Superheroes populate the big and small screens nowadays, especially in the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe. From breaking our hearts (and tear ducts) in Avengers: Infinity War to jaw-dropping action scenes with the Marvel/Netflix line-up, these scenes will stay in fans' memories (and on the Internet) for years to come. It wasn’t always the case though. For the longest time, however, things tended to be more hit or miss with the Marvel properties. While the films didn’t light the big screen on fire, their TV properties tended to be better received. Well, for the most part, at least.
Aas with any long-standing property, there have been hits and misses over the years. While the casual Marvel fans remembers the '90s animated Spider-Man or Bill Bixby as David Banner, there are scores of other attempts forgotten by history. Some of them surprisingly good in retrospect, but most of them; not so much.
These Marvel shows have been relegated to the scrap heap of pop culture’s decently long memory. Though the collective culture consciousnesses has forgotten these shows, the most dedicated Marvel fans are aware of their existence.
With this in mind, we need to do a deep dive into the scrap heap of Marvel’s history to look at the shows forgotten by time. Live-action or animated, boasting multiple seasons or a failed pilot, these are the Marvel shows that time has largely forgotten. So get ready, true believers!
It’s time dive in and discover the 20 Forgettable Marvel Shows Only True Fans Remember.
20 Inhumans (2017, 1 season)
It’s hard to believe that this show had its eight-episode in 2017. The addition of Inhumans strengthened Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. This series, however, presents the case that maybe the MCU should have moved forward with the movie that fans wanted. The first two episodes were screened in IMAX with subsequent episodes airing on Friday nights on the network. Nothing, however, could save this trainwreck from the annals of history.
From dour characters to terrible special effects to a confusing story arc, Inhumans failed on pretty much every level.
Most fans and critics were quick to forget this entry in the MCU. When it was inevitably canceled, there were shrugs of indifference across the world. Though, to be honest, we wouldn’t mind more of good boy Lockjaw.19 Marvel’s Most Wanted (2016, pilot)
No one was really clamoring for an Inhumans television show, but what many Marvel fans were hoping for was Most Wanted. This pilot project was meant to spin-off Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It starred fan faves Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) as ex-Agents and ex-spouses on the run as the try to uncover a conspiracy against them. They reluctantly team up with adventurer Dominic Fortune (Delroy Lindo) and his niece Christina (Fernanda Andrade).
At the time, the Agents fandom brimmed with excitement over the project.
They guessed at Oded Fehr’s mystery character and prepped themselves for the series. Needless to say, it shook people when ABC passed on the project. Fans still haven't seen the completed pilot, which has faded from memory.18 Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013-15, 2 seasons)
Marvel has something of an animated universe going on with Disney XD. Formerly, it comprised of Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. The two season long series focused on a group of gamma powered heroes led by the Hulk (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) who was a fan fave on Avengers Assemble.
The series itself had a weird reality show framing device in which Rick Jones or A-Bomb (voiced by Seth Green) was making the show into a web series. It was strange to say the least. It also had a bit of a difficult time fitting into the universe. In S.M.A.S.H., Hulk was the calm and focused team leader while on Avengers he was more volatile.
It just didn’t quite make sense and was canceled with little fanfare in 2015.17 Blade: The Series (2006, 1 season)
Many film buffs credit the success of the Blade trilogy with gaining the traction and interest needed in kickstarting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Taking place after the events of Blade: Trinity, this TV series follows the titular dhmapyr (Kirk Jones) as he teams up with recently turned vampire, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) to take down Marcus Van Scribner (Neil Jackson), a high-ranking member of the House of Chthon.
Given the popularity of the film trilogy, a television series made sense at the time. It brought in huge numbers for the relatively young Spike TV (now Paramount Network). The numbers, however, didn’t hold and the network couldn’t justify the cost of making the show.
Since then, the series has just kind of faded into the background, especially given the influx of vampire-based television in the years after.16 Iron Man (1994-96, 2 seasons)
It’s hard to remember a time when Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t playing Tony Stark. Still, such times existed.
One of the earlier examples of this is the 1994 series Iron Man. Billed as part of The Marvel Action Hour (the other series was Fantastic Four), the first season follows Tony Stark as he enters a battle of good versus evil with the Mandarin. They even had their own teams. Rather than the Avengers, Tony's team was Force Works, based on the comic line-up at the time.
Between the first and second season, there was a radical shift in the storytelling.
The second season forms a linking narrative and Force Works breaking up. Tony had a lot of conflict with Hawkeye while trying to stop the Mandarin from finding his rings. It was canceled due to low ratings.15 Powers (2015-2016, 2 seasons)
Coming from Marvel's Icon Comics imprint, Powers was created by Brian Michael Pendis and Michael Avon Oeming. The TV series, much like the comic, follows Christian Walker (played by Sharlto Copley) who works from the Powers division of the police department. He investigates crimes pertaining to superhumans known as Powers and is a former Power himself. The series won an Eisner Award in 2001.
