Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 10th, 2014 at 7:35 am,

before they were films x men Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

Both DC Comics and Marvel would have you think that big-budget, blockbuster films like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern and The Avengers are their only attempts to bring popular comic book characters into the live-action arena. They would like everyone to forget the sometimes absurd, ridiculous and often ugly reality: that there were numerous early – and failed – attempts to bring super heroes to both the big and small screens.

Over the next few pages you can read about these early superhero attempts and the actors who portrayed them on-screen. Some you may be familiar with, but we’ll bet you’ve never heard of many of them.

NOTE: This list doesn’t cover every instance of every superhero who has ever appeared on TV or in a direct-to-video movie – that would be far too exhaustive. Instead, we’ve covered only those superheroes who have a movie already released, in development or will have one in development soon.

Batman: First Theatrical Release – 1966

batman lewis wilson robert lowery adam west Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1943 – Lewis Wilson – Wilson was first to portray Batman in a 15-part serial that introduced fans to items now common in the Batman mythos: the Bat Cave with its grandfather clock secret entrance, and a skinny Alfred.

1949 – Robert Lowery – A sequel starring Lowery as Batman left wartime behind and began falling in line with characters and stories fans knew, including: Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon and The Wizard.

1966 – Adam West – West’s campy take on the Caped Crusader is often considered to be the most iconic version of Batman. He battled classic villains with classic tools like his utility belt and the Batmobile.


Superman: First Theatrical Release – 1978

superman kirk alyn george reeves Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1948 – Kirk Alyn – Alyn (on right) doesn’t even receive title credits in the first, and wildly popular, attempt by Columbia Pictures to bring Superman to life; his name only showed up on posters. The studio touted that it couldn’t get an actor to fill the role, so they “hired Superman himself”.

1952 – George Reeves – The man most associated with wearing the Man of Steel’s red cape on the small screen is Reeves (on the left). The series found instant fame after a successful one hour pilot titled Superman and the Mole Men and ran for 6 seasons. The first two were broadcast in black and white with the remainder in color.

The Shadow: First Theatrical Release – 1994

the shadow rod la rocque victor jory kane richmond tom helmore richard derr Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1937 – Rod La Rocque – La Rocque was the first to fight evil at night in The Shadow Strikes and International Crime.

1940 – Victor Jory – The Black Tiger was The Shadow‘s nemesis in a 15-part serial starring Jory.

1946 – Kane Richmond –Richmond wore a black mask instead of a red scarf as The Shadow in three low-budget films.

1954 – Tom Helmore – Helmore played The Shadow in the first-ever TV series.

1958 – Richard Derr – Derr starred as The Shadow in a TV-pilot-turned-film called The Invisible Avenger.

The Phantom: First Theatrical Release – 1998

the phantom tom tyler Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1943 – Tom Tyler – Columbia Pictures created a 15-part serial based on the Lee Falk’s popular comic strip called The Phantom. Tyler starred as Geoffrey Prescott/The Phantom fighting off poachers in the jungles with his trusted German shepherd Devil next to his side. “The Ghost Who Walks” could have used a better costume though, as the striped briefs make him look ridiculous – even in black and white and with two pistols strapped to his hips.

Spider-Man: First Theatrical Release – 2002

spider man nicholas hammond shinji todo Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1974 – Danny Seagren – Spider-Man (Seagren) appeared in a series of sketches called Spidey Super Stories on the PBS show The Electric Company in 1974.

1978 – Nicholas Hammond – The Amazing Spider-Man TV show attempted to capitalize on the success of previous superhero shows Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. Even though the show was very popular with fans, CBS canceled it after thirteen episodes due to budget concerns.

1978 – Shinji Todo – The Toei Company of Japan created a Spider-Man TV show which made him a crime fighter who received his powers from an alien named Garia and piloted a robot called Leopardon. The show was praised for its stunt work and special effects.

Daredevil: First Theatrical Release – 2003

daredevil rex smith ben car Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1975 – Ben Carruthers – This extremely laughable attempt at creating Daredevil for television was the brainchild of Angela Bowie – the wife of singer David Bowie. Fortunately, the network nixed the idea due to budget concerns before it ever got off the ground. This photo shoot  (pictured on left) was as far as it went.

1989 – Rex Smith – Smith was first to actually portray the blind vigilante of justice in the made-for-TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. The biggest change from the comics fans noticed was Daredevil’s outfit – a black ninja-like costume instead of the red outfit adorned with horns and the double “D” on his chest. The movie was supposed to be the vehicle for a Daredevil spin-off  TV show, but that never materialized.

