The Best (And Worst) of Modern Marvel Cartoons

The Best (And Worst) of Modern Marvel Cartoons

Our look at Marvel's TV history comes to a close with their modern animated series.

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Alright, where to begin?

X-MEN: EVOLUTION

Great series. Easily my favorite of all the X-men adaptations. Loved the grounded approach and designs, the animation was spot-on, the writing got better and X-23 sealed the deal for me.

SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES

Not terrible, if I recall, but yeah, the animation was very experimental. I did think Neil Patrick Harris made a good Spidey, though.

FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES

A lot better than I expected. There are some cool arcs they made. It's too bad that half the series looks like it's been shot through an awful filter with the sun always shining, giving a faded out look.

THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN

90's Spider-man will always be my favorite, but this was good too. Greg Weisman was involved, they developed a lot of characters (including Flash), and there was even a cool parody of a midsummer's Night's dream with Spider-man and Green Goblin.

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN

It had its moments. At the very least, I like they made Emma a recurring member of the team. But, they always came back to Jean Grey who's literally a plot device in this. (Though I do love the fact she's voiced by Jennifer Hale).

IRON MAN: ARMORED ADVENTURES

Not as terrible as you might expect. But yeah, making Tony a teenager seemed like a wrong move.

THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW

...It's brand management for kids. What can you do?

BLACK PANTHER

I've honestly never heard of this series until now.

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES

Great series. Awesome tie-in with the Avengers movie. I loved Wasp in this. Too bad Jeph Loeb got his stinking hands on it and ruined it.

My opinion?

Really Liked:
The Spectacular Spider-man, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

Liked:
X-Men Evolution, Fantastic 4: World's Greatest Heroes

Is Okay With:
Wolverine and the X-Men, Iron Man Armored Adventures

Haven't Seen:
Spider-man the New Animated Series, Black Panther

What really bothers me is that the two shows on top of the list got screwed over by whatever networks were showing them at the time. Damned TV executives...

I'm disappointed, but not really surprised that you don't love the Spectacular Spider-man show, since it didn't have any crossovers and did the Ultimate/amazing spider-man movie thing of tying a lot of characters together. I mean, sorry for assuming, but you didn't write a lot about why you felt the way you did.

I'll take you liking it though, and I'd recommend anyone to check it out. I only discovered it a couple of years ago, and it's one of my favorite versions of Spider-Man and his part of the Marvel universe. My affection is very definitely not based on anticipation for a crossover with the Human Torch or anything like that. It has its faults, but I adore it, and I'm so bummed it ended the way it did.

Response:

Spectacular Spiderman: I had fun with it as a good substitute for the 90's Spiderman since we hadn't had a show even close to that good in ages. The animation was solid and the stories were what they needed to be. I'll agree the problem likely stems from the fact they built it up for more than what they had (longer story arcs and such) but it couldn't be delivered before the end of the series.

X-Men Evolution: Okay, yeah, I had fun with this one. But of the X-Men shows, probably my least favorite. Then again, this show aired as I was going through the middle-school / high school transition and the last thing I wanted to see was more high school twats after spending a whole day with high school twats.

Wolverine & the X-Men: I mostly liked because they gave solid screen time to Gambit and Magneto had a prominent role. Yeah, I got annoyed with the Wolverine focus too. But aside from that, it was a mostly good show.

Earths's Mightiest Heroes (and Avengers Assembled): I loved this show and it was the main reason I got excited for the Avengers movie in the first place (beyond the fact it was a big deal for a movie franchise to do such a thing). Avengers Assembled, by comparison, has just not been fun for me to watch. Outside of the scant episodes featuring Dr. Doom (and even those aren't as fun as when Doom showed up in EMH) Assembled is generally terrible in terms of story, Voice Acting, and animation. Oh, I guess not "terrible" but laughably inferior to EMH in nearly every way. And it doesn't help how it keeps in line with the films, ultimately making moments like Skull giving Thanos the Cosmic Cube annoyingly predictable and boring.

