The Marvelous 90s in Marvel Cartoons

The Marvelous 90s in Marvel Cartoons

Marvel made a lot cartoons in the 90s -- but only a couple of them really worked. Today we're talking about the better of their 90s efforts with The X-Men and Spider-Man.

Read Full Article

Bob, I'm going to sound like a huge nerd when I say this, but here it goes.

I Loooooooooooooooove the 90's Spider-man. Yes, it's censored. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, the animation budget is so cheap that Spidey is constantly exiting out of the same basement window all the time. I don't care I love.

To me, Christopher Daniel Barnes was always THE VOICE of Spider-man/Peter Parker to me. I just loved hearing him talk and he just had the right amount of snark in this voice.

Also this.

Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but boy, that passion!

My first real exposure to the Spider-Man universe came from the 90's cartoon, and I particularly liked it. The Hobgoblin was one of my favorites, and his Joker-heavy characterization worked particularly well since they got Mark Hamill to play him.

But I also really liked Venom. I know, I know: he's the archetypal 90's bad-boy antihero who's supposed to be so embarrassingly dated today. But to somebody who didn't even know who Venom *was* before the animated series, I like the fact that they played up Eddie Brock's resentment of Spider-Man. Throughout the entire first season, Eddie was consistently humiliated by Spider-Man, to the point where I'd thought he was just the token comedy relief punching bag, and felt kind of sorry for him. When they turned him into a supervillain, I thought it was a compelling and understandable backstory. I never got Venomed-out, like people who read the comic books apparently did, so I still like the character.

Bob you need to do a video or article on how exactly Batman:TAS got made. Looking back on how low quality the animation was for Kids cartoons I find it difficult to imagine how Batman which had at the time movie level animation for every episode got green lit with all its super dark themes (for a kids show). It didn't wear moral messages on it sleeves and it told some complex stories with some interesting villains. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!? It can't just be because Tim Burtons bad man did well.

I'd love you to do something like this for the Transformers cartoons. Go through them one by one giving the same kind of analysis of them. Curious to hear your take on the Armada/Cybertron/Energon arc series. Yeah Armada started poor and the Transformer designs weren't great but I thought it got really good as the series progressed.

Either way, keep up the good work!

Burnouts3s3:
Bob, I'm going to sound like a huge nerd when I say this, but here it goes.

I Loooooooooooooooove the 90's Spider-man. Yes, it's censored. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, the animation budget is so cheap that Spidey is constantly exiting out of the same basement window all the time. I don't care I love.

To me, Christopher Daniel Barnes was always THE VOICE of Spider-man/Peter Parker to me. I just loved hearing him talk and he just had the right amount of snark in this voice.

Also this.

Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but boy, that passion!

I'm glad you posted that clip so i didn't have to take the time to find it. I always think of that scene when i think about the spiderman cartoon.

Burnouts3s3:
Bob, I'm going to sound like a huge nerd when I say this, but here it goes.

I Loooooooooooooooove the 90's Spider-man. Yes, it's censored. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, the animation budget is so cheap that Spidey is constantly exiting out of the same basement window all the time. I don't care I love.

To me, Christopher Daniel Barnes was always THE VOICE of Spider-man/Peter Parker to me. I just loved hearing him talk and he just had the right amount of snark in this voice.

I second this, whenever I think of spiderman, the animated series one is the spiderman that I think of, it is my definitive version the one all other spidermen are compared to. In a way it's kind of like the marvel equivalent to batman the animated series to me.

On a different note though, it is funny to see that in the 90s it was DC doing the continuity driven well made series, while Marvel was the one throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, how times have changed.

Yeah, I have fond memories of that Spider-man cartoon.
It introduced me to Spider-man as a character.
I read comics before that but mostly European stuff. American Superhero comics were much more difficult to come by though in Finland at that time, and I gave up on trying to follow Spider-man comics pretty quickly.

