Fantastic Four (animation)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Reed Richards is elastic,
Sue can fade from sight,
Johnny is the Human Torch
The Thing just loves to fight!

Just call the Four! Fantastic Four!"
—From the opening theme

Fantastic Four (1994-1996) was an 1990s Animated Adaptation of Marvel Universe Superhero team the Fantastic Four. Shown as part of the syndicated "Marvel Action Hour" along with Iron Man, it was retooled for the better between the first and second seasons, gaining improved writing, much improved animation, and a much, much better (and Affably Evil) Doctor Doom voiced by Simon Templeman.

Despite these improvements, the show was sadly Too Good to Last.

Like the comics themselves, the Four in this cartoon would run into other Marvel superheroes. One episode saw the Four joining forces with Daredevil, and another saw them having to fight The Incredible Hulk, who was deceived by Dr. Doom (true to form). They also appeared in episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (the three-part "Secret Wars" arc) and The Hulk's own cartoon (well, just the Thing; the three others went on vacation).

Tropes used in Fantastic Four (animation) include:
  • Animation Bump: Season two, done by Philippine Animation Studio Inc, went over a MASSIVE bump when compared to season one, it almost looks like the show was made during two different decades between seasons.
  • The Cameo: Stan Lee (voiced by himself), Dick Clark (voiced by himself) and President Clinton (voiced by Jim Cummings), to name a few.
  • Continuity Cameo: On the superhero side of things, the X-Men, the Avengers and even the Scarlet Spider appear during Season 2. There's a shot of Juggernaut's hand emerging from the Hudson river in the Hulk episode (possibly after Gladiator threw him in there), and we get brief glimpses of Speedball, Darkhawk and Namorita as the Silver Surfer flies around in the opening of "Doomsday".
  • Crossover: The Fantastic Four appeared in the Incredible Hulk episode, "Fantastic Fortitude," though only the Thing has a major role. Doctor Doom (with Simon Templeman returning) appeared in "Doomed" and "Hollywood Rocks."
    • Iron Man makes a voiceless cameo in "To Battle the Living Planet." This is the only time the leads of the "Marvel Action Hour" shows had any interaction on-screen.
  • Disappeared Dad: Well, step-dad, actually. The Puppet Master and Alicia got into a brief fight when he was about to crown a puppet version of himself to become king of the world. He was accidentally thrown out the window the same time the crown fell off the puppet. By the time the Fantastic Four came to her rescue, the Puppet Master "seemed to have wiped off the face of the earth."
    • Sue and Johnny's own father. The elder Storm was involved in an altercation that led to another man's death. It wasn't cold-blooded murder, but he went into hiding out of fear. He only returned to perform life-saving surgery on Sue, but subsequently was arrested. He was later killed as part of a Skrull plot.
  • Disney Death: The Thing in "Nightmare in Green." Doctor Doom in "Doomsday," who was revealed to be alive in The Incredible Hulk episode "Doomed."
  • Distant Reaction Shot: Of Johnny's supernova attack in "Doomsday", which can be seen from the upper atmosphere.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Cold Open of "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them."

Sue: This is pretty uninspired. The big, bad Doctor Doom kidnapping me to lure the Fantastic Four to your wretched little island?
Doctor Doom: Yes, I'm so sorry to involve you in the time-worn damsel-in-distress cliche, Mrs Richards. I fear the only thing missing is the onrushing train. However, sometimes expediency outweighs originality.

  • Enemy Mine: To stop Ego the Living Planet, Reed and Thor go to the guy who attached his rockets to him in the first place - Galactus.
  • Expository Theme Tune / Theme Tune Roll Call: The first season features a relentlessly cheerful theme song with lyrics that explains our heroes' origins and their powers.
    • The theme in closing credits added the lyrics "that's all, no more".
  • Grand Finale: "Doomsday." Doctor Doom again steals the powers of the Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four struggle to take him down.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Sallah is Thor.
  • How We Got Here: The Four discuss their origins at a fund-raiser held by Dick Clark in the two-part premiere "The Origin of the Fantastic Four".
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Season two uses a heroic, and awesome orchestral theme.
  • Landlady: Season 1.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Susan Storm, obviously.
  • Mugging the Monster: A couple of guys swipe Alicia's purse in the Hulk episode, apparently not noticing the giant orange guy in the trenchcoat sitting next to her.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Averted - the Grand Finale involves Doom recycling his "steal the Silver Surfer's power" plot from season one, although he makes sure that Galactus is a long way away this time.
  • Off-Model: The first season was done by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons, neither studio known for producing action based cartoons outside of The Disney Afternoon or Hanna-Barbera[1].
    • The Thing fared worse than the others, looking more like a character from Tiny Toon Adventures (Which both companies also worked on) and gaining a fifth finger in some shots.
  • Shockwave Clap: Hulk vs Torch
  • Tear Jerker: The Thing's Disney Death after being beaten senseless by The Hulk in "Nightmare In Green". The Hulk feels guilty for making Alicia cry.
    • In "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them," the four lose their powers in a nuclear explosion and Ben is overjoyed to be normal again. However, he is forced to reclaim his powers to save the team and Daredevil from Doctor Doom - ruining his plans for a normal life with Alicia. Poor guy even crushes the ring he was going to propose with.
  • The Notable Numeral
  • The Other Darrin: A couple—most notably, Doctor Doom and the Human Torch—but nowhere near as extreme as what Iron Man went through.
    • Three people actually voiced Doctor Doom during the series' run.
  • This Cannot Be!: Doom's reaction to Ben overcoming his gravity-increaser.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Thing to Doctor Doom in "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them" (see Tear Jerker above for why). Doom hits him with a device that magnifies gravity's effect on him - and is genuinely terrified when Ben gets right back up and keeps attacking. He even crushes Doom's hands, which are shown to be in bandages in his next appearance half a season later.
  • What Could Have Been: Plans for a third season included Sue's pregnancy (with She-Hulk or Medusa filling up the vacancy) and the return of the Sub-Mariner.
    • And probably we've seen the return of Puppet Master, and find out where he's been.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Netflix lists its streaming of The Marvel Action Hour under Iron Man's name.
  1. Admittedly, the animation was (slightly) better compared to the Iron Man cartoon that was paired