Woody Woodpecker is a cartoon anthropomorphic woodpecker that has appeared in theatrical short films produced by the Walter Lantz Studio and distributed by Universal Studios from 1940 to 1972.
He has generally changed a lot in terms of appearance and personality over the years, but his original incarnation (the version of the early years from 1940-1943, back when Woody used to be a deranged insane bird with an unusually garish design), as well as his incarnation from the late 1961-1972 shorts and his 2017 live action version, are not considered as perfect as his other incarnations in the following years and have more flaws than qualities.
(NOTE: This will focus exclusively on his very first version in the 1940-1943 shorts, the late 1961-1972, and his live action version)
- During his first few years, Woody's design very ugly and creepy. He had a beak with a big chin like a pelican, thick feet, and dopey-looking buck teeth. It made him look like a crazy psychopath. Even his creator Walter Lantz was criticized for his ugly character design and Universal's then-distributor Bernie Krieser initially refused to show his cartoons in theaters because of it.
- Not helping matters was the fact that Walter Lantz himself created the character shortly after an acorn woodpecker disturbed his honeymoon with his wife Grace Stafford by drilling holes on the roof of the cabin they spent the night in.
- Speaking of psychopath, this is his main characteristic during his early years, as he shows the desire to kill and eat his rivals in some shorts. During these years, he was just a mindless heckler that went about causing havoc on sheer principle.
- In "Pantry Panic" he and a cat kill a moose. Later, he literally stares the starvation (personified as something vaguely resembling the Grim Reaper) and makes an evil laugh as an attempt to mock the spirit.
- In "The Hollywood Matador", he kills Oxnar the Terrible.
- It's revealed in "The Hollywood Matador", that he supports bullfighting, which is a violent sport that encourages animal abuse.
- In his debut short "Knock Knock", he disturbs the life of Andy Panda and his father by frequently drilling holes in the roof of their home just for fun, and therefore acted as the main antagonist to the two pandas in said short.
- In his first starring short "Woody Woodpecker", he acts like an extremely annoying and idiotic character to the point of disturbing the viewers in the cinema at the end of the short.
- He has a racist moment in "The Screwdriver" where he appears dressed as a stereotyped Chinaman with a rickshaw.
- On top of that, the entire episode revolves around Woody violating traffic regulations by speeding on the road and he never gets punished for his actions, thus making him a Karma Houdini.
- In "The Dizzy Acrobat", he almost kills an elephant by making it almost explode while it's inflated with water.
- In "Ration Bored", he steals gas from a police officer and disturbs him to the point that he (accidentally) is responsible for his death at the end of the episode (Woody ends up dying as well).
- In this same episode, at the beginning, there is a controversial scene after Woody reads "Is this trip really necessary?" in the sign, he breaks the fourth wall, responding to the viewer I'm necessary EVIL! while also personifying a demonic face with horns. This scene has caused controversy among religious people who believe that Woody is related to evil.
- Unlike other screwball characters created before and after him, such as Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny from Warner Bros. Cartoons' Looney Tunes at the time, he is outright malicious and far more aggressive and antagonistic than these two Warner Bros. screwball characters, as he often starts the conflict with his annoyance and aggressive lunacy. In short, during that time he's basically Walter Lantz's version of the early screwball version of Daffy Duck, but if you take away everything likable about the screwball Daffy, you get this Woody in a nutshell.
- It doesn't help the fact that his signature laugh "HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" is a variation of a similar laugh which Mel Blanc originally gave to Happy Rabbit (Bugs Bunny's original "prototype" incarnation) from Looney Tunes, whom in return is already a bad rabbit version rip-off of the early screwball version of Daffy Duck to begin with, hence making the Daffy Duck rip-off vibes in this early version of Woody even more obvious.
Late-1961 to 1972 version
- He got flanderized again in late 1961-1972, where he was watered down into a bland hero-type character, which is literally the exact opposite of his original 1940-1943 characterization, hence making his later characterization come off as a watered-down version of Chuck Jones' 1950s incarnation of Bugs Bunny, although he is not as bad as before.
- Adding onto that, he gained a pointy, stiff-looking "cute" design in those years, as Walter Lantz wanted Woody to appeal more to kids.
- He was severely flanderized beyond recognition in the live-action film, where he went from being a comedic, speedy and mischievious yet sympathetic slapstick screwball protagonist into an unlikable sadist who annoys and tortures Lance and his family and makes everyone's life bad, as well as outright taking pleasure in attempting to murder people, as well as taking photos of the people he harms for his enjoyment, enough to make his original psychopathic 1940-1943 incarnation seem like a lovable saint in comparison.
