|First appearance||ThunderCats Episode 2 - "The Unholy Alliance"|
|Created by||Tobin Wolf|
|Portrayed by||Earl Hammond (1985 series)
Robin Atkin Downes (2011 series)
|Title||Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living|
Mumm-Ra is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the ThunderCats franchise. He is an undead sorcerer harnessing unimaginable power and is described as the living embodiment of evil. Native to the planet of Third Earth, Mumm-Ra's goal is to destroy the ThunderCats and ensure his world remains under his control.
Fictional character biography
The demon sorcerer Mumm-Ra is the self-proclaimed "ever-living source of evil" on Third Earth, having powers of sorcery and an apparently unlimited lifespan. He is, in fact, a bound servant to the Ancient Spirits of Evil (represented by four anthropomorphic statues of a boar, crocodile, vulture, and ox thus resembling oversized twisted mockeries of Egyptian canopic jars, within the burial chamber of his pyramid), who provide him with increased power and virtual immortality to further his pursuit of spreading their dark influence throughout Third Earth.
Residing within the Black Pyramid amid the ruins of what appears to be an ancient Egyptian civilization, Mumm-Ra exists in a decayed, weakened form that must return to a stone sarcophagus to replenish his energy. He can summon the power to transform himself into a more vigorous and muscular form - Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living - by reciting the incantation: "Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!". While in this form, Mumm-Ra possesses fortification of his mystical might — casting spells, throwing energy bolts, etc. — to battle his foes. He can also alter his physical form into a variety of alter-egos to deceive his enemies.
Seemingly invincible in whatever form he chooses, Mumm-Ra appears to have a singular weakness: seeing his own hideous reflection neutralizes his ability to remain outside the Black Pyramid and forces him to withdraw there in his emaciated mummy form. However, at the beginning of the second season, the Ancient Spirits of Evil overcame this shortcoming. Mumm-Ra is a master of deception, and will use whatever means necessary to fight against the forces of good. In later episodes, while endowing Mumm-Ra with his powers, the statues of the Ancient Spirits of Evil came down from their perches, and extend their arms over him.
He uses his magic to create disguises and deceive the ThunderCats on various occasions. Among these are: Diamondfly (in the episode "Queen of Eight Legs"), Gregory Gregion ("All That Glitters"), Silky ("The Garden of Delights"), The Netherwitch ("The Astral Prison"), and Pumm-Ra (in the episode "Pumm-Ra"). He once took the form of King Arthur to acquire the legendary magic sword Excalibur, using it against the Sword of Omens.
In a few episodes, Mumm-Ra has an even more powerful form beyond "Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living" called "Mumm-Ra the All-Powerful": in this manifestation, Mumm-Ra absorbs the entire power of the Ancient Spirits of Evil to become grander in size and strength, and the design pattern on his loin cloth changes, as does his voice. This form is only presented in the series three times. In another incarnation, calling himself "Mumm-Ra the Dream Master," he is able to enter dreams to subliminally influence the ThunderCats in their sleep as a form of mind control.
Mumm-Ra is regarded as immortal, and when defeated, he simply returns to his sarcophagus. Mumm-Ra cannot be truly killed; even in cases where his body is destroyed, he will eventually be restored, as he often states: "Wherever evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!"
Later, Mumm-Ra is shown to have a blue undead, bulldog-like companion named Ma-Mutt, capable of flight and supernatural feats of strength and speed. He is generally evil, though some episodes depict him as having sympathetic qualities. Ma-Mutt is the only living creature Mumm-Ra shows any compassion and love for - in one episode, after the machine he was using in his evil plan was destroyed, he frantically searched for Ma-Mutt, and upon finding him, apologized for being horrible to him earlier in the episode.
Fed up with Mumm-Ra's repeated failures, the Ancient Sprirts of Evil demand that he destroys the ThunderCats or else he will be exiled from Third Earth. When Mumm-Ra fails the deadline, the Ancient Spirits of Evil trap Mumm-Ra in a crystal with a miniature pyramid and cast to the farthest reaches of the universe. When the ThunderCats decide to colonize New Thundera to rebuild it, the Ancient Spirits of Evil free Mumm-Ra and rebuild his cauldron on Third Earth. In one episode, it was said that Mumm-Ra once owned the Sphere of Seti which increased his power. When he managed to recover it after it was found by Char, he planned to use it to increase his power and free himself from servitude to the Ancient Spirits of Evil. Angered at his plot as well as at his deceptive attempts to hide it, the Ancient Spirits seal off the Black Pyramid, forcing Mumm-Ra to choose between sustenance (the pyramid) or power (the sphere). Ultimately, Mumm-Ra admits that he cannot survive without the pyramid—thus he begrudgingly surrenders the sphere and once again resumes his role as a servant of the Ancient Spirits.
