The filmmakers at DreamWorks Animation have managed to crank out a number of memorable characters over the years, and it’s not difficult to envision whole movies being centered around many of these indelible figures. The following five stand out as the top spinoff ready characters within the DreamWorks Animation legacy:
With 2011’s Puss in Boots exploring the origins of Antonio Banderas’ scene-stealing character, it seems only logical that Donkey (Eddie Murphy) should get his own spinoff movie. From the very start, Donkey has effortlessly established himself as one of the most memorable characters in the Shrek universe – with Murphy’s consistently hilarious voice work certainly playing a key role in the character’s undeniable success. A spinoff movie could go one of two ways; it could either follow Donkey as he attempts to live his life with Dragon and their unruly brood of “dronkeys,” or the film could explore Donkey’s early days as the unwitting pet of a nasty old woman (which was briefly touched upon in the original Shrek).
The four penguins of the Madagascar series – Skipper, Kowalski, Private, and Rico – have become so popular that it’s impossible to envision these movies without them, and it’s certainly not surprising to note that the characters have already been given their own short film (The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper) and television program (The Penguins of Madagascar). With the latter exploring the penguins’ day-to-day activities within the Central Park Zoo, any potential spinoff film would have to take the penguins out of their familiar habitat and into a new, possibly dangerous locale. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how the penguins would react in their natural habitat of Antarctica?)
In Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2, Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is established as a tough yet fair martial arts master who has taught Po (Jack Black) and the Furious Five everything that they know. Shifu also has a softer side that can occasionally be glimpsed in his interactions with the various characters, and, as we learned in the short film Secrets of the Furious Five, Shifu rescued Tigress (Angelina Jolie) from an orphanage and eventually became her adoptive father. Shifu’s past is certainly interesting enough to warrant a prequel film revolving solely around his exploits as a younger red panda, although it might also be interesting to follow the character as he leaves the Valley of Peace and embarks on an adventure of his own.
Though the film primarily follows the adventures of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon features a number of memorable supporting characters that could easily sustain their own movie – with the most obvious candidates the group of wacky would-be warriors training alongside Hiccup. Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), and Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) are primarily used for comedic effect in the film, with their backstory and personal lives largely unexplored by filmmakers Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. It would be interesting to find out what these characters do when Hiccup isn’t around, and a spinoff film could follow the foursome as they embark on an adventure of their own.
5. Rocky Rhodes ('Chicken Run')
Though he’s one of the main characters in Chicken Run, Rocky Rhodes (Mel Gibson) remains a mysterious figure whose origins are never fully explored. And although the character ultimately winds up living happily ever after with Ginger (Julia Sawalha), Rocky’s past would undoubtedly make for an extremely interesting spinoff film. (For one thing, why is an American rooster even in England to start with?) The movie could explore Rocky’s upbringing and how he came to become the fast-talking rooster that we know and love, and, for that matter, it might be interesting to find out what initially drew him to the Tweedys’ farm in the first place.