Mumm-Ra is the main antagonist of the original series, ThunderCats. In the original show, he demonstrated absolute mastery of magic. He often uses the Mutants of Plun-Darr as pawns in his schemes to defeat the ThunderCats. Their original intention was to steal and utilize the power of the Eye of Thundera (and in one episode, the Star of Thundera as well); however, this swiftly shifts to a series-long determination to destroy the ThunderCats outright, the only threat to his power and ruling Third Earth.
According to the opening show's narrative, Mumm-Ra, a sorcerer and demon-priest, is an ancient native of Third Earth, serving as the undead focus for the Ancient Spirits of Evil—four god-like entities of nearly unlimited power, but whose influence is limited to the Black Pyramids found on either Third Earth or New Thundera. As such, outside of either pyramid, they can only interact with the physical world through Mumm-Ra. They provide him with immortality, as granted through his sarcophagus in exchange for perpetual servitude.
Mumm-Ra usually resides in his Black Pyramid as a withered, corpse-like being; however, he can alter his form by reciting the following incantation: "Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!" This transforms him into a muscular fiend who menaces the ThunderCats with episode-long challenges before being driven back into his sarcophagus. In later episodes, while endowing Mumm-Ra with his powers, the statues of the Ancient Spirits of Evil come down from their perches and extend their arms over him as the powers of evil flow into Mumm-Ra.
In several episodes, Mumm-Ra has an even more powerful form beyond "Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living" called "Mumm-Ra the All-Powerful." In this manifestation, Mumm-Ra absorbs the entire power of the Ancient Spirits of Evil to become grander in size and strength, and the design pattern on his loin cloth changes, as does his voice. (This form is only presented three times in the series: the episodes "Thundercubs Part V," "Return of the Thundercubs," and "The Last Day.") In another incarnation, calling himself "Mumm-Ra the Dream Master," he is able to enter dreams to subliminally influence the ThunderCats in their sleep as a form of mind control.
Mumm-Ra is regarded as immortal, and when defeated or "killed," he simply returns to his sarcophagus. Mumm-Ra cannot stay destroyed, as he often states: "Wherever/While evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!" Initially, Mumm-Ra cannot stand the sight of his own reflection; if he catches a glimpse of this, he reverts to his mummified form and flees to his pyramid. Eventually however, the Ancient Spirits of Evil rid Mumm-Ra of this vulnerability when they revive him following his failure to harness the power of the Star of Thundera. After that, his only limitation on his activities is how long he is away from his sarcophagus.
Later, Mumm-Ra is shown to have a blue bulldog companion named Ma-Mutt, capable of flight and supernatural feats of strength and speed. He is generally evil, though some episodes depict him as having sympathetic qualities.
According to the first chapter of Wildstorm's comic ThunderCats Origins: Heroes and Villains, Mumm-Ra's origin is set in ancient Egypt. He was once Wahankh, a member of the pharaoh's council and his most loyal adviser. This chapter also shows Wahankh's dog, Ma-Tep—the future Ma-Mutt. The friendship made with the pharaoh was so close and enduring that the sovereign actually considered him part of his family.
However, Wahankh's real aim was to overthrow the royal power of his pharaoh in a coup d'état and become the ruler of the land. To achieve his goal, he invoked the presence of the Ancient Spirits of Evil for the first time by using four magical runes, each representing one of the four evil beings. Once the spirits appeared, he requested a small part of their power in order to defeat the powerful pharaoh's army. In exchange, he would rule all Egypt in their name as a humble servant. The Ancient Spirits agreed to help him and Wahankh was invested with evil powers, becoming an immortal sorcerer and demon-priest in their service while his entire body mutated into a cadaverous grey form. Finally, a new name was given to him: Mumm-Ra.
Knowing about this betrayal, the pharaoh immediately faced the monstrous and grotesque being. Trusting his new powers, Mumm-Ra ordered the pharaoh to bow down and proclaimed himself the new master of the realm. Nonetheless, the pharaoh's son confronted him and quickly managed to outmaneuver Mumm-Ra in battle, defeating him.
Without being aware that Mumm-Ra was actually immortal, the pharaoh spared him the fate of dying at the stake for his treachery. Considering all his years of service, the pharaoh instead granted him a merciful, religious death being locked as a mummy in an onyx pyramid's giant burial chamber. The pharaoh's son, knowing about Mumm-Ra's never-ending life, took joy in imprisoning him for (seemingly) all eternity. In the darkness, Mumm-Ra begged for the help of the Ancient Spirits once again, but they denied it due to his incompetence in using those powers they had previously granted him. Instead, they ordered him to build four large statues on the chamber to praise them, a task that would take at least 600 years to be accomplished. Only then they would grant him the power to break free by turning into an eternal and overwhelming warrior, capable of defeating any pharaoh. Before the TV series storyline, at some point he fulfilled the work, receiving the ability to become Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living.
The length of time between Wahankh's first invocation of the Ancient Spirits of Evil and the Plundarian Mutants's "Unholy Alliance" with Mumm-Ra is not specified anywhere in the series, but Mumm-Ra can, presumably, be considered a claimant to more than three million years of age.
