Bionic Bunny is a fictional rabbit superhero created by children's author and illustrator Marc Brown. Although Bionic Bunny is most associated with the Arthur characters, he has appeared in his own book as well. Bionic Bunny is always fictional even within the context of the Arthur world, and is portrayed by fictional actor Wilbur Rabbit. Bionic Bunny physically appears to be a tall, strong anthropomorphic white rabbit who wears sneakers and a red-and-blue superhero costume with a red cape. Although in some ways a parody of various different superheroes, and of superheroes in general, Bionic Bunny is most directly a reference to Superman. Like Superman's weakness to Kryptonite, Bionic Bunny's weakness is salt.
Bionic Bunny in the Arthur world
In both the Arthur books and cartoon series, Bionic Bunny is the favorite superhero of most of the characters, especially Arthur Read and Buster Baxter. In addition to being portrayed as a (live-action within the Arthur context) television series, he has also been the star of a movie series and a popular comic book. Bionic Bunny is also heavily merchandised in Arthur's world, with his poster hanging prominently in Arthur's room, as well as countless other references. Some viewers believe that Arthur wears Bionic Bunny slippers, but this is actually half of a larger joke: Arthur, the aardvark, wears bunny slippers, while Buster, the bunny, wears aardvark slippers. Other notable Bionic Bunny merchandise includes Arthur's walkie-talkie system and soup. Arthur is also revealed to wear Bionic Bunny underwear in the episode Arthur Goes to Camp (this piece of information was also one of the many quotes programmed into an Actimates D.W.). Arthur also dresses up as Bionic Bunny for Halloween
In later episodes, Bionic Bunny's show had been spun off into a second series, Dark Bunny. Dark Bunny is a darker, scarier, and gloomier portrayal of the Bionic Bunny universe, and is comparable to Bionic Bunny in the same way that Batman is to Superman. In particular, Dark Bunny is in reference to the post-Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns version of Batman, and most of all to the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon of the 1990s. The first episode mentioning Dark Bunny says he is Bionic Bunny's cousin, but a later episode reveals them to be brothers. Arthur and his friends are at first fascinated with this more mature spin-off (except for D.W., who considers it scary), but soon become bored with it and watch the Teletubbies-inspired "Love Ducks" show instead.
Conejitos Mechanicos is the Spanish version of Bionic Bunny, and is roughly a literal translation as well. Seen in the episode "Arthur and Los Vecinos", Arthur's Hispanic teenage new neighbor has a stack of Conejitos Mechanicos comic books in Spanish, (except that they are called Conejo Bionico) which he gives to Arthur because he's outgrowing them and losing interest in the character. Arthur gladly accepts, but proceeds to pester his new friend by asking him to translate nearly every word. This is a realistic simulacrum of the real-world comic book industry, where heroes often have different names in non-English markets (Spider-Man, for example, is El Hombre Araña in Spanish) and the stories are either translated or completely different.
On "Postcards from Buster"
Bionic Bunny also features as a character in the Postcards from Buster series. One notable example is an episode entitled Buster's League of Champions and set in Virginia Beach in which Buster, disappointed after seeing a bad Bionic Bunny movie, writes a letter to the producers with suggestions for a sequel, which are acted out by various children Buster meets.
The Bionic Bunny Show book
The Bionic Bunny Show (first ISBN 0-316-11120-1) is a children's book by Marc Brown and, Laurene (Laurie) Krasny Brown. It was first published in 1984 by Little, Brown & Co, 12 years before the Arthur television cartoon first aired. Although fictional and drawn as a cartoon, the book attempts to show small children the concept of a television show from behind the scenes, introducing the concept of an actor, showing the steps involved in preparing and shooting an episode, and so forth. The main point of the book was to show children that while television shows may be entertaining, they aren't "real", and that television heroes are really just ordinary people. The book was featured in an episode of Reading Rainbow in 1988. In addition to reading the book, host LeVar Burton also expanded on the book's themes with a behind-the-scenes look at his other series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. After the Reading Rainbow episode aired, a second edition was printed (ISBN 0-316-10992-4) which was even more popular than the first. The Reading Rainbow episode was also released on video, including as a set with the book. Later, the book was reissued yet again (ISBN 0-8085-3762-8) in 1999.
Bionic Bunny's real origin
Creator Marc Brown has revealed in interviews how the idea for Bionic Bunny came about. He and his wife Laurie were discussing aspects of superheroes while driving to an antique show in 1983, specifically how young children consider superheroes to be "real". Laurie was speaking from some experience, having studied superhero fiction at Harvard. They agreed to collaborate on a book about superheroes. Thus, Bionic Bunny was not created to be part of the Arthur world, but instead became part of it later. Bionic Bunny's mother is usually wearing an apron and glasses.
Bionic Bunny and Dark Bunny villains
Bionic Bunny and Dark Bunny face off against a number of villains, many of which are parodies of known comic-book supervillains.
- Bank robbers (as seen in the book, The Bionic Bunny Show) - possibly a reference to the normal villains Superman fought during WWII-era Superman cartoons.
- Doctopus - Described as an octopus who went to college and became a doctor. A reference to Spider-Man arch nemesis Doctor Octopus in name at least, but Doctopus actually has the body of an octopus.
- Icy MacFreeze - (from a PBS Kids newsletter) A Scottish inventor who faced Bionic Bunny with a freeze ray in the movie The Day the Earth Stood Chilled. A reference to Batman villain Mr. Freeze.
- Professor Origami-A professor who uses origami as his weapons.
Bionic Bunny merchandise
Although Marc Brown has traditionally avoided heavily marketing his characters to avoid overexposure, there has been some Bionic Bunny merchandise, such as a ten-inch stuffed doll (a similar Mary Moo Cow doll was also made). Bionic Bunny makes cameo appearances in many other Arthur items as well: for example, a talking Arthur doll from Microsoft which wears a Bionic Bunny wristwatch, which plays games when pressed.
Bionic Bunny movie
A feature-length Arthur-related movie has been in development for several years, and for a time official sources indicated that the movie would center around Bionic Bunny, and possibly even be called The Bionic Bunny Movie. As of 2005, it was revealed that the first Arthur feature would be a CGI movie called Arthur's Missing Pal,was released in 2006 by Lion's Gate Entertainment. www.arthur.com
- For another example of a bionic rabbit character in popular culture, see Bunnie Rabbot.
- For other examples of rabbit superheroes and comic characters, see Captain Carrot, American Rabbit, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Usagi Yojimbo and Bucky O'Hare.
- For other examples of fictional rabbits in general, see List of fictional rabbits.