauer are the inspiration for the name Studio MDHR). They served as Executive Producers for The Cuphead Show, alongside Cosmo Segurson, Dave Wasson, and CJ Kettler. IGN had the opportunity to talk with brothers Moldenhauer and Segurson about the process of creating a show that borrows heavily from the golden age of animation.

The main inspiration for The Cuphead Show was the cartoons by Fleischer Studios and Silly Symphony. Fleischer Studios was founded in 1929 by the Fleischer brothers, and it was the main competitor to Walt Disney throughout the 1930s. The studio created cartoons starring characters like Betty. Boop, Bimbo, Popeye and Superman. Bimbo – the puppy who is Betty Boop’s main love in the animated series – is the personal favorite of the Moldenhauers.

Silly Symphonies was produced by Walt Disney in the 1930s and the series features more than 70 musical short films. The inspiration is obvious in The Cuphead Show, as most episodes feature a large, musical amount in addition to the bombastic theme song.

Both Segurson and Moldenhauers love the cartoon era dating back to their childhoods. Segurson said he watched Popeye cartoons at the Saturday film festival in Los Angeles for hours on end, which sparked his complete obsession with the 1930s cartoon style. , Chad and Jared say the low-priced boxes at video stores played a key role in introducing them to the style they’ve successfully emulated with Cuphead.

“All of this was only tied to when we were young,” says Jared. “The 99 cent VHS crates are so much, you can find them anywhere, and it’s cheap enough that you can nag your mom and dad and say ‘maybe we can get another cartoon. ‘ They don’t just happen to be cartoons of the time, so we ended up with a stockpile of Silly Symphonies, ComiColor, Fleischer Studios and those that stuck with us. .”

Screenshots of Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

However, the Cuphead universe still has its own personality despite its close ties to other animated influences. One of the most entertaining parts of the show is the way it plays with Cuphead and Mugman’s literal cup-shaped heads, with fun moments like the bowling ball landing on top and breaking the cup, or the characters grab each other with the handles on the backs of their heads to pull them along. The physical interactions and violence in the cartoon told the story in The Cuphead Show, which was important to the screenwriters.

“Because they are cups with handles, we can play with the physicality of it,” says Segurson. “I think one of the main goals of the project was to do scenes involving humor and relationships that don’t rely on dialogue. That’s really important to me.”

The creators have also turned to the game for inspiration on how the characters will interact in the show. There isn’t much plot or dialogue in the Cuphead game – most of the character’s traits come from facial expressions and animation. However, there is one key shot that the writers of The Cuphead Show used to help define the relationship between Cuphead and Mugman.

“In the game there is a story sequence before you start playing, and we really analyzed that,” says Segurson. “Some of the characteristics of Cuphead and Mugman in particular come from a drawing in a small story book at the beginning, where Cuphead is sitting at a gambling table and Mugman is looking scared. That kind of tells us a lot.”

In the movie, Cuphead definitely appears as the stubborn, impulsive, assertive older brother, while Mugman is the more shy, fearful, shy brother. While the dynamic is reminiscent of the classic fictional brotherly relationship Mario and Luigi, the Moldenhauer brothers also say that Cuphead and Mugman are loosely based on themselves, with Chad’s personality rooted in Cuphead , and Jared’s in Mugman.

“There is so much love and joy”

In addition to the core relationship at the heart of the show, many of the game’s bosses and side characters appear on the show. From the Devil taking center stage as the show’s main antagonist, to boss characters like King Dice, Ribby and Croaks, and the Root Pack getting more time to shine, fans of the aesthetic The beauty of the game and the characters will find very fond of the show. But the biggest fans were the Moldenhauer brothers themselves, who couldn’t believe what their little creations had turned into.

“There was so much love and joy,” Jared said. “It’s like watching your kids grow. It’s like you’re so proud of every little step and the way they’ve grown. From the game, to some of the plastic figures, to some of the posters, and now they’ve evolved into a TV series now, so to go through the whole process and see where they end up and have such a talented team at Netflix bring them to life, it’s like a spell.”

The Cuphead Show will air on Netflix on Friday, February 18. And, the game’s DLC, Cuphead: The ultimate delicacy, coming this June.

As for the world of Cuphead what’s next?

Chad just said, “You’ll have to wait until we announce five years too early for our next project!”

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant. Behind Netflix’s Cuphead With Original Creators: “It’s Like Watching Your Kids Grow Up”

Fry Electronics Team

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