Does the show really need Dark Kat?

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Mikazo
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Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Mikazo » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:12 pm

What? Blasphemy! Dark Kat is a staple of the series. He's the main antagonist. In fact, it was Chance and Jake's ill-fated encounter with him which led to their present situation.

In spite of all that, does Dark Kat really fit into the show that well?

(Disclaimer: If you love Dark Kat in any way, just... hate me. Also leave a comment!)

In other words, is Dark Kat really effective as the main antagonist, from a story as well as a functional perspective? Let's look at some issues he presents to the show.

1. He has no backstory we are aware of. In contrast to the other characters, we really have no idea who or what he is, or where he came from. He comes across as either some demonic character or creature from another dimension. (He may as well be a kat version of Doctor Claw.) Granted, some might say this added mystery is every reason to include him, as there is potential for character development and some interesting new material. More on that in a sec.

2. His M.O. seems really skewed. So he is a great tactician and schemer. He seems to have access to nuclear weapons (where he gets them, who knows). But why does he have such weak minions, and where does he get them? Where do the creeplings come from? What about the ninja characters? Where does he get his help? In fact, he seems to need a lot of help to do what he is trying to do. Most of the other bad guys can put up a good fight on their own. In addition, the other villains' minions could easily handle Dark Kat's. Dr. Viper's plantimals, the Pastmaster's imported creatures, and so on, seem far more effective than Dark Kat's zerglings-- er, creeplings.

3. His motive seems dull and insipid. He wants to turn the city into "Dark Kat City," where he is in charge? Like a Biff Tannen kind of character? So in addition to not knowing who he is, or why he operates the way he does, we find there is very little depth to what he wants. It seems uninspired. While Dr. Viper wants a similar goal where the city is more or less infested, we can infer that this is just a result of his established condition.

To be fair, the nebulous nature of this character should not in itself be a deal breaker. It's okay for some things to be mysterious. But in some ways it feels as if he is a square peg one would try to push into the round hole that is the show. So here's an idea - why not scrap him entirely? Having a Kingpin-like overlord may not be quite the villain a sleek, modern show could be after. Perhaps replace him with someone like, say... how about Hard Drive? A villain who is extremely adept at hacking, cyberattacks, and data theft seems to have far more relevance in a technologically-advanced setting like MKC (and in that respect, even mirrors real world issues too vis a vis cybersecurity issues and whatnot). Or someone else.

Thoughts?
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby MoDaD » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:35 pm

At the risk of catching a lot of flak from Felony, I'd say I partially agree with you :lol:

But, the show really needs Dark Kat, but not for what I would consider the best of reasons.

What I'm about to say comes from over a decade of RPG and writing experience (note that this doesn't make me an expert or particularly good at it, just a little familiar with what seems to work and what doesn't - though this could also be due to my limited imagination and dull wit :lol:)

When you're feeling lazy, uninspired or in a time crunch writing a plot or scenario for SWAT Kats, I can attest that using a character like Dark Kat is a much easier choice than any of the other antagonists, mostly because his motivations and personality are a lot easier to depict and far less constrained.

Writing for the Metallikats is hard because you have to include their banter and their motivations, taking into account what they're actually capable of doing (any sort of mastermind plot isn't going to work with them).

Writing for the Pastmaster is hard because you can't give him ordinary motivations for his actions, and he has a specific formula you have to follow or he easily falls out of character.

Writing for Dr. Viper is hard because he's got a one-track mind, and if you deviate from that he's not going to appear in-character in a story.

Dark Kat's more flexible in that he can be inserted into a greater variety of situations, mostly because of the critiques you've outlined. This might sound strange, but Dark Kat is the most "normal" of the SWAT Kat's rogues from a comic book or action perspective, mostly because of fairly straightforward super villain goals.

Now, that's not to say you can't write a good story around those other villains. My point is that it takes a lot more effort to make it work, and I think there's evidence in the show itself that would suggest Dark Kat is used as a "go-to" villain when something ordinary* is needed, where the spectacle is kept a little more grounded so other important storytelling things don't get lost (i.e. the SWAT Kat's origin story in The Wrath of Dark Kat, the SWAT Kat's reputation being disrupted in Night of the Dark Kat, Razor losing his confidence in Razor's Edge, The SWAT Kats overcoming "themselves" in The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats).

In each of those episodes, Dark Kat is acting less as a guest starring villain and more as a vehicle to tell stories about T-Bone and Razor, because in each of those appearances I'd make the argument you could've substituted a one-off, no-name villain each time with probably a 90% success rate. For other villains I don't think that'd be the case.

Though, that's not to say one shouldn't discard the need for "the big bad guy," as it's very useful to have someone who can be instantly used and have other characters fearful of him, immediately elevating the stakes by his mere involvement in the story.

