Western Animation / Wizards


"They killed Fritz!"
Max, on the death of another soldier named Fritz

Wizards is a 1977 animated science fiction film by Ralph Bakshi. It takes place in what is basically a Standard Fantasy Setting, except it's actually Earth way, way, waaaaay After the End. It tells the story of a war between an army of nuclear mutants (former humans) and a coalition of humans and various fantasy races (who predated the existence of humans, their descendants, but only emerged from isolation after the catastrophe). Each group is led by one of the two titular Wizards, the brothers Blackwolf (the evil one) and Avatar (the good one). Can the swords and bows of the fantasy folk defend against the technology-based weapons — and propaganda — of the past?

Notable for featuring the early work of Mark Hamill.

In late 2016, Ralph has announced a new project of his called Short Thoughts, three one-minute shorts inspired by poetry vignettes from his previous films. One of the shorts is planned to be a follow-up to Wizards, starring Max and Fritz.

Not to be confused with The Wizard.


  • Affably Evil: Most of the Gas Mask Mooks, who get all the best scenes and just seem to be regular Punch Clock Villains. Specifically, the mutant General who gets killed by Weehawk near the end.
  • After the End: At least three million years after the end, no less.
  • Airstrip One: Blackwolf's capital city in Scorch is named Scorch One.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: The temple is filled with old pop culture memorabilia mistaken for religious relics.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Blackwolf recovers a newsreel of a Hitler speech and shows it to his army, many of his mooks wear swastika arm bands.
  • An Aesop: Technology in itself isn't evil, but rather when it's used for evil ends.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3. Only a handful of humans survived an atomic war. The other humans all mutated.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Time Will Tell".
  • Badass Grandpa: Avatar, the protagonist, who is also something of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Battle Cry: Weehawk has one that could make you crap your pants the first time you hear it.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Necron99/Peace is enduring one with Blackwolf the entire movie.
  • Big Bad: Blackwolf.
  • Black and Grey Morality
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Avatar is a very strong wizard, but regards the threat of his brother, the deaths of untold elves and the destruction of the entire world with an attitude that states he really just doesn't care anymore.
  • Cigar Chomper: While wizards in most works prefer a more traditional smoking method, Avatar smokes cigars.
  • Cain and Abel: Avatar and Blackwolf.
  • Central Theme: Does technology and progress drive humanity to madness? or is it what you do with it?
  • Combat Pragmatist: Rather than wasting time with an argument or an epic duel, Avatar (who made it clear earlier that he Doesn't Like Guns) simply shoots the Big Bad as soon as he gets the opportunity. With regards to why, he says "no matter what happens, I will die anyway" shortly beforehand. He was heartbroken by Elinore's betrayal, and lost faith in his own philosophy. That is, until AFTER the shooting... Anyway, you have to watch the film very carefully.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Given Elinore's outfit, it's hardly surprising what Avatar says when she sits down on his bed in front of him, asking what the plan is.
    Avatar: Oh, why don't you sit there for a couple of hours while I figure it out?
    • That being said though, he does have a heart of gold and will never let any harm come to his friends.
  • Death by Cameo: Continuing a running gag in Bakshi's work, he appears voicing a minor character, Fritz, who is almost immediately killed.
  • Disney Death: Played With in the infamous "They Killed Fritz" scene; when a soldier named Max thinks his pal Fritz is dead, he goes utterly ballistic over it—until Fritz gets up and calms him down, revealing it was just a scratch. Agitated by this, Max starts complaining about him, and then unintentionally shoots him, this time really killing him—and prompting Max to go nuts on the enemy yet again.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Avatar and Elinore both go barefoot throughout the movie; even when they end up on a glacier during a blizzard, Avatar conjures up a cloak for the nearly-naked Elinore, but still no shoes for either of them!
  • Evil Is Sterile: A minor subplot involves the evil mutants' inability to create (healthy, sustainable) life.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Blackwolf.
  • Eye Scream: A couple of scenes, most notably when Weehawk shoots Necron 99's mount through the eye with an arrow. It got better, somehow.
  • Expy: Avatar for Vaughn Bode's Cheech Wizard, though he does do more magic than "The Time Distortion Trick".
  • Face–Heel Turn: Elinore, or so it appears at first.
  • The Fair Folk
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Most of Blackwolf's rank-and-file soldiers wear gas masks.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Avatar has spent his whole life doing good deeds and willingly puts himself in danger to help others; however, he also smokes, drinks, and chases women.
  • Hammerspace: At one point Elinore is wearing a poncho over her stripperiffic outfit, and pulls a sword out from beneath it.
  • Handy Feet: Avatar frequently holds his cigars between his toes while smoking them. (Probably to keep his hands free for gesturing while talking.)
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Somewhat peculiar case. It's stated that Necron99 is under painful grip of Blackwolf's black magic and his propaganda machine. Avatar instills the promise of life without pain and without fear so that he get the motivation to fight this constant influence and regain his own will. Basically Avatar brainwashes him to want to be free which can be achieved only by joining Avatar.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Necron99, one of Blackwolf's top assassins, joins Avatar's side early in the film, taking the name 'Peace'.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Avatar has a short one after Elinore pulls an apparent Face–Heel Turn. He gets better.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Elinore's mother was a fairy and her father is human-sized.
  • Hypocrite: Both sides of the conflict. Blackwolf calls mutants the master race, yet wishes to kill his unborn son for being one. The forces of magic hate and outlaw technology yet use it to some extent (telescopes, a conjured jukebox, metallurgy), and at the end openly use firearms to fight the forces of Scorch. Even Avatar shoots Blackwolf with a handgun, albeit at great personal cost.