Unable to accept death, Mumm-Ra turned to the Ancient Spirits of Evil for a way to live forever. Mumm-Ra is seen in the series as pure evil, but not without compassion (at least, for his pet, Ma-Mutt). He is now a sadistic, scheming, cunning, ruthless, callous, and remorseless character, who always seems able to anticipate betrayal from the mutants, and is, therefore, not hesitant to do the same.
He is utterly determined to rid Third-Earth of the ThunderCats, seeing them as the only threat to his power over Third Earth, and is a Machiavellian plotter, even using the all-powerful Lunataks of Plun-Darr (who are perfectly happy to betray Mumm-Ra) to help him in his plans. Because of his servitude to the evil spirits who granted him immortality, he also pursues a means of spreading their dark influence throughout Third-Earth. Mumm-Ra only has one weakness—his own hideous reflection, which neutralizes his ability to remain outside of the Black Pyramid, and forces him to withdraw back to the Black Pyramid in his emaciated mummy form. However, as the second season began, the evil spirits eventually overcame this problem to help Mumm-Ra become even more formidable than before. As shown from the various guises he has throughout the show, he is a master of deception.
Powers and Abilities
When leaving the pyramid, he can summon the power to transform himself into a more vigorous form: Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living by reciting the famous incantation: “Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!” While in this form, Mumm-Ra possesses superhuman physical strength, the ability to fly, as well as increasing his mystical might: casting spells, throwing energy bolts, and such to battle his foes. He can also alter his physical form into one or many creatures to attack, and a variety of alter-egos to deceive his enemies.
While in the form of Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, he becomes a conduit for the Ancient Spirits of Evil; such that he can amplify his aforementioned abilities to a nearly cosmic level, gain superhuman strength, as well as retain his un-dead status despite the passage of time or any injuries sustained. The price of this power, however, is extremely limited stamina: once Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living has surpassed a given threshold of energy expenditure, he must revert to his mummified form, and re-enter his sarcophagus to rejuvenate himself. It should also be noted that Mumm-Ra's power in his Ever-Living form is directly linked to the condition of both his sarcophagus and the Ancient Spirits' statues within his pyramid; should any of these be harmed or destroyed, his power weakens immediately and considerably.
Mumm-Ra is an absolute master of both arcane and clerical magic. He possesses nearly unlimited knowledge of and experience with numerous mystical arts from all corners of the universe. As such, he can summon them to assist him in almost any manner he chooses, like levitation, energy manipulation, scrying, teleporting himself and others, manipulating the earth, causing violent weather, summon monsters, hypnotize enemies, move objects through will, creating force fields, necromancy, animating lifeless objects, transmogrification, and astral projection. He is also regarded as immortal, and when defeated or "killed," he simply returns to his sarcophagus. Mumm-Ra cannot stay destroyed, as he often states: "Wherever/While evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!"
Inside of his Black Pyramid, Mumm-Ra has an assortment of dark creatures, artifacts, and technological devices known only to him, like a cloning machine, flying platforms, the Mumm-Raft, etc.
Mumm-Ra can also assume alias forms to deceive the ThunderCats on various occasions. Among these are:
- Pumm-Ra, a "Puma Thunderean" of a more bestial appearance than Pumyra. He used this disguise to stage Cheetara's "rescue" and trick his way into Cats' Lair (in the episode "Pumm-Ra."
- A swarm of Locusts which can combine into a Giant Locust in the episode "Berbils."
- Silky, a flower-like creature with a human face, who enthralls Tygra with addictive fruit in the episode "The Garden of Delights."
- Grygory Grygion, a jovial Troll who tricks Lion-O into attacking Tygra and breaking the Sword of Omens in the episode "All That Glitters."
- The Nether Witch, a sorceress who sends Lion-O into the Astral World in the episode "The Astral Prison."
- Diamondfly, a tiny sprite-like creature who lures Lion-O into a trap in the episode "Queen of Eight Legs."
- He took the form of an old, frail Bolkin looking for shelter in the episode "The Evil Harp of Charr-Nin."
- He took the form of an injured Berbil in order to trick Snarf into letting him inside the Cats' Lair in the episode "The Mumm-Ra Berbil."
- He took the form of King Arthur to acquire the legendary magic sword Excalibur, using it against the Sword of Omens in the episode "Excalibur."
- The Dream Master is Mumm-Ra in "dream form." He uses this power to influence the ThunderCats's dreams in the episode "Dream Master."
- He took the form of Lion-O but with a red outfit to battle the real Lion-O in the episode "Fond Memories."
- Dr. Dometone in the episode "Fond Memories."
- Mumm-Ra appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Toyz in the Hood", voiced by Donald Faison. He is seen carpooling to work with Cobra Commander, Lex Luthor, and Skeletor. In "Toy Meets Girl," Lion-O mentions to Michael Moore that Mumm-Ra died of testicular cancer. In "Endless Breadsticks", Mumm-Ra tries to kill Lion-O by passing off as Mrs. Mumbletipeg after Snarf is accidentally killed.
- In the South Park episode "Imaginationland Episode III", Mumm-Ra is among the evil creatures on the bad side of Imaginationland. Here, he has horns on his helmet instead of snakes.
- In the Kanye West song, Touch The Sky, featuring Lupe Fiasco, Lupe Fiasco mentions that he is "tryin' to stop lion like I'm Mumm-Ra / but I'm not lyin' when I'm layin' on the beat."
- The Musical Group Mumm-Ra is named after him.