|“||Eh... What's up doc?||„|
|~ Bugs Bunny's Catchphrase|
|“||Of course you know this means war!||„|
|~ Bugs, upon facing his foes.|
|“||What a maroon!||„|
|~ Bugs, upon outsmarting his opponents.|
|“||Ain't I a stinker?||„|
|~ Bugs, when he is satisfied.|
Bugs Bunny is the main protagonist in the animated series Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and one of the two main protagonists in the 2003 live-action/animated film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and the protagonist in the 1996 live-action/animated film, Space Jam.
Personality & Catchphrases
|“||Some people call me cocky and brash, but actually I am just self-assured. I'm nonchalant, imperturbable, contemplative. I play it cool, but I can get hot under the collar. And above all I'm a very 'aware' character. I'm well aware that I am appearing in an animated cartoon....And sometimes I chomp on my carrot for the same reason that a stand-up comic chomps on his cigar. It saves me from rushing from the last joke to the next one too fast. And I sometimes don't act, I react. And I always treat the contest with my pursuers as 'fun and games.' When momentarily I appear to be cornered or in dire danger and I scream, don't be consoined – it's actually a big put-on. Let's face it Doc. I've read the script and I already know how it turns out.||„|
|~ Bob Clampett on Bugs Bunny, written in first person.|
When Bugs made his appearance, he promptly replaced Daffy Duck as the most popular Warner Bros. character. Daffy, jealous of his cartoon counterpart's ascension to fame, has on many occasions attempted to dethrone the rabbit. But he has never truly succeeded, always being outsmarted by the clever hare.
However, as time passed on, Bugs and Daffy's rivalry has turned friendlier in nature as the two usually hang out together in most cartoons and Bugs considers Daffy his best friend despite his faults, to which Daffy says the same thing.
Bugs will usually try to placate the antagonist and avoid contention, but when a villain pushes him too far, Bugs may address the audience and invoke his catchphrase "Of course you realize this means war!" before he retaliates, and the retaliation will be devastating. This line was taken from Groucho Marx and others in the 1933 film Duck Soup and was also used in the 1935 Marx film A Night at the Opera. Bugs would pay homage to Groucho in other ways, such as occasionally adopting his stooped walk or leering eyebrow-raising (in Hair-Raising Hare, for example) or sometimes with a direct impersonation (as in Slick Hare).
Other directors, such as Friz Freleng, characterized Bugs as altruistic. When Bugs meets other successful characters (such as Cecil Turtle in Tortoise Beats Hare, or, in World War II, the Gremlin of Falling Hare), his overconfidence becomes a disadvantage. Most of Bugs' adversaries are extremely dim-witted, and Bugs is easily able to outwit and torment them, although on occasion they will manage to get the best of Bugs. Daffy Duck, who is arguably more intelligent but less clever, is unaffected by Bugs' usual schemes, which usually results in the two trying to outsmart the other with Bugs always triumphing in the end. However, there are only 4 antagonists that successfully defeats Bugs in the end of the cartoon, such as Cecil Turtle, the Gremlin from Falling Hare, the unnamed mouse from Rhapsody Rabbit, and the fly from Baton Bunny.
During the 1940s, Bugs started off immature and wild (similar to Daffy), but by the 1950s his personality matured and his attitude became more refined and less frenetic. Although often shown as highly clever, Bugs is never actually malicious, and only acts as such in self-defense against his aggressors.
The only exceptions where Bugs ever serves as an antagonist are the following: Elmer's Pet Rabbit, Wabbit Twouble, The Wacky Wabbit, Buckaroo Bugs and Duck Amuck; Elmer's Pet Rabbit depicts him completely out-of-character with a more aggressive, arrogant, almost thuggish personality. Wabbit Twouble and The Wacky Wabbit depict him as a prankster harassing Elmer Fudd in the vein of early Daffy Duck/Porky Pig cartoons featuring the screwball Daffy as the tormentor. Buckaroo Bugs depicts him as a true villain, while Duck Amuck depicts him as far more sadistic than usual, as he becomes an animator and uses his newfound powers to torture Daffy.
Bugs Bunny's nonchalant carrot-chewing standing position, as explained by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and Bob Clampett, originated in a scene in the 1934 film It Happened One Night, in which Clark Gable's character leans against a fence, eating carrots rapidly and talking with his mouth full to Claudette Colbert's character. This scene was well known while the film was popular, and viewers at the time likely recognized Bugs Bunny's behavior as satire.
