Cartoon Country: The Super Hero Squad Show

In this edition of Cartoon Country, we’ll be looking back at one of my favorite super hero shows in recent years, Marvel Animation’s The Super Hero Squad Show.


The Super Hero Squad Show was based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro, which portray the Avengers, the X-Men, and various other characters of the Marvel Universe in a cartoonish super-deformed-style. It is also a self-aware parody of the Marvel characters, with influences taken from on the comedic Mini Marvels series of parody comic books, in that the heroes tend to find themselves in comedic situations, and have cartoonish bents in comparison to their usually serious personalities (such as The Incredible Hulk being jovial and good-natured but with “major anger issues”), and is an overall comedic take on the Avengers. The series’ animation was produced by Film Roman and Marvel Animation.

Before I start, let me just say that this isn’t a review of the show. I won’t be going into the overall story arcs or any specific details of the story lines, season arcs or anything like that. If you haven’t seen all of the episodes, I’m sure you can find them floating around on the internet somewhere. I’m just going to be geeking out over the elements that I particularly liked about the series. It’s going to get nerdy…

...You've been warned.

…You’ve been warned.

The Super Hero Squad Show was a parody of the Marvel universe and it wasn’t canon to the comics or to any of the previous Marvel animated series. For that reason a lot of Marvel enthusiasts hated the show with a passion.

“Super hero comics aren’t supposed to be funny! They’re supposed to be badass, bleak and dark, with no joy or jokes whatsoever! They’re supposed to be grim and serious! Now, I’m off to slip into my Iron Man pajama pants and drink cocoa from my Superman mug.”

Call me what you will, but the fact that SHS was a comedy and a parody never bothered me in the slightest. Admittedly, I’ve always been more of a comedy cartoon person than a serious action cartoon person. I thought that SHS was cool and had a good concept. SHS was like the Marvel Universe collided with Looney Tunes and I loved it.

One thing that I’ve always liked about SHS were the central characters, the Super Hero Squad members themselves, hereinafter referred to as “Squaddies”. They were an assemblage of several iconic Marvel characters, but they weren’t The Avengers. One bit that I liked was how each Squaddie had a special talent or “factor” that made for an ideal team. This was very much a toyetic gimmick, but I liked it anyway. They were:

IRON MAN – Technology Factor

IRON MAN: Technology Factor

  • Iron Man was chosen to be leader of the Squad due to the popularity of the Iron man live action movies starring Robert Downey Jr.
  • Iron Man was voiced by Tom Kenny, who also voiced Captain America and M.O.D.O.K.
  • Iron Man was never seen not wearing his signature armor on the show. He even slept with it on. We only see Tony Stark’s face for a minute in the series pilot.

HULK – Strength Factor

HULK: Strength Factor

  • Hulk was voiced by Travis Wllingham.
  • On the show, Hulk never turned back into Bruce Banner, although Dr. Banner was mentioned by Dr. Doom in one episode, there was no mention of any connection between Banner and the Hulk.

THOR – Elemental Factor

THOR: Elemental Factor

Thor was voiced by Dave Boat, who also voiced The Thing, The Watcher, and Doc Samson. Boat was hilarious as Thor! Nearly every line that came out of that guy’s mouth was a stitch!

WOLVERINE – Animal Factor

WOLVERINE: Animal Factor

This is the 2nd Marvel animated series in which Wolverine was voiced by Steve Blum. The first being Wolverine and the X-Men. Mr. Blum also voiced the Abomination on the show.

SILVER SURFER – Energy Factor

SILVER SURFER: Energy Factor

  • Silver Surfer was voiced by Mikey Kelly, who used a surfer dude type voice for the character.
  • Silver Surfer leaves the Squad at the end of season 1 and in season 2, Scarlet Witch takes his place on the team.

FALCON – Speed Factor

FALCON: Speed Factor

Since this series debuted before Falcon’s live action debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I’m guessing that the reason why Falcon was as the team’s Speed Factor chosen over say, Quicksilver (a much more obvious choice) was so there’d be a non-white among the Super Hero Squad (OK, technically Hulk is green and Silver Surfer is an alien, but you get the idea).