The Hulk: First Theatrical Release – 2003

incredible hulk lou ferrign Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1978 – Lou Ferrigno – The Incredible Hulk is a huge gamma-irradiated monster who can only now be properly portrayed using today’s computer effects – but in the ’70s, professional bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno came pretty darn close. Covered in green body paint and ripped jean shorts (jorts!) the Incredible Hulk smashed his way through 82 television episodes over the course of five seasons. He also flexed his mighty green muscles in three made-for-TV movies – the last of which aired in 1990.

The Punisher: First Theatrical Release – 2004 (In the U.S.)

punisher dolph lundgren1 Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1989 – Dolph Lundgren – Marvel’s anti-hero Frank Castle, a.k.a. “The Punisher” is a mobster-killing, bad-guy-busting badass. His seemingly unlimited supply of fantastic weapons had fans of the character eager to see what kind of mayhem he could bring to the big screen.

Unfortunately, the first offering they received was Dolph Lundgren sans the iconic white skull on his chest, with a partner who spoke in rhyme, and riding a motorcycle. Clad in leather pants, he looked more like a Hell’s Angels reject than a hard-ass vigilante.

The movie was supposed to release domestically in 1989 but ended up having a short international run instead. The film landed on the direct-to-video shelves in 1991.

The Fantastic Four: First Theatrical Release – 2005

fantastic four alex hydde white rebecca staab jay underwood carl ciafalio Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1994 – Alex Hyde-White (Mr. Fantastic),  Rebecca Staab (Invisible Woman), Jay Underwood (Human Torch), Carl Ciafalio (The Thing)

Low-budget B-movie king Roger Corman was chosen to bring Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s superpowered group the Fantastic Four to life. Unfortunately, they only allowed him a budget of a scant $1.5 million – most of which he spent on The Thing’s suit.

The film served only to maintain Constantin Film’s movie rights to the characters and was never intended to be released in theaters – though the actors and crew working on the film weren’t aware of this at the time. As with most early attempts at live-action superheroes, the film suffered from the limited special effects technology of the day.

While The Thing’s rock suit was actually pretty good and the Human Torch looked OK, Mr. Fantastic’s stretching ability was laughable and Invisible Woman’s power was displayed by just making her no longer appear in frame.

Nick Fury: First Theatrical Appearance – 2008

nick fury david hassehoff Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1998 – David Hasselhoff – Marvel produced a made-for-TV movie in the late nineties using one of its lower-tier characters starring David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. – though few people understood why. Fury is brought out of retirement to once again help S.H.I.E.L.D. battle the evil forces of HYDRA, before they can attack Manhattan with the deadly Death’s Head virus. Hasselhoff sports the traditional eye patch, scruffy beard and chewed-on cigar butt that was synonymous with the character up until that point.

Thor: First Theatrical Release – 2011

thor eric allan kramer Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1988 – Eric Allan Kramer – The Mighty Thor made his debut appearance in the second of three made-for-TV movies for the Incredible Hulk TV show. Kramer was tasked with playing the Norse god and did so with a mild tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top performance. The producers chose to keep Thor more in line with his Viking roots by dressing him up in fur, leather and a metal breastplate instead of the more familiar red and blue outfit.

One thing that wasn’t changed (thank goodness) was Thor’s hammer – Mjolnir. Kramer wields it like a true demi-god and uses it to dispatch groups of bad guys on more than one occasion.

Green Lantern: First Theatrical Release – 2011

Green Lantern Howard Murphy Matthew Steele Doug Pinton Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1979 – Howard Murphy – Murphy was the unlucky actor chosen to first portray the Green Lantern in a live-action setting, in NBC’s 1979 special Legends of the Superheroes. His costume was a direct copy from the comics but makes the all-CGI costume Ryan Reynolds wore look good.

1997 – Matthew Steele – CBS tried (unsuccessfully) to launch a Justice League TV show in the late ’90s, where Steele played Guy Gardener – a software salesman by day and the Green Lantern by night.

2010 – Doug Pinton – In the ninth season of Smallville, Pinton shows up as Alan Scott/Green Lantern wearing his trademark power ring in some archival footage that Clark and Chloe stumble upon.

Captain America: First Theatrical Release – 2011 (In the U.S.)

captain america dick purcell aytekin akkaya reb brown matt salinger Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1944 – Dick Purcell – Republic Studios teamed up with Marvel to make a 15-episode Captain America serial starring Dick Purcell.

