People of Earth! The internet was “invaded” this week (pun intended) by the news that the cult-classic 2001 Nickelodeon cartoon Invader Zim is making its return as a made-for-TV movie.
This seems to be a new trend for the television network as part of an effort to revamp some of their most popular former cartoons into the modern-day, with other titles including Hey Arnorld and Rocko’s Modern Life slated to receive their own TV-movies as well.
Invader Zim follows an alien named Zim (Richard Horvitz) who arrives on our planet as part of a larger legion of alien conquerors known as the Irken Empire, set on galactic domination. While he’s truly maleficent in his intent, Zim haphazardly gets caught up in everyday misadventures on Earth and is often thwarted by his own shortcomings. To make matters worse (or as most fans would put it, better), his robot sidekick GIR (Rikki Simons) tends to ruin things for Zim even when he’s not being completely inept.
Richard Horvitz, Rikki Simons, Andy Berman (Dib), and Melissa Fahn (Gaz) are all returning to reprise their original roles for the film, whose release date is still unknown as per the teaser trailer.
What set Invader Zim apart from most other Nickelodeon shows at the time was its overall dark theme and visual style employed by show creator Jhonen Vasquez. The series centered around the titular lead attempting to dominate the planet in disastrous fashion, often leaving those whom he comes across in varying states of turmoil. The series’ reluctant protagonist, Dib, could be best described as a deranged truth-seeking middle school student, both alienated by his family and colleagues alike, and Zim’s self-proclaimed arch rival. Dib’s made it his personal mission to expose Zim to the world for the alien conqueror that he is!
Often the episodes would show Zim in his ship, which was camouflaged by a jauntily crafted pop-up style home with mechanical robots who functioned as his “parents” and GIR as… something of a household pet, experimenting on poor captives or plotting doom for the people of Earth. The show was everything you wouldn’t expect from the same network that ushered SpongeBob SquarePants unto the global stage, and yet for three years it dominated our darker imaginations. Invader Zim was something for the edgier, mature crowd and perhaps the first mainstream cartoon foray into the macabre.
Check out the teaser trailer below, and while you’re at it, you can relive all the off-beat Invader Zim episodes via Hulu. I’ll just be here singing the “Doom” song. Doom, doom, doom-doom, doom, doom-doom-doom-doom…