What defines a Superhero? Do they have to wear a costume and cape and fly in the air? Or are superheroes, people, who regardless of their affiliation with this planet or the next, risk life and limb to help those in need? While, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman etc., would be construed as belonging to the canon of "official" superheroes, certainly there are others that many overlook, and this is likely because they simply just don't identify with them on some level.
Yet, superheroes, are all around us each and every day. Whether it's a police officer who stops a crime in action or a firefighter who rescues a little kid from the fourth floor of a burning building--superheroes are what keep us going. They are what inspire us to do and reach for superhero heights in our own lives.
What follows is the list of our favorite superhero cartoons from the 1980s (in no particular order):
He-Man & The Masters of the Universe (1983-1985)
Will running for over ten years on ABC as part of the network's Saturday morning lineup, Super-Friends
went through a fun list of alternate titles throughout its run. One point, the show, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera was known as "Challenge of the Super Friends," then "The All-New Super Friends Hour," and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians" for example. The show was tied in with the superheroes of DC Comics
and featured the likes of Superman, Aquaman
, Wonder Woman, and Batman & Robin
. Each episode the superhero team, which also included special tie-in characters like The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, and their pet/superhero wannabe monkey, Gleek. The Twins had the ability to shapeshift into almost anything. While in some episodes of the show, the Super-Friends would face an evil monster or villain, the most notorious super villain that they would offer go up against was Mxyzptlk. Fans of DC Comics know that Mxyzptlk aka Mr. Mxyzptlk got his start in the Superman Comics in the 1940s. As he appeared in many episodes of Super-Friends
, he was always behind some evil on the show that the gang has to fight off, and in the end, unveil as being the doing of Mxyzptlk. This results, almost always, as having to get him to say his own name backward in order to banish him.
Captain Caveman aka Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977-1980)
Running just two years on the air, He-Man
ran all over television, before being snatched up for syndication on the USA Network in 1988--this is where most kids watched the show in the era. Being a beloved kid's cartoon series of the '80s, and now a series with a heavy cult following due to it's homo-eroticism between the lead characters He-Man and Man At Arms--the show featured "Adam", a young man from Eternia, who, after gaining the powers of Castle Grayskull through a sword, turned into He-Man and would set off each week to undo the evil forces or plans of Skeletor. Skeletor's passion was to conquer Eternia and take over ownership of Castle Grayskull. A mega-successful toy line followed through Mattel as well as a live-action movie made by Cannon Films which starred Rocky IV's
Ivan Drago, Captain
A heavy staple in Saturday morning syndication, Captain Caveman was Josie and the Pussycats
. What separated the show from something like Scooby Doo
was that Captain Caveman often referred to by the girls as "Cavey" had superpowers, even though, at times, they didn't work so well. Captain Caveman's trademark was his battle yell, which he would set in motion whenever he was in need. He would yell, "Captain CAAAVEMANNN!" His voice on the show was done by Looney Tunes
legend Mel Blanc, who famously, was the voice for such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck
Spiderman and His Friends (1981-1983)
Even though Voltron
aka Voltron: Defender of the Universe
only ran for one year on American television, it caused quite the stir amongst kids who were already in love with morphing action figures like The Transformers
and the Go-Bots. Re-dubbed for American audiences, Voltron
was a Japanese series that had aired the previous year across the pond under the title "Beast King Go Lion." That show had much more violence in it, and the American redux of it. The show featured a team of young people who each rode out in giant robot lions and helped people, and when they would encounter an evil force that they would be unable to stop individually, they would team up, and shift/morph each of their lion robots into one giant creation--Voltron.
Running for only two seasons on NBC, Spiderman and His Amazing Friends was narrated by none other than Marvel Comics God, Stan Lee. Starting out each episode with a narrator that began with, "Hi True Believers..," this Spiderman series, not the first animated-Spidey series to be on television, featured Spiderman teaming up with Iceman and Firestar. The three, each week, would battle an unstoppable villain, and in the end, they would manage to get the best of him and live to fight another day.