The Muppets are known for adapting classic stories to screen thanks to the likes of Muppet Treasure Island The Muppet Christmas Carol. The latter is one of the best adaptations of that story ever, as it understands the themes and narrative of the original while also being a humorous film featuring a cast of Muppets.
If any movies are to be adapted into the Muppet cinematic universe nowadays though, they should be similarly classic movies which have a wide viewership. It would also be best for them to have a human character who is the “main character” of the original story, played by a successful actor like they did with Michael Cain in Christmas Carol or Tim Curry in Treasure Island. And, of course, it would need to be possible to blend some musical numbers into their framework so that they can feel distinctly Muppet-esque.
With that preamble out of the way, here are ten classic films that would be perfect for a Muppet movie adaptation.
The first film in the Rocky film franchise would be deeply interesting to see in a Muppets adaptation.
For all five people who’ve never heard of this classic series, Rocky is the story of one underdog going the distance and taking on the world heavyweight champion. The franchise is known for having one of the most iconic training montages ever and for featuring the city of Philadelphia in an intimate way. The pics are perhaps the most well-known sports movies of all time too, and it’d be wonderful to see that on the silver screen in Muppet form.
What would make it even more interesting is how they handle the boxing itself. It’s likely this would have to be a loose adaptation, sort of how A Very Muppet Christmas loosely adapts It’s a Wonderful Life, and would need to portray the sport in a less violent way for younger viewers.
Rocky himself would probably be played by a human actor, while the various Muppets take on roles as his trainers. There could be a training montage where various muppets are giving the boxer advice, all while humorous gags play out. Statler and Waldorf could critique his boxing form, only for him to screw up in true slapstick fashion.
Alternatively, there’s some fun you could have with putting a Muppet in that role. Seeing two Muppets impotently slapping each other with their soft hands in the ring would be a very amusing image, especially with some ironically dramatic build-up.
The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is in the same genre of adventure fiction that you get from other Muppets-adapted movies like Treasure Island, but also offers the potential for delving into the romance genre.
The original film tells the love story of a farmhand and a peasant woman who are torn apart from each other due to various circumstances, and recounts the adventures both have in reuniting. The film has a very fairy-tale-meets-pulp-swashbuckling story that would really lend itself to the Muppets’ style.
This would be one of the few adaptations where the main character might be best played by a Muppet too. With the relationship Miss Piggy and Kermit have, it might be a good idea to have the two of them play Buttercup and Westly. It would be very ironically playing against type for Kermit too, with his becoming the Dread Pirate Roberts being an interesting shift from his usual straight-laced persona.
You could also have a good opportunity for memorable human roles in The Six-Fingered Man and Prince Humperdinck. Joaquin Phoenix could be ideal for either role, bringing his experience from playing villains to the table.
Frankenstein was originally a book by Mary Shelley, but the horror classic found new life with the birth of Cinema. The film version of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster even went on to be more visually impactful on the creature’s appearance moving forward than the original work.
This movie would be a great choice for a Muppet adaptation, and not just because it’s a classic literary work which rests firmly in the Muppets’ wheelhouse. Through its story, you could have one main human role — namely, the Doctor himself — and then have a Muppet play the role of his monster. It would be cool to use perspective tricks to play with Muppets being larger than they usually are, or to make a larger version of a Muppet for the Frankenstein monster.
In terms of casting, a Muppet Frankenstein’s monster would be Kermit, being green already. The manic Dr. Frankenstein, meanwhile, could be a nice opportunity for Jesse Eisenberg, who generally plays the neurotic genius very well.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The classic Roald Dahl book turned into a classic movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is responsible for many people’s nostalgic memories; and nightmares, thanks to moments like the tunnel scene.
The movie tells the story of Willy Wonka, an eccentric chocolate factory owner, and the poor paperboy Charlie who finds a golden ticket for a tour of Wonka’s factory. Past that, the film is largely a series of fun scenarios which could very easily be tweaked to suit jokes that the cast want to play out.
The Muppets could put their own spin on a lot of the songs in the movie as well, while also bringing their own musical expertise into the mix. They could add their own visual gags to these already classic songs, and lend a more comedic slant to moments that were otherwise not as fun or interesting.
This is likewise one that’s unique when it comes to the human cast vs Muppet cast dilemma. You could have all the children as human actors and their parents could be Muppets, or you could have a mix and match of humans and Muppets. Willy Wonka would be, of course, a Muppet. Gonzo would be a perfect fit, perhaps with some backup from Rizzo.
Star Wars needs no introduction, being one of the most famous film series ever put to screen.
Considering Disney owns both the Muppets and the Star Wars series, this is probably the most plausible Muppet movie on this list. The two have even crossed over before, with the cast of Star Wars showing up in episode 17 of season 4 of the Muppets TV show.
The human and Muppet cast in this are a little more flexible, as Star Wars: A New Hope has a lot of puppet aliens anyway. Some casting choices are somewhat obvious though: Fozzie Bear would make a hilarious Chewbacca, and Leia could easily be played by Miss Piggy.
There’s also the possibility that the Muppets could adapt the prequel or sequel series, in which case it would be funny to see a Kermit Obi-Wan or Anakin. There have even been quite a few memes with Kermit as a Sith Lord, so they could go as far as having the frog play an unassuming yet villainous Palpatine.