Main article: ThunderCats (2011 TV series) In the 2011 version, Mumm-Ra has a more in depth origin story. Mumm-Ra is of alien origin, has advanced technology at his disposal, and his slaves and servants were the ancestors of the ThunderCats and the other Animals. He was in pursuit of the Four Power Stones, to place on the Sword of Plun-Darr and become the most powerful being in the universe. But managing to take the fourth Power Stone, the "War Stone" (which would then become the Eye of Thundera) while staging a rebellion with the Animals' help, the ThunderCat Leo defeats Mumm-Ra and strips him of the other three stones. But when Mumm-Ra's pyramid spacecraft was pulled into Third Earth's atmosphere, Mumm-Ra entered his tomb to bide his time for everyone else to die in the resulting crash. However, the controls were smashed and Mumm-Ra was trapped within his pyramid as the stones and survivors spread across Third Earth. However, many centuries later, Mumm-Ra used Grune to release him from his prison and masterminded Thundera's downfall. With the aid of Grune and Slythe, Mumm-Ra not only plans to obtain the Eye of Thundera, but to regain the other three Power Stones. Changes to Mumm-Ra for the 2011 version include demon wings on his Ever-Living form and having a weakness to intensely bright light. Mumm-Ra also resurrected Pumyra to serve him and planted her amongst the Thunderian slaves. After Grune ends up trapped in the Astral Plane, Mumm-Ra has Slithe recruit the homicidal Addicus and sociopathic Kaynar to not only restore the Lizard army morale and punish any who quit, but also increase their numbers with members of the new generals' respective races. Later, through a calculated scheme involving his agent Pumyra, Mumm-Ra regains the Sword of Plun-Darr and the Tech Stone while gaining a new ally in Vultaire.
Powers and abilities
An absolute master of magic, Mumm-Ra possesses nearly unlimited knowledge of mystical arts from all corners of the universe. As such, he can summon their use to assist him in almost any manner he chooses. Such as electrokinesis, levitation, necromancy, alchemy, shapeshifting, temporal manipulation, teleportation, psychokinesis, transfiguration, mind control, astral projection, scrying, and so on.
While in the form of Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, he becomes a conduit for the Ancient Spirits of Evil; such that he can amplify his aforementioned abilities to a nearly cosmic scale, gain superhuman strength, as well as retain his undead status despite the passage of time or any injuries sustained. The price of this power however, is extremely limited stamina: once Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living has surpassed a given threshold of energy-expenditure, he must revert to his mummified form, and enter his sarcophagus to rejuvenate himself. Also, Mumm-Ra's power in his Ever-Living form is directly linked to the condition of both his sarcophagus and the Ancient Spirits' four statues within his pyramid; should any of them be harmed or destroyed, his power weakens immediately and considerably.
In other media
According to the first chapter on Wildstorm's comic Thundercats Origins: Heroes and Villains, Mumm-Ra's origin is set in ancient Egypt. He was once Wahankh, a member of the pharaoh's council and his most loyal adviser. We can also see Wahankh's dog, Ma-Tep (supposedly the future Ma-Mutt). The friendship made with the pharaoh was so close and enduring that the sovereign actually considered him as part of his family.
However, Wahankh's real aim was to overthrow the royal power of his pharaoh in a coup d'état, and become the ruler of the land. To achieve his goal, he invoked the presence of the Ancient Spirits of Evil for the first time by using four magical runes, each representing one of the four evil beings. Once the spirits appeared, he requested a small part of their power in order to defeat the powerful pharaoh's army. In exchange, he would rule all Egypt in their name as a humble servant. The Ancient Spirits agreed to help him and Wahankh was invested with evil powers, becoming an immortal sorcerer at their service, while his body mutated into a cadaverous grey form. Finally, a new name was given to him: Mumm-Ra.
Knowing about this betrayal, the pharaoh immediately faced the monstrous and grotesque being. Trusting his new powers, Mumm-Ra ordered the pharaoh to bow down, and proclaimed himself the new master of the realm. Nonetheless, the pharaoh's son confronted him and quickly managed to outmaneuver Mumm-Ra in battle, defeating him.
Without being aware that Mumm-Ra was immortal, the pharaoh spared him the fate of dying at the stake for his treachery. Considering all his years of service, the pharaoh instead granted him a merciful, religious death being locked as a mummy in an onyx pyramid's giant burial chamber. The pharaoh's son, knowing about Mumm-Ra's never-ending life, took joy in imprisoning him for (seemingly) all eternity. In the darkness, Mumm-Ra begged for the help of the Ancient Spirits once again, but they denied it due to his incompetence in using those powers they had previously granted him. Instead, they ordered him to build four large statues in the chamber to praise them, a task that would take at least 600 years to be accomplished. Only then they would grant him the power to break free by turning into an eternal and overwhelming warrior, capable of defeating any pharaoh. Before the TV series storyline, at some point he fulfilled the work, receiving the ability to become "Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living".
Mumm-Ra has been generally well received by the public and fans alike. Viewers have noted the character for his notoriously frightening appearance and deep, raspy voice. In addition, Mumm-Ra is also praised for being much more competent than other famous cartoon villains from the 1980s; such as Skeletor of Masters of the Universe fame.
WatchMojo.com placed Mumm-Ra 5th place in their "Top 10 Television Cartoon Villains" list, stating that he was the most memorable character in the ThunderCats series. Labeling him as "a bad guy that audiences could actually fear".
In popular culture
- Mumm-Ra appears in the Family Guy episode, "The Man With Two Brians". When Brian is living with Cleveland Brown, Cleveland insists on walking Brian on a leash while he uses the bathroom. Mumm-Ra then appears, looking into his cauldron, and says, "I'm watching you make stool!"
- Mumm-Ra is referenced in rapper Lakutis' song "Mumra"
- "Robin Atkin Downes Talks "Mumm-Ra"". MTV (Geek-news.mtv.com). Retrieved 2012-03-28.
- "Thunder Thursdays: Know Your ThunderCats!". IGN. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- "ThunderCats: "Old Friends" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
- "ThunderCats: "Legacy" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- "Top 10 Television Cartoon Villains". Youtube.com. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- "Natives Of The Third Earth - Mumm-Ra". Gigwise.com. Retrieved 2011-09-04.