Moving on down the list, here’s my favorite superhero TV show/movie openings for the 1980s.
By this point, the rise of first-run syndication meant a way around networks’ strict bans on violence. Also, the deregulation of children’s TV standards led to a wave of half-hour toy ad-like shows (“He-Man,” “Transformers,” “My Little Pony,” etc.).
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Spidey had gone through a few previous TV shows (both live-action and animated) in the late 70s and early 80s, but this one’s probably the most fondly remembered. I’ve seen people at comic conventions dressed up as Firestar, and even the villain Video Man.
I’ve written a separate post about “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.”
The entire series was released to DVD in the United Kingdom, but no sign of a North American release anytime soon.
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
The revival of Mighty Mouse helped kick off the start of the more modern style of TV animation writing. My favorite episodes:
- The return of the Mighty Heroes.
- The Saturday morning cartoon parody episode (“The Jetstones,” heh).
- “Elway and the Tree Weasels” (Alvin and the Chipmunks parodies).
The entire series has been released to DVD as a box set.
Superman gained a new stand-alone series in the late 80s, which partially reflected the then-just-revised post-Crisis Byrne version (no Superboy, Krypto, or such on this series). However, some older elements still remained; he had his powers since arriving on Earth, for instance.
Still, the opening channeled the Christopher Reeve Superman movies’ theme music. Gary Owens (of Space Ghost fame) did the opening narration, largely along the lines of the George Reeves TV show’s version (“faster than a speeding bullet…”).
The entire series was released as a DVD set in 2009.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
One of my favorite openings of this decade is the Ninja Turtles’ theme song. Latter spinoffs’ versions aren’t as catchy, plus the 2000s series’ excessive use of “shell” as an euphemism for “hell” turns up in its theme song—“it’s a shell of a town”? Um, no.
The original 1987 series has been released to DVD by this point, as has various latter spinoffs.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
I had my doubts about including “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” the 80s Filmation series that was a half-hour toy ad, but liked by my childhood self all the same.
While I’d consider it “sword and sorcery lite meets sci-fi” rather than a straightforward superhero series, others on Twitter claimed that its use of a few superhero elements should make it count: He-Man had a secret identity as mild-mannered Prince Adam, plus the Captain Marvel-like transformation sequence into He-Man. So for others’ sake, I’ll throw He-Man in.
I’ll note He-Man did meet Superman in an early 80s story, where the Man of Steel crosses over from Earth-1 into Eternia’s dimension.
The entire series has been released to DVD.
Batman (1989 movie)
The classic 1989 Michael Keaton film that marked the first widespread media appearance of the modern, darker Batman. For awhile, the opening music seemed to become strongly associated with Batman, at least until “Batman: The Animated Series” and its classic opening came along.
The movie’s available on DVD, of course.