When they retooled the Avengers in 1999, they did almost everything wrong that was possible. First, they took out Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. That's a lot like Def Leppard releasing an album where the only original member is Rick Allen's severed arm. When your cartoon's main star is Ant Man, the rest of your cast should be apology letters.Characters: One of the things that Marvel did more than DC was give its characters relatable human problems. For example, Spider-Man is a nerd with money problems, Iron Man is an alcoholic, Ms. Marvel is an alcoholic, Flash Thompson is an alcoholic, Banshee is an alcoholic, and Sandman is an alcoholic. For the cartoon, they obviously couldn't give everyone alcoholism, so instead they gave each Avenger crippling emotional problems. They're insecure toddlers with the charm and principles of rapists and most of the plots are developed around one more of them throwing a temper tantrum. I have a theory that they asked Korean animators to make a show about 13-year-old boys breaking up with each other, and it was a pure coincidence that the characters sort of looked like The Avengers.
#6. "Avengers" (1999)
Theme Song: A lot of care went into developing this show. They raided He-Man's cyber armor closet and hired a writer whose idea of full-scale conflict is an argument over panty liner comfort. So it should come as no surprise that they made the theme song by pressing the "90's Cartoon Theme" button on a Casio keyboard and called it good. The only lyric is someone whispering the word "Avengers!" every few seconds, and the singer whispers it in the same way an ice cream man might hiss, "You children are beautiful!"
In 2004, Reginald Hudlin wrote the greatest, toughest, most action-packed Black Panther story of all time. This seemed nuts since his previous writing credits were the movie House Party. Five years later, the comic was adapted into a cartoon by BET and everything fell apart. Instead of animation, they made it a "motion comic" like the old '60s Marvel Superheroes show. In this style, the characters shift an arm or a leg for a few frames rather than "move." It might have still been okay with good voiceover, but every voice actor was so concerned with thickening up their fake "African" accent that they forgot to do things like "inflect" or "act." The final result was like a sleepy exchange student wiggling a comic book while they read it out loud. And I don't want to sound racist, but that's really annoying.
#5. "Black Panther" (2009)
Characters: They barely move and they all talk like voice actors trying to passive aggressively get revenge on their agents, but other than that the characters are great!
Theme Song: The Black Panther music is awesome. Every time Black Panther does anything, anything at all, an African choir goes crazy chanting his name. "T'Challa! T'Challa! T'Challa!" As an experiment, I named my dong T'Challa while I was watching this show, and I've been hard for almost two years.
The '60s Spider-Man cartoon was insane. The plots were so violently against reason that the studio was probably under constant attack by witch hunters. There was no regard to physics or science-- bombs went off directly on faces several times an episode, Spider-Man would swing on webs across open oceans, and since punches never seemed to hurt anyone, every fight ended up at a high voltage box. In 1967, those things were everywhere.
#4. "Spider-Man" (1967)
Characters: The characters are crazier than the plots. For instance, the audience is introduced to The Lizard when he jumps out of a bog, shoves over a father and son in a rowboat, and turns to camera to say, "Today, I rule the swamps! Tomorrow, THE WORLD!" Never has anyone explained their entire philosophy on life so quickly. At least not until Snooki's gynecologist screamed that everything was the devil and shot himself.
Think of how little a fuck you'd have to give to write something like that. Not the line I just wrote about Snooki-- that took eleven hours of research. I'm talking about that Spider-Man logic: shoving over a rowboat + tomorrow = World Domination. And every character's logic is written like that. The Vulture will swoop in to Spider-Man's exact location, explain that he now controls the city's birds with his hat, and then leave. If Spider-Man didn't start fights with these lunatics, they'd probably just be considered bad performance artists.
Theme Song: The theme song is timeless. It was composed by Academy Award winner Paul Francis Webster and it's been covered by Michael Buble, Ramones, and Aerosmith. It's been Spider-Man's theme song for 45 years even after Bono killed dozens of theatrical performers trying to give him a new one. While on the subject of the Spider-Man musical, never have so many died for so little since Snooki's underwear killed 17,000,000 pubic lice. Sorry about mentioning her again, but I really didn't want to waste all that Snooki research.
