The idea of a Samurai Jack movie sounds amazing—all the style and drama of what made Genndy Tartakovsky’s scifi sword-swinging cartoon so good with the budget and screen real estate of a film. But it turns out we could’ve got one in the gap between the show’s fourth and fifth seasons... and it doesn’t sound as good as you’d think.
Speaking to Indiewire about the release of the fifth and final season of the show on Blu-Ray and DVD this week, series creator Genndy Tartakovsky briefly touched on why he was fine waiting over a decade to give a fitting conclusion to Samurai Jack on TV, after the show was given an open-ended conclusion after being cancelled at the end of season four. In the time after the show first came to an end, Tartakovsky entered talks with four different studios to make a movie out of Jack, and none panned out:
As soon as we started developing it as a movie, they wanted to fit it into a box. I love Jack as one of my creations and would never want to change it from what it was supposed to be. There was no reason to reinvent. It was working.
How could a stylishly animated movie about a Samurai stuck in the future slicing up bad guys not fit any sort of box? Well, according to Tartakovsky, the suggestions he was given would’ve basically made it not Samurai Jack:
They wanted a lot of story twists, more dialogue, maybe a sidekick or two. We had to watch how much action there was. They wanted more comedy. They didn’t want the tone to be so dark. All those things equal to, ‘Nah.’
And so, Tartakovsky waited, and waited, while moving on to his other projects, like the Clone Wars and Symbionic Titan cartoons and his movie work on Hotel Transylvania. Thankfully, it ended up being worth it, when Adult Swim finally commissioned a fifth season of Samurai Jack that was faithful to the show’s roots and tone while being able to push certain elements further than they ever could have been on Cartoon Network. Sometimes, not every good-sounding idea may actually turn out well!