Oh man, that is some pure nostalgia. I loved these shows as a kid, as well as the DC animations, and can honestly say that without them I wouldn't know much about superheros. As silly as they may be now, I still prefer them in a lot of ways to the current run of superhero movies.

Edit: Did anyone else have problems disentangling Marvel heroes from DC heroes as a result of all the 90's animated series? I didn't exactly understand intellectual property laws when all this was going on, so I was always confused by the lack of Batman/Spiderman crossovers.

Ne1butme:

Burnouts3s3:
Bob, I'm going to sound like a huge nerd when I say this, but here it goes.

I Loooooooooooooooove the 90's Spider-man. Yes, it's censored. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, the animation budget is so cheap that Spidey is constantly exiting out of the same basement window all the time. I don't care I love.

To me, Christopher Daniel Barnes was always THE VOICE of Spider-man/Peter Parker to me. I just loved hearing him talk and he just had the right amount of snark in this voice.

Also this.

Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but boy, that passion!

I'm glad you posted that clip so i didn't have to take the time to find it. I always think of that scene when i think about the spiderman cartoon.

Same here, I always looked forward to watching this when I could. The cartoon had some much introspective moments, was it on the nose? Oh yeah but dammit if it didn't put things in perspective. and at least Spidey had a "Happy" ending.

I remember the Spider-Man cartoon well, particularly the Neogenic Nightmare series which was basically David Cronenberg for kids. The bit that sticks in my head was when Peter mutated into a giant Lovecraftian spider creature and the episode just ended there, with no inkling that he would ever turn back (at least to my ten-year-old mind).

I really hope that he talks about the current (or more recent) Marvel animated shows, because i grew up with a loved Wolverine and the Xmen, and the Spectacular Spiderman might be one of my favourite shows ever

Scorpid:
Bob you need to do a video or article on how exactly Batman:TAS got made. Looking back on how low quality the animation was for Kids cartoons I find it difficult to imagine how Batman which had at the time movie level animation for every episode got green lit with all its super dark themes (for a kids show). It didn't wear moral messages on it sleeves and it told some complex stories with some interesting villains. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!? It can't just be because Tim Burtons bad man did well.

Go rewatch the DCAU it did not have theatrical film animation quality they used plenty of shortcuts. It was the aesthetics and writing that made the show.

Personally I much preferred both these marvel cartoons to B:TAS, as a kid I found it too slow paced if it wasn't a Joker episode it was only with the Justice League and Batman Beyond entries did I really start to enjoy the DCAU.

I really recommend people check out Comics alliance review of the entire X-MEN cartoon. It's mostly humorous and I found some parts to be laugh out loud funny.

Here is a link: http://comicsalliance.com/tags/x-men-episode-guide/

EDIT: The spider-man cartoon was my first official introduction to the character (I caught the ocassional old cartoon but not very frequently). As flawed as the show is today, it's still the biggest reason I'm such a huge spidey fan.

1994 Spider-Man is my favorite superhero cartoon of all time. Yes, I love it more than DCAU. Yes, I love it more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 (although it is a close contender). Yes, the cartoon was frequently censored and reused animation like there's no tomorrow, I just don't care. The story is what made this show and it managed to just 'get' Spider-Man perfectly. He wisecracks, he has problems, he has love interests, he struggles with money, et cetera. No other cartoon managed to get good ol' Peter this well. It also has a good version of Venom, nice version of the Sinister Six (dubbed here the Insidious Six) and Kingpin was a great villain. Not mentioning how it introduced me to lesser known Marvel heroes like Daredevil and the concept of shared superhero universe.

I was a big fan of both the X-men and Spider-man series and, well, they were quite bold for what they did as kids shows.

X-men's first episode straight up KILLS one of the X-men members (of course he gets "better" in later seasons), while Spider-man's often had pretty downbeat endings as well.

I was a pretty big romantic, so I remember trying hard to tape the episode of when Peter proposes to Mary Jane. Still my favorite couple in comics.

I actually LIKED the 'TAS' series of Marvel cartoons.