This version of Fantastic Four was made in the late '70s, which was a very dark time for superhero shows. The pussies had won the war on violence, and animated crime had to be fought without punches. Plus, in an exceptional display of overcaution, Johnny Storm was cut from the show and replaced with a little robot named Herbie. There were some kind of ownership laws involved, but rumors say they were worried that dumb children would light themselves on fire in a misguided attempt at turning themselves into the Human Torch. Well, great job, Fantastic Four. That idiot kid that would have lit himself on fire is now 40 years old, has 11 children, and every single one of them will accidentally blow up a firework stand before he or she dies. Your decision to replace the Human Torch with the fruity Herbie thing has doomed thousands. Thousands.
#3. "The New Fantastic Four" (1978)
Characters: Every member of The Fantastic Four had an intense distrust of the obvious. If a dinosaur was wrecking the city, it might have taken them several minutes of discussion just to agree on what they're looking at. They also narrated every action as they performed it, but I assume this was for the benefit of the blind viewers. The animators probably figured children were cutting out their own eyes in a misguided attempt at turning their little brothers into the Invisible Girl. Nothing would surprise me. We all assume everyone else is dumber than us, and when your brain is capable of making something this fucking dumb, your perception of everyone else has got to be impossibly nuts.
Theme Song: This show's theme song was just a narrator shouting "The New Fantastic Four!" and his excitement seemed a little dishonest. "The New Fantastic Four" wasn't an action program. It was a psychological thriller about three dipshits in a flying bathtub trying to say something nonsensical enough to make their robot's brain explode.
Every action cartoon made by Hanna Barbera is a bizarre mix of failure and awesome. Let's just take a look at an actual scene from their version of Fantastic Four:
#2. "Fantastic Four" (1967)
Characters: The Fantastic Four are all astronauts. One of them is the smartest scientist on Earth, and their main enemy's only ability is being an evil genius. And yet every single character on this show is medically retarded. It works for them, though. Like in all Hanna Barbera cartoons, their universe is governed by stupidity and unlogic. For example, in one space battle, the Invisible Girl stops a group of aliens by turning them invisible. Now normally your enemy might say, "Weird, but thanks!" Instead the aliens freeze in place and cry, "How can we walk if we cannot even see our own feet!?" That's obviously stupid, but it's even stupider since it came from the same people who write the character who turns invisible-- they basically made the rules on what invisible people can and can't do, and they already decided that goddamn invisible people can walk. Maybe I'm being too hard on them. This show was obviously written long before pregnant women knew the dangers of thermometer eating contests.
Theme Song: In an unshocking display of laziness, the Fantastic Four theme is about 3 notes away from the same background music used in every Hanna Barbera show at the time. If they thought they could have gotten away with it, Hanna and Barbera would have farted onto microphones and kept the ten dollars they paid their tuba player.
The poor The Thing has been in some really bad cartoons, and this is the worst of all. He never had any adventures in Bedrock like the title suggested, but the character was completely re-imagined. Despite the amazing second half of this sentence, Hanna Barbera decided that children had no interest in Ben Grimm, a spaceship pilot transformed into a punching rock monster by cosmic rays. They decided to turn him into Benjy Grimm, an unlikeable little boy who becomes a non-violent Thing with the help of a magic ring. Reboots are always controversial, but this was like going into someone's fridge and replacing their hot dogs with photos of yourself masturbating. No one wants to know why you did it; they just want to never speak of it again.
#1. "Fred and Barney Meet The Thing" (1979)
Characters: Benjy Grimm was so hated by children that his show was canceled within a year. To give you a point of reference, "Jabberjaw," Hanna Barbera's fever dream cartoon about a detective shark who played the drums, lasted three times as long.