'Howard the Duck' Movie Star Returns for New Comic Version (Exclusive)

Lea Thompson makes her Marvel Comics debut playing herself in 'Howard the Duck #8.'
Courtesy of Marvel
Lea Thompson and artist Joe Quinones

Thirty years since starring in notorious 1980s comic book movie bomb Howard the Duck, Lea Thompson is once again teaming up with the mallard.

Thompson makes her Marvel Comics debut playing herself in Howard the Duck #8 in a story that harkens back to her role as Howard’s girlfriend Beverly in the 1986 movie that was executive produced by George Lucas.

"My career goes into a 100 different directions, and I embrace them all,” Thompson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They asked me to appear in the comic and I was like, ‘Sure, why not?' ”

The comic, which hits shelves Wednesday and is written by Chip Zdarsky and drawn by Joe Quinones, focuses on Howard as a private eye and his offbeat cases. The latest one is a doozy: Thompson, appearing in the comic as herself, shows up at his door to hire the diminutive duck for a missing persons case. But the missing person is her! It turns out that she has been losing amounts of time over the years and can’t account for her actions or whereabouts. The answer to the mystery ties Thompson to her appearance to the 1986 movie.

“We started planning this over a year ago, and a lot of the current storyline has been building toward this appearance, so it makes sense in-story and isn’t just a stunt,” promises Zkarsky of the two-issue story.

Audiences had high hopes for the movie in the days before its release in August 1986. Lucas had reunited with his writers from his 1973 hit American Graffiti, Thompson got the starring role off her breakout turn in Back to the Future a year earlier, and it was to be the first-ever feature Marvel movie. Instead, it turned out to be one of the biggest flops of all time and resulted in the firing of a top executive at Universal.

But over time, the movie has gained a strong cult following. When the character appeared in a post-credit sequence in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, cheers erupted from certain audience quarters.

“So many people have come up to me and said, ‘I’m the only one that will come up to you and say that Howard the Duck was my favorite movie.’ And there have been thousands of these people,” Thompson says. 

Zdarsky is one of those movie fans and has carried a torch for Thompson for years.

“She was at the center of two pivotal movies for me growing up, the one where she sleeps with a duck and the other where she tries to sleep with her time-traveling son,” he says. “I lived in a small town, and my friend Terry and I would rent the VHS tape over and over…. We both agreed that the titular song played at the end of the movie by Lea’s band Cherry Bomb was the greatest song ever, so we used a microphone to record it from our TV speakers so we could listen to it whenever we wanted.”

Thompson wasn’t a fan of movie when it came out: “I was the number one star of it. It was painful." She had turned down John Hughes’ film Some Kind of Wonderful, but the week of Howard’s release, with the word “turkey” hanging over the duck, she relented and took the part.

“I had to get on another movie,” she admits. “I wouldn’t have done the movie if Howard wasn’t such as bomb.”

But in a case of silver linings in grey clouds, the movie bombing and her doing Wonderful proved life-altering: she ended up marrying her Wonderful director, Howard Deutch, and the two have now been married for almost 27 years.

“Things that seemed bad had turned out to be good in the end,” she admits.

Then she adds, “It was a pretty demented movie, though.”

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