21 August 2012

Onscreen History of Brainiac

While not quite his oldest foe, the android Brainiac has been plaguing the Man of Steel for over 50 years, first appearing in Action Comics #242 way back in 1958. And yet, Brainy has had a hard time coming into his own and stepping out of the shadow of Lex Luthor. Nevertheless, Brainiac has an awfully impressive resume of his own. Shall we proceed?

Brainiac got his onscreen start in the Filmation animated series The New Adventures of Superman. Ever since his onscreen debut in 1966 Brainiac has been obsessed  with shrinking and bottling cities.

In the 70's Brainiac would return with the Legion of Doom in the Challenge of the Super Friends series... but could someone please get the guy some pants? Its a real shame that a guy named Brainiac wasn't allowed to come up with a decent master plan.

1983's live action Superman featured an evil super computer (with build in video game console) that would have been cooler if they had just named in Brainiac. Even though Brainiac did not actually appear in the movie, the cyborg Vera is still an object of my nightmares.

In the 1980's Brainiac got a pretty drastic redesign for the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show. Still, Brainy had no pants, but with his more robotic look, he didn't really need them. 

Along with his frightening Terminator style body, 80's Brainiac got himself a tentacled spaceship.

Brainiac would return again with another slight redesign in The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. 

Arguably, what Batman: The Animated Series did for Mr. Freeze, the Superman animated series did for Brainiac. No longer was Brainiac a random space android, but his origins were tied to the destruction of Krypton.

Brainiac would become a recurring villain for Superman in the DC animated universe popping up throughout the run of Superman, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

In the Justice League Unlimited episode For the Man Who Has Everything the Kryptonian based Brainiac even appeared in Superman's dream as a nice little helper-bot reminiscent of HERBIE.

As if Brainiac on his own was not enough of a threat for the Justice League, the villain spawned nanotech which merged with Lex Luthor and revealed as one of Justice League Unlimited's primary villains.

Although the two villains were eventually separated, Lex would pursue his dream of returning to Lexiac form throughout the final season of JLU.

Brainiac also appeared the Static Shock episode A League of Their Own, a two-part crossover with the Justice League in which he piloted once again his flying tentacle head ship.

In 2006, Brainiac starred in the abominable direct-to-video animated movie Superman: Brainiac Attacks. Although the design of Brainiac matched the design from Superman and Justice League, this movie existed in its own continuity and Brainiac had a new voice.

Of course, Brainiac's descendant and hero member of the Legion of Super Heroes was also a part of the DC animated Universe. In the Superman animated series episode New Kids in Town, Brainiac 5 made a cameo appearance sporting a stylish mullet.

When Supergirl teamed with the Legion in Justice League Unlimited's Far From Home, Kara Zor-El fell for the hip hero with his newly groomed mane.

Brainiac 5 was one of the main characters in the Legion of Super Heroes animated series. During the series two seasons, Brainiac 5 had to battle his inner demons AKA remnants of computer code from his ancestor the villainous Brainiac 1.0.

Brainiac made one of his largest contributions to Smallville, first arriving for the 5th season. Following in the tradition of the Superman animated series, Brainiac (the BRAIN INter Active Construct) was of Kryptonian origin and a servant of Zod. Also true to form he was very hard to kill. Eventually he was taken to the future and reprogrammed by the Legion of Super Heroes, eventually returning as Brainiac 5 to offer some final season assistance to Clark Kent in the landmark episode Homecoming.

As of late, Brainiac has made a slew of cameo appearances. Brainiac's robotic head appeared in Superman's trophy room within the Fortress of Solitude of Superman: Doomsday.


Brainy's floating head also made a showing in Justice League: The New Frontier.

The golf-shirt wearing version of Brainiac (along with his alien monkey Koko) made a showing in the Superman tribute episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Battle of the Superheroes!

In All Star Superman, Brainiac was once again spotted in Superman's fortress implying the villain had clashed with that universe's Man of Steel. With a history as prolific as Brainiac's, its only a matter of time before he pops up again. It was rumored he would be the villain in a Superman Returns sequel, so perhaps he will get the spotlight in a follow up to Man of Steel. But before that, it is expected that he will appear as the primary villain in a 2013 animated feature based upon the Superman: Brainiac story arc possible titled Superman: The Lost City of Krypton. We shall see...

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