Superheroes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. While the public perception of a superhero is that he or she is dressed in tights, wears a cape, and belongs to either the DC or Marvel universes, we geeks know that innumerable heroes don’t fit any of those descriptions. A superhero doesn’t even have to make his or her debut in a comic book. Many heroes have made their debut in cinema or television before making their way into the pages of a monthly comic book.
TV has a rich history of producing superhero shows, many of which are forgotten by present audiences. The titles on this list, on the other hand, haven’t quite made it as cultural icons. On the contrary, with the exception of a small cult following, most have faded into oblivion. To some extent, this may be due to the lack of tights and capes, which causes the public to miss the fact that they’re all superheroes in the first place!
Defenders Of The Earth
In 1986, classic figures such as The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Mandrake the Magician teamed together as the Defenders of the Earth. Mandrake’s bodyguard Lothar, as well as each of the principal characters’ offspring, joined the heroes. Ming the Merciless attempted to exploit Earth’s resources in the near future, and the Defenders opposed him. For a few episodes, Ming collected the enemies of the other Defenders heroes to confront them as well. Before being discontinued, the show ran 65 episodes. Defenders of the Earth, in the end, failed to create a lasting impact on Saturday morning viewers.
Plastic Man is the lone superhero to receive a substantial, if forgotten, series from a major comic company, in this instance DC Comics. From 1979 to 1981, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show aired on ABC before moving to syndication. It was a half-hour show that aired till 1984. Plastic Man has a devoted fanbase today, thanks to the character’s ongoing appeal in DC Comics and the cartoon’s blend of adventure and comedy throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The program was released on DVD in 2009, and with the DCEU now in theatres, expect Plastic Man to make a comeback in the near future.
Spike TV debuted in 2003 as “The First Network for Men,” with a few original shows mixed in with repeats of iconic shows such as Baywatch. The adult cartoon series Stan Lee’s Stripperrella, starring Pamela Anderson, was one of the first originals. Erotica Jones was a secret spy and masked superhero who worked as an exotic dancer, and she was voiced by Anderson. In her career as a costumed crime-fighter, Stripperella possessed a few breast-based skills and employed sex-themed technologies. Despite the fact that it was conceived by Stan Lee for Spike, the show only lasted one season and failed to connect with comic book enthusiasts.
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series
Despite the fact that the creators intended for this MTV project to be an Ultimate Spider-Man program, the studio forced them to adapt it into a sequel to the recent Sam Raimi picture. As a result, while the series was successful in its own right, it fell short of both goals. This is a darker version of the Spider-Man mythos, with a neo-noir feel to it. Unfortunately, this meant it was less appealing to children. However, because it maintained the characters’ quirky everyman charm, it lacked the strange, cynical appeal of other MTV series at the time, leading to its discontinuation after one season.
The Zeta Project
Even devoted fans may not be aware that this spinoff of spinoff exists in the larger DC Animated Universe. Zeta, a government robot who defied his infiltration and assassination programming, first appeared in Batman Beyond. With the support of a street-savvy sidekick, he finally departed Gotham to pursue heroics in another city. Given that conventional premise, it’s understandable that The Zeta Project failed to pique anyone’s attention. Another Batman Beyond crossover was attempted, but it failed miserably. After one season, the higher-ups fired this bot.