Once more with feeling: Ducks! Fly! Together!
Variety reports that Disney+ has ordered a sequel TV series to long-running Disney hockey franchise The Mighty Ducks. Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) has been tapped to play the lead with Brady Noon (Good Boys) playing her son. As part of the official announcement Disney+ confirmed some even bigger news about the project: Emilio Estevez will return to reprise his role as Coach Gordon Bombay!
“Once a Duck, always a Duck!,” Estevez said in a statement. “And after 25 years, I am delighted to lace up my skates, put on Coach Bombay’s jacket and return to play the iconic character for this new chapter in The Mighty Ducks franchise.”
The series is set to premiere on Disney+ sometime later this year. The project comes from original Mighty Ducks creator Steven Brill via ABC Signature Studios. Graham will be an executive producer. Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa will serve as executive producers and showrunners. The rest of the cast is filled out by Swayam Bhatia, Taegen Burns, Julee Cerda, Bella Higginbotham, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Maxwell Simkins and De’Jon Watts.
Interestingly, this iteration of The Mighty Ducks seems to be influenced by the success of YouTube’s Cobra Kai as it reimagines the titular youth hockey team in a more villainous light. The series will take place in present day Minnesota, where the Mighty Ducks have become a haughty youth hockey powerhouse. When 12-year-old Evan (Noon) is cut from the hyper-competitive team, he and his mom Alex (Graham) decide to make their own team and assemble a ragtag crew of hockey-playing misfits…much like the original Mighty Ducks.
The first Mighty Ducks film (retroactively known as D1: The Mighty Ducks like it was A New Hope or something) premiered in 1992. It starred Estevez as Gordon Bombay, a successful Minneapolis defense attorney who is forced to coach a woeful Pee-Wee hockey team as community service following a DUI. Despite having no equipment, facility, or talent, the team eventually known as The Mighty Ducks comes together under Gordon’s leadership and faces off against the powerful Hawks team.
The Mighty Ducks proved to be successful and influential, launching two film sequels (D2: The Mighty Ducks, and D3: The Mighty Ducks), an animated TV series, and even a real life NHL team in the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Though in that case the fact that Disney owned the team certainly helped and they are now known simply as the “Ducks” under new ownership.
The original film franchise borrowed its ne’er-do-well coach and misfit kids format from 1976’s baseball comedy The Bad News Bears and helped popularize it for a new generation. Now perhaps this Disney+ sequel series can do the same with Graham in the Estevez role. Disney+ got off to a relatively slow start with regards to original series, launching with only High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and The Mandalorian. Now The Mighty Ducks joins some big company for upcoming Disney+ series alongside Marvel efforts like WandaVision, Loki, and more, and several announced Star Wars series.