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Æon Flux / / is an American avant-garde science fiction adventure animated television series that aired on MTV from November 30, 1991, until October 10, 1995, with film, comic book, and video game adaptations following thereafter. It premiered on MTV's Liquid Television experimental animation show, as a six-part serial of short films, followed in 1992 by five individual short episodes. In 1995, a season of ten half-hour episodes aired as a stand-alone series. Æon Flux was created by American animator Peter Chung. Each episode's plot has elements of social science fiction, biopunk, allegory, dystopian fiction, spy fiction, psychological drama, postmodern visual, psychedelic imagery and Gnostic symbolism.
|Country of origin
|No. of seasons
|No. of episodes
|21 (list of episodes)
|November 30, 1991 (1991-11-30) –
October 10, 1995 (1995-10-10)
The live-action movie Æon Flux, loosely based upon the series and starring Charlize Theron, was released in theaters on December 2, 2005, preceded in November of that year by a tie-in video game of the same name based mostly on the movie but containing some elements of the original TV series.
Æon Flux is set in a surreal German Expressionist-style futuristic universe around 100,000 years into the future. The setting comprises a bizarre dystopia populated by mutant creatures, clones, and robots, set within the separated border-wall cities of Monica and Bregna, which are the only human settlements left on earth after ecological collapse forced the rest of mankind to evacuate off-world centuries before, presumably having died out since then. The title character is a tall, sexy, scantily clad dominatrix secret agent from the city of Monica — skilled in espionage, assassination and acrobatics. Her mission is to infiltrate and destroy the strongholds of the city of Bregna //, which is led by her sworn enemy, and sometimes lover, Trevor Goodchild — the technocratic dictator of Bregna, whose citizens are called Breens. The two cities engage in a futile, never-ending war for ideological supremacy. While Monica represents a dynamic nihilistic, anarchist society where rules do not exist, Bregna embodies an Orwellian totalitarian police state where society is ruled through centralized scientific planning. The names of their respective characters reflect this: Flux, as the self-directed agent from Monica, and Goodchild, as the self-appointed leader of Bregna. Themes of tragic/forbidden love run throughout the series as Trevor has everything but what he truly wants, Æon; and Æon can accomplish anything she wants except settling down with Trevor.
- Japhet Asher as Clavius (Director's Cut)
- Andrea Carvajal as Una
- Steffan Chirazi as Bambara
- Morgan Creaves as Rordy
- Shawn Cuddy as Celia
- Joseph Drelich as Clavius (original airing)
- Taichi Erskine as Boy
- Alex Fernandez as Aemon
- Julia Fletcher as Benzenhurst
- Kelly Gabriel as Lindze
- Christianne Hauber as Principal Lorna
- Mark Mars as Sinnah
- Matt K. Miller as Ilbren
- C. W. Morgan as Bargeld
- Adam Paul as Nadir Zenith
- Paul Raci as Onan
- Elizabeth Sampson as Hedrick
- Patrick Stretch as Gildemere
- Susan Turner-Cray as Hostess Judy
- Grace Whitefeather as Sybil
- Phil Brotherton
- Jack Fletcher
- Frank Ottiwell
- Andrew Philpot
- Max Redmond
- R. Carl Voight
Some authors consider the title a reference to the Gnostic notion of an Aeon, noting the influence in the use of a demiurge in one episode, and that the relationship between the main characters parallels the Valentinian notion of a syzygy. Peter Chung, the creator, says the main character's name "started out just being the name of the cartoon and then eventually it stuck, so that's her name." The character Æon Flux was not meant to be part of the series, but MTV pushed to keep her in it, despite Æon dying at the end of the first batch of shorts. Chung intended the cartoon to be a reaction to heroic Hollywood action films, not as a spoof, but rather as a way to make the audience wonder about the wider context of these action heroes and evoke thought. Æon Flux is therefore notable as the first American adult animated series to be a drama rather than a comedy.
