The Year of the Superhero

Hello out there, folks.

Just came from a second viewing of Captain America: Civil War and I have to say I like it as much as I did the first time.

If you like superhero movies and TV shows like me, than you are happy because there is no end in sight for the genre with Suicide Squad, Dr. Strange, Thor 3, Spiderman: Homecoming on the way. Flash is still interesting after 2 seasons and Netflix will have Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Defenders on the way.

Having said that, we are at the halfway point of 2016 and I thought it would be cool to take a moment and pay a little homage to the year 1966.

Why 1966, you ask?

Well, if not for that year, we likely would not have the comic book big screen entertainment that we enjoy today.

I call 1966 the year of the superhero.

You always had comics. Superman began in 1938 for DC and Marvel really came on the scene 1961 with the Fantastic Four.

By 1965, you had all the biggies seeing print like Spidey, FF, Avengers, Batman, JLA, DD, Cap, Iron Man, X-Men, etc. Good stuff, but comics were still a small niche audience and by my parents recollection and other people I have interacted with from those days, quite a novelty.

Enter 1966

At least 90% of America had a TV in their homes and superheroes took over.

There were Marvel Superhero Cartoons during the week by Grantray-Lawrence that produced Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and Sub-Mariner. Now the animation was…um..terrible and it was basically filming comic book pages, BUT you at least could watch them.

.You had the Super 6, King Kong (yes, they made him into a cartoon) Superman and Lone Ranger.

Still not convinced about 1966?

There was the Mighty Heroes, the Impossibles, Frankenstein Jr, and perhaps the most entertaining of them all, Space Ghost strutting their stuff on Saturday mornings.

All of this opened the door to renewed interest in Manga/Anime.

Astro Boy, 8th man, Kimba, and Prince Planet had all debuted the summer of 65 but the interest was lukewarm. Only Kimba was in color.

Japan stepped it up and gave us two great live action (color) shows in 1966 called Ultraman and Space Giants. A quick note about Space Giants: Do yourself a favor and check it out. It had all kinds of drama and things did not always conclude by the end of the show. If you like Dr. Who, you might like Space Giants.

There was also Marine Boy, a kid with a special suit who could chew gum, breathe and talk underwater. He was also friends with a dolphin and a mermaid.

No kidding.

Remember the cheesy, but beloved Batman TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward? That was in 1966 too. Kapow!

Because of the success of 1966, the networks decided to ramp things up even more the following year. Speed Racer, the Fantastic Four (my personal favorite), Herculoids, Spiderman (artwork by the John Romita Sr!), Shazam (the genie, not Captain Marvel), Super President, Birdman, Moby Dick, Galaxy Trio, Mightor, Samson and Goliath, and Jonny Quest all premiered in 1967. Whew!

DC caught the fever and produced Green Lantern, Flash, Superboy (with Krypto) Atom, Hawkman, Aquaman, and Teen Titans, and the JLA.

People complained about too much violence and a lot of those shows went off the air by 1969-70, but the seeds were planted and we are reaping the benefits today.

A special thanks to Hanna Barbara, De Patie& Freleng, Grantray-Lawrence, Osamu Tezuka, Filmation, Terebi Doga, Terrytoons Company, Rankin & Bass, Eiji Tsuburaya. You guys made it happen.

Please let me know if left out any cartoons or shows!

Things for reading and I will talk to you soon.

Peace and goodwill to all.

EH

 

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7 Comments

  1. Great post you mentioned that lot of these shows were taken off the air by 1969-1970 because people complained about too much violence.

    You have to remember the backdrop of our country at the time. RFK was killed in 68 on live TV. The Vietnam War was being broadcasted live into our homes. MLK was killed in 68 and rioting soon followed.. Then there was 68 Democractic Natiinal Concention in Chicago .Unfortunately , real life can creep into our fantasy genre.

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  2. Okay we are going off topic but let’s have some fun! Your guy Nixon ran the 68 campaign on Law and Order. Well it took a few years to catch up in the movie Dirty Harry. The success of Dirty Harry , spawned Kojak, the Lethal Weapon, and Diehard movie franchises.

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    • I am actually not a particular fan of Nixon one way or another.

      I think Bullitt done by the great Steve McQueen in the late 60s set the stage for Dirty Harry. Both were shot in San Francisco.
      Coincidentally, McQueen turned down the role of Dirty Harry because he did not want to do another cop movie.
      Lastly, you skipped over a lot of shows in between DH and LW. Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, Mannix, Cannon, Police Woman, Swat, The Rookies were all gritty cop shows of the 70s.

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