Another Disney-owned property, The Avengers is the culmination of the first phase of the MCU and brings together Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye for the first big MCU team-up movie.
Part of the reason a Muppets Avengers would be great would be because it could be an opportunity to see what an Avengers musical is like. We did see hints of a musical based on the life of Steve Rodgers in the Hawkeye series, but it would be good to see more of that and with even more of a comedic slant.
In terms of casting, there are almost limitless opportunities for comedy and jokes. You could reference the classic Marvel Comics Frog Thor by making Kermit the God of Thunder, or make Kermit the Hulk in reference to his catchphrase and song “It’s not easy being green.” You could also have Loki be played by a human, which would be especially funny if he was still played by Tom Hiddleston a la some multiverse shenanigans.
On the other side of the comic book coin, there’s the DC universe and, more specifically, Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight.
The original 1989 Tim Burton Batman and its sequel may be overshadowed now by the Christopher Nolan-directed movies, but those films represent a version of Batman that would be easy for the Muppets to lean into. The Dick Tracy-style noir Gotham would be a good mix of goofy and gloomy for the Muppets to inhabit. It’s likewise a better setting for them to lean more into Adam West shenanigans or antics from the Brave and the Bold cartoon series.
Moreover, a Batman musical would be quite novel and entertaining. The Lego Batman Movie did have musical numbers, but it didn’t really tickle the same itch that a proper Muppets-led musical could.
The question of who would play the dual role of the Caped Crusader and Millionaire Bruce Wayne is quite hard in some ways. Kermit is usually the safest choice, but he may be a bit obvious. It could be fun to see Gonzo as the Caped Crusader and Rizzo as his sidekick the Boy Wonder, though that may be too close to the ill-fated 1997 Batman and Robin movie for some people’s taste.
Since the villains in Muppet movies can often be played by humans, there’s also some potential for human actors. You could have Zach Galifianakis, reprising his role from Lego Batman as the Joker. It could also be our one chance to see Adam Driver as the Joker, and anyone who knows Driver’s work knows he could bring intensity and comical timing to a role in equal measure.
The Blues Brothers movie itself is a story of two brothers who, when they realized their orphanage is closing, decide to bring back their old band in order to save it with a performance. It’s a great movie with lots of humorous scenes and amazing musical performances.
The fact that it’s already a musical lends itself decently well to the Muppets’ way of adapting things. A Blues Brothers Muppet movie with Rizzo and Gonzo would likewise be a perfect fit. The duo have already proven that they can be funny together in The Muppet Christmas Carol, and that energy would be ideal in a Blue’s Brothers adaptation.
They’d also bring a personality that runs counter to the original movie’s core duo. The Blues Brothers in the movies are effortlessly suave, even in the context of a comedy movie. Rizzo and Gonzo, on the other hand, are a more traditional comedy pair who are often goofy and get up to slapstick antics. There’s a lot of potential comedy in seeing the two of them trying to be cool but failing in disastrous fashion.
The Blues Brothers would also present a lot of opportunities for other Muppets to show up as side characters or members of the band. Blues Brothers has a pretty simple plot structure that makes it good for parody, spoofing, or homage, so alterations can be made while still resembling the original pretty easily.
The one difficulty would be in human roles. The Muppets could easily flesh out the entire cast, but there could always be cameos from various people who were in the original. Unfortunately, Dan Aykroyd is the only surviving Blues Brother, so the original duo couldn’t be fully present. There is potential for some Meta comedy though: Frank Oz was in the original Blues Brothers and played across from Jim Henson, voicing various Muppets for years.
Ghostbusters is a classic starring comedy legends Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. The four must work together and use science to hunt down and trap ghosts so that they’ll stop bothering the public, though this quickly proves more difficult than they expected it to be.
The film and its premise gives the Muppets a rare opportunity to have several non-human main characters. Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie, and Beaker would be pretty solid choices for the main four, and you could always add Miss Piggy to round out the bunch. You could then have humans or Muppets in various other roles, like the ghosts or the people who try to shut down the Ghostbusters.
Celebrity cameos would also be potentially plentiful. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson would all be perfect for making tongue-in-cheek appearances, especially given the success of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and its impending sequel projects.
The Shining was a movie that adapted the Stephen King book by the same name. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, It’s considered a classic horror movie, and has been spoofed in dozens of different ways by several different shows and movies.
Why, then, would a Muppets version be a good idea? Once again, it comes down to the question of whether or not the property would be fun as a musical, and the Shining would make a hilarious musical. The Ghosts could sing a song the first time they’re encountered, amusingly defusing the tension of the original movie and lightly riffing on it. You could also have Kermit sing a song as he goes through the hotel, in a reflection of Jack’s rampage through the secluded lodging.
It’s probable the Muppets would have to go pretty far from the source material in order to make it in their style though. The elevator full of blood, while an iconic scene, would have to be changed, and a few other iconic moments would need to be made far less violent too. It would also have to be a looser adaptation, sort of like the Rocky movie discussed earlier. Instead of a family, perhaps the Muppets are all in a hotel somewhere isolated and can’t leave.
At the same time, certain scenes could be recreated shot for shot to great effect. Perhaps the most exciting hypothetical image would be Kermit dragging an oversized axe in a pastiche of Jack Nicholson’s role. One other humorous thing the movie could do is make all the characters Muppets, except the bartender who could be played perfectly by Jack Nicholson.