In honor of the smoking hot new Iron Man movie hitting the theaters this weekend, I decided to visit YouTube and dig up 20 examples of how Hollywood has attempted to bring comic book superheroes to life over the years.
Some of these you may be familiar with already. Some may be gems from your childhood that you’ve long since forgotten. And some I’m certain will thrill you for the very first time. I’ve broken them out into four classes: The Good, The Bad, The Campy, and the Kind of Interesting.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and most of these are TV shows — but my goal here wasn’t to find the best examples, just the most entertaining ones, either from a nostalgia or a cringe-worthy perspective. I’ve red-starred a few of my favorite clips. Please to enjoy …
THE GOOD …
Adventures of Superman (1952-58)
I watched this religiously as a kid … in the 70s! Poor George Reeves.
Wonder Woman (1975-79) ***
Lynda Carter set the bar — and cup size — for every superheroine who followed her.
The Incredible Hulk (1978-82)
The Fugitive format rocked, and the sad music during the end credits still haunts me.
Lois & Clark (1993-97)
Back when Teri Hatcher didn’t annoy me yet, I loved this fresh take on Superman.
Birds of Prey (2002)
This WB show never quite made it past 13 episodes, but was actually very good.
THE BAD …
Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (1976) ***
Until I found this on YouTube, I thought maybe I had only dreamed it.
Captain America (1977) ***
Dudes, no. Just … no. Captain America isn’t Special Ed. He doesn’t wear a helmet.
Even at ten years old, it pained me to watch this. The Japanese did it better (scroll down).
Doctor Strange (1978)
Doctor Who? Check out a hot young pre-Bluth Jessica Walters as Morgan Le Fey.
Justice League of America (1997) ***
This pilot never saw the light of day … for so very very very many reasons.
THE CAMPY …
Fun to watch, but it took decades for the Batman franchise to recover from the silliness.
The Green Hornet (1966-67)
A classic. Keep an eye out for Seth Rogen’s take on this character in 2009.
Campy Saturday morning fare — but at the time, how bad did I want to be Billy Batson?
Swamp Thing (1982) ***
Swamp Thing, Schmwamp Thing … Adrienne Barbeau gets topless! (not in this clip)
Fantastic Four (1994) ***
This right here is movie making GOLD. Roger Corman pwns Hollywood!
AND THE KIND OF INTERESTING …
Spider-Man Tokusatsu (1978) ***
Seriously, as weird as this is, it’s ten times better than the US version. Giant robots!
This Smallville predecessor got shafted by ongoing licensing issues, but it wasn’t half bad.
The Flash (1990-91)
They made the mistake of airing this against The Simpsons and The Cosby Show. D’ohhh!!!
Generation X (1996) ***
I remember watching this pilot and loving the concept … but FOX never picked it up.
Mutant X (2001-04)
Yet another half-decent show with a following that got screwed by licensing issues.
Are there any great ones I missed? Be sure to let me know!