The only one I can't say that I enjoyed very much was The Avengers:UTS.
The art style was just...off.

Awwww yeah!!!
These cartoons rocked, and still do!

Wonder what we will get next week!

MovieBob:
The Marvelous 90s in Marvel Cartoons

Marvel made a lot cartoons in the 90s -- but only a couple of them really worked. Today we're talking about the better of their 90s efforts with The X-Men and Spider-Man.

Read Full Article

You totally didn't mention the kick ass opening themes for either show. I'm not sure exactly who did X-Men but Spider-Man's was done by Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Maybe you don't care about stuff like that but opening themes (or their lack) can draw people in fairly well and it helps if it is a good theme. Spider-Man's theme was all kinds of 90's awesomeness, X-Men's was mysterious and dramatic and both fit their respective shows. Ignoring that as even a small factor in why they were good shows and well liked is kinda... well I expected better out of you.

Trishbot:
I was a big fan of both the X-men and Spider-man series and, well, they were quite bold for what they did as kids shows.

X-men's first episode straight up KILLS one of the X-men members (of course he gets "better" in later seasons), while Spider-man's often had pretty downbeat endings as well..

I saw the pilot episode of the X-Men animated series, a two-parter that ends with one X-Man dead, one in prison and one tortured offscreen, and I was instantly hooked. Now that's gritty and edgy and 90s! The whole first season was a seamless story arc featuring all the best villains (Magneto, Mystique, Sentinels, time travel), permanent consequences, and plenty of drama. Unfortunately, the show went off the rails very quickly in season 2, as they moved into PG-rated retreads of comic storylines that really don't make any sense without their tragic elements. (Fun fact: The animated version of the Phoenix Saga features writer Chris Claremont's original ending, where Jean Grey is de-powered by Professor X instead of dying. It is way, way worse in this version.)

One minor correction for Bob: The X-Men cartoon didn't ditch the "kids in school" angle, the comics had done that already several years ago. By 1992, Jubilee really was the only school-age kid on the team. Marvel re-introduced the school theme years later to coincide with the live-action movies and to restore some semblance of normalcy to a series that was going increasingly off the rails.

Scorpid:
Bob you need to do a video or article on how exactly Batman:TAS got made. Looking back on how low quality the animation was for Kids cartoons I find it difficult to imagine how Batman which had at the time movie level animation for every episode got green lit with all its super dark themes (for a kids show). It didn't wear moral messages on it sleeves and it told some complex stories with some interesting villains. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!? It can't just be because Tim Burtons bad man did well.

If you're into podcasts Kevin Smith did a two hour interview with Paul Dini on Fat Man on Batman where they spend a LOT of time talking about the pre-production and the reception of the early episodes. It's quite a story.

Zombie Badger:
I remember the Spider-Man cartoon well, particularly the Neogenic Nightmare series which was basically David Cronenberg for kids. The bit that sticks in my head was when Peter mutated into a giant Lovecraftian spider creature and the episode just ended there, with no inkling that he would ever turn back (at least to my ten-year-old mind).

I remember that one vividly. The episode (one of them) after that had The Punisher (fuck yeah! The Motherfuckin' Punisher!) chase down the mutated* Spider-Man and one of Spidey's scientist friends helping him find a cure calls out the Punisher on his act.
I also liked how they brought in Daredevil/Matt Murdoch, as one the best friends Spider-Man could ask for, since they both count The Kingpin as a shared nemesis. I forgot if they tried to have Elektra and Bullseye on that show, but I could not fathom how they would be toned down to be "kid-friendly" and still stay true to the comic originals. Then again, Black Cat was a regular character...

*As part of the shared universe I believe existed among the '90's Marvel toons, Spider-Man went to the X-Men to find a cure for for what was happening to him in that arc, and Prof. X says they don't "cure" anything, but teach how to control it. Maybe the X-Men knew he wasn't a real mutant.

