May 28, 2012

Super Friends


About three weeks ago, a new movie called Marvel's "The Avengers" opened.  It's been tops at the box office since that time (it won't stay there forever, no movie ever does).  This brings together several recent super hero characters in the same movie, as well as some that didn't have their own films.  The characters include Iron Man/Tony Stark (portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.), The Incredible Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo), Thor (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth), Captain America/Steve Rogers (portrayed by Chris Evans), Hawkeye/Clint Barton (portrayed by Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (portrayed by Scarlett Johansson).

I'm never been a comic book junkie, but I believe Marvel actually had a comic book featuring this collection of characters.  Naturally, Marvel wasn't the only player in comics, there was also DC Comics (apparently, the two collaborated on one called "DC vs. Marvel" in the '90s).  However, to me, the mere fact that they assembled this kind of super hero cast to do this movie says that a rival studio (Disney was responsible for this one) might have an interest in trying a big movie production of something like the  Super Friends (they'd likely call it Justice League since that seems to be the preferred name these days).  As I already hinted, Warner Brothers already has rights to some of DC Comics super heroes, so that studio is that most likely to pursue it.

Super Friends

Let me refresh your memory:  Back in the '70s, the Super Friends was a cartoon series that ran from 1973 to approximately 1985 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup.  It was produced by Hanna-Barbera to be a more "child-friendly" version of the Justice League of America (which is what similar cartoons are called nowadays) and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics.

I'm going to borrow the entire write-up Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont wrote in their book "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops: The Lost Toys, Tasted & Trends of the '70s & '80s" (you may catch that post at:  http://goo.gl/FUvPS) since they summarized it quite nicely with appropriate levels of sarcasm:

Super Friends (from the book "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops")

"It was as if DC Comics had been taken over by Highlights magazine.  These were not the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman of your comic books; instead dumbed down for younger audiences by Hanna-Barbera, they were superhero stories that John-Boy Walton might tell - violence-free and oh-so-wholesome.

Frustrations: Wonder Woman was clearly visible while flying in her invisible jet.  Aquaman was completely helpless unless the current would-domination plot took place underwater.  Batman and Robin had any tool at their disposal with the word "Bat" in front of it.  When the series decided to diversify, it did so in a wierdly racist way - using Black Vulcan's very name to point out he was black, something that was never done with, say, "White Aquaman."

Don't get us started on Marvin, Wendy and Wonderdog, and their Alien replacements Zan, Jayna and that stupid monkey, Gleek.  Annoying as they were, they did get kids running around and playground bumping fists and yelling "Wonder Twin Powers, activate!"  Jayna's animal-transformation skills had potential, but she constantly used it to turn into lame things like woodpeckers.  Zan's water-changing power was even stupider, especially when he insisted on turning into an ice trapeze, or worse, smiling water in a bucket.  It's as if they chose their transformations via Mad Libs.

X-TINCTION RATING: Gone for good.

REPLACED BY: The superheroes retired to the comic pages where they belonged, and we can only hope the teen sidekicks were swiftly and mercilessly killed."

Inaccuracy in Book's X-Tinction Rating

Although I pretty much agree with their summary, you may recall that I wrote in my coverage of that particular book (see HERE) "I think their info. wasn't completely up-to-date on a few items ... for example, TVShowsonDVD.com reported several TV shows are available on DVD which they missed" and I know that most of the various iterations of the Super Friends are available on DVD (see HERE for proof).  For anyone hoping to catch Zan and Jayna doing their wierd superheroes stunts as a bucket of water being carried by an Eagle, you can indeed watch them on DVD even if reruns aren't being shown on Boomerang these days, so no, they aren't quite gone for good.

Let me go on record as saying there were a few characters I kind of liked from Super Friends.  Specifically, the villain from the Legion of Doom named Giganta.  Giganta was a villain who had the ability to turn herself into a giant, and frankly, she looked (and sounded) like a butch dyke.  Her Super Friend nemesis was Apache Chief, the native American superhero thrown into the series following the politically-correct move to appear more racially diverse (why the nemesis wasn't Wonder Woman I'll never know, because Giganta and Apache Chief never fought anyway).  In any event, the Legion of Doom was apparently gay-friendly, even if they weren't quite ready for full racial equality (there weren't any "ethnic" Legion of Doom members that I can remember).  I'm less certain about the Super Friends, as both Wonder Woman and Aquaman were suspect IMHO.

Smallville's Justice League on the WB

I haven't read anything about bringing a DC Comics version of the Avengers (with Superman and their other well-known superheroes) to the big screen.  However, if I had to guess, I'd say it would most likely be some kind of movie release of the Smallville franchise starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent/Superman and his buds from the rest of the Justice League gang.  To some extent, that being the WB's most successful series, which ran for an impressive ten seasons has already addressed the need, though it wasn't wrapped up in one short movie.  But I can say that Warner Brothers produced Smallville, so they'd likely be the preferred studio to assemble such a movie if it were ever to happen.  Who knows, Smallville was largely the lives of superheroes before they became superheroes, so there's still time to bring them together as an adult cast.

My only suggestion would be for them to find someone butch to portray Giganta, but skip on the Wonder Twins!

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