Marvel on TV: The 70's
With both S.H.I.E.L.D. and some new animated programming in the form of Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers Assemble on the horizon; I decided to look back at Marvel on TV. This article covers the 70's; where Marvel experimented with live-action and The Flinstones crossed over with Marvel.
Continuing on from the 60's Marvel decided that it was time to experiment with live-action TV. Their animated efforts went to the back burner while characters such as Spider-Man and The Hulk got their time to shine on TV to mixed results. Without further ado, Marvel TV in the 70's.
Spidey Super Stories (1974-1977)
Both Marvel and Spider-Man took four years off while Marvel contemplated its next move. They had found relative success in the 60's with animation, so why not try to transition to live-action. It can't be that horrible right? Well, yeah, it kind of can.
The Electric Company was a children's TV program on PBS. Spider-Man was a part of a recurring skit that showcased Spidey meeting many non-traditional Spider-Man villains. Marvel obviously didn't learn much from the later series of the Spider-Man animated cartoon. Spider-Man doesn't even talk, but rather expresses himself through speech bubbles. Awesome!
The Amazing Spider-Man (1977-1979)
Spider-Man continued his nosedive in The Amazing Spider-Man. The show started as a TV movie as was the case with a lot of Marvel properties on CBS at the time. Due to high ratings the show was picked up, and despite a cancellation the show was brought back for a second season before the show ended for good.
The show never really had much ties to the comic books but despite this it was wildly popular at the time. CBS eventually cancelled it as the network perceived itself as becoming an exclusively Superhero network. Ironically enough it's now the Chuck Lorre network.
The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982)
While Spider-Man was leading the charge of Mon the live-action front it wasn't until Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno brought The Hulk to the live-action front that Marvel found worldwide success on TV.
The show had appearences by Odinson himself! All kidding aside, The Incredible Hulk was an intelligent look into Banner and The Hulk. It's certainly not a timeless classic but it's one of the best adaptions of The Hulk yet and provided us with this potent final scene.
The show continued for five seasons, and yielded many Made-for-TV movies until Bill Bixby's death in 1993. Ferigno still carries a love of the character and has a cameo in both the 2003 Hulk film and The Incredible Hulk movie.
Doctor Strange (1978)
Not exactly the most accurate depictions of the Socerer Supreme; but that said CBS and Marvel continued on the Marvel hero live action streak with an attempt at adapting Doctor Strange for TV. However as a backdoor pilot, the movie failed to create enough interest in a live action Doctor Strange show.
In this one many changes are made to the character. Strange is a Psychiatrist in this version among many ofter missteps.
Fantastic Four (1978)
NBC ran a 13 episode order for a new animated Fantastic Four cartoon. Problem was that Human Torch was legally in contention with another company and its own attempts to launch a Human Torch TV show. So instead of the Human Torch, we got H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. The show did have a noticeable jump in production values, but alas this couldn't save the show from cancellation.
Toei attempted to adapt Spider-Manmfor Japanese markets. Aside from the costume, and a few of Parkers signature gadgets -- there was no resemblance to the comic book roots of Spider-Man.
Captain America (1979)
Another backdoor pilot disguised as a Made-for-TV movie. Captain America deviated heavily from the source material; set in modern times it's actually Cap's father who was the 40's government agent. Like Doctor Strange, this was unsurprisingly picked up for a full series order.
Fred And Barney Meet The Thing (1979)
Because at this point The Flinstones brand was just open source for anybody to use. This Marvel and Flintstones crossover lasted a few months but the images stay in your mind forever.
Closing off this decade was Spider-Woman. An odd choice for an adaption? Yes! Even better is the idea that someone at a corporate level must've thought that Spider-Woman was just a female version of Spider-Man because everything from the origin to the powers is an almost carbon copy of Spider-Man's.
What do you guys think of Marvel's TV efforts in the 70's? You know where to rant. In the meantime, continue on to the other decades.
Marvel on TV: The 60's
Marvel on TV: The 80's
Marvel on TV: The 90's
Marvel on TV: The 00's
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