Of course, he never really went anywhere. But when the news was announced on February 13, 2020 by our reputable buddies over at The Hollywood Reporter that onetime Brat Packer and genuinely underappreciated master actor extraordinaire Emilio Estevez would be returning in an upcoming Disney+TV revival series to reprise his role from the 1990s staple film series, The Mighty Ducks, well, it seemed like a funny and wonderful Valentine’s Day present for this former card-carrying member of the Emilio Estevez Fan Club.
This might take some ‘splaining for those readers who did not ply their pop culture existence in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s (for all of the good and the bad that this entailed), but for way more than a hot New York minute, Emilio Estevez – son to acting legend Martin Sheen and the Abel to acting brother Charlie Sheen’s Cain – was, to borrow colorful vernacular, the shit in American cinema. In movie after movie – The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Outsiders, Repo Man, Wisdom, Stakeout, Maximum Overdrive – this Bronx native delivered one memorable performance after another and did so with a fun little glint to his eye, as if to say, ‘Hey, I’m having as good of a time in helping to create these memorable performances as you, the audience, are having watching them!’
One of Estevez’s chief iconic roles is, interestingly enough, behind what I am now officially referring to as – AHEM – The New Age of Emilio; As Coach Gordon Bombay in three Mighty Ducks movies, Estevez was tasked with taking an abysmal kids hockey team (think The Bad News Bears Meets Hoosiers) and turning them around, even as he dealt with his own issues such as drunk driving. The series was syrupy and uplifting and the real revelation at the end of each installment was that the Bombay character needed this group of teen misfits just as much as they needed him, perhaps even more. Granted this end of film epiphany for The Mighty Ducks series was never meant to be on par with, say the surprise ending of The Usual Suspects or Memento, but the messages of teamwork and transforming one’s life while substantially altering for the better the motley crew of hockey players was one that resounded with audiences. It’s that same goodwill and positive juju these movies espoused that Disney+TV hopes to translate to the small screen in their upcoming ten episode revival of The Mighty Ducks. Hey, Disney; outstanding first step in realizing that Estevez is an essential piece to the Ducks puzzle and kudos for bringing the venerable actor back into the fold and not going the full-on reboot mode (Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reimagining, anyone?).
In a statement confirming his return as Coach Bombay, Estevez said: “Once a Duck, always a Duck! And after 25 years, I am delighted to lace up my skates, put on Coach Bombay’s jacket and return to play the iconic character for this new chapter in The Mighty Ducks franchise.”
In 1992 I was dragged kicking and screaming to a matinee showing of the original The Mighty Ducks movie and, while I didn’t run from the mall multiplex screaming accolades for the flick at the top of my lungs after the showing let out, I was at least pleasantly surprised that I liked the story as much as I did. To that I’ve always credited Emilio Estevez (prior to The Mighty Ducks, the closest I ever came to even acknowledging ice hockey was when my route to the local comic book shop in Syracuse, New York would take me by a large hockey arena which I usually managed to obliviously drive by with nary a thought of a “Bar Down” or a “Biscuit”) and writer Steven Brill. While my hopelessly ridiculous favorite performance by Mr. Estevez was and will always remain his sly turn as William H. Bonney (A.K.A. Billy the Kid) in the Young Guns film saga (at this point my editor would like me to state that I use the term “saga” in conjunction with Young Guns and Young Guns 2 quite advisedly), this fellow survivor of the hazy, crazy late 80s and early 90s is frankly just overjoyed to see a genuinely good actor return to a more prominent spotlight after a number of years keeping a lower profile.
Welcome back, Emilio Estevez. Although you never really left us it’s still nice to have you back in such a big way. Now, about turning Young Guns into a trilogy…