One peculiarity of the early shorts is the violent death of Æon Flux, which occurs in each installment. According to the commentary by Peter Chung in the 2005 DVD release, she dies in every short episode after the initial six-part pilot because he never intended to make more episodes and felt the best solution was to have her keep dying; by contrast, she only "dies" once in the half-hour series. Often her death is caused by fate, while other times she dies due to her own incompetence. One of the half-hour episodes, "A Last Time for Everything", ends with the original Æon being killed and replaced by an identical clone. (In the episode "Chronophasia", Æon is apparently killed repeatedly by a monstrous baby, but the reality of these events is ambiguous. In "Ether Drift Theory", Æon is suspended indefinitely in an inanimate state, but remains technically alive.)
Chung describes the style of the show as "academic": "I was interested in experimenting with visual narrative, telling a story without dialogue and also trying to create a style of telling a story with animation that wasn't influenced by the usual kinds of things that you see." Æon Flux depicts graphic violence and sexuality, including fetishism and domination. The featurette Investigation: The History of Æon Flux (included on the 2005 DVD release) notes that Peter Chung had worked on Rugrats prior to Æon Flux, and had become extremely frustrated by the limitations of the characters. Chung says the visual style was influenced by Hergé, ligne claire, Egon Schiele, and Moebius.
With the exceptions of the exclamation "No!" in the pilot and the single word "plop" in the episode "Leisure", all of the short episodes are completely devoid of intelligible speech. Instead, the sound track employs a variety of sound effects, including sounds such as laughter, grunts, and sighs. It would not be until the beginning of Season 3 that dialogue would be used much more extensively.
The music and sound design for the original television series was created by Drew Neumann, who also created music for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Peter Stone (of Xorcist) served as assistant sound editor for the original MTV series.
The music was later released on CD by Klasky Csupo's record label, Tone Casualties, titled Eye Spy – Ears Only: Confidential. The initials "AF" were used on song titles and in the credits to replace the words "Æon Flux" due to the lack of licensing permissions from MTV. The album includes two discs worth of material from the series as well as the canceled original (1995) video game.
An abbreviated edition of the album's first disc, titled Æon Flux: Music from the Animated Series, was included as a bonus with the 2005 DVD set at Best Buy. This edition included 11 pieces of score, with dialogue snippets featuring Æon and Trevor interspersed as standalone tracks.
Neumann self-released an expanded, remastered version of the album, retitled Eye Spy: Declassified, Freedom of Information Act, as a digital download in 2010, with new artwork by Peter Chung and a previously unreleased third volume of music. This edition was reissued by Waxwork Records on vinyl, digital download, and streaming on February 17, 2023, and on CD the following April, as Æon Flux: Original Soundtrack.
MTV was the exclusive broadcaster of the series in the United States. In Canada, the shorts aired on MuchMusic and the third season aired a year or so later on the youth-oriented network YTV, in a late-night timeslot, during a period when the network was trying to appeal to an older audience. In Australia and New Zealand, during the early to mid-1990s, the Liquid Television shorts and the first series were shown on the program Eat Carpet on SBS television. In Southeast Asia the third season was broadcast in 1996 via the MTV Southeast Asia channel, which at the time was free to anyone with a satellite dish. In the UK, MTV first showed the shorts and the 30-minute episodes from 1992. In the mid-1990s, the BBC showed the Liquid Television shorts, which included all of the Æon Flux shorts. Locomotion played the third season repeatedly, between 1998–1999 and 2002–2003, in Spanish and Portuguese for Latin America. The series was also aired on Norwegian channel NRK2, a sister channel to state channel NRK, alongside The Maxx, Phantom 2040, and The Head in the late 1990s. Teletoon Detour also aired it with The Maxx.
In the lead-up to the 2006 international release of Æon Flux on DVD and the live-action movie, MTV UK replayed the third season of Æon Flux from October to November in 2005. The episodes were played at 2 a.m. on weeknights. MTV Australia followed with replays of the third season beginning in December 2005, scheduled at 1 a.m. on weeknights. The episodes were titled Æon Flux Animation, and they were not played in the original order from 1995.
