Retro Marvel TV
The Best (And Worst) of Modern Marvel Cartoons

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 17 Sep 2014 16:35
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Our look at Marvel's TV history comes to a close with their modern animated series.

Well, true believers, we've reached the end this summertime experiment. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back on the air next week, and through the miracle of pre-planning we've reached the endpoint in the history of Marvel's previous television experiments just in time: We'll finish things this week with The House of Ideas' animated offerings from 2000 to the present.

These were the Marvel cartoons that came in the wake of Spider-Man and X-Men hitting huge in movie theaters, then continued to roll out as superheroes became the undisputed kings of the box-office and up through the emergence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These cartoons were characterized by an ever-uneasy tug of war between trying to do their own thing and a need to reflect/endorse their now more-prominent movie counterparts.

This is also the point where we start hitting instances where I haven't seen every single episode of every series, so if my assessment differs from yours, well... it's entirely possible you've seen more of a show and have a more complete data set to work from. Also: For the sake expediency and fairness, I've elected to leave out the two recent/current Japan-only Marvel anime series and the three Western shows (Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk & The Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) that have not yet concluded their runs.

Anyway...

X-MEN: EVOLUTION
This was an ambitious series, attempting to both provide an X-Men cartoon that looked and felt closer to the then-recent Bryan Singer films and also retrofit the concept back into its original 1960s teen-angst melodrama focus... though the result occasionally feels more like a nod to Harry Potter than to pre-Claremont X-Men.

The main switch involves most of the main X-Men and Brotherhood members (the first two seasons are big on the two sides scrapping over would-be recruits) being teenagers and attending regular High School in addition to living at the Xavier Institute (in the X-Men's case), which in turn sees much of the early action reworked to take place in and around that setting. Some fans cried foul at elements like "Goth Rogue" and Jean Grey seemingly "downgraded" into a more typical cheerleader-type who happened to have psychic powers, and I still think the 90s show nailed the "fun" of the franchise despite its cheesy flaws; but Evolution eventually developed a following for a reason.

SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES
Is this short-lived, largely-forgotten MTV production -- a loose-continuation of the first Sam Raimi film -- the worst Spider-Man cartoon ever?

Well, probably... but it's honestly just too bland and unremarkable to hold much against it. That being said, its hideous cel-shaded animation is almost absurdly dated.

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