I own the entire X-Men series on DVD. I love that show. Every Saturday morning, my entire family (yes, even my parents) would set down in front of the T.V. and we'd all wait for the new episode. And those two-or-three parters? Oh man, those were murder. Having to wait a whole week was tough.

Loved Spider-Man too, and when the X-Men showed up in it (with the same voices!!) I was in love. And then the series ended without wrapping up THE MOST IMPORTANT PLOT POINT IN THE ENTIRE SERIES!!!!! Don't say you're going off to find Mara Jade. SHOW US THAT YOU FOUND HER, DAMMIT!! To this day that still ticks me off.

I remember these shows! Haven't seen 'em in years, but I still remember liking them.

Of the two, Spider-man the Animated Series is probably my favorite. Yes, the censorship was annoying, and the show ended on a goddamned cliffhanger... but it was still enjoyable. The stories and great voice cast didn't hurt either.

Imperioratorex Caprae:
You totally didn't mention the kick ass opening themes for either show. I'm not sure exactly who did X-Men but Spider-Man's was done by Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Maybe you don't care about stuff like that but opening themes (or their lack) can draw people in fairly well and it helps if it is a good theme. Spider-Man's theme was all kinds of 90's awesomeness, X-Men's was mysterious and dramatic and both fit their respective shows. Ignoring that as even a small factor in why they were good shows and well liked is kinda... well I expected better out of you.

Actually, the opening to X-Men the Animated Series was done by Ron Wasserman, who brought us the kickass opening to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. So yeah, he had a place in 90's kids shows.

I loved that Spidey cartoon, it was one of the best reasons to get up early on a Saturday. Yeah, it was plagued by a lousy animation budget and really cheesy writing, but I loved it anyway. How could I not? I actually learned how to read with Spider-Man comics (among other things), and seeing the defining comicbook hero of my childhood on screen was the very definition of magic for me.
Oh yeah, and I actually enjoyed the 90's era as a whole - hell, I actually have a Hellspawn tattoo on my shoulder. Maybe it's something the readers of serial comics suffer from, but I never grew to dislike Venom or Carnage, and they're still my favourites from Spidey's roster of bad guys.

I only watched the 90's X-Men show when I was in my early 20s, so I can't look back on that show with the benefit of nostalgia, but that's also a good thing. Aside from crappy animation most of the show still holds up today when boiled down to simple, yet significant socio-political main themes wrapped up in super-powered brawls involving appealing archetypal characters.

I guess Bob is going to cite the 90's Iron Man cartoon as one of the 'failures', but I'd like to jump to its defence pre-emptively by reminding fellow nostalgia buffs of one thing: That show had an absolutely awesome intro sequence!

Despite growing up on 90s cartoons I somehow managed to miss X-Men AND the entire DC animated universe (this has since been rectified). However I religiously watched 90s Spiderman, and still vividly remember the characters, plot lines, and voices despite not watching it since it went off air. I actually haven't finished watching 90s X-Men, but when I do I recon it's time to give Spiderman a rewatch.

Once again, somehow I feel weird for actually for having enjoyed (and still enjoy) watching the X-men cartoon. Frankly, although a bit sanitized in some parts (and those retched Jubilee centric episodes) I think they did well with the big arcs, and actually needing the "previously on...", meaning series wide continuity. Comic fans will love their million details, but the series did a very necessary pruning of the mess they tend to get into. I did want more Angel and Nightcrawler, and more than one tiny Psylocke cameo. I proudly have them all on DVD. Also, Gambit's attitude was spot on, something that more recent comic writers have a hard time getting right (nevermind the third person references). The only thing that grated me was how Wolverine focused it became at times. In my mind it marks the start of that overuse and overexposure of a character that was cool but now just makes me roll my eyes.

