Sunday, May 01, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Iron Man & Captain America's First Civil War

We're mere days away from the theatrical release of Marvel's big budget blockbuster Captain America: Civil War. Like me, I'm sure you can feel the anticipation building. And with the ideological divide between Captain America & Iron Man serving as the foundation for the film's central smash-up, I figured this was a perfect time to take a look back at the first time the iconic superheroes had a throwdown onscreen. For this, we need to take a deep dive all the way back to 1966, and the syndicated Marvel Super Heroes cartoon show.

By way of background, this was a weekday skein produced by Grantray-Lawrence Animation that aired on local stations, with each half-hour consisting of three seven-minute segments starring various heroes in rotating slots. Over the course of 65 installments total, The Incredible Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man all got the Marvel Super Heroes treatment for thirteen episodes each, which essentially meant near-verbatim translations of the then-recent comic stories using the original art from the books and severely limited animation where lips and random appendages were often the only things moving.

Anyway, one of the points of appeal for the series was its interconnectedness. Like the comics, you'd see heroes wander in and out each other's adventures with wild abandon, and also like the comics this usually resulted in the heroes brawling with each other over some misunderstanding or another. To wit, the Iron Man episode below, "Cliffs of Doom," which has the armored avenger maneuvered into a battle with Cap due to the machinations of Kraven the Hunter and the Chameleon (two Spider-Man villains, who wasn't included in the syndicated package due to his own toon on ABC). Naturally the two patch things up eventually and beat the bad guys, but not before pounding on each other first.

Iron Man - Cliffs of Doom - 1966 S01 E10 - Full by candsandcomics

For as goofy as it is (dig the theme song!), it has an undeniable kitschy charm too. That's John Vernon (a.k.a Dean Wormer in Animal House) as the voice of Tony Stark/Iron Man, by the way, and while it sure seems like a far cry from Robert Downey's iconic take on the character, he was probably the definitive voice of the character for generations of kids who watched reruns over the decades. I saw the Iron Man episodes in Saudi Arabia during the mid-'80s, and even now the, the voices, the background music, and inter-segment themes have stayed with me. It may not hold a candle to the opuses currently lighting up the big screen, but it does hearken back to a simpler time on the small one.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Avengers' Crappy First Cartoon

Two Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: C-3PO's Cereal -- A New Force at Breakfast!

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Many Crappy Lives of Knight Rider, Part I

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: TV's Live Action Conan -- A Kinder, Gentler Barbarian

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