*Keep in mind, ordinary does not equate to safe. A nuclear bomb could be considered ordinary :D

EDIT: And, to summarize as best I can, I don't think the show needs Dark Kat specifically, but it definitely needs the idea of Dark Kat. I hope that makes sense :geek:
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Mikazo » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:50 pm

MoDaD wrote:EDIT: And, to summarize as best I can, I don't think the show needs Dark Kat specifically, but it definitely needs the idea of Dark Kat. I hope that makes sense :geek:


That's certainly an interesting point, one I hadn't thought of. Dark Kat in this case kind of provides an "anchor" of sorts to allow other aspects of the story to play out.

If that's the case, I wonder if this could be accomplished with a different sort of villain? Say maybe, a rogue autonomous AI. You could have a self-aware, possibly malevolent computer system with powerful abilities. That sort of thing could provide a "background villain" of sorts, and while there is room for a backstory, it doesn't necessarily need to have elaborate explanations for its activities. Perhaps it logically concluded that its destructive path was the most beneficial in some way. (I realize Skynet was the same sort of idea, but this could be done completely differently too.)

There would also still be room for cheesy one-liners and movie references.

Swat Kats: "Let us out of here, now!"
AI: "I'm sorry, Swat Kats, I'm afraid I can't do that!"

Anyway, in these kinds of shows, it's not always necessary to have elaborate backstories. I wrote a story with a somewhat goofball villain, who had absolutely no clear backstory or motivations. This was on purpose - I wanted to focus on creating a sound and light show with a lot of action rather than a deep, introspective thing. However, the primary antagonist, or major recurring villains, may need a little bit more of a story behind them.
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Jacob1290 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:10 am

I just simply wrote him as a genocidal maniac that wants to see the end of all life.
since you can't really build a city with nuke radiation everywhere >_>
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Kooshmeister » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:15 am

My only complaint about him is that he has really lame minions. Seriously, the Creeplings are less threatening than almost any kind of evil creature minion I can name. Don't get me wrong, I love the Creeplings, as useless as they are, but they are pretty useless. Sure, they get that one cool moment where they throw that technician in The Wrath of Dark Kat, but beating up a guy in a cumbersome radiation suit isn't too big of a feet, and they're worse than ineffective in their few skirmishes with, well, anyone else after this scene (Razor's "fight" with them in Dark Kat's lair is pretty embarrassing).

His ninjas in Razor's Edge showed some promise, but much like the Creeplings, they're reduced to ineffectiveness after one early scene of being cool, and even then, to be honest, defeating a random guard isn't that big of a feat. All they do is throw him, anyway. And he still manages to sound the alarm, so they have that failure on their heads (not that it seemed to matter considering the Enforcers sent one measly chopper). They then proceed to be shown as "clumsy fools" prone to tripping and are thereafter reduced to being the button-pushers aboard the Black Widow. They never even fight the SWAT Kats, and surrender immediately to the Enforcers at the end.

Dark Kat was cool, despite his complete lack of a backstory and odd motivation, and he deserved a better class of thug, to paraphrase my friend Mark Lungo (although he wasn't talking about Dark Kat). Maybe if more had been done with the ninjas, or if Hard Drive had been Dark Kat's regular underling instead of a one-off flunkey, he could've had some cool underlings. Alas. Mutilor, Turmoil and Katrina (in Succubus!) had cool underlings. Dark Kat did not, and that saddens me.

And Dark Kat himself, despite his great size, is surprisingly easy to defeat in hand to hand combat, too, now that I think about it. For such a big guy he seems to get his butt handed to him by the SWAT Kats quite a lot of the time, and was even taken out with a frickin' money bag.
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby NeeKnight » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:18 am

A very well thought out arguement and I can totally see where you are coming however I disagree.

As a character, it is true Dark Kat isn't as complex as the other backstory rich, motive orientated villains. There is no deep seeded resentment linked in to his past. No grave injusted he had to suffer to twist him to the side of evil. No misguilded dreams of building a Utopia. Heck, we don't even know if he had a bad upbringing or not, Mr and Mrs Dark Kat Sr. may have been lovely parents who took Dark Kat to all the water parks whenever they could between ice cream parties and pony rides. RazLaugh
We do not know his ultimate goal as it is always seeming to change (One week he wants all the money in the city's banks, the next he wants to rule the city, the next he wants to destory the city) and he just seems to be evil for the sake of being evil. And that's just a poor excuse for a villain... RazCold

