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.
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
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.