'Astroboy' and the Retro Cartoon Trend

Astroboy hits theaters today, telling the story of a kid with robotic superpowers and his fight for justice. The movie is a long time coming: Before he was a three-dimensional computer creation, Astroboy was a hand-drawn cartoon character, and his TV show paved the way for Japanese animation. The 1963 show Astroboy (based on a comic book series) was the first Japanese cartoon with a continuing story, and the first to air (dubbed) on U.S. television.

Movie fans may remember another recent film with similar origins: Speed Racer, adapted from the '60s Japanese cartoon of the same name. And of course, the '80s cartoon Transformers -- also from Japan -- is now a wildly successful film franchise.

It seems that the possibilities of computer animation are tempting lots of filmmakers to reach into their childhoods and revamp their favorite cartoon characters. One of the most talked-about adaptations is The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, coming to theaters in 2011. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it's based on the Belgian kid-reporter character TinTin, who's appeared in comics since the '20s, and starred in TV cartoons in both the '60s and early '90s. TinTin's A-list voice cast includes Daniel Craig and Simon Pegg.

TinTin is hugely popular in Europe, but if you're a Gen-X or -Y American, you may be more interested in hearing about the Smurfs movie. Originally scheduled for Christmas, it's been pushed back to next year, but you can get a sneak peak at the character design here. (Don't they look like those little plastic Smurf toys every '80s kid had?) The movie is rumored to star John Lithgow (as Papa Smurf? Or perhaps Gargamel?) and Julia Sweeney (as, presumably, Smurfette).

Which childhood cartoon will be next to get the big-screen treatment? We were pulling for Rainbow Brite, but given her new straight-to-DVD makeover, we may just have to rent Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer a few more times.

What cartoon would you like to see made into a movie? Chime in below!

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