10 August 2011

Retrospective 1994

Proving once again that quantity cannot make up for lack of quality, 1994 produced a veritable heap of superhero shows; unfortunately most have since been long forgotten. Now is your chance to remember them as we flash back to the 90s.

The Crow

Opening in May, The Crow is probably be best know for the tragic accident resulting in the death of the star Brandon Lee. It performed moderately well on a small budget spawning a three sequels and a short lived TV series. In the movie, a Crow brings the hero back from the dead to seek vengeance upon his killers.

The Shadow

Come July, summer was heating up with a pair of superhero flicks. Up first was The Shadow with Alec Baldwin in the star role adapting the 1931 hero. Some accused The Shadow of copying the Burton Batman, but this was actually a worthwhile movie in the vein of the pulp period superhero movies The Rocketeer and The Phantom.

The Mask

Somebody Stop Me! The Jim Carrey machine was going into full swing with this adaptation of the Dark Horse character who when donning Loki's mask could do pretty much anything. This light-hearted action comedy was a pretty big success for a lesser know hero, banking over $100 million. The follow up, Son of the Mask, however, was an abomination.


In August it was Blankman's turn at bat. A year earlier, The Meteor Man, a parody of Superman bombed, so obviously it was time for a parody of Batman. Blankman did even worse. Thanks Damon for the memories.

The Tick

1994 was pretty epic for introducing new superhero cartoons, the first to hit airwaves being The Tick. This superhero satire lasted for three season, spawning 36 episodes.

Phantom 2040

In September, it was the Phantoms turn to try and regain relevance with Phantom 2040. This animated series was praised by critics earning The Ghost Who Walks 35 episodes and possibly influencing the development of a live action, though still clad in purple Phantom movie in 1996.

Fantastic Four

Having tasted success with the X-Men animated series, Marvel was ready to move its plans for a Marvel animated universe into full force. Fantastic Four and Iron Man were launched together in September and both suffered from terrible first seasons.

Iron Man 

Both Iron Man and Fantastic Four series were reworked and improved for their second seasons, but both were cancelled after just 26 episodes.

Wild C.A.T.s

In October, it was Wildstorm Comics turn to take grab at the superhero cartoon pie. This was the shortest running superhero series which debuted in the 1994 fall season earning just 13 episodes. Since the 90's, Wildstorm has been bought by DC comics, thus these 'CATs' are now member of the DC universe paving the way for their possible return to animation at some point.


The Spider-Man animated series premiered shortly after Fantastic Four and Iron Man in November of 1994, but this time Marvel struck gold. Spider-Man ran for 65 episodes up through 1998 often adapting multi-part storylines into season long arcs. The fact that Spider-Man was not allowed to punch becomes pretty distracting once you are aware of the limitation. Also, CG cityscapes looked atrocious, even back then. In the last episode, Spider-Man came to our universe and met legendary Stan Lee.

The Silver Surfer

Honestly, I don't know the circumstances of this short's creation but it seems like it must have been some sort of demo or effects test. It was never commercially released, but thanks to the Internet, its out there now. In any case, I imagine that this must have been both costly and impressive in 1994 even if the effects don't hold up too well over a decade later. As for story, even though you can't expect much from  5 minutes, this is horrible. Silver Surfer gets picked up on radar, finds a little boy, and gives him a Silver Surfer action figure. Talk about an ego. Besides, is Galactus is following behind, that boy isn't really even going to get too much enjoyment out of his toy.

The Fantastic Four

Also unreleased was the first live-action Fantastic Four movie, made for just $1.5 million in order to keep licensing agreements alive. This was a near miss. People who hate on the 2005 Fantastic Four films should be grateful that this one went mostly unseen. The Thing was dang ugly, but at least he had an excuse. The others weren't much better.

And that was 1994, the year when C-listers were king.

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