As of 2009, MTV2 shows Æon Flux shorts as a part of the block MTV2 Legit. During January and February 2011, Æon Flux was aired once again in El Salvador on VH1, in English language with Spanish subtitles. The half-hour episodes once again resurfaced on MTV Classic in 2016, shortly before that station switched to an all-video format.
The entire series was issued as three VHS tapes between 1996 and 1998, entitled Æon Flux, Mission Infinite, and Operative Terminus. These were later collected in a box set. A few of the shorts also appeared on a Best of Liquid Television compilation around the same time.
The first VHS volume (which contained all of the shorts but "Night" and four of the half-hour episodes: "Thanatophobia," "A Last Time for Everything," "Isthmus Crypticus," and "The Purge") was later released in 1997 on a now-out-of-print DVD that was distinct as it did not utilize any menus.
With the 2005 release of the live-action movie, the complete series including the shorts and the episodic series was collected in a DVD box set, which was released on November 22, 2005. The set features director's cut versions of several episodes, with added special effects, and in a few cases, new scenes written by Peter Chung and recorded by the original voice actors in order to improve character continuity between episodes (this according to a note by Chung included with the DVD set). Among the many changes to the dialogue in the DVD release, the voice of the character Clavius in the episode "Utopia or Deuteranopia", originally recorded by voice actor Joseph Drelich, was re-recorded by series executive producer Japhet Asher for the 2005 release.
In some releases, the first disc of the DVD set opens with a CGI short created to promote the movie's tie-in video game, with Flux taking on the likeness of the Charlize Theron version. The short, which ran about the same length as one of the Liquid Television shorts, sees Flux conducting an unclear mission, killing many Breen soldiers while pursuing some small, insect-like robots. In a throwback to the ongoing theme of the original shorts, the character is ultimately killed due to human error.
Reviewing the 2005 DVD release, IGN gave the series 9 out of 10, while giving the whole package (shorts, extras and general condition included) a 7 out of 10.
CyberpunkReview.com gave the series a glowing review, saying the series was "one of the really creative shows to come out of United States Television. This show validates the purpose of cable TV—we get to see talented folks like Peter Chung let loose their creative energies to produce something truly unique."
Nina Munteanu of Europa SF reviewed and compared both the movie and the series; she said that while the movie sacrificed character development in pursuit of a coherent story, the series chose the path of deep characters and themes. She summed up by saying, "While the film's moralistic tale resonated and lingered like a muse's long forgotten poem, the subversive kick of the comic [sic] series (which I thankfully saw later) struck deep chords and left me breathless with questions."
In other media
An Æon Flux Hollywood adaptation, which was released in the United States on December 2, 2005, starring Charlize Theron, provoked controversy among Æon Flux fans over initial reports that the film adaptation seemed to bear little resemblance to the original full-length animated series or the Liquid Television shorts, as no one involved with the original television series had a role in the making of the film. While it does take a number of major liberties with the character and concept of the series (such as making the character of Una into Æon's sister and giving Trevor a previously-unmentioned brother who plays a major role), the film also incorporates characters, themes, gadgets, and even specific scenes as featured in the television version, most notably a reenactment of the television show's most iconic image: Æon trapping a fly in her eyelashes. This minor detail was not nearly enough to avoid having the movie become a critical and box office flop.
The creator of Æon Flux, Peter Chung, gave an interview to the "Monican Spies" community on LiveJournal in 2006. He was asked many questions about Æon Flux and her universe, including how he really felt about the movie. Chung called the movie "a travesty", relating that its public screening made him feel "helpless, humiliated, and sad". He described his primary objection to the film as being its portrayal of the Æon and Trevor characters and their re-imagined history and relationship. Chung went on to state, "Ms. Flux does not actually appear in the movie."
A "graphic novel" called Æon Flux: The Herodotus File, which actually consisted of an assortment of false documents from the world of Æon Flux and a short story-board-style sequence described as "security camera footage" rather than a comic strip story, was published in 1995. In it, authors Mark Mars and Eric Singer provided vague explanations of some of the show's setting and backstory, including how Trevor and Æon met. One hint suggested in the series, and confirmed by Mars and Singer in the graphic novel, is the character's foot fetish modeling; it is suggested that she augments her income posing barefoot for magazines devoted to the fetish. The graphic novel fell out of print in the years that followed the show's conclusion, but it was temporarily re-issued in 2005, with new cover art, to tie in with the movie.
