Sugar, spice and everything nice (plus some Chemical X) may have been everything needed to create the Powerpuff Girls themselves, but Diablo Cody really “wanted to do something kind of weird” for her live-action take on the trio. So, when the series was scrapped last year, it hit hard for the writer.
Back in 2020, as the pandemic swelled and folks at home desperately needed things to watch, The CW announced that a live-action sequel series of Cartoon Network’s hit “The Powerpuff Girls” was in development, with Cody co-writing it.
It boasted a fan-favorite cast, with Chloe Bennett, Dove Cameron, Yana Perrault and Donald Faison all attached to star, and Heather Regnier penning the series with Cody. But, a year later, The CW confirmed that the show was sent back to the drawing board, after filming a pilot that was “just a miss.”
Speaking to TheWrap ahead of her new film “Lisa Frankenstein,” in theaters on February 9, Diablo Cody noted that there were multiple factors at play in that final decision, and admitted she was sad to have to let the series go.
“There were honestly a lot of issues. It’s a bummer,” she said. “I was really bummed out about that. Heather Regnier and I, who created it together, we were very, very excited about that show. But it just didn’t pan out. And sometimes things just don’t. I mean, to be honest, like, most of the time, things don’t.”
Little was really known about the plot of “Powerpuff,” beyond a logline at the time that it was set to follow heroines Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup as “disillusioned twenty-somethings who resent having lost their childhood to crime-fighting.” But apparently, it was about more than just losing their younger years.
“So the idea was that the Powerpuff Girls were adults, and they were really disillusioned because they felt that they had almost been exploited, like child stars, when they were young superheroes,” Cody explained. “And so they hadn’t really used their powers in years. And then Townsville was under attack once again, and they realized that they had to get over their differences and reunite.”
Cody notes that it was “fun” to write about the trio at this age and figure out how they’d handle Gen Z problems, but that it did make things harder, in terms of getting the show out of the gate. (In November, the original animated series creator Craig McCracken criticized the idea of aging the girls up).
“I think just in general, making the Powerpuff Girls adults was a challenge, because it would have probably been easier to just do a straight live-action adaptation of the existing show,” she said. “But we wanted to do something kind of weird.”
It seems that weirdness didn’t translate for the network execs though as, in 2021, The CW’s then-chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz said the pilot that was shot “felt a little too campy.”
Cody added that, like with any beloved piece of IP, “there’s fan service involved,” and trying to make fans of the original happy “definitely adds a whole layer of difficulty to it” — one that was “tricky” to navigate.
As far as that script that purportedly leaked online? The writer was unaware of that at the time of this conversation, but she’d caution that there were a lot of versions of her and Regnier’s scripts.
“Chances are, there’s so many drafts, and so many different versions of scripts by the time that they go to production, that it’s possible that what leaked was maybe — I mean, I guess it could have been the shooting script, but it also could have just been a remnant from development,” Cody said.
“I don’t know. Because I also wrote, I wrote a half hour version, I wrote an hour version, it was at a streamer, then it was at The CW,” she continued. “So it’s like, there was a lot of iterations of live-action Powerpuff Girls.”
All that said, Cody can see a future where a live-action “Powerpuff Girls” does hit screens — there’s already an animated reboot in the works — it just won’t be hers.
“I would not be surprised if there is a live-action Powerpuff Girls show at some point, but they probably won’t hire me to do it again,” she said.
“Lisa Frankenstein” hits theaters on February 9.