The beloved animated series “Kim Possible,” which aired for five years on the Disney Channel in the early aughts, connected with its audience because it portrayed a strong but fashion-forward young woman who fought crime and got good grades. So it only makes sense that when the network decided to reboot the story and titular character as a live-action TV movie, the creative team behind it would want to preserve the message of female empowerment while updating the tale to relate to a whole new batch of 6 to 14-year-old viewers.
“When I first joined the project, it was right around the time ‘Wonder Woman’ had been released,” says executive producer Zanne Devine. “Given this moment in time, my pitch was this is ‘Wonder Woman’ for the prepubescent set.”
This is the age of inclusion and gender neutrality, after all, so gone are the days of Kim (Sadie Stanley) shaking her pom poms for the cheer team. She’s into soccer now. Sidekicks Ron Stoppable (Sean Giambrone) and Wade (Issac Ryan Brown) are also back to lend a hand.
“I loved the idea of bringing forth a young female character that is completely comfortable in her body and able to take on the world while at the same time expressing genuine vulnerabilities about how to find yourself and trying to find your internal light as you ground yourself in the world. With all these things coming together, I had to be a part of it,” says Devine.
Devine also wanted to make sure that the behind-the-scenes crew reflected the film’s girl-powered heroics, she says. As a result, Rachel Myers worked as the production designer and gave Kim a dreamy interactive bedroom; costume designer Kathleen Detoro (“Breaking Bad”) ditched cartoon Kim’s black midriff top in favor of something more practical and functional; and stunt coordinator Melissa R. Stubbs (“Suicide Squad” and “Game of Thrones”) gave Kim and four other female characters the moves to fight like warriors.
“Looking at the statistics behind the scenes, as department heads if you just ask, ‘Send me three resumes of qualified people,’ you’ll probably get three resumes of three men,” Devine says. “And I really wanted to make sure we went through the extra effort of finding women and seeking them out. And maybe if they didn’t have exactly the perfect resumes…they had plenty of talent and plenty of experience and they could bring a lot to this project.”
Devine says Myers is “emblematic” of that because her resume consisted of a lot of episodic television (“Faking It,” “East Los High”), as well as “amazing work in theater, music videos and digital projects,” but not a “film [of] this size.” “When she walked in the room and brought up her first presentation, it was by far the most inventive, exciting and creative. And she connected with Kim as a girl and as a character,” Devine adds.
Myers says she watched a lot of episodes of the animated “Kim Possible” to get ready for the job because she’s slightly older than the original demographic.
“I wasn’t familiar initially, but tapping into the world of Kim was this great treasure trove of possibility,” she says. “For instance, we tried to honor the color palette of the original cartoon, which was inspired by Disneyland posters. Like salmon and teal with umber brown from the ‘Tomorrowland’ posters.”
The Googie style, retro architecture from the original show was also included and brought to life, and Kim’s modernized bedroom became the nucleus of her story.
“We spent a lot of time really trying to suss out the details of what would resonate with fans so that her bedroom would be really cool and exciting but also feel like a place that any fan could relate to and aspire to,” Myers says. “I drew inspiration from TV shows I loved as a kid like ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ and ‘Clarissa Explains It All’ and Cher’s bedroom in the movie ‘Clueless.’”
Myers is also proud to say that a lot of women worked alongside her in the art department, including art director Roxanne Methot (“The Man in the High Castle”), to give the movie a look that they hope will exceed the audience’s expectations.
“I really try to have a broad spectrum of representation, and we had amazing men too,” Myers says. “But in this moment in time, when we have to really foster women’s voices, women have to give other women chances to change the spectrum.”
“Kim Possible” airs Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel.