Howard the Duck is a 1986 American comedy science fiction film directed by Willard Huyck and produced by George Lucas. Loosely based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, created by Steve Gerber and quoting scripts by Bill Mantlo, the film focuses on Howard, an alien from a planet inhabited by anthropomorphic ducks, who is transported to Earth, where he meets Beverly, a struggling singer. As Howard attempts to find a way to return to his planet, he helps Beverly with her career, develops a romance with her, and finds himself having to save humanity from an evil alien monster. The film stars Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, and the voice of Chip Zien as Howard. It was the first theatrically released film starring a Marvel Comics character.
Lucas proposed adapting the comic book following the production of American Graffiti, and began production on the film after stepping down as the president of Lucasfilm to focus on producing. Huyck and producer Gloria Katz's adaptation altered the personality of the character, and placed less emphasis on satirical storytelling in order to highlight the special effects work of Industrial Light & Magic. Following multiple production difficulties and mixed response to test screenings, the film was released to very poor critical and commercial reception. Criticism was made regarding the decision to shoot the film in live action rather than as an animated film and the unconvincing appearance of Howard.
Overall, the tone of the film is in diametric opposition to the comics. Katz declared that "It's a film about a duck from outer space... It's not supposed to be an existential experience... We're supposed to have fun with this concept, but for some reason reviewers weren't able to get over that problem." It was a problem because of the existential nature of the original material. Gerber himself declared that the series' joke is "'This is no joke!' There it is. The cosmic giggle. The funniest gag in the universe. That life's most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view. Anyone who doesn't believe this probably cannot enjoy reading Howard the Duck."