The carrot-chewing scenes are generally followed by Bugs Bunny's most well-known catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?", which was written by director Tex Avery for his first Bugs Bunny short, 1940's A Wild Hare. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in his native Texas and that he did not think much of the phrase. When the short was first screened in theaters, the "What's up, Doc?" scene generated a tremendously positive audience reaction. As a result, the scene became a recurring element in subsequent films and cartoons. The phrase was sometimes modified for a situation. For example, Bugs says "What's up, dogs?" to the antagonists in A Hare Grows In Manhattan, "What's up, Duke?" to the knight in Knight-Mare Hare and "What's up, prune-face?" to the aged Elmer in The Old Grey Hare. He might also greet Daffy with "What's up, Duck?" He used one variation, "What's all the hub-bub, bub?" only once, in Falling Hare. Another variation is used in Looney Tunes: Back In Action when he greets a bubble gun-yielding Marvin The Martian saying "What's up, Darth?" (a reference to Darth Vader from the Star Wars film series).
Several Chuck Jones shorts in the late 1940s and 1950's depict Bugs travelling via cross-country (and, in some cases, intercontinental) tunnel-digging, ending up in places as varied as Mexico (Bully For Bugs), The Himalayas (The Abominable Snow Rabbit) and Antarctica (Frigid Hare) all because he "shoulda taken that left toin at Albukoikee." He first utters that phrase in 1945's Herr Meets Hare, when he emerges in the Black Forest, a cartoon seldom seen today due to its blatantly topical subject matter. When Hermann Göring says to Bugs, "Zair is no Las Vegas in Chermany" and takes a potshot at Bugs, Bugs dives into his hole and says, "Joimany? YIPE!", as Bugs realizes he's behind enemy lines. The confused response to his "left toin" comment also followed a pattern. For example, when he tunnels into Scotland in My Bunny Lies Over The Sea, while thinking he's heading for the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California, it provides another chance for an ethnic stereotype: "Therrre's no La Brrrea Tarrr Pits in Scotland!" (to which Bugs responds, "Uh...what's up, Mac-doc?"). A couple of late-1950s/early 1960s shorts of this ilk also featured Daffy Duck traveling with Bugs ("Since when is Pismo Beach inside a cave?!").
Bugs Bunny has some similarities to figures from mythology and folklore, such as Br'er Rabbit, Nanabozho, or Anansi, and might be seen as a modern trickster (for example, he repeatedly uses cross-dressing mischievously). Unlike most cartoon characters, however, Bugs Bunny is rarely defeated in his own games of trickery. One exception to this is the short Hare Brush, in which Elmer Fudd ultimately carries the day at the end; however, critics note that in this short, Elmer and Bugs assume each other's personalities—through mental illness and hypnosis, respectively—and it is only by becoming Bugs that Elmer can win. However, Bugs was beaten at his own game. In the short Duck Amuck he torments Daffy Duck as the unseen animator, ending with his line, "Ain't I a stinker?" Bugs feels the same wrath of an unseen animator in the short Rabbit Rampage where he is in turn tormented by Elmer Fudd. At the end of the clip Elmer gleefully exclaims, 'Well, I finally got even with that scwewy wabbit!"
Bugs wears white gloves, which he is rarely seen without, although he may remove one and use it for slapping an opponent to predicate a duel. Another glove-less example is Long-Haired Hare, where Bugs pretends to be the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski and instructs opera star "Giovanni Jones" to sing and to hold a high note. As Giovanni Jones is turning red with the strain, Bugs slips his left hand out of its glove, leaving the glove hovering in the air in order to command Jones to continue to hold the high note. Bugs then nips down to the mail drop to order, and then to receive, a pair of ear defenders. Bugs puts on the ear defenders and then zips back into the amphitheater and reinserts his hand into his glove as singer Jones is writhing on the stage, still holding that same high note.
Bugs Bunny is also a master of disguise: he can wear any disguise that he wants to confuse his enemies: in Bowery Bugs he uses diverse disguises: fakir, gentleman, woman, baker and finally policeman. This ability of disguise makes Bugs famous because we can recognize him while at the same time realizing that his enemies are stumped. Bugs has a certain preference for the female disguise: Taz, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam were fooled by this sexy bunny (woman) and in Hare Trimmed, Sam discovers the real face of "Granny" (Bugs's disguise) in the church where they attempt to get married. Bugs dressed as a female hunter, a temptress, the beautiful Brunhlide, a sexy lady and many others to fool Elmer Fudd and he also kissed him in his nose twice (Bugs and Elmer also happily got married in the end of Rabbit of Seville [Elmer as the bride and Bugs as the groom], as well as in Bugs' Bonnets). For all the gullible victims off all these disguises, however, for some reason, Daffy Duck and Cecil Turtle were among those who are never fooled.
Bugs Bunny may also have some mystical potential. In Knight-Mare Hare he was able to return to his bunny form (after being transformed into a donkey) by removing his donkey form as if it were a suit. Merlin of Monroe (the wizard) was unable to do the same thing. Later Bugs Bunny defeated the Count Blood Count in a magical spell duel. However, the story was a dream and Bugs Bunny's victory over Count Blood Count was a result of his intellect, not innate magical power.