1973 – Aytekin Akkaya – In the Turkish-made film Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man, Akkaya portrays Cap as the head of a task force assigned to take down the evil Spider-Man.

1979 – Reb Brown – Steve Rogers (Brown) was made a struggling artist pre-transformation in two full-length Captain America TV movies.

1990 – Matt Salinger – The story, costume, and villain were all better in this direct-to-video Captain America movie starring Salinger, yet somehow the movie still managed to fail.

Black Widow: First Theatrical Appearance – 2010

black widow angela bowie1 Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1975 – Angela Bowie – In the mid-seventies Angela Bowie received the rights to Daredevil and Black Widow from Stan Lee for one year, but this ill-fated photo shoot was as far as the idea ever went. All the studios Bowie approached deemed the endeavor too expensive.

Green Arrow: In Development

green arrow justin hartley stephen amell Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

2006 – Justin Hartley – Sharpshooter vigilante Oliver Queen/Green Arrow made his first appearance in the sixth season of Smallville, played by Justin Hartley. He worked with the new Justice Society, attempting to take down the evil LuthorCorp, but occasionally worked on his own missions.  He uses a compound bow and a crossbow instead of a standard recurve bow, but with the familiar battery of homemade trick arrows.

2012 – Stephen Amell – The CW produced a new series titled Arrow starring Amell in the title role as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. The show has a darker and edgier feel while his costume is more reflective of the character’s origins. He dresses more like Robin Hood, using the traditional recurve bow and his stockpile of trick arrows.

Dr. Strange: In Development

dr strange peter hooten Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1978 – Peter Hooten – Hooten played Dr. Stephen Strange in this ill-fated TV movie attempt by Marvel. The film was supposed to be the launching vehicle for a Dr. Strange TV series but after the film received a less than lukewarm reception by audiences the project was nixed. Currently Marvel is working on a new Dr. Strange project.

The Flash: In Development


The Flash Rod Haase John Wesley Shipp Kenny Johnston Kyle Gallner Grant Gustin Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1979 – Rod Haase  – The Flash (Haase) made his first onscreen appearance in Legends of the Superheroes wearing an atrocious costume.

1990 – John Wesley Shipp  – While Shipp’s version of The Flash was a tremendous upgrade in terms of character and costume, the show itself was just too corny to warrant more than one season.

1997 – Kenny Johnston  – Johnston’s Flash was the leader of a team of superheroes in this failed CBS TV pilot Justice League of America. The costume also took a major step back.

2004 – Kyle Gallner – Gallner appeared as Bart Allan in season four of Smallville and again as “Impulse” (The Flash) in season six as a member of the Justice Society.

2014 – Grant Gustin – After his debut performance as Barry Allen in season two of Arrow, Gustin got his own show, superspeed-resistant suit, origin story, and team. The character and show took on a more light-hearted feel, while still fitting in to the TV universe created in Arrow.

Aquaman: In Development

Aquaman Alan Ritchson Justin Harley Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

2005 – Alan Ritchson (left) – Ritchson made just three appearances as Arthur Curry/Aquaman in Smallville, in seasons five, six and 10. He was an on again/off again member of the Justice Society and displayed all the same superpowers as his comic book influence: super swimming speed and telepathy with all oceanic life.

2006 – Justin Hartley (right) – Hartley became the Prince of Atlantis in Aquaman – a TV series that never made it past the pilot stage because CW decided not to pick up the show after the WB/UPN merger. Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar changed most of Arthur Curry’s backstory – “A.C.” was made a teenager living in the Florida Keys who, after the disappearance of his mother, was raised by his adopted father.

Hawkman: In Development

hawkman bill nuckols michael shanks Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1979 – Bill Nuckols – Nuckols played Hawkman in Legends of the Superheroes, showing up alongside other DC characters to celebrate the birthday of the retired hero the Scarlet Cyclone. Except for the large protruding yellow tabs on either side of his mask, Hawkman’s costume looks decent by today’s standards, even though it was designed in the late seventies.

2010 – Michael Shanks – Hawkman, played by Michael Shanks, showed up in season nine of Smallville during a special two-hour episode titled “Absolute Justice”. His costume had the traditional strap-on wings and spiked mace, but a chest piece  – which served a technical purpose on set – was added that made it look odd.

Lobo: In Development

lobo andrew bryniarski Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

2002 – Andrew Bryniarski – To date, the only attempt at a live-action Lobo film came from director Scott Leberecht titled The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special, which he made on a ultra-modest budget of $2,4oo for the American Film Institute.

