D3: The Mighty Ducks is the culmination of the greatest youth sports trilogy in history. Now, I understand the competition for that title is thin, but for a group of plucky youngsters from Minnesota, the distinction is a high honor.
Though it is the finale, and sort of a fitting end, D3 is also irrefutably the worst film of the series. It over exaggerates its own cannon—Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) was never really the official captain—is a step down in scale from its immediate predecessor, and boasts some of the worst sports scenes ever put to film. None of those are in any way a stretch, but I will only elaborate on the first.
Conway—the lovable little scamp with the heart of gold—was an abysmal hockey player. You don't earn a nickname like "Spazway" if you're good. Sure, he scores the winning goal to defeat the dastardly Hawks in the district championship, but he also steps down from his role on the team in D2 to ensure a roster spot is available for Russ Tyler (Keenan Thompson) after Adam Banks returns from injury. Tyler's only notable skill is shooting the puck in a way that ignores the laws physics.
So why does Conway give up his spot? Again, because he's sub-par. As a result, he does what many mediocre players do: He becomes a coaching assistant. Thus, anchoring the core emotional hook of D3 to Conway being stripped of his captaincy is beyond dumb and beneath the lofty standards established in this fictitious world of youth athletics. He never even had a "C" on his jersey until this film.
There is contradictory evidence that I will in turn refute. Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) opts for him to take that aforementioned penalty shot in the first film, but that means little. Bombay was just pushing the right buttons, instilling a boost of confidence in a player renowned for his penchant to choke. That's what great coaches do.
And when Gunner Stahl refers to him as "Captain Duck" in the handshake line in D2, it's more a consequence of bad translation; and, needless to say, Gunner is hardly an authority on the hierarchy of the Ducks locker room. He can't even decide if he's a goalie or a right wing; or if he's an American or from Iceland.
Perhaps the most damning evidence is that the captain, whether they offered or not, would never be a healthy scratch, nor would they quit the team because the coach was too strict and preached a commitment to defense. I mean, come on, he's essentially this franchise's Timmy Lupus (Bad News Bears)
I digress. D3, for its many faults, is still a Mighty Ducks movie; that affiliation alone carries it past other dumb movies with kids who suck at stuff and then somehow win, defying all logic. It's also far more grounded than most of those other aforementioned silly movies with the underdog kids.
And, in truth, D3 was a more believable follow up than D2. It is much more reasonable to accept they'd go one to become the JV team at a prestigious high school. A house team from suburban Minnesota would not be the go to squad to represent the US of A in the Junior Goodwill Games.
Anyway, it was a flop. It grossed just $22.9 million. It didn't lose money because it was made on the cheap—see my comment about the actual hockey scenes—but it did gross far less than the previous two. Mighty Ducks took home $50.8 million, and D2 wasn't too far behind with $45.6.
For all those who chose to sit this one out when it was released in 1996, you killed Hans (Joss Ackland). Murderers, the lot of you. Just kidding ... Ackland is alive and well, but he hates you as much as his character hated Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 2.
Now, sit back, enjoy a fine Molson, and sharpen those skates. I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt Cash, and Chumpzilla are forming the Flying V to stickhandle our way through the heart of the Varsity defense!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction – Quack, quack, quack ... We reunite the District 5 all-stars to break down the finale of the Mighty Ducks trilogy; a debate that includes the trial of "Captain" Conway. (00:00)
- Interesting Facts, and the “Ducks Fly Together” Trivia Challenge – Turns out, there's a lot to learn about the making of this movie, and much of that is woven into the quiz I tasked Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla with. (41:14)
- Recommendations – We look forward to future episodes and present our picks for the week. (1:01:27)
And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—Time's oral history and more—from this week’s episode!
You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Podbean, and Spotify!