  • Informed Attribute: Blackwolf's assassins are said to have finished killing the leadership of all three major rival nations (leaving only ineffective replacements), but while the audience sees one die, the heroes also meet two other kings, one of whom wants to stay neutral...and the other who leads an effective attack on Scorch One (until the projector is used).
  • The Legions of Hell: Blackwolf's generals were called up from Hell to lead his mutant armies into battle.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Both Elinore and Weehawk pull this off.
  • Life/Death Juxtaposition: The narrator describes Avatar and Blackwolf as being diametric opposites. Avatar is a Friend to All Living Things who grows up looking kind of like one of Tolkien's dwarves. Blackwolf, on the other hand, grows up to be a dour zombie-like wizard with an affinity for Nazi propaganda. Avatar lives in the verdant lands among the fairies and elves, while Blackwolf lives in a nuclear wasteland called Scortch among the wretched and shambling mutants.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: When Blackwolf dies his lair collapses.
  • Lost Aesop: Most people assume, probably due to the introduction at the beginning of the film, that the moral is Science Is Bad. According to the commentary, it's actually a statement about propaganda (which both the good guys and bad guys use, but if you're too sympathetic to Avatar's faction's rhetoric of peace you might miss that his team's is subtler). The good guys have no problems using technology (namely, guns) when they have to.
    • Though Avatar does state to the president of Montagar that "Even if we could impress our people with the danger, Science and technology were outlawed millions of years ago." This doesn't mean that Science Is Bad, just that Avatar's side is at a disadvantage from their own propaganda-fueled rejection of technology.
  • Magical Barefooter: Avatar goes around barefoot, being a kind of hippie-elf. Avatar ultimately squares off against his Evil Counterpart brother Blackwolf, who wears cloth shoes or large socks. Also, Avatar's Girl Friday is the fairy Elinore, likewise barefoot, in contrast to Blackwolf's assassin Peace, who wears boots attached to his crimson onesie.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: The entire plot of the movie.
  • Mood Whiplash: One moment we're laughing at the antics of the two priests, and the next we see that their carrying on has caused the demons to kill their prisoners and blow up the church.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Blackwolf's rhetoric about fighting to assert mutant superiority is somewhat belied by the implication that he will kill his own child when it turns out to be a mutant.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Avatar shoots and kills Blackwolf with a Luger he had hidden up his sleeve that he had obtained off of a dead enemy.
  • Our Elves Are Different: You have your elves that look more like hobbits or Santa's elves, then there are a few elves that look like djinn.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They have just about every kind of fairy imaginable. You have the typical ones, ones ranging in insectoid appearance, a couple of fairies that look like they were drawn by Andy Warhol, Elinore, and Avatar who looks more like a dwarf than a fairy, and Blackwolf who looks more like a lich. Interestingly enough, their mother, a fairy, has a trait that comes from another mythological creature known as a Satyrus.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Apparently his daughter is a princess (and later queen). Her and her mother might be from a neighboring kingdom, with Avatar as the local king with no interest in ruling.
  • Overly Long Gag: The two priests were allegedly grovelling for about five hours before the two soldiers of Blackwolf's army finally decide to do something about it.
  • Post Apocalyptic Gasmask: The "generic" mutants all wear coveralls and gasmasks. (It's hard to tell but a couple of cutscenes seem to imply that their faces are gasmask shaped!)
  • Putting on the Reich: Blackwolf's regime rapidly turns into Nazi Germany IN A FANTASY SETTING!, complete with swastika banners, German uniforms, German weaponry, panzers, planes, and old propaganda films of Hitler. Blackwolf's official title is "fuhrer", and he calls the mutants "leaders of tomorrow" and the "Master Race." At the end, the narrator even states that "Hitler was dead again."
  • Precision F-Strike: "I'm glad you changed your last name, you son of a bitch!" *BANG!*
  • Ragnarök Proofing: One of the most ridiculously egregious examples in film history. Old artifacts of civilization still exist three million years after the end of the world, including functioning film projectors with intact, watchable movies.
  • Rearing Horse: Strangely, Weehawk's mount does this way off in the distance at the end of the film. What's strange about it is that the creatures they ride only have two legs, so what, exactly, was the mount kicking out in front of it?
  • Rock Beats Laser: Averted. When the last few heroic survivors of the free nations get together an army and launch a desperate final strike against the enemy, knowing that they are the last hope to save the world... they are almost completely slaughtered by artillery, planes, tanks, and machine guns. Although an earlier scene establishes they have access to guns and they put up a great fight — they only start to lose because Blackwolf activates the film projector — if not for Avatar shooting Blackwolf, they would have been exterminated to a man.
  • Rotoscoping: In several scenes, particularly the climactic battle scene, footage from Zulu is used, but painted over to create a Chiaroscuro effect. In some cases fantastic flourishes such as horns or glowing eyes were added.
  • Schizo Tech: Medieval and automatic weapons are used, on both sides, no less.
  • Simpleton Voice: Necron99 doesn't really sound as menacing as his reputation makes him out to be.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This Ralph Bakshi film is more in the middle.
  • Stealth Pun: A subtle, slow-burn example. At the end of the movie, Avatar says "I'm glad you changed your last name, you son of a bitch!" If Blackwolf's name is read as two words, his last name is wolf... and female wolves are called bitches.
  • Stripperiffic: The outfit worn by Elinore is ridiculously so, complete with clearly-visible nipples. Lampshaded at least once by a line of dialogue from Avatar.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Holy chrome!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what becomes of Blackwolf's wife and newborn son. They are shown escaping from Scorch after she prevents Weehawk from killing Elinore, whom he believes is a traitor, but are never shown again. Word of God is that Blackwolf Jr, was a Sequel Hook that never panned out.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: A rare heroic example. Specifically, a rare heroic subversion. When Avatar meets Blackwolf, there is no big wizard duel. He just shoots him.