Friday, September 25, 2015

Who's the Worst...Depiction of a Super-Hero on TV?


Karen: This image got me thinking:

Image from screenrant.com
Karen: This is Red Tornado from the upcoming Supergirl TV series. While most of the things I have seen from the series have me looking forward to the show, this depiction of everyone's favorite DC android definitely does not. Maybe, maybe, it will somehow not look like a weird, air-brushed plastic monstrosity on-screen. I sure hope so. But right now, it really looks like a turd.

Karen: So let's talk about the worst TV depictions of super-heroes. Now of course, budget has played (and continues to play) a role in such things. But regardless of that, which characters just looked awful on the small screen? Who were the very worst offenders? And we are ONLY talking about TV here -we have already discussed the lesser lights of the Marvel film universe in this post

22 comments:

Colin Jones said...

The Hulk. I was really looking forward to the Hulk TV show but it turned out to be a big disappointment - a bodybuilder painted green wearing a wig ? And the TV Hulk never spoke and Bruce banner was called David Banner and there were no other Marvel characters and no sense that it was part of the Marvel universe.

J.A. Morris said...

I generally like Kyle McClachlan, but I thought the depiction of Mr. Hyde on SHIELD wasn't very interesting.

Colin Jones said...

When I wrote "a bodybuilder painted green wearing a wig" I realize there wasn't any other option but it didn't look like the Hulk to me :)

Doug said...

Realizing "that's all we had" really didn't placate my sense of disappointment with any/all of the Marvel efforts of the 1970s. I'll agree with Colin on the look and style of the Hulk (although I was a regular viewer), and that Spider-Man's webshooters were on the outside of his gauntlets and Captain America's shield was clear plastic both put me off as a youngster.

Doug

Redartz said...

The live-action Spiderman series from the late 70's, with Nicholas Hammond. I watched the show, and was glad to see the character on tv, but all the while felt the show seemed rather cheesy.

Colin- your comment about the Hulk show not seeming part of the Marvel universe is a good one. I did enjoy the show, but saw it more as "The Six Million Dollar Man" shot through a green filter. The show seemed strongest in it's plotlines and supporting cast; kind of reminiscent of the Man-Thing comics...

Edo Bosnar said...

Yep, most of those late '70s TV efforts were disappointing in one way or another, although for a while I also watched Hulk pretty regularly, despite its lack of similarity to the comic book. And I watched Spider-man regularly, almost out of a sense of duty, although it honestly wasn't that good. But I have to say, the absolute worst depiction of a hero on TV was Captain America (starring Reb Brown). The clear plastic shield Doug mentioned wasn't even the worst part - geez, that entire get-up he wore just looked so laughably silly.

Karen, I agree with you about Red Tornado's appearance. Of course, I was never a big fan of RT anyway, so it would have been difficult to impress me in any case (and he's hardly my favorite DC android - for me that honor would have to go Brainiac or Amazo or maybe one of the Superman robots). Why does the Supergirl show even need Red Tornado to make an appearance? I'd prefer Krypto...

david_b said...

Yes, Edo, the 'sense of duty' was pretty much it for those '70s outings. Along with that Doctor Strange pilot that I tried to like.

Dunno, seeing Stephen Strange with a perm.., just didn't do it for me.

But as we all know, that was network television back then.., everything was so homogenized for vast consumption, there was no 'coolness' left to entertain with. But that was the network television medium back then. You had to make it appealing to sponsors, hence shy POTA had such a short life. The old adage, 'Kids didn't buy washing machines..' rang true.

That's what made syndicated imports like Doctor Who and Space:1999 (Year 1) so exciting for me as a kid. Fantastic story-telling, gorgeous special effects (ok, perhaps not on Who..) throughout the series. Even the Prisoner had me spellbound with it's cerebral adventures.

Colin Jones said...

For some reason the Spider-Man TV show wasn't broadcast on British TV - instead we got the pilot episode released in cinemas as "Spider-Man: The Movie" which I went to see of course :)

Anonymous said...

The original Wonder Woman telefilm. Even if they were trying to replicate the then current WW as a martial arts super spy, they still managed to get so much wrong.

As for the RT costume, actually I'm impressed they're going whole hog here. I expected this to be some kind of infiltration android and would look human until one super-punch revealed its mechanical innards. Yes, it's not a great costume, but I still give them props for going with a costume at all.

William said...

He looks more like the "Red Tomato"! Man, that's a LOT of red. (And shiny stuff).

I remember my biggest superhero TV disappointment being the depiction of Thor on the Hulk series. I was expecting the noble "God of Thunder", and all we got was a foul mouthed drunken viking. I just don't understand what they were thinking. Daredevil on the Hulk show was far from perfect, but at least it was kind of like DD in the comics. Don't know why they didn't go with a red suit though? (Scratches head).

Another head scratcher for me was Captain America's costume in the first made for TV Cap movie. He looked more like "The Shield" than Captain America. They corrected the error in the second movie, but he still had that flimsy clear plastic shield.

When it was originally aired, I loved the live action Spider-Man show, even though I was baffled by the lack of villains, and the change in supporting cast of characters. However, these days it's nearly impossible to watch.

Doug said...

I couldn't tell you a thing about the Cathy Lee Crosby WW movie except that I was so disappointed in the costume and that the "golden lasso" was a cable that emerged from her belt buckle.

Ditto on the Thor appearance in one of the Hulk movies -- good suggestion, William.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

I actually only saw the Cathy Lee Crosby WW a few years ago (it was posted online somewhere, but I don't think on YouTube), and while I certainly didn't think it was anything close to an authentic Wonder Woman and not very good, it was still kind of vaguely amusing.

