Captain Planet & the Planeteers
Captain Planet & the Planeteers was a cartoon show produced by Ted Turner & Barbara Pyle and which aired from 1990-1996. In the show, Gaia, the spirit of the planet, assembles a team of five young “planeteers” from nations around the world, who can summon Captain Planet to help them solve ecological and other global problems “by their powers combined.” The show was widely acclaimed for its treatment difficult issues such as pollution, poaching, deforestation, as well as more social issues including drug addiction, HIV/ AIDS, and bullying in a way that educated, entertained, but also activated its young audience. Though it has been off the air for more than two decades, Captain Planet lives on in the minds of many real-world “Planeteers” as a symbol of becoming a superhero for planet Earth.
The Captain Planet Foundation was first established as a corporate foundation to support youth-led efforts inspired by the show. The organization became an independent nonprofit organization in 2001.
In the original mythology of the show as imagined by Pyle, Captain Planet was intended to represent more of a metaphor of what is possible when kids work together to solve problems. The show wasn’t about calling up a savior. It was about empowering children to use their own abilities.
Captain Planet (voiced by David Coburn) is the title character of the series. In the beginning of the series, Gaia assembles a modern-day team of “Planeteers” from several nations. When the modern-day Planeteers combine their powers to summon the elemental warrior, this incarnation takes on the appearance of a superhero, who takes on the superhero-like name of “Captain Planet.” Captain Planet displays a wry sense of humor and often uses puns while taunting the show’s cast of villains. His only weakness is when he comes into contact with sources of pollution.
The beautiful spirit of Earth, Gaia is the protector of the planet. She feels anguish whenever damage is done to the world, its seas, its atmosphere, or to any living creature. When damage occurs, Gaia spurs the Planeteers into action– kind of an “Eco-Alert Early Warning System.”
The archetypal Earth mother, gaia is a source of wisdom and advice for both Captain Planet and the Planeteers. She helps the identify environmental problems via a series of crystalline screens located on her home base, Hope Island. These “monitors” track the events of the present and can predict their outcome if left unchecked. But no matter what happens, Gaia loves Earth’s children unconditionally. Though sorrow by what they’ve done and worried about the future, she is eternally hopeful that all will turn out for the best.
This 16-year-old conservationist does everything in his power to save the world’s endangered species. Raised by elders in a remote African village, Kwame is somewhat naive– often with comic results, Quiet but firm, he has the greatest integrity of any of the Planeteers. But his naive idealism, combined with his convictions, sometimes leave him disillusioned with human nature.
With his green thumb, Kwame can grow anything. Though fundamentally serious, he has an impish sense of humor, and can often deliver off-the-wall comments perfectly deadpan. His earthy wisdom provides a firm foundation for the Planeteers.
Kwame’s element is EARTH. He can create small, localized earthquakes, moves rocks, causes holes or furrows to appear in the dirt, and turn mud to solid ground.
This 15-year-old Asian girl is a mixture of refined culture and high-tech, high style. She’s a rock’n’roll fan who’s a natural linguist. Bright, sophisticated, stylish, and trendy, Gi is the most flexible Planeteer. Among her companions, she often assumes the leadership role. Although Gi can be impetuous, she’s usually a team player.
Gi’s also an athlete– her favorite sport is surfing– and a student of marine biology. She has a strong scientific understanding of the various ocean ecosystems. At home with the sea and any of its creatures, Gi has a particular fondness for dolphins. She has even learned how to communicate with them.
Gi’s element is WATER. She can control any water source and make it do her bidding.
A hardworking, far-too-serious 16-year-old who’s straight from eastern Europe, Linka’s the most conservative Planeteer. Her idea of a good time is to curl up with the latest issue of “Advanced Ecology.: Hot tempered and feisty, she is nevertheless a master of logical deduction. She even tends to over-analyze things. Her analytical approach to problem-solving sometimes annoys her other teammates– especially Wheeler. Sparks fly when he and Linka are together. But in spite of their differences, the two teammates genuinely care for each other.
Quick of thought, Linka’s elementis WIND. She can command it to swirl or gust, or create small tornadoes.
This tough, street-wise 17-year-old grew up on the mean streets of Brooklyn. There, he learned to think fast- but act faster. The oldest Planeteer, Wheeler is also the most impulsive, and he frequently acts without thinking. As a result, he’s prone to making mistakes. Wheeler’s biggest challenge is to become more sensitive to others and to learn that the end doesn’t justify the means. Always ready with a glib remark, he sometimes speaks up at inopportune times. Wheeler me be impetuous, but he has a good heart, and in the end, he usually makes things right.
Wheeler’s element is FIRE. He can create and direct small fires or beams of flame.
This 13-year-old South American may be the youngest Planeteer, but he often seems wisest. Raised by Kayapo Indians, Ma-Ti can survive in the wildest jungle. He’s no stranger to the big city either, and he knows a lot about the world outside the Amazon basin. Ma-Ti has an intuitive grasp of ecological principles. And he’s willing to give of himself for the benefit of the whole.
The essence of caring and concern, Ma-Ti serves as the Planeteers’ emotional link to the Earth and humankind. He’s also the closest of the group to Gaia, and tries to keep the Planeteers focused on the spirit of her teachings. Ma-Ti often acts as a cohesive force, working to promote Planeteer unity.
Ma-Ti’s element is HEART, which enables him to communicate telepathically with other Planeteers and with Gaia. He can also communicate with animals, and his empathetic abilities allow him to feel emotions that provide valuable clues during the Planeteers adventures.
In 1990 Captain Planet and the Planeteers launches to worldwide acclaim. The 113-episode series rockets to the top of the charts as the world’s first ever edutainment ‘eco-toon.’ Syndicated in over 220 U.S. markets and in over 100 countries worldwide, it consistently ranks No. 1 in Nielsen ratings.
A Hero For Earth / Season 1, Episode 15
Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, summons four teenagers and a young boy named Ma-Ti from five different corners of the world to help her in the battle to save the planet. For their first assignment, the Planeteers battle Hoggish Greedly, whose oil rig operation is jeopardizing the coastline.