- Granted, Woody may have been a mischievous screwball prankster in the original cartoons (especially in the earlier 1940s cartoons), but it has never reached to this extent of making him a completely malicious and sadistic psychopath who brings certain vibes of a serial killer with the thrill of causing trouble and harm to others for no reason but for kicks, making this very out of character for him.
- While Eric Bauza actually didn't do so bad as the character, his voice sounds like it was sped up too much, though strangely also slowed down at the same time, as well as being exported poorly, thus somewhat wasting his talent, an issue that would carry over in the web series.
- His singing is very bad, unlike in the original cartoons. This is very notable when he sings a pop rendition of his signature song "Everybody Thinks I'm Crazy" as originally heard in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon short "Woody Woodpecker" (1941)
- Some of his dialogue is incredibly poor and laughable as well, mainly due to how he tries too hard to be "hip" and "trendy" using outdated slang and bad marks, as well as references to pop culture. Such as when he outsmarts the hunters at the beginning "Okay boys, you got me fair and square. NOT!!!", or even when he calls Lance's son Tommy as his "BFF" which he refers to as his "Bringer of Free Food".
- He provides way too much toilet humor, something which is never found in any of his original cartoons, such as when he farts out his signature laugh, defecates on a guy's chocolate ice cream and the guy eats it (which, when he does, Woody is disgusted), and also on Lance's girlfriend.
- Most of the injuries that he conflicts on Lance and Vanessa in the film are more lifelike, humiliating and hurtful rather than being cartoonish and funny, most notably the scene where he gets both of them covered in wet cement and getting their caravan house burned down, the latter being the reason why Vanessa decided to break up with Lance.
- He even strips two underage boys to their underwear and threatens to go further with his infamous line "Get ready to go commando!". Apparently, this scene was meant to be funny as a way to poke fun at them, but instead is rather pedophilic and even zoophilic, considering he's a woodpecker.
- The only reason why he stops abusing Lance and his family in this film is because they keep bribing him with his favorite peanut butter biscuit, which can convey a bad lesson about family and the environment and automatically cancels the film's lesson about tree felling.
- In the final scene, after being freed by Lance, blinded by his hate and his rancor, Woody very violently wounds the two poor poachers Otis and Nate, hurting them infinitely, throwing them over and chasing them relentlessly, refuses to let them go, make to they a trap, he makes them fall off the bridge and instead of forgiving them (they who had asked him for forgiveness and mercy), he had them arrested, in fact in this scene Woody should appear heroic, but he behaves like an exaggeratedly annoying and violent character (much worse than his 1940-1943 version), and when he asks "who you calling crazy" towards the exasperated poachers and Woody precedes to laughing like a madman, making him look like an evil psychopath, and not only it, Woody with that laugh and that way of moving his body, head and eyes, is more disturbing than funny.
- His very mean and violent expressions, when he gets angry, are very scary, which instead of making him a cute, funny, likeable and sweet character for children, make which make him look more like a dangerous satanic killer.
- He never gets any comeuppance for his actions, thus making him a karma houdini. Not to mention, he never admits he was ever wrong, nor does he show any remorse for anything he caused.
- Because of his destructive and obnoxious actions as described above, he comes off more like the main antagonist rather than the main protagonist of the film. Not helping is the fact that despite being called Woody Woodpecker, the first half of the film focuses on Lance and his son, and none of any of his animated co-stars like Wally Walrus (a false antagonist mind you), Miss Meany or Buzz Buzzard (both whom are true antagonists mind you) ever appear in the movie.
- In this version, he isn't just too anti-educational character for children, he's not even aware of his infinite stupidity.
- He was even described by a forest ranger as this trickster who has haunted the woods because of the chaos and mayhem he's caused, and it's treated like he's the scariest person in the wilderness because of how speedy and destructively mischievous he's known to be.
- His atrocious flanderization succeeded surprisingly in ruining Woody Woodpecker's reputation as a whole and therefore defaming Woody Woodpecker's popularity in Brazil, shockingly bringing Woody's popularity in Brazil down to zero.
- His character in this film is basically an awkward hybrid of both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck from the Looney Tunes franchise and Jerry Mouse from the Tom and Jerry franchise, but if you take away everything likable from all three characters, you get this version of Woody in a nutshell.
- His CGI design, while it closely resembles his modern character design from the early-1950s Walter Lantz cartoons-present, can look unintentionally creepy because of his overly detailed eyes, especially in his green irises circling around his eyeballs. Here are examples of his poor animation:
- To begin with, the lip-syncing for his speech is completely off-track, which is mostly unbelievable and unacceptable for a major big-budget Hollywood feature film production.
- When he flies, he seems to stretch strangely, and feathers often enter inside the character's head. Not to mention the animation that has been reused countless times.
- In a scene from the movie, when Woody is poking Lance Walters in his bed at night, it looks like a Photoshop clipping too light for the scene, giving a very amateur touch to the animation.
