5 Often-Overlooked Marvel Animated Series That Are Worth Revisiting

Marvel has found great success with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the company also has quite a few animated gems that are often overlooked. Here are five Marvel animated series worth revisiting.

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Marvel has found great success on the big screen with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The franchise brought the House of Ideas' superheroes to the forefront of pop culture and made the comic-book-movie genre one of (if not the) most profitable genre in Hollywood. However, while the comic-book company's live-action projects (rightfully) get plenty of attention, the same can't be said for its animated output. 

Marvel has developed numerous animated shows over the years, and many of them have been quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, they don't often get their time in the spotlight, so, we're now shining a light on five animated series based on Marvel characters that are worth revisiting. 

5. Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2009 - 2012)

Right around the time that Iron Man was becoming a household name thanks to his eponymous movie, Armored Adventures came to offer a spin on the hero's mythology. In this series, the Armored Avenger is no longer a seasoned weapon's manufacturer with an alcohol problem. He is a teenager dealing with usual teenager issues, all while having to save the world from various threats alongside his best friends, Rhodey and Pepper. The show's take on Stark and his supporting cast is a significant departure from the printed page, but the story is so enjoyable and intriguing that it makes you want to keep watching.

For comic-book veterans, the show offers a fun "What if?" scenario by showing just how different things would have been for the inventor had he started his superhero career a little earlier. For younger audiences, it's a fun intro to the hero, his supporting cast and his world. Adding to the show's enjoyability is the fact that it gradually builds its own version of the Marvel Universe through inclusions of characters like Magneto, Black Panther, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

4. The Super Hero Squad Show (2009 - 2010)

When done smartly, parodying superheroes can offer plenty of laughs. That's exactly what The Super Hero Squad Show does. The series centers around a group of Marvel heroes fighting Doctor Doom to stop him from acquiring Infinity fractals — shards from a cosmic weapon called the Infinity Sword. The series is packed with humor and uses the signature traits of Marvel's heavy-hitters (such as Wolverine's grumpiness and Captain America's righteousness) to deliver some truly funny scenarios.

Still, even with its heavy emphasis on comedy, the series has a compelling plot. It's fairly simple due to its target demographic, but it offers some compelling storylines and, at times, character arcs (Dark Surfer, anyone?) to keep comic-book fans entertained. Unfortunately, the series didn't make it past its second season, but if you're looking for a show that takes Marvel characters in a bold and fun direction, or you're looking for something for your little ones to watch, The Super Hero Squad Show is a great option.

3. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)

Aside from a few instances throughout his comic-book history, Spider-Man isn't often associated with mature interpretations, especially when it comes to animation. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, however, gives the Wall-Crawler a more grown-up makeover. Its use of 3D animation, paired with it being influenced by the aesthetic and character dynamics of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films makes it a unique take on Peter Parker's world.

The series also delivers standout versions of Spider-Man's cast, taking inspiration from their comic-book and live-action interpretations to make them feel like living-breathing people. The show is intriguing and heartbreaking, and touches on adult subject matters like college bullying, drugs and murder. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series ended on a huge cliffhanger, but the anxiety over not knowing what happens next is worth it to experience its version of everyone's favorite Web-Slinger. 

2. Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes (2006 - 2010)

Simply put, this show is exciting. It puts the Fantastic Four in a modern context and packs plenty of action, humor and engaging family dynamics. The personalities of the four heroes are well-balanced, which allows the show to present creative and engaging interactions between them. The animation is another highlight. The character's movements feel fluid and its use of CGI compliments its environment and stories quite well. 

Despite their popularity and promising live-action adaptations, the Fantastic Four haven't had a chance to connect with mainstream audiences, especially when it comes to animation. As such, this television series is a great way to expose inexperienced fans to Marvel's First Family, as it stays true to the heroes' personality and explores many corners of their universe.

1. X-Men: Evolution (2000 - 2003)

The X-Men have been the subject of many animated shows throughout the years, but one that doesn't often get the recognition it deserves is X-Men: Evolution. Similar to what World's Greatest Heroes and Armored Adventures did, Evolution depicts its protagonists as teenagers. This allows the show to deliver some entertaining scenarios for its central characters, as they're forced to deal with normal teen-related challenges, their mutations and on top of that, evil mutants. 

As far as characterization, Evolution mostly delivers exciting new versions of the X-Men. The characters feel true to their comic-book counterparts, but the show adds new traits to each one of them, which makes them feel fresh. To top things off, the heroes' costumes are outstanding, as they put their own spin on the X-Men's exciting aesthetic while putting a younger and even more appealing spin on them.

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