Batman's cartoon dark edge actually remind me of the recent (and currently very dead or in limbo) Tron:Uprising. The animations is absolutely stunning, better than tons of movies, the soundtrack follows the whole Daft Punk style, plus some throwbacks to the 80's sounds, some cheesy but overall excellent writing and pacing. For a "kid's" show every episode has at least one character being derezzed -which is just an euphemism for killed, and sometimes rather dramatically- which is some serious death rate for any series. If you didn't get to watch it when it first aired (because, of course moving around airing times, including midnight on Sunday, will bring in the audience), hunt it down and watch it. It does end on a huge cliffhanger. Maybe Disney will revive the series if Tron 3 goes into production, but since the whole team has gone off to other projects, I doubt it.

I remember loving those X-Men and Spiderman when I was a kid. I recently started rewatching them though and I honestly couldn't do it, which is a shame because I know I'd still enjoy it if I watched it. The problem is, for me, old animation is just so ugly its hard to get past.

Best example of somethin I adore I can't watch anymore? Gargoyles. Fuck I love Gargoyles. The soundtrack they use is amazing and the storylines were (generally) great. But the animation. Oh god the animation. I don't know how my mind was able to make me think those were fluid movements before, but by god are those not fluid movements.

Back to topic! Between the two, I think I can still force myself to watch Spiderman while X-Men is just too hard to get through imo. Its hard to pinpoint why exactly, but it might have somethin to do with X-Men having some amazing television tied to it since the original run (Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men) which makes the original feel as dated as it is. Spiderman, on the other hand, hasn't really been all that great in the television department. It got another run in the 90's which was so awful it got canned after 1 season. There was that really really bad one where he gets sent into space and ends up on that planet with all the anthro people oppressing the humans. Then there was the Ultimate series that recently came out which was good, but lacked any sense of forward movement since almost none of the storylines had anything to do with one another.

Spider-Man: TAS was the first TV show I remember being obsessed with. I was nine at the time and it was compelling as hell to me. I'd read a smattering of Spidey comics up until then (whatever I could afford with an allowance) and I was amazed to see these characters come to life every Saturday morning.

One of the best features of the show was it's awesome cast. You have Christopher Daniel Barnes doing a great job at being Spidey and narrating the show. Then you got actual TV god Ed Asner playing the shit out of J. Jonah Jameson. And finally you have a very young Jennifer Hale (pre-Lutece pre-Sheperd pre-all of that) as Felicia Hardy/Black Cat. There's several more here I haven't mentioned, but trust me when I say there was a dearth of talent behind the mics of that show.

Oh OK one more: David Hayter a.k.a. Solid Snake was Captain America in this!

Sonicron:
I guess Bob is going to cite the 90's Iron Man cartoon as one of the 'failures', but I'd like to jump to its defence pre-emptively by reminding fellow nostalgia buffs of one thing: That show had an absolutely awesome intro sequence!

Quite true, but you're forgetting the much crappier 1st season intro for the much crappier 1st season of that show:

Oh man that Spiderman show was my JAM back in the day.

Bob you're going to hate me for saying this, but I think The Amazing Spiderman movies follow the 90s show pretty well.

Burnouts3s3:
Bob, I'm going to sound like a huge nerd when I say this, but here it goes.

I Loooooooooooooooove the 90's Spider-man. Yes, it's censored. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, the animation budget is so cheap that Spidey is constantly exiting out of the same basement window all the time. I don't care I love.

To me, Christopher Daniel Barnes was always THE VOICE of Spider-man/Peter Parker to me. I just loved hearing him talk and he just had the right amount of snark in this voice.

Also this.

All these years later and that scene is still a gut-punch of drama, courtesy of Prince Eric :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Daniel_Barnes

twm1709:
I really recommend people check out Comics alliance review of the entire X-MEN cartoon. It's mostly humorous and I found some parts to be laugh out loud funny.

Here is a link: http://comicsalliance.com/tags/x-men-episode-guide/

EDIT: The spider-man cartoon was my first official introduction to the character (I caught the ocassional old cartoon but not very frequently). As flawed as the show is today, it's still the biggest reason I'm such a huge spidey fan.

I just want to say: the recaps on this website are awesome.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here