- In addition, not only does Woody fly, but floats in the air without flapping his wings.
- Speaking of which, as mentioned above, since none of the characters other than Woody Woodpecker himself from the cartoons such as Wally Walrus, Miss Meany, Buzz Buzzard, Chilly Willy Andy Panda, etc, appear in this movie, his appearance in CGI animation looks very out-of-place in a live-action movie/environment, not helping is how the CGI animation quality used on him is very poor even by Universal and 2017 standards.
- Due to his crappy CGI, Woody looks more like a little rubber puppet, and his big googly eyes are actually two white balloons popping exit of their sockets.
- He's at least hilarious in the episodes in which he appears.
- His iconic laugh "HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HAA-HA! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" can been seen as funny to some people.
- Mel Blanc, Danny Webb, Kent Rogers, Grace Stafford and Eric Bauza all did a great job voicing him, especially the former being his original voice actor in his first three cartoons, and despite the latter's voice performance being flawed.
- Woody would gradually evolve and become more likable in the following years (except in late 1961-1972), courtesy of developers Shamus Culhane, Dick Lundy and Grace Stafford. However, he would get another flanderization in his 2017 live-action movie, where he became an immature sadist who annoys and tortures people, but reverted back to his original characterization afterwards in the 2018 web series.
- He knew that he indeed was "crazy as a loon", as pointed out by the animals around him, so he tried to go into therapy even though it doesn't really change anything as shown in "Woody Woodpecker".
- His design improved between 1942 and 1943, becoming less ugly and more similar to his modern design, even receiving Mickey Mouse-like white gloves in his character design beginning with "Ration Bored", although it would change into a pointy, stiff-looking "cute" design in 1961-1972 (as mentioned above in BQ #11 before reverting back to the old design.
- He's more tolerable in the shorts "Ace in the Hole", "The Loan Stranger" and "The Screwball".
- He does get his comeuppance at the end of most of the shorts he appears in such as "Knock Knock" (his debut cartoon), "The second short from 1941 of the same name", "Ace in the Hole", "The Screwball" and "Ration Bored".
- Some of his mischievous behavior (like the ones mentioned in BQ#2) are justifiable, as he and the cat were starving, and back then, bullfighting wasn't as immoral and controversial as it is nowadays.
Late-1961 to 1972 version
- His incarnation in late 1961-1972, despite being bland, is much more of an improvement in comparison to his original early-1940s incarnation, and isn't too bad.
- His design is still decent, as it is faithful to how he looks like in the 1950s, albeit without the green irises in his eyes.
- He got better later on, even trying to help rebuild, only because they keep bribing him with peanut butter biscuits (see WHWA#11).
- To be fair, he didn't intentionally cause Lance's newly built blue house to burn down.
- He is much more likable in all the other incarnations of the franchise, including the earlier 1990s version and he got better later on, even trying to help rebuild, only because they keep bribing him with peanut butter biscuits.
- On top of that, Alex Zamm, who worked on his 2017 live-action film, eventually learned from his mistakes and therefore undid his flanderization and returned Woody to his old personality in the 2018 web series.
- His design is at least faithful to how he looks in the 1950s cartoons.
- His voice is surprisingly good, even though it is pitch shifted, as mentioned above, thanks to Eric Bauza voicing him.
- He served as drummer instead of Lyle, to help Tommy and Jill make their Rock show a success, and indeed it was, only thanks to him.
- After the party at the firefly festival, Woody goes to the house in the woods and carves a wooden sculpture above the fireplace with Tommy, Lance and him together, because having grown fond of them, he wanted to give them a gift and he also did it with the heart, that's one of the few very nice things about him in the movie.
- He appears less stupid, violent and annoying, and more tolerable in the new 2018 web series, released a year after his 2017 live action movie.
- Woody Woodpecker's original creation was loosely based on a real-life acorn woodpecker that disturbed creator Walter Lantz and his wife Grace Stafford when they were on a honeymoon in June Lake, California in 1941 by drilling holes on the roof of the cabin they spent the night in. It was Grace Stafford who then suggested her husband Walter Lantz to make a cartoon about the aforementioned woodpecker, hence resulting to Woody's creation in the early-1940s.
- The last short in which he appears, "Ration Bored" shows him dying, this being considered the end of the first incarnation of the character.
- His line "I'm necessary evil!" became an internet meme in Brazil, mainly because due to a mistake in the Brazilian dub where he speaks Devil instead of Evil.
- The first version of Woody from the early-1940s would become an inspiration for the creepy Woody Woodpecker cameo in the awful movie Son of the Mask.
- Many Brazilian fans of Woody Woodpecker refers the first version of Woody as "Pica-Pau Biruta" (Crazed Woodpecker or Crazed Woody Woodpecker)
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