March 25, 1994 – The Live Action Feature Film D2: The Mighty Ducks is Released to Theaters
“Just when you think they’re about to break apart, ducks fly together.”
On March 25, 1994, the live-action film D2: The Mighty Ducks was released to theaters. The film was a sequel to the film The Mighty Ducks and, like the first film, was a hit with audiences, but a flop with the critics. Nevertheless, the film was a financial success. Many members of the original cast reprised their roles for this film, as did writer Steven Brill. The film was directed by Sam Weisman, and starred Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay, Joshua Jackson as Charlie, Kathryn Erbe as Michelle McKay, Michael Tucker as Mr. Tibbles, Jan Rubes as Jan, and Carsten Norgaard as Wolf Stansson.
The film begins shortly after the events of the first film, where lawyer Gordon Bombay is off to play in the minor hockey league. Bombay is a star in the minors, and is just one short step away from the NHL, according to the sports commentators. However, a rival player stops those ambitions with a hit to Bombay’s knee, leaving him unable to play. He returns home to Minneapolis, dejected, and is greeted by his friend Jan, brother of his mentor Hans. With nothing else to do, and not wanting to go back to being a lawyer, Bombay takes a job at the hockey shop, sharpening skates. One day, he is met by Don Tibbles, representative for Hendrix Hockey, who wants to hire Bombay as the coach of Team USA for the Junior Goodwill Games, and Bombay decides to accept. The Ducks are then tapped as members of Team USA, and they excitedly gather together for the announcement. Although he accepted, Bombay is confused as to why he is being given so much attention, as he’s “just a coach,” but Tibbles explains that they’re selling the image of a coach, and Bombay is the perfect fit.
When the Ducks arrive at their practice rink, they find that they will be joined by five new players: Luis Mendoza from Miami, Florida; Dwayne Robertson from Austin, Texas; Julie Gaffney from Bangor, Maine; Ken Wu, the Olympic figure skater; and Dean Portman, the enforcer. The new and old players do not get along at first, but Bombay quickly puts them to work with a scrimmage. During the scrimmage, Fulton gets the puck, and hits it so hard that it ricochets on the edge of the goal and hits Tibbles in the head, knocking him unconscious before he can introduce Michelle McKay, the tutor. Seeing as how the kids don’t want to work as a team, Bombay decides to try some more “creative” methods of teambuilding, including tying the entire team together and having them skate as one. Finally, the team is able to unite before the games begin. The team suddenly starts seeing the perks of being Team USA – which includes being on the front of a Wheaties box – but Charlie feels like the team is selling out. McKay feels the same as Charlie, and tries to incorporate a sense of pride in America in her next lesson.
Soon, the team is off to California for the Junior Goodwill Games, and the team plays their first match against Trinidad. Jesse is heckled by a kid in the stands, while Fulton and Portman have formed a fast friendship as the enforcers, becoming known as the “Bash Brothers.” Team USA wins the match, 9 to 2. They then attend a press conference, where they are insulted by the coach of the Iceland team, Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson. Bombay is soon taken to Malibu, where Tibbles has given him his own beach house; while Bombay is away, the kids start to play pranks on each other in the dorms. Right before the game against Italy, Bombay meets Maria, the trainer for the Iceland team, and is quite taken with her. However, Stansson shows up and tries to intimidate Bombay, but Bombay isn’t so easily intimidated. USA wins against Italy 11 to nothing, and Bombay is soon taken to a photoshoot for Hendrix Hockey. Bombay starts becoming more “Hollywood,” while the kids are left to explore Beverly Hills on their own.
Julie shows up to Bombay’s office, disappointed that she’s been unable to play as goalie for a single match so far. He promises her that soon she’ll be able to play, but she’s still unsure. Later that night, Fulton and Portman sneak out and go exploring in Hollywood, when they spy Bombay on a date with Maria. They subtly question him about it before the next game, which is against Iceland. Team USA goes in there incredibly cocky thanks to their earlier success, and three seconds into the game, Portman is thrown out of the game due to “unsportsmanlike conduct.” The powerful Iceland team immediately knocks down the USA team, and the old Bombay obsessed with perfection returns, leaving the former Ducks distraught. Julie is sent in as the goalie, but lasts two seconds when she pushes down two Iceland players making sexist comments to her. Adam is finally able to score for USA, but an Iceland player purposefully hits Adam’s arm, giving Adam a serious injury to his wrist. The game ends, with Iceland winning 12 to 1. Tibbles threatens to pull the backing away from Bombay and Team USA, and Bombay takes out his frustration on the team, calling them pathetic. Fulton reveals Bombay’s date with Maria to the team, and they feel completely betrayed, especially since Bombay stopped caring about the team and the fun of hockey.