I have to admit, I actually quite liked Armored Adventures. While I felt the animation was a bit wonky (I prefer traditional animation over CGI) story and character-wise it was pretty solid. They did a pretty good job in updating a lot of the 'classic' Iron Man villains - if you recall, originally they were various racist stereotypes when first conceived in the comics that nowadays are majorly cringeworthy. Pepper was hilarious, Rhodey makes a good support for Tony and lets not forget, this is pretty much the only incarnation of Iron Man where Howard Stark wasn't a massive dick.

I really wish the series had gotten another season, especially with the way it ended - I'd bet good money that the plan was to bring together the Avengers eventually since Black Widow, Hawkeye and Hulk had already been 'guests' on the show and Captain America in deep-freeze was already in SHIELD custody.

Burnouts3s3:
Alright, where to begin?

X-MEN: EVOLUTION

Great series. Easily my favorite of all the X-men adaptations. Loved the grounded approach and designs, the animation was spot-on, the writing got better and X-23 sealed the deal for me.

SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES

Not terrible, if I recall, but yeah, the animation was very experimental. I did think Neil Patrick Harris made a good Spidey, though.

FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES

A lot better than I expected. There are some cool arcs they made. It's too bad that half the series looks like it's been shot through an awful filter with the sun always shining, giving a faded out look.

THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN

90's Spider-man will always be my favorite, but this was good too. Greg Weisman was involved, they developed a lot of characters (including Flash), and there was even a cool parody of a midsummer's Night's dream with Spider-man and Green Goblin.

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN

It had its moments. At the very least, I like they made Emma a recurring member of the team. But, they always came back to Jean Grey who's literally a plot device in this. (Though I do love the fact she's voiced by Jennifer Hale).

IRON MAN: ARMORED ADVENTURES

Not as terrible as you might expect. But yeah, making Tony a teenager seemed like a wrong move.

THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW

...It's brand management for kids. What can you do?

BLACK PANTHER

I've honestly never heard of this series until now.

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES

Great series. Awesome tie-in with the Avengers movie. I loved Wasp in this. Too bad Jeph Loeb got his stinking hands on it and ruined it.

And the world greatest voice actress (Kari Wahlgren) was an All-Star as Emma Frost. Also as Enchantress in A:EMH. She was my favorite character in that series.

OT: I loved Wolverine and the X-Men, and I am really bummed it didn't get a second season. And Iron Man: AA was fun (and got surprisingly dark for a cartoon in certain spots). And Avengers: EMH is my second favorite Marvel cartoon all-time (behind 90's X-Men).

Final note: Goth and terrifying Wanda from X-Men: Evolution is the living definition of sexy and awesome. Fact.

You know, the Super Hero Squad left me feeling cold. Not just that, but it was such a blatent marketing attempt to get into my son's noggin that I honestly got creeped out.

I think it was just the lack of subtlety that put me off. Weirdly, I found I really got a chuckle out of Lego doing the same thing with (more or less) the same I.P.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlOQsHB_ZfA

I was honestly kind of bummed to find this was a one-off. I would've loved to have seen it go on.

2 things:

1) The Spidey with Greg Weisman involved was amazing. Just about everything he work on, is.

2) The thing about Wolverine and the X-Men was.....well...

***SPOILER ALERT***

that while it had its' moments, its' greatest moment was the setup for next season, where they perfectly set up the Age of Apocalypse, where Wolvie actually IS in charge of the X-men.....and then it was cancelled.

***END SPOILER ALERT***

It's not a series I'll go back and watch now, but that setup was really wonderful, and I'm sad for what we missed out on because we never got to see them try to pull that off.

Okay, which 2 Japan only shows is he talking about? The only one that come's to mind is DISK wars, which is currently running. I know a couple years back they put out a 13 episode anime series for each of: X-men, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Blade, but those were separate entities that shared a (very) loose continuity, and were released stateside besides. I saw a couple of them in the Walmart five dollar bin a while back, so it's obvious they weren't well received, but isn't that all the more reason to include them in a list like this? The Iron Man one wasn't terrible, but the world did NOT need a Bishounen Wolverine...