The film’s bizarre story revolves around the Czarnian anti-hero/mercenary being hired by the Easter Bunny to kill Santa Claus in an attempt to take over Christmas. Bryniarski’s performance as Lobo is spot on – as is the entire look that Leberecht managed to recreate surprisingly well.

Wonder Woman – In Development

wonder woman ellie wood walker cathy lee crosby lynda carter adrianna palicki Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1967 – Linda Harrison – In this strange failed TV pilot titled Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?, Harrison played Wonder Woman while Ellie Wood Walker played Prince Diana.

1974 – Cathy Lee Crosby – Crosby plays the flaxen-haired Amazon with superhuman agility in this made-for-TV movie that also served as the pilot vehicle for the TV series.

1975 – Lynda Carter – The most famous Wonder Woman was played by Carter for three seasons on ABC, which became one of their most popular shows of the time.

2011 – Adrianna Palicki – Palicki was chosen to play Princess Diana/Wonder Woman in a television reboot, but NBC canceled the project before the pilot episode ever aired.

Captain Marvel/Shazam – In Development

captain marvel tom tyler jackson bostwick john davey garrett craig Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1941 – Tom Tyler – Tyler played Captain Marvel in a 12-episode serial which is the very first superhero live-action show.

1974 – Jackson Bostwick – Shazam! was a half-hour TV show on CBS which starred Bostwick as Captain Marvel for the entire first season.

1975 – John Davey – Two episodes into season two of Shazam! Davey took the cape and played Captain Marvel until the end of season three.

1978 – Garrett Craig – Captain Marvel – played by Craig – joined his friends in the Legends of the Superheroes TV special.

She-Hulk – Movie Status Unknown

she hulk brigitte nielsen Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

1990 – Brigitte Neilsen – Marvel’s green female super-heroine She-Hulk was originally slated to make an appearance in the third and final made-for-TV film The Death of the Incredible Hulk, but was ultimately left out. Shortly after that, a She-Hulk TV series was announced, but it too ended up being a project that never got off the ground.

Writer/Director Larry Cohen planned a live-action big screen adaptation of She-Hulk with Neilsen announced to play the title role in 1990. However, all that came of the project was a series of photographs with Neilsen dressed as She-Hulk and her alter-ego Jennifer Walters.


before they were films avengers Before They Were Movies: Early Attempts to Bring Superheroes to Life Onscreen

With Marvel and DC Comics announcing the planned theatrical releases of over 40 films going deep into 2020, there will be plenty of changes to this list (sadly, no Lobo yet).

Did you find any early attempts at live-action superheroes that you didn’t know existed before now – if so, which ones are they?

Follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul – and let me know which comic character’s TV roots you like the best.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. There was a television show…i know its on netflix…don’t know what channel it was on.

    Birds of Prey. modeled after the Birds of Prey comic book…starred Black Canary, Huntress…and i don’t know the rest.

    I would have loved to see some mention of that in here.

    • That was on the cw

      • WB not CW

        the Hoff as Nick Fury was actually not bad considering the abortion that was foxes Generation X i was expecting the worst

        • That show was terrible, and then some; while watching it with my family, we changed channels to PBS and watched a documentary.

        • WB is CW!!!

    • That was on the cw.

    • Actually Birds of Prey is out on DVD, with a lot of great extras. I found my copy at Wal_Mart for $13. Pretty good deal, the heroines were great, it was the villains that sucked.

  2. Birds Of Prey also had Oracle & Harlequinn, though the character was different from the comic counter-part. I think Clayface made a appearance on the show, again his appearance wasn’t like what he was in the comics.

  3. anyone know why I can’t get past the first page???

  4. 6/01,/2012
    I believe there was also a film version done in the 1990s. With both Alex Baldwin and his brother William.

    • Just Alex Baldwin.

      • Actually I believe Daniel Baldwin was an extra on the movie doing a few shots as the The Shadow

  5. I liked the Flash TV show with John Wesley Shipp. With Mark Hamil as The Trickster, it was awesome. It was a template for his personality as The Joker.

    • @ Gauldar

      He also reprised the role by voicing The Trickster on JLU.

    • I loved that show. And I don’t think it was corny at all. If anything, it was way darker than the comics. And, as far as I know, it was canceled for budget reasons, since it was inmensely popular.

  6. What? No mention of Generation X before the X-Men films?

  7. Impulse appeared as a member of an ad hoc Justice League (NOT “Society”) in “Smallville.” They included a young Aquaman, Cyborg and Black Canary. The Justice Society appeared later in the series, but with characters like Hawkman, Stargirl, Dr. Fate and Alan Scott/Green Lantern.