Or is it? RazConfused
Reason, for the lack of a better term, humanizes a character. It makes us understand even if we can not condone a character's actions. Maybe they can be reasoned with or brought around to repent for what they have done if they have that link to the world as we understand it. And that's why it is important that a villain like Dark Kat doesn't have that link.
He is meant to be feared, to be an uncaring monster, in short Dark Kat is meant to be the show's form of the ultimate evil. To him, Evil is the means and the end. RazDark

Now this can be seen in some cases as a "generic doomsday villain", but in the case of Dark Kat, it gives him an unrelenting force of nature. He much like a Terminator just keeps coming and he is never going to stop, even when he self-destructs his own bases and should be dead from a firey explosion, the next week he is back without a mark on him and is challenge the world of order and reason. Like the Batman's Joker, Dark Kat is the master of anarchy and disorder to the point where he wants to create the dystopic Dark Kat City that rewards the lawless and the unjust.

As for the creeplings and the ninjakats... I think it actually ties into what I just put. He doesn't care for those underneath him so like a horrible boss, it's likely he only has those under him who have no other place to go <_< Okay, that might not be a good reason but makes a great deal of sence. I would like to see him with more competent henchmen, maybe show us a reason to fear the creeplings or maybe saaaay give him some devotees who follow some Dark Kat cult with scientists and warlocks and all that good stuff working under him? I think that would be worth seeing.

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MoDaD wrote:But, the show really needs Dark Kat, but not for what I would consider the best of reasons.

What I'm about to say comes from over a decade of RPG and writing experience (note that this doesn't make me an expert or particularly good at it, just a little familiar with what seems to work and what doesn't - though this could also be due to my limited imagination and dull wit :lol:)

When you're feeling lazy, uninspired or in a time crunch writing a plot or scenario for SWAT Kats, I can attest that using a character like Dark Kat is a much easier choice than any of the other antagonists, mostly because his motivations and personality are a lot easier to depict and far less constrained.
[...]
Dark Kat's more flexible in that he can be inserted into a greater variety of situations, mostly because of the critiques you've outlined. This might sound strange, but Dark Kat is the most "normal" of the SWAT Kat's rogues from a comic book or action perspective, mostly because of fairly straightforward super villain goals.


This! This right here! This is why we need Dark Kat. RazTaunt
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Prettyshadowj26 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:56 pm

Well in my opinion Dark kat did cause Chance & Jake to become the Swat kats even though he got away from Feral so that's fair. The Tremblay Bros.Should've Make the episode of His Origin
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Kooshmeister » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:43 pm

NeeKnight wrote:I would like to see him with more competent henchmen, maybe show us a reason to fear the creeplings or maybe saaaay give him some devotees who follow some Dark Kat cult with scientists and warlocks and all that good stuff working under him? I think that would be worth seeing.


I did give him some technicians in my fan script. He was horrible to them. TboneLaughCait
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby Felony » Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:24 pm

Whaaaaat?! How dare you! Any more acts of defiance, and Megakat City forums will suffer on a grand scale! Mwhahaha!

XD Nah, I ain't hatin' nor will I plot anyone's doom for agreeing with Mikazo, partially or otherwise. ^www^

However I feel that the show really does need Dark Kat. He fits into the series well, it wouldn't be the same without him or a character like him. MoDaD explained the function that a character like Dark Kat serves nicely but I'd like to give my thoughts on this in response to points made.

First, I feel I should give a quick look at his episodes:

Wrath of Dark Kat - (Past)
Goal: Destroy Enforcer HQ.
How: flying a powerful jet equipped with missiles strong enough to destroy EHQ.
Defeated: Missile system is damaged but gets away due to Feral and rookie Chance n Jake bickering.

Wrath of Dark Kat - (Present)
Goal: Destroy Megakat City and build his Dark Kat City in its place.
How: Nuclear Bomb to be dropped on Enforcer HQ.
Defeated: SWAT Kats interference, Razor dismantled bomb (as it was deployed!).

Night of the Dark Kat
Goal: Destroy the SWAT Kats for revenge.
How: Employs Hard Drive to impersonate the SWAT Kats to ruin their rep with stolen Turbokat while turning the SWAT Kats into kitty litter.
Defeated: SWAT Kats freed, track Turbokat to lair, stop with hand to hand combat. And Callie throwing bag of cash at DK (what vitamins is she taking?).

Katastrophe
Goal: Taking over Megakat City and destroying the SWAT Kats.
How: Uncertain of why he needed the Katalyst 100 chemical. That plan was replaced with the villain team up of Viper (willing participant) and the Metallikats (forced into it). First plan was to capture one SK to bring in the other. The second was kidnapping the mayor and deputy mayor to force the signing of Megakat City to him for his rule. Using them as bait (instead of Razor), he calls them out on TV so when they arrive he can destroy them before they land.
Defeated: Sacrificing the Turbokat to gain the element of surprise, the SKs with the help of Feral free Manx n Briggs, trap the baddies and barely escape when DK blows up the warehouse.