In addition, there was also a “Squaddie” in training; a relatively new Marvel character named Reptil. And unlike many teen sidekicks, I didn’t hate this character.

Reptil possessed a fossilzed talisman which initially granted him the ability to transform parts of his body to those of various dinosaurs, although he was able to go full dino int he shows' 2nd season.

Reptil possessed a fossilzed talisman which initially granted him the ability to transform parts of his body to those of various dinosaurs, although he was able to go full dino in the shows’ 2nd season.

Another thing that I liked was the show’s main setting, Superhero City. A metropolis in which nearly all of the Marvel super heroes and their respective Rogue’s Galleries resided. Actually, Dr. Doom and the Lethal Legion resided in neighboring Villainville, which was separated from Superhero City by a huge wall in the shows’ 1st episode, but Villainville was destroyed by Galactus while on a feeding frenzy in the 2 part season finale.

Superhero City. Come in and get rescued.

Superhero City. Come in and get rescued.

You had the Xavier Academy (the X-Men’s home base), the Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four), and also featured Stan Lee himself as the voice the Mayor. I love how Asgard and Bifrost bridge are just sitting there floating above the city in plain sight, although only Adgardians can cross the bridge without getting hassled by security.

Unfortunately, one character who was notable by his absence was Spider Man and his Rogue’s Gallery. Spidey was unable to appear on the show due to Sony having the broadcasting rights to the character, although he was able to appear in the Super Hero Squad Online game. Spider Man was rumored to make a guest appearance in season 2, but it never happened.

“I was still able to star in Ultimate Spider Man with it’s juvenile humor and ‘Family Guy’ style cutaways…lucky me.”

I also loved the Helicarrier on the show, which served as the Squad headquarters. I want to live in this shows’ version of the Helicarrier.

In the shows’ first season, the Squad was battling Dr. Doom (voiced by Charles Adler) over possession of the Infinity Sword, which was shattered in a scuffle and broken into multiple Infinity Fractals prior to the first episode. Doom wanted to find all of the fractals so he reform the sword and rule the world, and wacky hyjinks ensued!

Here’s the shows’ season 1 intro:

As an added treat, in each episode of season 1’s intro, Hulk would grab an Infinity Fractal which would transform him into a different version of himself each week, the transformations being completely random. They were:

  • Baby Hulk
  • Gray Hulk
  • Joe Fixit
  • Wolverine Hulk
  • Hulkbot
  • Saturday Night Fever Hulk
  • Simpsons Hulk
  • M.O.D.O.H. (Mobile Organism Designed Only for Hulking)
  • Bruce Banner (his only appearance in the series)

In the show’s 2nd (and last) season, the focus was on the Squad saving the universe from Thanos of Titan (voiced by Jim Cummings) in a race to retrieve the Infinity Gems (called Infinity Stones on the show, like in the live action movies, but unlike in the Capcom video game Marvel Super Heroes, the show got all of the Gems’ colors correct).

The Super Hero Squad Show didn’t last last long. Only 2 seasons. Any plans for a 3rd season flew out the window when Disney purchased Marvel in 2009. I wasn’t too upset about that, though. a 3rd season of SHS would have been nice, but in season 2, they saved the entire universe. Where do you go from there?

The Super Hero Squad Show may not have been loved by comic book purists, but I don’t mind it at all when super hero franchises show a sense of humor. In fact, I’d like to see DC animation attempt something along these lines. The serious action-y stuff is still out there for anyone who wants to see it, but as for me, I welcome the idea of comic book superheroes getting their ridiculous on!

Player Two Start: A Salute to Marvel Super Heroes

Here at Twinsanity, we sometimes like to pay tribute to things that we like, but don’t be deceived by what your about to read here. I don’t review video games. I’m not the Angry Video Game anything. There are already plenty of game reviewers out there, many of which are much better at that sort of thing than I could ever be. So no, this is not a game review. I’m merely taking this time to pay tribute to one of the most fun, and most underrated video games of all time: A little one-on-one fighter from Capcom known as Marvel Super Heroes.

