Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (spoken as "the twenty-fourth-and-a-half century") is a 1952 Merrie Melodies color cartoon from Warner Bros., first released on July 25, 1953, that stars Daffy Duck as space hero Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as his assistant, and Marvin the Martian as his opponent. This cartoon marked the first of many appearances of the Duck Dodgers character.
Marvin the Martian had been introduced as an unnamed villain in Warner's cartoon Haredevil Hare (1948), playing opposite Bugs Bunny. He was later given the title 'Commander, Flying Saucer X-2' in 1951's The Hasty Hare. The Duck Dogers cartoon is an extended parody of the pulp magazine, newspaper comic strip, and comic book character Buck Rogers, and his longtime run of space adventures, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
In 1994, Duck Dodgers was voted #4 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. Because he was such a fan of the short in particular, Star Wars creator George Lucas requested that the short be shown before the original Star Wars film during its initial run in theaters. In 2004, at Noreascon 4, the 62nd World Science Fiction Convention, it was retrospectively nominated for a Retro Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation--Short Form.
The storyline involves Duck Dodgers (Daffy) in his search for the rare element Illudium Phosdex, "the shaving cream atom". In the future, the only remaining supply of the element is on the uncharted "Planet X", and as such, Dodgers' task is to find Planet X. Once Dodgers and his assistant, the "Eager Young Space Cadet" (Porky) head on their way by rocket, Dodgers plots what turns out to be an enormously complicated course to Planet X, but the Cadet suggests that they simply follow a nearby path of brown planets bearing the letters of the alphabet; leading from Planet A, through Planets B, C, D, and so on (each planet's letter is a single landmass with similarly shaped flora and geography). Dodgers takes credit for this idea and the two soon arrive on blue Planet X, near brown planets Y and Z.
Just as Dodgers claims the planet in the name of the Earth, Marvin the Martian lands in his Martian Maggot rocket and claims it in the name of Mars, setting the stage for a battle of wits (or lack thereof) between the two. Dodgers explains he already claimed the planet for Earth and that there isn't enough room for the two of them. Marvin replies by pulling out his disintegrating pistol saying, "I do believe you are right". Dodgers tells the audience that this isn't a problem as he is wearing a "disintegration-proof vest", and indeed when Marvin fires on Dodgers' command, the vest survives as Dodgers disintegrates. The Cadet brings Dodgers back to normal with an "integrating pistol" but Dodgers accuses him of interference ("Oh, you, huh?! Just when I had him going, you had to butt in"!) and orders him back to the ship. Dodgers then tries to get the drop on Marvin with a disintegrating pistol of his own, but it literally disintegrates when he pulls the trigger. He runs into the ship after avoiding another shot from Marvin. The Cadet comes out and gives a stick of dynamite to Marvin, claiming it is a birthday present. The dynamite blows up in Marvin's hand, causing him to hide in his helmet and retreat to his ship.
Next, believing Marvin has had enough, Dodgers sends him an ultimatum with an "Ultimatum Dispatcher". The ultimatum is delivered in the form of a bullet that opens up to reveal a message telling Marvin to "Surrender or be blown into 17,670,002 micro-cells". Marvin responds by using his own "Ultimatum Answerer" to send a similar bullet to Dodgers and when this bullet opens up, it shoots Dodgers in the face. Dodgers sends another ultimatum in reply, this time saying, "OUCH"! Later, Dodgers tries to see what Marvin is up to with a "Super Video-Detecto set" but when Marvin materializes on the screen, he simply shoots Dodgers in the face again, the shot reaching out through the screen.
Dodgers finally snaps and deploys his "secret weapon" in attempt to destroy Marvin, who is doing the same with one of his own, the two unaware of each other's plans. Both detonate their weapons at the same time, destroying Planet X. Dodgers dramatically claims the last remaining tiny chunk of the planet (from which he pushes Marvin) for Earth, with the Cadet and Marvin hanging helplessly beneath from a cluster of roots, the former delivering the final punchline (relating to Dodgers' Pyrrhic victory), "Eh, b-b-b-b-big deal".
Mel Blanc as Daffy Duck (as Duck Dodgers), Porky Pig, Marvin The Martian and Dr. I.Q.Hi
The cartoon was directed by Chuck Jones (credited as Charles M. Jones), with the story by Michael Maltese, voices by Mel Blanc, and original music by Carl Stalling. The animation was credited to Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris and Ben Washam, with Harry Love receiving a credit for effects animation. The distinctive layouts were designed by Maurice Noble and the backgrounds produced by Phil DeGuard.
Uncredited is the noteworthy quotation of "Powerhouse" by Raymond Scott in the score by Stalling.Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century (1980)Tiny Toon Adventures: "Duck Dodgers Jr.", segment in the episode "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone" (1990)Marvin the Martian in the Third Dimension (1996), a 3-D cartoonSuperior Duck (1996)Attack of the Drones (2003)Duck Dodgers (2003–2005), television series on Cartoon Network
This cartoon is available on Disc 2 of Volume 1 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection and on Disc 2 of the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1 Blu-ray box set, with the cartoon restored in high definition.