I don't disagree with the assessment of the cel shaded Mtv Spider-Man, but I still have a lot of affection for that series.

It looked crappy even when new, but I remember it fondly because that was when my daughter had just gotten into Spider-Man after I took her to see the first Raimi film. So when she got to watch Spider-Man at home too, she was super excited for it. For a fun side note, she was 6 years old at the time, the same age I was when I became interested in Spider-Man.

So I have a bit of the old nostalgia goggles when it comes to that series.

I do genuinely think it had some inspired voice casting though. Many of the plots were silly and they were knee-capped by not being able to use a lot of the best villains since Sony had plans for them in the movies, but NPH was a great choice for Peter and Lisa Loeb did a good turn as Mary Jane.

Again, I agree that it was not the best. Not even good by any reasonable measure and it holds up about as well as a river raft made out of paper towels and Elmer's glue. I wouldn't dare defend it outside of the voice cast. I just wanted to share my personal experience with it, watching it with my daughter. :)

I always loved Evolution, despite growing up with the original series in the 90's, I still swoon for Goth Rogue and her relationship with villain Gambit.

Also that ending was some epic stuff.

I love Spectacular SM, Avengers: EMH, and Evolution--more than any other Marvel animated production--refused to pull their punches when it came to character development. The 90s X-men and Spidey were fun and all, but quite often those shows had the characters repeating arcs/learning the same lessons. In Spectacular and Evolution, you know the characters at the end of the series are on a completely different level than their season 1 counterparts, because the effects of their experiences are so visible to the audience. Not to mention, Spectacular wasn't afraid of concept episodes, something I find unusual in family TV. They gave Sandman his own "a-day-in-the-life" episode, with texture and everything! That's some Batman: TAS shit right there!

Avengers: EMH is gush-worthy; every character had a distinct role, arc and personality.

Super Hero Squad refused to pull punches in a different way, and I love it too.

I haven't watched any of the others because... superhero cartoons, meh. But The Super Hero Squad Show is the best thing Marvel ever turned out. Yeah, guess what: the Spider-man and Iron Man movies are completely forgettable. I have to watch them again just to remember what happened in them. But I remember what happened to the Squaddies. Superheroes are unimpressive because they are generally not worth remembering. Rick and his cafe in Casablanca are memorable. Tom Sawyer is memorable. Iron Man? Cardboard.

I really, really love Spectacular Spiderman, it blends the more modern day spiderman stories, with the feel of the classic steve ditko era, with the high school story-line that actually works from ultimate spiderman (although i prefer adult peter parker myself).the writing and dialouge were excellent, the animation smooth, the plot lines complex and interesting, i just really love the show.
its probably because i (kind-of) grew up with it, but i seriously consider it the best version of spiderman (on-screen) i've ever seen. (and i also have fond memories of the 90s spiderman, even if it doesn't hold up well nowadays),
this might be one of my favourite (animated) tv shows ever (alongside avatar.)
no real point to this post, i just really like ranting about things i like. i also remember liking wolverine and the xmen, for having a more serious tone, while keeping the fun of superhero's, but i don't know how well it holds up. Avengers EMH is also pretty good.

Loved Earth's Mightiest Heroes. On a semi related topic, you know what other series was cancelled but should not have been? Young Justice. Best DC show since Justice League, there was not one episode I did not like. Also Green Lantern was not TERRIBLE. To end, I will just say this, Beware the Batman SUCKS.

SilverUchiha:

Wolverine & the X-Men: I mostly liked because they gave solid screen time to Gambit and Magneto had a prominent role. Yeah, I got annoyed with the Wolverine focus too. But aside from that, it was a mostly good show.

