Today, very few people would draw a blank when asked the name of the most memorable Martian in the Looney Tunes stable. But did you know that our favorite google-eyed alien in Roman togs spent a whopping 31 years without a name?
When he debuted in 1948’s Haredevil Hare, he spent the length of the short battling with Bugs to claim first rights to an authentic moon landing (having shown up a minute after Bugs). He was a Martian in more than one sense, as his spaceship was marked “Mars to Moon Expeditionary Force” and he was outfitted in the common gear of the Roman god of war, Mars.
He would go on to appear in five films in the 1950s and ’60s, then disappeared until 1979. That year, he resurfaced (if only in a still illustration) in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, a collection of WB shorts. Under his portrait was, for the first time, a given name: Marvin Martian.
A year later on a CBS Looney Tunes special, Marvin’s evolution of name was complete, as “the” made its way between “Marvin” and “Martian.”
What a difference a name makes. Where before, Marvin could barely keep steady work in Hollywood, his formal naming has gotten him cast in a number of new films and shows. Since the early ‘80s, Marvin the Martian has slowly moved to the forefront of the Warner Bros. star cartoon gallery. He’s shown up in Tiny Toon Adventures, Space Jam, The Simpsons, and Duck Dodgers. He also landed a few cameos in a few comic books and garnered merchandising deals with lunchboxes and Underoos.