Marvel Super Heroes made it’s arcade debut in 1995 and was released for the Playstation and the Sega Saturn in 1997. I played the game in the arcade and was downright giddy when the Playstation version of the game came out. While most of the gaming world has fully embraced Capcom’s later fighting titles such as Marvel VS Capcom and especially Marvel VS Capcom 2, MSH kind of got left behind in the dust afterward. Despite this, MSH remains one of my all time favorite games to this day. If you doubt me, just check out the awesomeness of the game’s opening cinema:

Anyone who hasn’t played this game yet, find a copy and play it now! You won’t regret it. One piece of advice, though: When searching for MSH, do not under any circumstances, confuse it with this title:

Super Nintendo Marvel Super Heroes War of the Gems Front Cover

This is not Marvel Super Heroes. This is Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems, a game for the Super Nintendo which is actually a retread of an earlier SNES title, X-Men Mutant Apocalypse, only with a slightly altered story and some different characters. Don’t get me wrong, Mutant Apocalypse is actually pretty fun, but if you rent or buy this game under the belief that you’re getting the arcade classic, you’ll be in for a disappointment. That said, on to the real MSH:

Marvel Super Heroes features 10 selectable characters; 6 super heroes — Spider Man, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Wolverine and Psylocke– and 4 villains — Magneto, Juggernaut, Blackheart and Shuma Gorrath (the latter 2 I’ve never heard of before playing this game. Sorry, comic book fans!) In the Street Fighter tradition, there are also 2 bosses– Dr. Doom is a mid boss and Thanos is the final boss. My only complaint about the lineup is why we got Cap and Iron Man but no Thor? And why only 1 female character? There are too many good woman characters in the Marvel universe for this game to only have 1. Each character has the requisite set of personalized special moves and super moves, here called “Infinity Moves”, which are all quite cool.

However, MSH’s standout feature is the inclusion of the Infinity Gems.

In the comics, the Infinity Gems grant their user near god-like abilities that allow you to rule the universe faster than you can say “God-like egomaniac!”, but in the game, they just enhance your fighter’s abilities in a unique way: The Space Gem causes your character temporary invulnerability. The Power Gem causes your attacks to deal out much more damage. The Soul Gem slowly replenishes your life bar. The Time Gem speeds up you character. The Reality Gem gives your character projectiles, and the Mind Gem fills up the Infinity Bar faster so you can bust out with a super move. Generally, an Infinity Gem is tossed into the fray after the 1st attack of the match. The Gem will land in the middle of ring, so your opponent has a chance to get it as well. Each gem grants it’s user special powers (as if the likes of Juggernaut and Magneto need to be more powerful!), and certain gems grant particular abilities to specific characters. The Reality Gem causes Blackheart to turn invisible. The Power Gem gives Captain America shadow moves. The Soul Gem causes Iron Man’s hits to strike with electric shock, etc. This was a very unique and innovative touch to the world of fighting games and so I’m truly surprised that this experiment was never repeated. Also, this is a minor nitpick, but I have to wonder why Capcom felt it necessary to change 2 of the Infinity Gem’s colors for the game. The Time Gem is orange in the comics, but it’s magenta in the game, while the Reality Gem is yellow in the comics, but it’s orange in the game! Ultimately, this change doesn’t make any real difference but still, it strikes me as curious why 2 of the gem’s colors were changed, while the colors of the other 4 were left unchanged.

Anyway, Marvel Super Heroes was a superb title with fun game play and a surprising amount of re-play value despite it’s lack of secrets and unlockable characters (Supposedly, there’s a Game Genie code that allows to you play as Anita from the Darkstalkers games, but it never worked for me. Whenever I tried it, it would always freeze up after the VS screen).

It remains one of the great mysteries of the gaming universe why this game never got a sequel (and no, I don’t count Marvel Super Heroes VS Street Fighter. The Capcom “VS” games were a separate series and are not connected to MSH, at least not to me. Also, I had some criticisms about MSH vs SF’s lineup. Did we really need to have Captain America and Cyclops? The way that they played, they were practically 1 entity!). It would have been great to have gotten a Marvel Super Heroes 2, especially if the lineup had changed some and we could have gotten Thor, The Thing, Human Torch, Silver Surfer, Storm, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Firestar, Ms. Marvel or even She Hulk as playable characters. Nonetheless, Marvel Super Heroes was a great fighting title for it’s time and it still holds up now, and for this, MSH, we at Twinsanity salute you.