    • Right. They also need to change his name to Bart ALLEN, not Allan.

  8. Why can’t I click to the next page on this thing? I’m stuck on page 1, darn it.

    • JC,

      Apologies – there’s some kind of glitch and we’re having a hard time tracking it down. :-(


    • JC,

      I think (hope!) it’s fixed now.


  9. Nice article. What’s the source of the photo on the opening page, though? Apologies if you’ve already answered this — I went through the comments and saw one other inquiry, but no reply.

    Again, nice piece, full of memories (some of them even good!).

    • Probably some cosplay.

  10. Well there was the made-for-tv movie for GENERATION X (which was passable for it’s time) and the God-awful “Mutant X” tv series.
    You’d think with now 5 X-Men movies, they’d re-release them on some kind of special edition dvd/blu-ray.
    Birds of Prey was pretty good, and at least had a respectable form of Oracle, Alfred Pennyworth, and Harley Quinn, along with cameos of Batman, Joker, and Catwoman. And what many people don’t know is that Huntress’ portrayal was based on her Pre-CRISIS Earth-2 version (who was in fact Batman & Catwoman’s daughter).
    I remember Smallville producers promising us a Batman cameo as far back as season 2!
    And then CW thankfully cancelled plans to make “The Graysons” about a pre-Robin Dick Grayson.
    Speaking of which, if you included that Lobo Christmas special, why not include John Fiorella’s short film pseudo-trailer “GRAYSON”? It had many cameos including Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and The Joker.

    • I’d like to see the inclusion of GenX, but Mutant x had nothing to do with Marvel’s Mutants other than stealing the name of a decent alt-universe book starring the 616 Havok. In MX, there never was any Charles Xavier, and all the mutants were offspring of some genetic research by John Shea’s character.

      speaking of John, where was LOIS & CLARK? or even the late 80s/early 90s SUPERBOY?

  11. Great article, btw. Brought back alot of memories on the movies/videos I haven’t seen in forever.

  12. i rememberd the original black and white batman serial
    that was an bonus episode on the ghostbusters double feature
    vhs that came around in 97 i think so it was an earlier
    attempt to show batman in theatre houses way back in the
    1920’s just before pathe news and the movie matinee.

    frankie (cool rider) smales

    frankie smales tv and movie review uk

  13. the green arrow one didn’t look that bad.

  14. Nice assortment or bygone super hero adaptations. One minor correction – the actor who played Guy Gardner/Green Lantern in the 1997 Justice League pilot was Matthew Settle, not Matthew Steele.

  15. I saw The Punisher in 1989 in theaters in Rhode Island. It came to the States, buy maybe only to certain test markets.

  16. am i the only one who thought the Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie was pretty decent? good story, surprisingly well acted by the Hoff coulda done without Lisa Rinna though.

  17. Omg, these old depictions are hilarious. I can’t help but wonder, will future generations look back at our movies and find them just as comical?

    • I have no doubt that future generations will look back upon this era with disdain, yes.

  18. What about the 70’s awful TV attempt at The Avengers with Paul Lineman &I Kiss?

  19. What about the 70’s awful TV attempt at The Avengers with Paul Lineman & Kiss?

  20. boooooo, the original Punisher with Dolph gets an undeserved bad rep imo. Love that movie, sure its pretty B movieish and is obviously made in the 80s, but its alot of fun and I think they got the psychological side of the character down pretty well. At the very least its a hell of alot better then that horrible Thomas Jane version.

    • Are you kidding? Lungren’s Punisher had nothing to do with Marvel’s Punisher except the name. If you want to see a good Punisher movie go see Punisher: Warzone. Now, THAT’s the way to do a Punisher movie.

      • actually, go watch the short Thomas Jane just did (or go watch it again). THAT’S the way to do a Punisher movie (although I liked the Ray Stevenson version, too).

        • Actually ALL of the Punisher movies have sucked badly. The ‘War Zone’ one was better than the rest (including the silly Thomas Jane self made short “Dirty Laundry” which for some reason gives some younger fans an erection.) but still very bad. I used to, in the early-to-mid 1980s think the Punisher would make for the best movie and I and all my friends immediately said Dolph Lundren would have made the best Punisher. This was right when the legendary original Punisher mini-series by Steve Grant and Mike Zeck (the only comic artist who has ever drawn the Punisher well IMO) so Lundren made a lot of sense. He was not as physically pit bullish as Zeck’s Punisher but he could have passed.

