In 1994 it was voted #4 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. In 2004, it was retrospectively awarded a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
The plot of the cartoon involves Duck Dodgers' search for the rare element Illudium Phosdex, "the shaving cream atom." In the future, the only remaining supply of the element is on the mysterious "Planet X", which fortunately is found when Dodgers follows a path leading from Planet A to Planets B, C, D, and so on. Dodgers is about to claim Planet X in the name of the Earth when Marvin the Martian lands on the same planet (in a ship called the Martian Maggot) and claims it in the name of Mars. The stage is set for a battle of wits (or lack thereof) between the two cartoon stars.
Porky Pig also appears in the cartoon, playing the role of the "Eager Young Space Cadet". As he does in a number of Jones' cartoons, he plays the role of the straight man, getting the job done and foiling the villain while Daffy Duck blusters and repeatedly gets himself blown to smithereens.
Considering the period in which the cartoon was produced (the Second Red Scare|Red Scare was in full swing during the 1950s era), some scholars have used the cartoon to parallel the futility of the Cold War and the arms race. They note that by the end of the cartoon, the planet that Duck Dodgers and Marvin the Martian are fighting over has been destroyed, and the remaining area claimed by Daffy at the end is barely large enough for him to stand upon. The dismissive attitude to Dodgers' pyrrhic victory is epitomized by Porky's cynical response to his boss's overblown proclamation, "B-B-Big deal."