Same here, regarding Gambit. He was my favorite of the crew in the 90s series, but alas, in every other animated incarnation he tends to get the shaft. Pity, his interactions with X23 were pretty awesome in the comics, and would have been fun to see adapted.

My biggest complaint with Wolverine and the X-men was that Wolvy really isn't cut out to be a team leader, and forcing him into that position just to get the most out of his popularity was a strange move. Granted, it would have been in canon with the comics, and much more logical, in the next arc, which was basically an all-out war, but alas that arc never came to be.

I still think Spectacular Spider-Man was one of the best incarnations of the Spider-Man story to date.
Yes, it did start to pull the same "Everything is Oscorps fault" thing that got tiresome in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics but it at least bothered to take the time to actually establish and maintain relationships for the main cast.

It also managed to modernize Peter Parker's nerdy school kid persona without falling into the Amazing Spider-Man trap of making Peter an annoying shitheel.

I also absolutely love the fact that they play up the disappointment in Peter's personal life caused by his duties as Spider-Man, doubly so that they used it as a springboard for setting up a genuine rivalry between Peter and Eddie Brock. SSM is, to this day the only incarnation of the story that has managed to make me care about Eddie Brock's transformation into Venom.

Also:
For a larf at one of the weirder attempts to monetize the Marvel Cinematic Universe, check out Marvel: Disk Wars.

It's like Poke'mon...but with Marvel Superheroes.
Thor Odinson I Choose You!

Andthentherewasthisonetime Spiderman was teleported to an alternate reality earth where the green goblin was heroic and the setting was trying to be Batman Beyond but with Spiderman. Venom and Carnage were allies (not bitter enemies,) and the main villains.

Seriously, it's terrible, and probably just before this list's time frame.

Ah, Super Hero Squad and Spectacular Spider-man. Two of the most catchiest theme songs of all time. Good times right there.

Out the line-up mentioned on this list, Spectacular Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes was the best modern renditions of these characters. Fantastic writing, great animation, top-notch voice actors and beautiful characterization. Shame we had to ditch them just to put up piss-poor knock-offs like Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, and Hulk and the Agents of SMASH. Trust me, Bob. The Marvel Universe block on Disney XD is insulting on multiple levels.

Is it too late to stick Jeff Leob into a fucking nursing home? Or maybe send him adrift or take him out into the woods and hunt him for sport? The man has screwed too many pooches to be given a second chance IMO.

I will never not be pissed about EMH being canceled. By far the best marvel series ever. And the design they came up with for Wasp is one of the best female super hero character designs ever created and the way they wrote her was so utterly perfect she ended up being my favorite character from the show.

Huh, kinda surprised you didn't mention the Ultimate Spiderman series that's currently running (or did it get canned? No idea). It started out really good, but the latest season was pretty bleh since they completely ditched the whole team aspect and seemed to have given up on any sort of continuing plot.

I am also surprised you weren't as into Wolverine and the X-Men. Its not the most spectacular thing ever, but the animation is absolutely fantastic and the stories are the best they've been in animated X-Men. Its absolutely not nearly as good as Evolution, but it was also a lot less likely to grate on your nerves if you couldn't get over the whole teenager aspect.

Ah, X-Men:Evolution. One of my favorite episodes has flashbacks to Wolverine in WWII, fighting side-by-side with Captain America. One of their last missions was liberating the camp that was holding the boy who would become Magneto.

I've already said this, but had Wolverine and the X-Men been allowed more seasons, here's what I think would have happened:
-lead up to or prevent the Age of Apocalypse
-Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean settle the relationship triangle business
-Magneto finds out he, the Brotherhood, and the X-Men were played for chumps by the Inner Circle, and he single handedly kicks their asses
-Wolverine and the X-Men all take on Weapon X, bring in X-23, and find out about its origins in WWII as Weapon I, a.k.a. Project Rebirth, the very same one that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America, which would lead to...
-team up with the Avengers! I was convinced they were in the same universe anyway.