The TV series aired on the Playstation Network.
In fact, it seems to be the only original series that aired on the Network. It also had the strike against it of being declared mediocre at best by critics. No one really knew how to track it down while it was airing. It was canceled pretty unceremoniously after its second season.14 X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men (1989, pilot)
The first attempt at making an animated series based on the popular X-Men didn’t go very well. The pilot episode aired in 1989 and was released on VHS.
The planned series never really materialized. Part of the reason is that the pilot wasn’t very good.
Following Kitty Pryde, the newest student at Xavier’s school, the episode took inspiration from Uncanny X-Men #129-139.
While Kitty attempts to find her place in this new setting, the X-Men (Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, and Dazzler) attempt to track a recently escape Magnet who wants to find the Scorpio comet coming for Earth. The project marked the end of the partnership between Marvel and DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, which created the first shared Marvel universe outside of comics.13 Power Pack (1991, pilot)
The Power Pack were the first group of preteen superheroes in Marvel Comics. These siblings rocked some pretty amazing abilities as a result of finding an alien who passed his powers onto the siblings. Using these powers, the Power siblings were able to save their parents from capture the Snarks. After this, they battled some pretty serious Marvel baddies and teamed up with such heroes as the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
They did all of this without their parents’ knowledge.
After the cancellation of the comic series, creatives made an attempt of making a Power Pack TV series. The plans lead to a live-action pilot that would air on Saturday mornings for NBC. The pilot episode features some changes, like their parents knowing the truth, but NBC passed on the project.12 Spider-Man Unlimited (1999-2001, 13 episodes)
This is first of many Spider-Man properties that people deleted from their memories. While the 1994-98 Spider-Man show elicits fond nostalgia, the Spidey series that followed it is not as fondly remembered.
Created by Saban Entertainment, Spider-Man Unlimited features Spider-Man following John Jameson to a Counter Earth in order to clear his name. There they fight Beastials; hybrid human-animals who are the dominant species on the Counter Earth.
If it sounds silly and convoluted, it’s because it was.
The original plan was Saban adapting the first 26 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man series. Due to the deal between Sony and Marvel, however, Saban couldn’t do that anymore or use the original costume. The final product led to FOX cancelling the series a few episodes in 1999 before burning off the rest in 2001.11 Mutant X (2001-04, 3 seasons)
This first-run syndicated show remains a little-known cult favorite. Maybe it’s weird calling it a forgettable show? Either way, it’s not remembered by many people.
This first-run syndicated TV show focuses on the New Mutants, people who possess powers thanks to genetic engineering. The members of the team were test subjects in these covert government experiments. The team itself seeks out New Mutants in order to protect them.
The production was in turmoil from multiple lawsuits behind the scenes between Marvel and Fox.
There were concerns that Mutant X was too similar to X-Men. Then the conflict was between Fox and Tribute/Fireworks, the production companies. It eventually dismantled Fireworks Entertainment, which spelled the end of the show. Not much has been heard of it since.10 Wolverine and the X-Men (2009, 1 season)
The fourth X-Men animated adaptation features a very complex plot over the course of its ambitious first season. After the disbanding of the X-Men and the disappearance of Jean Grey and Professor X, Wolverine sets out to reunite the team to stop the government from forcibly registering mutants. It also features the mutant-only country of Genosha, Emma Frost joining the team as their telepath, and Rogue joining the Brotherhood of Mutants.
In the finale, the series hands several shocking revelations about Jean's possession by the Phoenix Force and Emma Frost's double agent status. It ended with the cliffhanger of Apocalypse coming.
The show was canceled due to financial problems and licensing rights - Disney aired the series and owns Marvel, but Fox owns the X-Men. Who knows? If the Disney-Fox-Comcast triangle works out, there could be a new series in the works.9 Night Man (1997-99, 2 seasons)
From the Malibu comics imprint comes Night Man (or NightMan in comics), a saxophone player in San Francisco named Johnny Domino (Matt McColm). After a lightning strike while playing inside a cable car, Johnny gains the ability to “hear evil” at the cost of his ability to sleep. Using a super suit developed by his friend Raleigh Jordan (Derek Webster/Derwin Jordan), he fights crime as the superhero Night Man.
The show was aired in syndication and not much is known about why it was canceled.
There was a major shake-up between the first and second seasons with the production moving to Canada. Since it went off air, the series and the character have faded in obscurity.8 Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (2006-07, 1 season)
Created as a series to capitalize on the Fantastic Four films of the early '00s, the series features all original stories rather than adapting from straight from the comics. It had an erratic airing schedule on Cartoon Network, which aired eight episodes before pulling the show.