Razor's Edge
Goal: Destroy most of the city to build his own in its place.
How: Shake the confidence of one or both of the SWAT Kats to hinder their ability to act. Uses giant spidercraft for the city wide destruction.
Defeated: Razor overcomes his shaken confidence (tho only because he learned of DK's plan) and joins T-Bone in taking out the spidercraft.

The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats
Goal: Destroy Enforcer HQ and take over Megakat City.
How: With the Dark SKs in their Turbokat dropping a bomb constructed from a mega-detonator. Also Dark Callie being on DK's side was part of the plan as well though not sure exactly what other than working inside for DK.
Defeated: The Dark SWAT Kats end up chasing their good counterparts allowing Razor to gunk up the bomb preventing its launch which explodes the Dark Turbokat. Briggs is also arrested.

Basically what Dark Kat's ultimate goal is throughout the series is to rule Megakat City. His first try was to get rid of the Enforcers. That failed so the idea of destroying everything first then rebuilding after was used. The next plot was personal for him, revenge against the SWAT Kats for stopping him last time, but I figure it's safe to assume after they were out of the way he'd go back to his ultimate goal. That failed so he went about going for both revenge and a take over the city scheme (this one not involving destroying it first). That failed so he tries to mentally put the SKs out while destroying the city for later rule. The Dark Dark Kat (lol or whatever) was a separate entity than the regular Dark Kat so dunno if his actions really count as the regular Dark Kat wasn't planning the same scheme simultaneously in the regular dimension. Still the goal was the same, destroy EHQ then take over. These are all connected so I don't feel he was all over the place doing random bad guy shiz.

WHY he wants this is just a part of the puzzle that is Dark Kat. He doesn't have a backstory but I don't think that hinders him as a character. I do hope that his origins are explained in the Revolution continuation. The audience knows enough about him to accept him as a threat with his multiple appearances and actions mentioned above.

In regards to sucky minions, Dark Kat suffers from the same thing the Enforcers do - minions are no match for the SKs. Dark Kat doesn't get on the battlefield himself, but he CAN fight. We've seen him frikkin' heft up T-Bone over his head about to throw him in a pit as well as punch Feral hard enough to KO him. His size may be a hindrance to him, giving him more strength but not being very agile or quick. Dark Kat instead delegates and everyone in his employ is expendable. So long as they get the basic job done, he'll use them. Even though he had the help of Hard Drive, Viper and the Metallikats, he still lost. After all, we can't have the SWAT Kats lose, it's their cartoon! XD

Dark Kat is a more regular villain, he has no powers, mutant, cybernetic or supernatural. His plans are less out there, more normal of a megalomaniac terrorist. I feel this balances out the others and makes for a good variety of villains. The SWAT Kats series needs an intellectual type, one who is level headed and more on equal footing with the heroes to keep them on their toes. He has back up plans for back up plans, studies his enemies and is a master manipulator, a perfect sociopath. The concept of a "Kingpin" type of villain as well as a terrorist type still holds up in modern times. Mafia groups still exist in various countries as do terrorist organizations. Much of criminal activity happens via the Internet (or "darknet") and clearly Dark Kat would be knowledgeable in it or hire those who are for technology heavy plots.

To scrap him altogether would be a waste of a good adversary, one that is flexible for writing in plots and serves as a force to be reckoned with. His character should be given more history and most likely the new season will have it and solve the mystery of large, dark and blurple.
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Re: Does the show really need Dark Kat?

Postby marklungo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:30 am

I can see both sides of this argument. On the one hand, Dark Kat does need more development. The only major villain who works without having an origin is The Joker.* Also, it would help if we learned exactly what his plans are for Dark Kat City; what would it be like to live there?

On the other hand, I definitely think the show should keep Dark Kat if Revolution ever gets made. He's such a major part of the SWAT Kats universe that it just wouldn't be the same without him, and the problems with his character can be solved with a little effort.

Besides, our own Kooshmeister did a great job exploring Dark Kat's past in his fanfic The Radical Beginning; if the Tremblays decided to make his version of DK's backstory official, I wouldn't complain. And if you want to create your own origin for the Purple Purveyor of Panic, there are a couple of tantalizing tidbits you can build on.

• Didn't the Tremblays (or somebody) once say that Dark Kat was a corrupt judge?

• And what about that action figure where he was a cyborg? Is that canon? Should it be?
----
*And even with The Joker, you can accept the backstory Alan Moore gave him in The Killing Joke as canon, if only because it's unlikely that anyone will ever improve on it.
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