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Marvel Super Heroes "Animated" TV Series

In 1966, Grantray-Lawrence Animation produced a TV series made up of shorts revolving around various Marvel heroes--Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Namor The Sub-Mariner, and The Hulk. These stories were taken from the Silver Age comics.

And when I say "taken from," I mean literally. The "animation", and I use the term generously, was basically the original comic art with some animation--moving lips, the occasional (slightly) moving figure or a fully animated silhouette, on-screen sound effects.

These shorts reflected the slight cheesiness of Silver Age comics--characters describing their actions even as they played out onscreen, somewhat over-inflated dialogue, etc. In one shot, an old building had a sign on it helpfully labeling it "OLD BUILDING."

The other memorable thing about this series was the theme songs. Each character had their own theme song, which played at the beginning of each of their shorts.

"When Captain America throws his mighty shiiiieeeeld/All those who chose to oppose his shield must yiiiiieeeeld!"

"Tony Stark makes you feel/He's a cool exec with a heart of steel..."

"Doc Bruce Banner, belted by gamma rays/Turned into the Hulk/Ain't he unglamor-ays?" (Yes, they managed to squeeze a rhyme out of that.)

"Stronger than a whale, he can swim anywhere/He can breathe underwater and go flying through the air/The noble Sub-Mariner/Prince of the Deep/So beware, you deadly demons! (basso profundo voice) Lord Namor of Atlantis is the Prince of the Deeeep!"

"Across the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard/Where the booming heavens roar/You'll behold in breathless wonder/The god of thunder, Mighty Thor!"

These catchy theme songs stuck in people's heads...in fact, the first Iron Man movie featured the cartoon theme song, played when Tony's award is announced, and again when we see him in the casino.

Despite their cheesiness, these cartoons do have a lot to recommend them--the classic comic art, the fresh-from-Stan-Lee writing even if it is a little overblown, their place in Marvel comics history. Cheesy enough to laugh at, but charming enough to like--in short, a perfect subject for riffing.

(Grantray-Lawrence Animation would go on to make the 1967 Spider-Man series. The animation here was hardly Disney--it was still rather limited, but at least it wasn't just the comic panels with a few moving parts. Plus, G-L topped themselves by giving us the most memorable Marvel cartoon theme song of all.)

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