Sky High Did Not Begin Life as a Gen13 TV Series

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The superhero film, Sky High, was based on an unmade Gen13 TV series.


In 2005, Disney released the superhero family comedy, Sky High, about Will, the son of two of the most famous superheroes in the world who attends a floating high school for superheroes where he is initially lumped in with the “sidekicks,” students with no powers like him or less impressive powers, like his longtime best friend, Layla, but when his superpowers kick in, he is transferred to the “hero” division of the school and meets new friends as his old friendships are strained, but everyone has to team up to save the day to defeat a villainous plot that might crash their high school to the ground.

The movie was a moderate hit and has developed a cult following in the years since. However, fans also believe that the film actually derived from a possible Gen13 live action project!

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HOW MANY GEN 13 SERIES AND MOVIES WERE THERE?

Gen13 has had a difficult journey to film and television, as the hit Image series by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell (this was Campbell’s first work and it made him an instant superstar) seemed poised to become a crossover multimedia hit, but it never happened.

CBR’s own Timothy Donohoo wrote a few years ago about how Disney was all poised to release an animated film version of Gen13, but Jim Lee then sold Wildstorm Studios to Warner Bros. soon before the film was released, and the property suddenly being owned by a rival company likely led to Disney deciding not to release the film (it makes sense, but I don’t know for sure if that was its motivation. Projects fall apart for all sorts of reasons. The key thing to remember, though, is that the film was not ultimately released in the United States by Disney). The movie has been released overseas, though, so you could probably find a copy of it if you tried really hard.

Like, say, looking on YouTube.

However, there was a SECOND Gen13 project in development at Disney at the time, a live action project (either as a film or a TV series). This was back in the 1990s, when comic book properties being adapted into films was still relatively rare, so something like Gen13 possibly being a film or a TV series was a big deal. The website Comics2Film helped follow the project over a number of years. In 1998, it revealed, “a live action version of Gen13 (also co-created by Campbell) is in development at Walt Disney.” In 1999, Jim Lee noted in an interview “that the third draft for a live-action Gen13 movie is in the works.” In July 2000, Courtney Solomon, producer of the then-new Dungeons and Dragons movie, told CHUD that he was going to be the producer on the live action Gen13 project that Disney was close to greenlighting. In December 2000, though, Solomon revealed that the studio has made some changes to the concept. Solomon told Eric Moro of Mothership that the project would be renamed Seventh Graders and the concept had been reworked ” to fit the squeaky clean image of Disney Studios. ‘For me personally, I think [Disney] should have stayed more with the comic book. They’ve moved it slightly away from the comic book. What I loved about that in the first place was that it was sexy. It was good and I loved the first six issues — the setting up of the whole thing. That was all great. The premise was great and you could go anywhere with the story.”

And that was pretty much it for the Gen13 live action project, which has led fans to believe that the already reworked Gen13 was then further reworked into Sky High in 2005. It makes a lot of sense, but is it true?

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WAS SKY HIGH BASED ON GEN 13?

I don’t believe so, no, but I can easily see why people think so, especially since the Sky High concept had been floundering around since the 1990s. Sky High was created by Paul Hernandez (who tragically passed away back in 2014 at the way too young age of 44), He originally pitched the series in 1994 as a TV series, but it didn’t go anywhere. Eventually, Hernandez moved on to working on a proposed Greatest American Hero film in 2002 for Disney and the Sky High project just sort of floundered.

It wasn’t until Disney turned to Kim Possible creators Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle to take a crack at rewriting the script that the project really got going.

They recalled to Ed Liu:

SCHOOLEY: Between seasons 1 and 2, we wrote a live-action Kim movie script, because there was talk of doing a live-action Kim, which came very close to happening, but didn’t for reasons…well, who knows? But the people we worked with at Features liked that, so they asked us to take a look at rewriting Sky High.

MCCORKLE: The script was on the shelf because they liked the idea of a superhero high school. I think, reading how we wrote teens in Kim Possible, they felt like, “This feels good and contemporary, and maybe you can apply that to this project for us.” So it worked out great.

I think that there is enough of a clear history of Hernandez’s involvement in the project going back to 1994 (Gen13 debuted as a comic book in December 1993, so it obviously was not even considered by studios until later in the 1990s) that I am willing to go with this legend as…

STATUS: False

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero films.

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