Superfriends on Film!

Jondee here at the Hall of Doom,

"Idol" -- David Gallagher as Zan and Allison Scagliotti as Jayna in SMALLVILLE, on The CW Network. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

As a kid, Superfriends was a legit as any film or tv series, George Reeves was still in re-runs in Adventures of Superman and Adam West was Batman also in re-runs. Some of the comic book villains spilled into Batman, but it was Superfriends that really made you love the comic book characters. The cartoon series ran from 1973 until it finished in 1986. I knew it from The All-New Super Friends Hour in 1977 which was the same year as Star Wars. Since it was a cartoon, I hear they thought “Justice” would be intimidating for kids so it was Super Friends. The cartoon was produced by Hanna-Barbera, no Warner Bros. animation, but Warners took over it’s library. It was teased in Batman and Robin appearing on Scooby Doo. The line-up was incredible, they were the first superhero team for me; Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman! Earlier there was Marvin and Wendy, regular teens with capes, and Wonder Dog. Thankfully, they were dropped from the show, if they wanted kids on the show, they should be assistants or scouts. The 1977 version introduced characters that are strongly connected to Superfriends; the Wonder Twins, Jan and Zayna with their pet monkey Gleek. They were brother and sister, kinda like Donnie and Marie, from Exxor. The best part was their origin was detailed in the Super Friends comic book, issue #14 “Elementary!” by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon. They were brought to screen in the Smallville episode “Idol” (2009) played by Allison Scagliotti and David Gallagher.

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The Super Friends faced the Legion of Doom run by Lex Luthor and all of the heroes’ counterparts. Since there was already a Batman cartoon, the Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Catwoman were excluded. I think they more than made up for their absence with Cheetah and Black Manta. The later obsessed me as a villain, he wasn’t Darth Vader, who didn’t shoot lasers out of his helmet. The Legion of Doom is teased with the Legends of Tomorrow episodes assembling Reverse Flash, Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, and Captain Cold. The Hall of Justice made it into Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come series and his Justice limited series had ties to the Superfriends with the Legion of Doom. It was of course featured in the Heroes vs. Aliens arc with Flash and Legends of Tomorrow episodes. For some reason, the hall was explained as an abandoned S.T.A.R. Labs hangar which looked like a headquarters. I don’t know with the aliens brought into the CWverse if this means the Wonder Twins will appear, but I’m more interested in the other heroes. The Challenge of the Super Friends added several multi-ethnic super heroes; Black Vulcan (he seemed to replace Black Lightning), Apache Chief (he was awesome and grew to giant size saying “Inukchuk”!), El Dorado (I don’t think I remember him), and Samurai, my favorite. Samurai was Toshio Eto and could turn his body into a tornado saying “Kaze no Yo ni Hayaku”, I know the last part means to hurry. A version of Samurai showed up in Justice League Unlimited as Wind Dragon. There were versions of these characters in the comic books, but still not in the DC Universe proper. DC was trying to expand the diversity of it’s characters, they already have them!  So I hope the CWverse introduces all of the Challenge heroes.

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