Warning: Spoilers for the movie Howard The Duck (1986)!
Howard the Duck is, in my opinion, one of the few good 20th century movies based off a comic book character. I’m not saying it is a great movie, or that everyone should suddenly agree with me. However, I am saying that relatively speaking, there are several areas in which it beats certain other movies. For instance, it does not lose focus to become a “vehicle” for any one thespian like Superman III did with Richard Pryor. Instead the narrative sticks with Howard for most of the movie while allowing the rest of the ensemble cast the chance to shine.
As for faithfulness to its origins, I will admit it is not as slavishly devoted to the source material as, say, 300. Yet, like the much more recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (which Howard also appears in, the production team used creative license rather wisely. For example, the character Beverly Switzler, instead of being a model, is changed to the arguably more relatable occupation of singer. This change is similar to the way in which Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 alters Drax, making him an alien, instead of being faithful to the comics (where he was a resurrected, reshaped, and empowered human). There is also the fact that elements like Howard’s arrival on earth and personality are reminiscent of his original appearances under Steve Gerber’s pen.
And while nothing is truly timeless, one can argue that this film is still more relatable than something like American Graffiti. Having seen both, I would say Howard The Duck is just missing modern technology, while American Graffiti is too generational.
Speaking of generational, I originally saw Howard The Duck on a VHS tape that screwed up when I was a kid. The reason I relate this event from my personal past is that the rating was PG. Now anyone who has seen this movie will remember the “almost sex scene” and the very adult jokes. Heck, the first teaser suggested it was a comedy with an adult bent. This is all to say that this is one of the movies that lead to the PG-13 rating, and thus Howard The Duck could be seen as somewhat of a game changer.
Going back to the “almost sex scene”, I argue that from an adult perspective, this movie is no more suggestive of an interspecies relationship than almost any version of Beauty and the Beast. The reason I believe this is so is that Howard is a sentient alien, and nothing really happens.
Finally, while the actor who portrayed the villain is a sex offender, and that is legitimately horrible, if one can look past that for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and/or Beetlejuice, then one can still see a decent performance from the entire cast. In other words, this movie is not perfect, but is still relatively good for at least one or more viewings.