When Bombay shows up for practice the next day, his entire team is gone, and he is greeted by McKay instead, who informs him that she cancelled their practice. When he yells at her, she lectures him that it’s just a game, and he’s lost sight of it. As the team decides to practice on their own, the kid that’s been heckling Jesse, named Russ, shows up and challenges them to a game with his boys. The team plays a game of street hockey with kids from LA, who want to teach the team how to play like “the real Team USA.” Team USA is reinvigorated, and ready to play the game that night, with Russ and his friends ready to cheer them on. Meanwhile, a depressed Bombay heads home to find Jan waiting in his kitchen. Jan tries to remind Bombay why he wanted to coach the kids in the first place: to “teach them how to fly.” Later, Bombay heads outside and realizes why he wanted to do this after all. At the game, because Bombay is missing, McKay has to pretend to be the coach for Team USA, or they forfeit the game against Germany. Midway through the game, Bombay finally shows up, blowing the duck whistle as he did when he reunited the Ducks. He sincerely apologizes to the team, and asks them for another chance. The team agrees, and they continue the game against Germany, with Jesse leading the team into the “Flying V” move from the Ducks’ glory days, and USA wins against Germany.
With a renewed spirit, the team studies footage of themselves against Iceland, and work on polishing their skills and strengthening their weaknesses. Although Adam had been hiding his wrist injury, Bombay notices and reluctantly benches him. Adam is understandably disappointed, but realizes that if he pushes it, he could injure himself permanently. With Adam’s spot open, Charlie recruits Russ, who helps USA win against Russia, leading USA into the finals against Iceland. For their last practice, the kids go out to have some fun on the ice, when they are interrupted by the Iceland Team. Stansson challenges Bombay to a game, and while Bombay hesitates, he agrees to play a game of “Three Bar” with the Iceland coach. Bombay is one shot away from winning, when Stansson takes a cheap shot by hitting Bombay’s injured knee. The game day finally arrives, and Adam reveals that he’s able to play once again. As Russ is about to give up his spot, Charlie volunteers instead, with Bombay giving Charlie the chance to be the assistant coach.
From the opening face-off, the game is intense, with Iceland quickly scoring the first goal. Iceland plays dirty, hooking Adam’s arm the moment he steps on the ice, but Adam reassures the coach that he’s fine. Team USA tries the “Flying V,” but it is soon broken by Iceland. The first period ends with Iceland leading 4 to 0, and the second period begins with the Bash Brothers causing mayhem on the ice. Ken surprises the Iceland team with figure skating moves, and finally puts USA on the board. When the Iceland goal tries to attack Ken, Ken uses moves from the street team to defend himself, and is sent to the penalty box for two minutes, which has the Bash Brothers making Ken the “Little Bash Brother.” Team USA starts making more a mockery of the game than anything else, thinking that if they’re going to lose, they might as well have a good time while doing so. At the end of the second period, Bombay lectures the team on the real meaning of pride. Jan surprises the team with new jerseys, all sporting the new Ducks logo. Everyone in the stadium starts cheering on the Ducks, and the Ducks get ready to take on Iceland, quickly scoring against the strong team. With Charlie’s help, the team is able to try a new play that gives them another goal, with the team gaining ground against Iceland. Bombay then has the team try a trick move, which gives them the goal for a tie.
The game comes down to a shootout, with the top five Ducks taking their shot, and Goldberg playing goalie. The score is neck and neck throughout, with Adam giving Team USA their fourth out of five possible points. Before Iceland’s star player Gunnar takes his shot, Bombay replaces Goldberg with Julie, who he knows can keep up with Gunnar’s shot. In a tense moment, no one knows what happened, until Julie reveals that she caught the puck, and the Ducks win the championship game. Stansson berates Gunnar, telling him that the player lost the game for him, but Gunnar tells him that Stansson lost it for himself, and the Iceland team graciously goes to shake the hands of Team USA. The movie ends with a shot of ducks flying in a v-formation in the sky, before showing the team at a campout singing “We Are the Champions.”