Back to Red Tornado - why oh why didn't they go for the Ma Hunkel version? That would have rocked!

MattComix said...

Mud-Tornado. Why is DC so damn ashamed of colors?

Anonymous said...

Matt, I believe that the problem is not DC so much as the costume department acting on orders from the producers to 'darken' the look of the outfits. They probably don't want very bright colours; just look at the bright red 1990s Flash costume that John Wesley Shipp wore compared to the burgundy costume now worn by Grant Gustin.

Colin, yeah in retrospect the TV Hulk wasn't the best way to physically represent the character, but they did the best with what was available considering the limitations of network TV special effects. This was way before CGI. The producers held a casting call to find the biggest, tallest bodybuilder out there, and Lou Ferrigno stepped in to don the green bodypaint. Personally, I loved Lou as the Hulk, even if he wasn't 7 feet and 1000 pounds of unfettered fury!

To me, the worst TV superheroes were the aforementioned Captain America and Spider-Man. Nicholas Hammond was just totally miscast as Pete Parker.


- Mike 'Agents of SHIELD or The Flash?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Dougie said...

Colin, I am convinced that the Spider-Man series was shown in the STV region on Friday evenings in the late 70s, but there is, I suppose, a remote possibiulity my memory may be tricking me. I am pretty sure I knew Nicholas Hammond was a child star and I know I never saw the pilot in the cinema- that was a very rare treat for me circa 76-79.

B Smith said...

Perhaps the question ought to be "Were here any superheroes on TV that were done right?"

Humanbelly said...

Colin Jones, you get a big thumbs-up on your out-of-the-gate call on The Hulk. Knowing what a huge fan I was of the comic book character, all of my non-comic pals (which, realistically, was probably the other 95% of my friends) naturally assumed that I would be an over the moon fan of the TV show, and were invariably stunned to hear that I had a hard time liking it at all. I mean, it was THE HULK on TV, right?

But of course, it wasn't at all. And while I totally get the plausibility hurdles that the network producers faced in transferring this comic to the small screen, I could never get past feeling terribly betrayed by so many aspects of the re-interpretation-- first & foremost the fact that the title character didn't talk or apparently think at all. And although I did watch it pretty darned regularly for the first season and a half ("it was all we had"), it was absurdly clear by the third episode that the series would be nothing more than a near-clone of THE FUGITIVE, wearing a gamma-green mustache to conceal its true identity. Mind you, it wasn't a bad or badly-done show-- but for me it represents the biggest of crushing disappointments.

HB

Anonymous said...

When you're under 10 and Lou Ferrigno is making those angry faces while sounding like an enraged animal, you're equally scared and fascinated. I loved the Hulk show! Seeing it as an adult, the flaws are glaring, but I think Bill Bixby and Jack Colvin did good work despite the melodrama.

The worst depictions have been covered, but I'll point out some other duds. Smallville could be a fun show, and they made young Clark Kent work. Some of the supporting characters and guest star heroes were decent, with the best being their pretty good interpretations of Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, J'Onn J'Onzz, and Zatanna as well as series regular Green Arrow. When it was bad, though... Mr. Mxyzptlk as a European bookie? Aquqaman played by someone who may have never acted before? Doomsday as a confused serial-killer turned unconvincing monster? Jimmy Olsen (well-acted and usually charming, it must be said) becomes a drug addict and dies...oh wait, it's actually his older brother? Worst of all, Lana Lang as so, so unlikable? Bleh. I liked the show overall, but maaaan could it be rough.

Also, I watched two episodes of Birds of Prey. The Huntress on that show was boring and their Black Canary stand-in (with mental powers, I think?) sucked.

- Mike Loughlin

Kenn Dunn said...

I had no attachment to the Hulk, but I have fond memories of the TV series. It played on Friday nights on a small tv set on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen of a nightclub I worked weekends at in high school. The sound wasn't on, and the picture quality was lousy, but it kept me company while doing prep.
@Edo Bosnar: Exactly! Now THERE'S a costume that's made for TV! Pot head and long johns!
@Mike Loughlin: I think if Smallville hadn't experimented with "actual" costumes we'd never have the current trend. It wasn't until Green Arrow, IIRC, that they finally decided to show supers in costumes at all (they had Impulse in a red hoodie, and J'onn J'onzz only ever appeared in detective form on screen), and then they began to actually cast closer to the visual depictions in the comics. The new Supergirl is cute, and she was O.K. on "Glee", just as Grant Gustin was, but I sort of hate the CW for passing on a Supergirl spin-off with Laura Vandervoort.

Edo Bosnar said...

Mike L. basically pointed out why I watched the Hulk TV show longer than I would have otherwise: the late, great Bill Bixby. I've always liked him and gladly watched anything he appeared in, and he really gave the Hulk show its soul. I think that goes a long way to explaining it lasted for five full seasons - pretty amazing for a super-hero property back then.

Phil said...

Thor was a major fail. Not just the way he was written but also the whole alter ego thing. The worst may have been the Thing cartoon with a teenage Ben Grimm using a ring to turn into the Thing while saying Thing ring do your thing.

Karen said...

I'm surprised no one mentioned the Legends of the Super-Heroes specials with the live action DC characters from the 70s. I think Hawkman was the worst offender, but really, how do you make that mask/helmet look good in the real world?

I'm not sure I like the red costume we saw at the end of the new Daredevil show. His makeshift black outfit actually looked more convincing to me. The red one looks, I don't know, heavy and hokey.

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