Bugs Bunny and the Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator

Bugs Bunny and his new Martian friend. Image: IMDB

Well, here’s a surprise.

Turns out we earthlings owe our planetary survival to Bugs Bunny.

You likely didn’t expect that, and we didn’t either. You can see the whole ordeal unfold in the Looney Tunes short, Haredevil Hare (1948).

It begins, as ordeals generally do, on a bright, sunny day. Scientists drag a reluctant Bugs Bunny from his home to the rocket launch site. As he frantically claws at the ground, Bugs says he doesn’t want to be a hero. “I don’t want to go. I’m too young to fly,” he cries.

This is a Historic event; it’s the first rocket to land on the moon. Although it’s miraculously powered by a single stick of dynamite, it has plenty o’ power. As the rocket nosedives onto the surface of the moon, a helpful sign flashes, “Fasten Safety Belt”.

On the moon, Bugs meets a tiny Martian who resembles Mars, the Roman war diety. (See below.) The Martian wears a helmet crowned by the business end of a push broom.

He’s one ambitious alien. He tells Bugs, “I’m going to blow up the earth,” as though it’s an everyday act, like making a sandwich.

Blowing up the earth requires a Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. This, like Bugs’ rocket, is powered by a stick of dynamite.

The enormity of the Martian’s diabolical plan is, at first, lost on Bugs. “Now, there’s a brainy little guy,” he says, happily ensconced in denial.

The Martian and Mars. Images: The Cartoon Spot and Ancient History Encyclopedia

Haredevil Hare is riddled with World War II references. This is understandable, given its release in 1948.

Let’s start with the Martian himself. Aside from his military-green costume, he is a black-white-red creature whose colours match those of the Nazi flag. The flag was adopted in 1935 and remained the national flag until the end of WWII. (You can learn more about the meaning behind the flag colours here.)

Next, when Bugs emerges from the rocket, he marvels that he’s “the first living creature to set foot on the moon.” As he strolls across the lunar surface, he wanders behind a rock upon which is scrawled, “Kilroy was here.”

According to the website, America Comes Alive, the Kilroy phenomenon began with a munitions inspector in Massachusetts during WWII. When he learned his inspection records were being altered, he started writing “Kilroy was here” to make his inspection marks more difficult to erase. This phrase quickly became famous, and soon it was appearing on landmarks throughout Europe and the South Pacific.¹

“Some believe that ‘Kilroy was here’ was a morale-builder,” says the site. “It seemed to give strength to the G.I.’s when they arrived at a new location and discovered that American soldiers already had been through the area.”²

Kilroy was Everywhere. Images (L-R): Brit Modeller, Upsocl, Graffiti Art

There’s also the martian’s V-16 rocket, which transports him across the moon’s surface. This rocket loosely resembles the V-1 flying bomb used by Germany during the war. V-1 stands for Vergeltungswaffe Einz (Vengeance Weapon 1), and was first used in June, 1944.

The website ThoughtCo. says the V-1 was “largely a terror weapon and had little overall impact on the outcome of the war.”³

V-16 Rocket vs. the German V-1 flying bomb. Image of V-1: Fiddlers Green

Happily for us, Bugs Bunny does not allow the Martian to blow up the earth. “You can’t do that!” he says. “Why, all the people I know are on the earth. The nerve of this character.”

Like all of Bugs’ adversaries, the Martian does not know with whom he’s dealing. As you’ve noticed, Bugs is a crafty individual who easily manipulates those less savvy than himself.

Haredevil Hare is the debut appearance of the Martian, who would later be dubbed Marvin the Martian. As of today’s date, he has 22 (twenty-two!) screen appearances.

If it’s been too many years since you’ve seen this animated short, you can view it HERE for free.

Notes

Haredevil Hare: starring Mel Blanc. Directed by Charles M. Jones. Written by Michael Maltese. Warner Bros., 1948, Technicolour, 7 mins.

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38 comments

  1. I LOVE this Bugs short! I watched it all the time when I was a kid. Of course back then I never noticed the WWII stuff (and probably didn’t even know what Kilroy was haha). I’ll have to watch it again now that I’m WWII-researched. What a great share, reminded me of many Saturday mornings running around the house shouting “The Uranium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator! He’s stolen the space modulator!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No prize, but can you guess what the voice in my head sounded like when I read Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator?

    In his autobiography, Mel Blanc said that the little Marsmeister was supposed to be Marvin Martian, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. I guess he carries himself with such import that he deserved the “the”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bahaha! Marvin the Martian has such a distinctive – and hilarious – voice.

      Speaking of Marvin, I didn’t realize he was intended to be named without the “The”. But, like you said, he’s dignified little fellow and he deserves it.

      Like

  3. This is one of my favourite Bugs Bunny shorts! I have to admit while I caught some of the WWII references, it never occurred to me that the colours of Marvin’s uniform match those of the Nazi flag!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a terrific review of a cartoon classic! I grew up on the Warner Bros. cartoons and have always admired their wit and occasional shots of cynicism. Plus, they were very amusing…heck, they still are!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Along with Gossamer the orange monster, Marvin the Martian is one of my very favorite Looney Tunes characters, and this is one of my favorite Bugs Bunny shorts. I love how you included the meanings of the post war symbolism in the cartoon! I knew they snuck in a lot of patriotic symbols during the war, but amazing that they kept at it afterwards.

    Thanks so much for participating in the blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Warner Bros shorts were al.ost always terrific, weren’t they? Smart & funny then, and just as much so today.

      I’d forgotten about Gossamer! I’m going to have to look him up!

      Thanks for organizing this Space blogathon. Like all your blogathons, it’s a terrific idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny how easy it is to think these old cartoon characters sprang fully-formed from the minds of their creators. One would never imagine what outside forces shaped their creation.

    At least I couldn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of my fav BB toons, and yes, I too read “modulatoooor” in Marvin’s voice. Love the research and background you have here! Turns out there were memes long before the internet. I always knew Looney Tunes were a cultural education.

    Liked by 1 person

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