Dreamworks’ sprawling Kung Fu Panda franchise is set to get another TV series some time soon, this time ordered by Netflix. Per Variety, Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight will see series star Jack Black return to the franchise for the first time since 2016's Kung Fu Panda 3.
Those keeping track at home/living in child-rearing hell will know that this is actually the third such Kung Fu Panda TV series, because goddamn but do the children enjoy watching this rotund bear harm people. But this latest installment is notable in part because, unlike 2011's Legends Of Awesomeness on Nickelodeon, and 2018's Paws Of Destiny on Amazon Prime, this series will actually star Black himself as Po. (Mike Wingert, who’s also Marvel’s go-to Tony Stark when Robert Downey Jr.’s not around, handled the character in both of those earlier shows.)
And, look: Is our shock at Black’s casting here at least partially informed by what we think of as “The Dan Castellaneta Effect,” i.e., the dawning realization as children that Aladdin’s Genie no longer sounded like Robin Williams when the standalone movie became a franchise/TV show? Absolutely. Our “Why doesn’t Phil from the Hercules cartoon sound like Danny DeVito anymore?” trauma runs deep. (And, yes, we know Williams came back for Aladdin And The King Of Thieves. That only made it hurt more.)
Here’s the logline for the new series:
A mysterious pair of weasels set their sights on a collection of four powerful weapons. Po must leave his home to embark on a globe-trotting quest for redemption and justice that finds him partnered up with a no-nonsense English knight named Wandering Blade.
We can’t wait to hear which august British thespian will team up with Black so that “Wandering Blade” can learn that, sometimes, the real Kung Fu is the friends you made along the way.