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How Adi Shankar used video game imagery to make Captain Laserhawk special

Adi Shankar tells us the process behind incorporating video games into his latest animated series

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix shocked the world when it was released on Netflix late last month. In essence, it was an officially-sanctioned Bootleg Universe series – something creator Adi Shankar is well-known for – and featured a host of familiar Ubisoft characters in strange new contexts.

It’s got violent Power Ranger-inspired Rainbow Six Operators, an anthropomorphic frog in Assassin’s Creed garb, an unhinged drug-abusing Rayman, and so much more. As a series based on video games, though, it couldn’t just rely on showing those characters, it had to make them feel at home, and Shankar says that’s exactly what he tried to do.

In an interview with GLHF, Shankar spoke to his deep enthusiasm for video games, and how important it was that Captain Laserhawk paid homage to both the characters themselves, and to the visual language of games as a whole.

Shankar, who describes himself as “very much a gamer,” says that video games were a huge part of his upbringing. Being born in 1985, Shankar grew up alongside the medium, witnessing the evolution of games from a few pixels on a screen up to the modern hyper-realistic blockbusters of today.

Adi Shankar holding a sword-like weapon in front of a red background

Adi Shankar says he's very much a gamer

When creating Captain Laserhawk, Shankar saw the opportunity to create something truly inspired by video games, not just retelling its stories. Building on previous works like Guardians of Justice, Shankar, director Mehdi Leffad, and animation team Bobby Pills came up with a mixed media art style that incorporated the history of video games.

“The visual style of Laserhawk was conceived as a heartfelt homage to the world and history of video games, intertwining various stylistic elements like pixel art and other gamer-recognized visuals,” Shankar tells us, “Our first exploration into this vibrant, mixed media style was pioneered in Guardians of Justice, serving as a research and development phase for what was to come.

“Mehdi Leffad, the director behind every single episode of Captain Laserhawk, along with his ninja team at Bobby Pills, brilliantly refined and perfected this mixed media art style. Their innovation and expertise facilitated a smoother integration of various media styles into the series, resulting in a product that, I believe, is a polished and professional rendition of my initial vision.”

Shankar says that he took a step back and let Leffad and his team steer the aesthetic direction, building on his scripts and drafts and letting them craft the look and feel of the series. The result is an animated production that mixes traditional animation with gorgeous pixel art scenes, in a way that feels surprisingly coherent and refined.

A pixel art sequence from Captain Laserhawk showing Bullfrog swimming through a pipe.

Captain Laserhawk includes many memorable pixel art sequences

Cinema has had a lot of time to figure out its language, Shankar says, and games were still catching up — that’s why he and the team behind the show worked so hard to make sure it all felt right.

“Cinema has had a century to develop its language, but video games are still in the process of evolving their own unique language. With this project, my goal was to harness the language of gaming to bring innovation to the language of cinema.”

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is available to stream now exclusively on Netflix.

For more Captain Laserhawk coverage head on over to to read about how three surprising stars helped Adi Shankar turn Assassin’s Creed into a frog, or why Adi Shankar won’t stop making Power Rangers violent.