I feel that in the never-ending war between Marvel and DC, DC has always trumped Marvel in the animation department. Pound for pound, DC has always been better when it comes to getting their shit together. Even Superfriends past the Wendy and Marvin season was watchable in a goofy sense while I can never enjoy the panel-based cartoons with zero animation that Marvel released back in the 60’s. The only DC cartoon I can ever remember as being outright awful was that Superman one from the 80’s that insisted on giving us a segment about Clark growing up and getting into wacky situations for his mother to deal with. As a child, all I could think was, “Why are they showing me this? I want to see Superman doing super things and fighting Lex Luthor!”
Maybe he was so competent that he’d save the day a little too early and they had to use that as backup filler.
Marvel’s had a lot of missteps. Australian Wolverine goes without saying. The first seasons of Iron Man and Fantastic Four in the 90’s were hard to watch, which was a shame, since the second seasons were way better. The latter went from having Thing deal with a nagging landlady to having Ghost Rider (with his sexy, sexy voice) show up unannounced in order to punk out Galactus.
They had Avengers: United They Stand, which failed on several levels. Spider-Man really wasn’t all that great once you take off the rose-colored glasses and don’t get me started on Spider-Man Unlimited. X-Men and Silver Surfer weren’t bad, but they were nothing compared to what DC was churning out with their Batman and Superman cartoons.
Marvel has been starting to get things moving with their animated movies, like with Planet Hulk and Hulk vs. Wolverine, but the many, many missteps before that can’t be discounted (I will never forgive Invincible Iron Man). Even then, DC’s been cranking out the quality on that end.
I’ve heard great things about Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, but I haven’t gotten around to watching them. I think part of it comes from lack of interest in retreading old ground. It was the same when it came with The Batman. I’m sure there’s quality in there, but I’m not up for retracing old steps. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve seen that story where Ben Grimm becomes human but has to become the Thing again because damn it, the team needs him. I’ve seen that story where a new girl joins the X-Men and meets the established team as a way to get us acquainted. I need something new. Based on something old, sure, but something new for this medium. At least Batman: The Brave and the Bold was in such a different direction that it came off as a breath of fresh air.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes starts tonight on Disney XD and I’ve already gotten to see the pilot at New York Comic Con. I’ve also sat through the 20 micro-episodes, which are each 5-6 minutes a piece, making it longer than any of Marvel’s animated films yet. I can tell you right now that this cartoon is exactly what Marvel’s been needing for a while. This is their Justice League Unlimited.