As another tie-in to the movie, Dark Horse Comics published a four-issue comic book mini-series, collected as a trade paperback and written and drawn by Mike Kennedy and Timothy Green III, who based their work upon the film versions of the Æon Flux characters. Although the characters and situations were based on the newer movie versions, the penciling technique deliberately emulated Peter Chung's unique style from the TV series.
Though not directly connected to the series, a live-action/animated Diet Pepsi commercial titled "Something Wrong?" was directed by Peter Chung and starred Malcolm McDowell as a Trevor Goodchild-like character and Cindy Crawford as an Æon Flux-like character. It was made for Super Bowl XXX in 1996, but was pulled and later aired for broadcast exclusive to MTV. "Something Wrong?" is available online at YouTube.
Released 2005 game
To coincide with the release of the 2005 film, Majesco Entertainment and developer Terminal Reality released a video game adaptation on Xbox and PlayStation 2. While primarily based on the film, elements from both the movie and the television series are included, as the game sets out to be something of a canonical link between the two, although the Æon character in the game is modeled only after Theron and is also voiced by her.
Unfinished 1996 game
A game based on the original animated series was announced on April 9, 1996 for the PlayStation. The game, which was loosely based on "The Demiurge" episode, was being developed by Cryo Interactive and published by Viacom New Media. The game first made an appearance at E3 that same year, with Æon Flux creator Peter Chung on hand to promote it, and commercial advertising was even included in the 1996 VHS release of the animated series. A developer build of it was leaked, and pictures of this build can be found on various websites.
Viacom New Media would merge with Virgin Interactive midway through the game's development. The merger ultimately led to the cancellation of Viacom's in-development games, leaving Cryo without the rights to use the Æon Flux property. In mid-1997, the Æon Flux video game rights were acquired by GT Interactive. The game's assets were then reworked into the 1997 title Pax Corpus after being stripped of all copyrighted association with Æon Flux. Pax Corpus does retain obvious similarities to the original animated series, e.g. parts of the plot are similar to the episode "The Demiurge" and the female protagonist wears a purple and black outfit.
Unfinished 2000 game
Another failed attempt would be made by The Collective some time around the year 2000, and was to be published by GT Interactive. It was using a then-current version of the Unreal Engine, and appeared to be a 3D third-person action title similar to The Collective's previous title, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Fallen. At some point during development, the game was cancelled and the project vanished, leaving only a few work-in-progress screenshots as evidence of its existence.
Live-action television reboot
In June 2018, it was reported that a live-action television reboot is in works at MTV with Jeff Davis and Gale Anne Hurd as executive producers. In September 2021, it was reported that a live-action television reboot is in works at Paramount+, under a new overall deal that Davis has signed with MTV Entertainment Studios. Davis will serve as showrunner and direct the pilot. In early 2023, Davis reported the first two episodes had been written, which he planned to direct.
- First broadcast as a series of six 2-minute parts, which were combined into a pilot episode of 12 minutes for the VHS and DVD releases of the series.
- Veneto, Alison (April 24, 2006). "Aeon Flux: All You've Ever Needed From Sci-Fi". SMRT TV. Archived from the original on March 7, 2023. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
Aeon Flux has a serious Gnostic bent. The ancient mystery religion is where they got the concepts of aeons and the demiurge, amongst other things.
- Denise Poirier (Actor), John Rafter Lee (Actor), Howard E. Baker (Director) (November 22, 2005). Æon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection (DVD). Paramount/MTV.
- "Aeon Flux screenshots canceled game from The Collective (2000)". Reddit. March 12, 2021.
- Petski, Denise (June 12, 2018). "'Aeon Flux' Live-Action Reboot In Development At MTV". Deadline Hollywood.
- Massoto, Erick (September 24, 2021). "'Aeon Flux' Live-Action TV Show Reboot in the Works at Paramount+". Collider. Retrieved September 24, 2021.