          These newer Punishers are all based on that F***ing horrible Mike Baron/Klaus Jansen/Whilce Portacio ‘Skinny James Bond clone’ Punisher that Marvel went with after the successful mini-series.

  21. Good list. I had forgotten about the Legends Of The Superheroes special! :)

    Not listed: Thor’s first appearance was the 1987 feature directed by Chris Columbus, Adventures In Babysitting.

  22. Hellraezer. I beg to differ. None had Lungren’s Punisher’s maturity. Just reckless almost unscripted violence. Weak story and characterization. But we are entitled to our opinions.

    • Weak is a very weak word to describe the abyssal void that was the screenplay as well as Dolph Lundgren’s “acting” abilities.

      • In defense of Lundgren, it did not matter what actor was in that role. The screenplay was so amateurishly bad and the directing so abysmal that even Louis Gossett Jr. comes off looking bad!

  23. Here’s how i see it…Some of these shows/movies came out when I was heavily in to reading comics (early 70’s and mostly Marvel). I was STARVED to see my heroes in ANY shape or form on the tube or movie screen. When Wonder Woman came out, it somewhat captured my curiosity (even though I wasn’t a fan). I caught many episodes when they originally aired. Then came…SHAZAM!. I loved it and never missed it (yep, even though I wasn’t a Captain Marvel fan). I watched some episodes of ISIS (because I thought she was a BABE!). Then came Ron Ely’s, Doc Savage in 1975 and I super excited about that! It basically was ripped from the 1st 4 Doc Savage comics that Marvel produced from the early 70’s…but it pretty much flopped and that was the end of that.

    1977…Nicholas Hammond’s Spider-Man. YES!!! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when this came out then I saw it and thought, “He looks kinda weird. And what’s up with those eyes?”. But that’s all we had back then so, I loved it and never missed an episode.

    1978…I was excited when the Hulk hit the airwaves. Now, I was a big Hulk fan (my best friend from elementary school days was) but was a bit disappointed when they didn’t get his origin ‘quite right’ and why wasn’t he tossing cars like pebbles? What?!?? He got shot and he’s bleeding?? And a black costumed Daredevil and an idiot Thor covered in fur?? And a Captain America wearing a motorcycle helmet and a plastic shield and a Doctor Strange wearing weird pajamas and Lungren’s Punisher outfit??!?? NOOOOOOOOO!! I was upset that my Marvel heroes weren’t like the pages of the comic books that I treasured, but you know what? It’s ok…cause that’s all we had back then.

    Then came the movie that broke the mold. Superman. Wow. Amazing…and I wasn’t even a Superman fan. Superman 2? EVEN BETTER!! I loved Burton’s Batman. Yep, there was a time when DC really had it going and Marvel couldn’t get anything right. Things come in waves and the tides will probably change again.

  24. Both the Birds of Prey and The Flash were good shows I have both series onDVD enjoyed them very much both shows wer ahead of their time costs as well The biggest problem was Netwoks preempted the shows and people got bored wondering if those shows were ever going to air. Both shows had stories that needed to be told or there wer questions to be answered with characters but got cancelled before stories were told or answered.

  25. The reason Rex Smith was in black, rather than dressed like a devil, was b/c the network was afraid the red devil outfit would offend viewers in the Bible Belt.

    Yup. True story.

  26. There was a 1996 “The Phantom” movie starred by Billy Zane.

  27. Around the same time as the Capt America, SpiderMan, Capt Marvel, and Hulk tv shows (late 70s), there was some tv special called Power Man or something, and it was when I was young and like a previous poster, was excited for anything bringing my beloved superheroes “to life” on the screen, but I remember being disappointed by this PowerMan show, I can’t remember why, but I remember thinking it was not the same as what I knew from the comics. I think it was a caucasian main character, whereas I knew Power Man as an African American … and I can just remember being so excited for it from commercials, looking forward to watching it … and then I don’t even think I watched the whole show, and I remember complaining to my grandmother that it wasn’t the same Power Man. I think it might have been what is titiled “The Power Within (1979)” on — a Spelling pilot on ABC.

  28. I remember an Iron Man movie around the late 70’s or early 80’s. I never saw it but I remember seeing the poster. I can’t seem to find any info about it on the internet so I thought you would talk about it, but nada. Help, anyone?

  29. She Hulk! Man, I would LOVE to see a GOOD flick starring her!