How I Would Adapt Jonny Quest for Live Action Film

By Chongchen Saelee

Everyone who grew up on some incarnation of Jonny Quest loves the appeal of being the bad-ass boy of the hour. You don’t want to be Robin because he just can’t outweigh Batman as the sidekick. Jonny Quest, however, although technically still the sidekick to his scientist father and Rick Bannon, is actually the main focus and star of his own show. If you’re a young kid watching this, you don’t feel left out.

And I’m sure Hollywood knows this is a good property to adapt for live-action. They’ve tried it. At one point, “High School Musical” star Zak Efron was attached to play Jonny Quest, but then he became a man, so no more of that.

If Jonny Quest is just James Bond, Jr., I say do it like a Bond movie then. Very serious tone. No dumbing it down for kids like Roberto Rodriguez would do (even though his Spy Kids franchise is relatively successful).

Everyone calls the gimmick of “grounding” cartoony subject matter nowadays “Batman-Beginning” it. As if it was a brand-new invention of story telling. It is not.

But for the purpose of illustrating the technique (and my point), I’d do a Jonny Quest Begins type of deal.

Seeing as how successful Liam Neeson’s “Taken” franchise has become, I’d rip that plot element off. Jonny Quest is a naive tag-along with his scientist father and chauffuer/bodyguard Rick Bannon in India. There, of course, Jonny’s guardians get abducted by “terrorists” and Jonny takes off on his own into the slums.

He nearly starves because he’s a spoiled rich kid with no survival skills. Introduce Hadji and his doggy Bandit. So… we see Hadji help the poor rich kid and they become like Aladdin and Abu (yes, I went there, can’t avoid it) and they have all sorts of fun and dangerous adventures trying to survive as street urchins. Jonny’s social and survivor skills improve.

TWO YEARS LATER

So we start out when Jonny is 12-14 or something like that. By the time he becomes the “Jonny Quest” we know, he’ll be about 17-19, just barely a man. Otherwise, you can’t have a young boy running around with a gun and stuff, jumping through glass windows. Something unethical about it. He has to be a little hardened, but still have that glimmer of innocence in his eyes.

So two years pass, and Jonny doesn’t know whether or not his father or Rick Bannon are still alive. This is where he sets out to find and rescue them. And we see how ingenious and street smart he has become. He has a whole network of friends in dark places. He knows how to deceive people, dressing up, speaking different languages, tech genius, etc.

And by the time he finds his heavily bearded father and long-haired Rick Bannon, that’s when the shit hits the fan. Gun fights, explosions, blood shed. All the typical elements that Bond movies have.

And let’s not forget, he pilots a war chopper outta there!!! as his weary eyed father looks on from the backseat amazed. Because Rick Bannon’s in the sidepilot seat, but he’s been shot and bleeding out. See… cliched right?

Anyway, stealing from Empire in the Sun, when Jonny Quest lands the chopper at an embassy, his father looks at him for the first time. Sees that his lost son has become quite the young man because he changed so much. He has the eyes of an old man.

Close up of Jonny Quest’s young boy eyes transition into the “real” Jonny Quest eyes.

Cut to black. Cue U2 or Coldplay cover of Jonny Quest theme. Cue credits.

Give me Oscar.

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