Howard the Duck: The weirdest Marvel movie ever made

30 years on, box office flop is finally being embraced.

Howard the Duck
Quackers Howard the Duck with Back to the Future's Lea Thompson. Image Picture Universal

Marvel movies might be all-conquering box office kings today, but that wasn’t always the case.

Rewind to 1986 and a George Lucas-produced adaptation of the comic powerhouse’s Howard the Duck bombed at the box office and was written off as a flop.

Based on Steve Gerber’s comic book character, it centred around an anthropomorphic duck who reads Playboy and canoodles with Back to the Future’s Lea Thompson. Seriously!

The film was too surreal for audiences at the time, but 30 years on (Howard the Duck premiered on August 1, 1986) it’s been embraced; not only by fans of weird cinema, but by Marvel too.

The character appeared in the post-credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy and even brought the film’s star Thompson into its recent comic book revival.

“A lot of iconoclasts really love that movie. They love to love something that everyone hates. And those are my kind of folks,” Thompson said in a 2012 interview with The AV Club.

“I’m happy to be part of that club of people who don’t want to be told what’s horrible and just want to enjoy it anyway.

“You in bed with a duck is just pretty much a deal breaker.”

“Howard The Duck has a lot of fans, and usually when they come up to me, I just think they’re the coolest. Because it takes a lot of strength, a lot of perseverance to love Howard the Duck.”

Howard the Duck’s sex scene has gone down as one of the most infamous in movie history, and Thompson admitted that it’s often been a hot topic of debate amongst her family.

Her husband is famed 80s teen movie director Howard Deutch and her daughters are both actors, Madelyn Deutch and Zoey Deutch.

“My kids can’t watch Howard the Duck. By the time I get in bed with the duck, they are, like, ‘Turn it off, mom. You in bed with a duck is just pretty much a deal breaker,’” Thompson told Bullz Eye.

Zoey Deutch, for what it’s worth, found it bizarre to see her mother in a romantic clinch with an animal bearing the same name as her dad.

She told talk show host Conan O’Bren: “There’s a particular scene where my mother makes love to a duck. What’s the next step?

“I go to my father and my mother. ‘Oh my god, I know the duck’s name is Howard. Dad, your name is Howard. This is complicated. Dad will love more than this duck will!'”

Despite his unsuccessful beginnings in the 80s, it’s safe to say that this duck is finally having his day.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn