Title: The Super Friends
Production Company: Hanna-Barbera
Created by: Gardner Fox, Alex Toth, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Creative Consultants: E. Nelson Bridwell, Carmine Infantino and Julius Schwartz
Seasons: 6 Official Seasons
Number of Episode: 109
On Air From: 1973-1985
Super Friends ran from 1973 to 1985 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera as a child-friendly version of the Justice League of America and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics. There were a total of 109 episodes along with what some are calling, 'back door pilot' episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, with Batman and Robin appearing in "The Dynamic Scooby Doo Affair" and "The Caped Crusader Caper." Superman and Wonder Woman also guest-starred in two episodes of The Brady Kids.
They headquartered themselves inside of the Hall of Justice, a centrally located fortress set within the confines of Metropolis. The heroes routinely monitored global catastrophes with the aid of an automated warning system called the Trouble Alert (or TroubAlert).
The Super Friends roster consisted of a core group of characters central to the spirit of comic book heroism: Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Throughout the different seasons, they began to include other DC Comics characters such as the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman. The program also introduced several unique characters in the hopes of adding ethnic diversity to its lineup. Such as:
- Apache Chief, a Native American gifted with enhanced size and strength.
- Samurai was an Asian crime fighter who could rotate the lower half of his body for locomotion (among other powers) similar to the Justice League character Red Tornado.
- There was also Black Vulcan, an African American with powers similar to that of the comic character Black Lightning.
- The final original character added was El Dorado, a Hispanic hero with a number of abilities including teleportation.
In 1984, the show introduced Firestorm to the line-up. Firestorm joined the Justice League in the comic book shortly before his appearance on the series. The primary villain for this series was the alien demagogue Darkseid and his crew of minions from the other-dimensional world of Apokolips. Each week, Darkseid would engage upon a new and daring plan to conquer the Earth, forcing the Super Friends into action.
In 1985, the Super Friends changed its title to the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians and added Cyborg to the team roster. This incarnation was the only version of the franchise that did not have Super Friends in the title. This series lasted only ten episodes. The final episode, The Death of Superman, was aired on November 6th, 1985.
Continuity With DC Comics
The SuperFriends Universe did not take place in the universe that existed at the time, Earth-One. Rather, it existed in what fans have dubbed the Earth-1A universe. This was because it shared similarities, but was distinctly different.
Many of the characters are based on the Silver Age version of the characters. However, Hanna-Barbera's series is set not during the Silver Age, but the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age is generally noted as starting in the early 70's and ending with the 1985-86 crossover maxi-series, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
When animation company Hanna-Barbera licensed the animation rights to the DC Comics characters and adapted the Justice League of America comic book for television, it made several changes in the transition, not the least of which was the change of name to SuperFriends. In part, it was feared that the name Justice League of America would have seemed too jingoistic during the Vietnam War and post-Vietnam War era. Nevertheless, team members sometimes referred to themselves as the Justice League on the show. The violence common in superhero comics was toned down for a younger audience, as well as to fit with the restrictive broadcast standards regarding violence in 1970s children’s television.
Although like most Hanna Barbera shows, the rights to the Super Friends franchise are owned by Warner Bros., due to the fact that WB owned DC Comics, the shows have always been under WB control. As a result, Cartoon Network was not able to air the shows until after the merger of Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting System was complete.
Plotlines for the first incarnation of the Super Friends did not involve any of the familiar DC Comics supervillains. Rather, they focused on the often far-fetched schemes of various mad scientists and aliens, who were revealed at some point in the program to be well-intentioned but pursuing their goals through an unlawful or disreputable means. Typically, at the end, all that is needed is a peaceful and reasonable discussion to convince the antagonists to adopt more reasonable methods.
The All-New Super Friends Hour departed somewhat from the previous series' formula by using villains that used much more violent methods to further their goals and typically could not be reasoned with, requiring the heroes to use force to stop them.
Beginning with Challenge of the Super Friends, several of the heroes' arch-villains from the comic books, such as Lex Luthor and the Riddler, began to feature prominently in comic-style stories. Throughout the series, plots often wrapped themselves up neatly in the final minutes of an episode in typical deus ex machina fashion.
In January 2009, IGN listed Super Friends as the 50th best animated television series.
- This title franchise has been known by several alternate spellings, including: Super Friends, SuperFriends and also as Super-Friends.
- Although they were commonly known as the SuperFriends, the team also referred to themselves as the Justice League of America.
- Beginning with the original Super Friends season, the opening narration describes the team's headquarters as "the great hall of the Justice League." The opening credits of Challenge of the Super Friends names the Super Friends as the Justice League of America.
- Each member of the team had a JLA Communicator device with the JLA banner emblazoned upon it.
- The Justice League Satellite under repair is clearly the same design as the Justice League Satellite (Earth One) that appeared in the comics at the time, but was shown to be substantially smaller than its comic book counterpart.
- Many episodes of the series included public service announcements tacked onto the conclusion of each episode. These epilogues traditionally featured only one or two Super Friends and warned younger viewers against societal ills such as talking to strangers and smoking.
- The Super Friends franchise spawned a DC Comics comic series aptly titled Super Friends (comic book series). The series ran for forty-seven issues and was collected into a trade paperback in 2001, with a cover illustration by Alex Ross (based upon original concept art by Alex Toth). Although the Super Friends comic series took place outside the accepted DC Comics continuity of the time period (aka Earth-One), it is noted for introducing several canon DC Characters.
- The Super Friends also appeared in a wide variety of commercials, including the famous Underoos commercials of the '70s. The character designs were once again done by Alex Toth, and the DC Comics superheroes appeared alongside several characters from Marvel Comics and other companies.
- Cartoon Network produced a series of Super Friends lampoon shorts as a means of marketing their action/adventure line-up. In one animated short, Aquaman and Wonder Woman meet the Powerpuff Girls.
- The SuperFriends have also been lampooned on popular programs such as South Park, the Family Guy, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and Robot Chicken.
- Wendy and Marvin, originally characters created specifically for the Super Friends, recently made their canon comic book debut in the pages of Teen Titans, Vol. 3 #34 (2006). They were inspired by the Scooby Doo gang. The voices of Marvin and Wonder Dog were both performed by Frank Welker, who also did the voice of Fred Jones on the Scooby-Doo series.
- Late actor Ted Knight, more popularly known for his roles in the movie Caddyshack and the television sitcom Too Close for Comfort provided the voice of the Narrator on the 1973 version of the SuperFriends. His signature line was, "Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice!" William Woodson took over once they dropped the original format.
- Adam West provided the voice for Batman in SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Casey Kasem provided the voice for Robin, along with many others in the show.
- Up until 2003, Robin was the only original Super Friend who was never a member of any incarnation of the Justice League of America (excluding characters created expressly for the show). During the Obsidian Age storyline running through “select issues of JLA”, Dick Grayson became a deputy leader of the Justice League under his modern identity, Nightwing. Taking into account the entire Super Friends roster, Cyborg (Victor Stone) is the only comic-based character featured on the Super Friends who was never a member of the Justice League.
- In the third chapter of the Secret Origins pilot movie of the Justice League animated series, the Flash issues a nod to older fans by referring to the newly formed Justice League as a "bunch of Super Friends".
- Despite the fact that the series focused on high-flying heroes and evil, diabolical menaces, there has never been an overt scene of direct physical violence.
- The character of Samurai made one canonical appearance in DC Comics. He appeared in the 1985 six-issue limited series “Super Powers (Volume 3)”. It can be argued that the Super Powers series of comic titles do not take place within mainstream DC continuity. Samurai is also the only character unique to the Super Friends cartoon to receive his own Super Powers action figure.
- The character Apache Chief had the ability to enhance his physical stature to cosmic proportions by speaking the Native American words "Inuk-chuk".
- Super Friends article at Wikipedia
- Super Friends article at Don Markstein's Toonopedia™
- Will's Ultimate Super Friends Episode Guide! - One of the Best SuperFriends sites on the Web!!
- Super Friends at Batman Yesterday, Today, & Beyond
- Super Friends at Legions of Gotham: The Definitive Batman Source
- Rob's SuperFriends Fan Page
- Seanbaby's SuperFriends Page - A Parody Site!!
- ↑ Although there are six seasons there was an an additional 3 sets of shorts that ran from 1980 - 1983.
- ↑ The Silver Age is the informal term applied to a specific period of comic book publishing history. Following the Golden Age era, DC's Silver Age is largely recognized as beginning with the introduction of the Flash in Showcase #4. However, there are several other characters commonly associated with the Silver Age that actually predate the Flash. Science-fiction adventurer Captain Comet debuted in 1951 in the pages of Strange Adventures, and the Martian Manhunter made his first appearance in 1955 (a full year before the Flash) in Detective Comics #225. Although the Martian Manhunter is technically the first super-hero exclusive to Silver Age era publishing, comic historians generally give that honor to the Flash. Most DC comic fans typically site that the Silver Age era ended in the early 70's. Many characters and events that are germain to the continuity of Earth-One are said to be part of the Silver Age.
- ↑ The Bronze Age is the informal term applied to a specific period of comic book publishing history. Following the Silver Age era, DC's Bronze Age is largely recognized as beginning with the 1970's and ended with the 1985-86 crossover maxi-series, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis yielded not only the end of an era, but also the an omni-versal reboot of the internal history of most of their major projects. The Bronze Age retained many of the conventions of the Silver Age, including Earth-One, with brightly colored superhero titles remaining the mainstay of the industry. However darker plot elements and more mature storylines featuring real-world issues, such as drug use, began to appear during the period, prefiguring the later Modern Age of Comic Books.
- ↑ "A History of Batman on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- ↑ "IGN - 50. SuperFriends". Tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ↑ Source: Will's Ultimate Super Friends Episode Guide!, "Don Messick started off only voicing the Scarecrow, but also took over the voice of Sinestro after Vic Perrin only did the first 4 episodes."
- ↑ It actually existed in its own universe called Earth-1A
|Television Series||Super Friends (1973) • The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977) • Challenge of the Super Friends (1978) • The World’s Greatest Super Friends (1979) • SuperFriends (1980) • SuperFriends (1981) • SuperFriends (1983) • SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984) • The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985)|
|Production & Distribution||Hanna-Barbera • LBS Communications • Warner Bros. Television|
|Characters||Super Friends Members • Supporting Characters • Villains • Super Friends comic book characters • Aquaman enemies • Batman enemies • Flash enemies • Green Lantern enemies • Hawkman enemies • Superman enemies • Wonder Woman enemies|
|Merchandise||Super Powers toyline and products • Super Friends, comic book (1976-1981) • Super Powers Minicomics (1984-1985) • Super Powers comic book collection (1984-1986)|
|Miscellania||SuperFriends in Other Media • Planets • Cities • Real World Articles • Known Universes • Earth-1A Timeline|