I also ponder about the future of Spectacular Spider-Man, great as that show was. My theory/fanboy-wish: since the major criminal bigwigs through the series are either arrested (Tombstone, Silvermane, Doctor Octopus) or got out of dodge (Green Goblin) leaving a big void to fill, and the only man big enough for the job is Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin. And if you think he's only Daredevil's nemesis, I say, good! Bring him in, too! His friendship with Spider-Man is supposed to be one of Marvel's most celebrated, and here could be more antagonists, like Bullseye and Elektra.

Jinjer:
I have to admit, I actually quite liked Armored Adventures. While I felt the animation was a bit wonky (I prefer traditional animation over CGI) story and character-wise it was pretty solid. They did a pretty good job in updating a lot of the 'classic' Iron Man villains - if you recall, originally they were various racist stereotypes when first conceived in the comics that nowadays are majorly cringeworthy. Pepper was hilarious, Rhodey makes a good support for Tony and lets not forget, this is pretty much the only incarnation of Iron Man where Howard Stark wasn't a massive dick.

I really wish the series had gotten another season, especially with the way it ended - I'd bet good money that the plan was to bring together the Avengers eventually since Black Widow, Hawkeye and Hulk had already been 'guests' on the show and Captain America in deep-freeze was already in SHIELD custody.

And the X-Men. There was an episode they had to fight Magneto, with help from Jean Grey, using the cover name Annie Claremont. At the end of that, who should arrive at Tony's school with an offer for Jean but Prof. Charles Xavier.

Armored adventures was actually pretty decent. It featured a cohesive storyline, had nice cameos of Marvel staples (Doctor doom being the most memerable) and ended in a nice wham episode with the invasion.
Also does not include a broken man with drinking problems, yay for that.

Earths Mightiest Heroes is, to me, by far the best marvel animated project of all time. All heroes, the villains, the plots, pretty great. Probably my 3rd highest animated superhero series just behind Batman:TAS and Justice League. IMO its the closest Marvel has ever come to reaching the lofty heights of those two series.

I loved both Evolution and Wolverine and. Mostly for the fact that they had good characters, and neither respected the super awful gritty muscle show that was Cable and his whole... thing. By the time the 90s cartoon started introducing Cable I just about lost my lunch and couldn't go on.

Err can someone link me of the past Bob articles on this? I mean I saw the 80's article but I competely forgot about it until now and it's confusing trying to find the other articles since Bob does other stuff beside said article!

OT- Out of the Marvel shows of the modern era, Spectacular Spiderman and Black Panther were my favourite. Sepctacular had a nice artstyle and their take on Spiderman like Pete being friend with Eddie and Black Panther was soo underrated! That show gave me new found respect for Black Panther as a superhero whole!

Looks like Spectacular Spider-man and EMH were victims of their own hype T^T it's a shame Bob didn't enjoy them as much as I did.

Okay, let me just copy paste something I said about the Black Panther cartoon

As for Spectacular Spiderman and Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Fantastic, great, really fucking good and gone before their time.

Black Panther being poor is not surprising. Reggie Hudlin has some really weird conceptions of race and seemed to struggle with the difference between an African-American attitude and an African attitude. Once T'challa gathered up every black hero he could find (Luke Cage, Blade and someone else I can't remember. Possibly Falcon) and went to Louisiana to fight KKK vampires who were feeding off Hurricane Katrina victims. I'm not quite sure what point Hudlin was trying to make there as it's just that little bit too subtle a metaphor for me.

Super Hero Squad was my favourite show for a while. "Tell Brubaker not to worry, it's a just a civil war re-enactment". I don't care that I had to explain that to my friends.

So I never watched or cared for any of these. But I did see an episode of Super Hero Squad where they introduced Black Widow with a cheesy Russian accent, and promptly used that as the springboard for a Rocky and Bullwinkle reference. I remember thinking, "there are people in their 30s who wouldn't get that joke!" And now I realize that was my version of watching old Looney Tunes cartoons, that made jokes referencing 1940s pop culture that went right over my 6-year-old head. Amazing.

 

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