Apparently, the all-original stories approach did not quite work the series. It was then brought back to air before the release of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It aired nine more episodes before being pulled again.
Following this, the show aired on Cartoon Network’s sister network Boomerang before burning off the final episodes on Nicktoons. Given the erratic airing schedule and the difficulty in finding the episodes, most fans didn’t know the show existed - and still don’t.7 The Incredible Hulk (1982-83, 1 season)
Given the popularity of the live-action television series, a solo Hulk animated show makes sense.
This series, which lasted thirteen episodes, followed a more comics-accurate version of the character.
While this is the first solo television series featuring the character, it was not his first animated appearance. Hulk appeared in segments on the 1966 series The Marvel Superheroes.
The show was packaged with fellow animated series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. That series fared better with three seasons in total. Behind the scenes details on the cancellation of the series remain scarce. What we do know is that it ended around the same time as the aforementioned Spider-Man series. It appears that Hulk cannot have his own animated series like his own solo film franchise.6 UltraForce (1995, 1 season)
This superhero team hails from the Marvel Comics’ Malibu Comics imprint. This imprint's best known property remains the Men in Black comics, which spawned the popular film franchise. Malibu's lesser known property Ultraforce focuses on their superhero team, people with abilities known as ultras. The team focused on protecting the public and keeping other ultras from stepping out of line.
The series and team kind of faded when Marvel purchased Malibu Comics.
There was an attempt to generate interest with the UltraForce animated series in 1995. It aired on USA Network for 13 episodes and was pretty poorly received from critics. Given the lack of information online, it’s safe to say that no one has particularly fond memories of this series.5 Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2009-12, 2 seasons)
Ever wondered what would the events of Iron Man be like if Tony Stark was a teenager? Well Iron Man: Armored Adventures sort of answers that question.
This series ran on Nicktoons for two seasons in order to capitalize on the popularity of the Iron Man franchise. The series followed a teenage Tony Stark as he tried to find his missing father, school, and his duties as Iron Man while being a teenage genius.
The premiere episode drew the highest crowd for a Nicktoons original and got solid reviews from critics, but plummeting ratings plus more interest in MCU properties saw to the show’s demise. Since its ending, no one really talks about it anymore.4 Silver Surfer (1998, 1 season)
The Herald of Galactus has been a fan-favorite character of decades. He was even brought to life by everyone’s favorite creature actor, Doug Jones, in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
It’s not a huge surprise that there was an attempt at giving the character an animated series. In 1998, a 13-episode season ran on Fox Kids combining traditional and CG animated styles. It actually tackled some pretty heavy issues like slavery, imperialism, and environmental issues.
The series didn’t end because it was bad, but because Marvel and Saban Entertainment entered a legal dispute.
For those fans who do remember the series? They seem to love it. This was a good show that just got relegated to the scrap heap. Tragic.3 Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003, 1 season)
This 3D-animated series was an MTV offering that had Neil Patrick Harris voicing Peter Parker. Honestly? Not a bad idea.
The series takes place in the aftermath of the first film with Norman Osborn gone and Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry as college students. Peter is left struggling to balance his superhero identity and his regular life. During the first season, he fought against classic foes like the Lizard, Electro, and Kraven the Hunter.
MTV canceled the series due to low ratings. Not many people have sought it out since then. By 2018 standards, the animation is bad. It’s really, laughably, truly bad. At the time, however, it won an Annie Award. This just did not age well at all.2 The Avengers: United They Stand (1999-2000, 1 season)
While characters associated with the Avengers popped up in other media over the years, this is the first actual Avengers series. The series took inspiration from The West Coast Avengers comic: Hawkeye, Falcon, Ant-Man, Tigra, the Wasp, Wonder Man, Vision, and Scarlet Witch.
The success of Batman Beyond also played in the show's 25-year time jump to appeal to a similar audience. It also had Battle Armor for a lot of the characters, like Power Rangers.
It was not well received by fans and critics, with a lot of people criticizing the toy-line associated with it as well. Given the negative reaction and low ratings, Fox quickly did away with the series.1 The Amazing Spider-Man (1977-79, 2 seasons)
The Amazing Spider-Man has the distinction of being the first live-action superhero television show (outside of the Spider-Man segments on The Electric Company). Yes, it’s technically the first. It beat The Incredible Hulk by about a month and a half. Unlike the other show, however, this adaptation of Spider-Man did not withstand the test of time. While CBS wanted an older audience, the ratings for the show were amazing.
Despite the high ratings, CBS's main concern focused on the label of a superhero network. For two seasons, there were just 13 episodes altogether. Its airing schedule was erratic, at best. Changes in season two did not attract that older audience that CBS wanted. It was cancelled and forgotten about, especially considering the success of The Incredible Hulk.
Are we forgetting any forgettable Marvel shows? Let us know.
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