Challenge of the Superfriends
Title card
Also known asSuper Friends III
GenreAdventure
Fantasy
Science fiction
Superhero
Created byE. Nelson Bridwell
Carmine Infantino
Julius Schwartz (consultants)
Based on
Written byJeffrey Scott
Directed byRay Patterson
Carl Urbano
Creative directorIwao Takamoto
Voices ofJack Angel
Marlene Aragon
Michael Bell
Bill Callaway
Ted Cassidy
Danny Dark
Shannon Farnon
Ruth Forman
Buster Jones
Stanley Jones
Casey Kasem
Don Messick
Vic Perrin
Stanley Ross
Dick Ryal
Michael Rye
Olan Soule
Jimmy Weldon
Frank Welker
Louise Williams
Narrated byWilliam Woodson
Theme music composerHoyt Curtin
ComposerHoyt Curtin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes16 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersWilliam Hanna
Joseph Barbera
ProducerDon Jurwich
CinematographyGeorge Epperson
Tom Epperson
Charles Flekal
Ron Jackson
Jerry Smith
Larry Smith
Terry Smith
Brandy Whittington
Jerry Whittington
EditorLarry C. Cowan (supervising editor)
Running time60 minutes (including commercials)
Production companiesHanna-Barbera Productions
DC Comics
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 9 (1978-09-09) –
December 23, 1978 (1978-12-23)
Chronology
Preceded byThe All-New Super Friends Hour
Followed byThe World's Greatest SuperFriends

Challenge of the Superfriends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes which ran from September 9, 1978, to December 23, 1978, on ABC.[1] The complete series (16 episodes) was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and is based on the Justice League and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics and created by Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. It was the third series of Super Friends cartoons, following the original Super Friends in 1973 and The All-New Super Friends Hour in 1977.[2]

Format

First segment

As originally aired, this season featured adventures with Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, similar to those that had aired the previous season in The All-New Super Friends Hour. These episodes were later shown using the opening credits of the All-New Super Friends Hour in syndication.

Second segment

The second segment of this season was Challenge of the Superfriends, a 16-episode series that came the closest to the comic books. Not only did Challenge have the Justice League of America, it was the first official Super Friends series to feature DC supervillains from the comics (apart from one episode with Gentleman Jim Craddock and another featuring Black Manta), and this series had 13 of them together as a group called the Legion of Doom. It included Superman foes like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, the Toyman, and Bizarro, and Batman foes like the Riddler and the Scarecrow. The Legion of Doom dwelt in a murky swamp and launched their attacks for global conquest from a sinister-looking, swamp-based, mechanical, flying headquarters called the Hall of Doom (which resembled Darth Vader’s helmet) as a suitable contrast with the Superfriends' gleaming Hall of Justice. Every week, the Legion schemed to either get rid of or destroy the Superfriends so they could conquer the world. The Superfriends themselves consisted of 11 Justice League heroes.[3] Thanks to the first segment alone being used with the Challenge of the Superfriends opening and confusing references to the show,[4] it is often mistakenly believed that the first and second segments were two separate shows.

Production background

Early development

When the Challenge of the Superfriends season was originally conceived, it was named "Battle of the Super Friends" and featured the introduction of Captain Marvel. The group that challenged the heroes was called the "League of Evil", led by Captain Marvel's nemesis Doctor Sivana. However, Filmation produced Shazam! and The New Adventures of Batman, which prevented the use of characters such as Mister Atom, King Kull, Beautia Sivana, the Joker, the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and the Catwoman. Early conceptual art drawn by Alex Toth also included Heat Wave, Poison Ivy, and Abra Kadabra.[5]

Narration, music and character designs

Bill Woodson provides the uncredited voice of the narrator in Challenge of the Superfriends, and the opening narration was by Stanley Jones. The show's main theme and original music was composed and arranged by musical director Hoyt Curtin. The music supervisor was Paul DeKorte. Character designs for this particular Super Friends series were done by Andre LeBlanc.

Team composition experimentation

Hanna-Barbera's writers experimented with team composition as well. Challenge of the Superfriends added The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and Hawkman (Katar Hol) who were members of the Justice League of America, as well as several new characters: Black Vulcan (who was based on the DC Comics character Black Lightning), Apache Chief, and Samurai. These characters were created to add racial and cultural diversity to the show (this was also mentioned in some of the episode introduction extras on the first two Challenge of the Super Friends DVDs).

Lineups

Superfriends/Justice League of America

Eleven heroes make up the Superfriends/Justice League of America. They are:

 

Legion of Doom

Thirteen villains comprise the Legion of Doom during the Challenge of the Superfriends series. They are:

 

Despite the claim in the program's title sequence that the Legion's members hail from "remote galaxies", only Brainiac and Sinestro are extraterrestrials; the remaining members are all natives of Earth (even though Bizarro called the Bizarro World home, he was created by Lex Luthor via a duplicator ray on Earth, technically making him a 'native' of Earth). Solomon Grundy is a zombie, an animated dead person, as the episode Monolith of Evil makes clear. In "History of Doom", even Solomon Grundy supposedly dies from the solar flare.

Voice cast

Episodes

See also: List of Super Friends episodes

Home media

Warner Home Video (via DC Entertainment, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment) originally released this season of Super Friends on two separate DVDs on June 1, 2004, the first one being Challenge of the Superfriends: Attack of the Legion of Doom, which featured the "Challenge" segments, and the second being Challenge of the Superfriends: United They Stand, which featured the Superfriends segments. Both DVDs only featured four episodes. The first season with the Challenge episodes was re-released as Challenge of the Superfriends: The First Season on July 6, 2004. The second one with the Super Friends episodes was named Super Friends: Volume Two and was re-released on May 24, 2005.

Title Type Number of episodes Release date
Challenge of the Superfriends The First Season 16 July 6, 2004
Super Friends Volume Two 16 May 24, 2005

Spoofs

Cartoon Network produced a couple of commercials spoofing Challenge of the Superfriends.

In 2003, Cartoon Network Latin America aired the spoof series The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour that starred Aquaman as a children's television show host and the Legion of Doom as his bankrupt villains.

Legends of the Superheroes

The two NBC televised live-action specials of Legends of the Superheroes produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions was based largely on Challenge of the Superfriends while featuring Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin of the 1966 Batman television series fame (West would go on to voice Batman in SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians). The Justice League starred Batman, Robin, Captain Marvel, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Huntress, and the Black Canary against the Legion of Doom which featured Mordru leading Doctor Sivana, the Riddler, Giganta, Sinestro, the Weather Wizard, and Solomon Grundy (Superman, Wonder Woman, and their associate characters were absent due to the Superman film and Wonder Woman television series licensing the rights to them, respectively).

DC Super Friends

Despite using the main theme from The World's Greatest SuperFriends, the 2010 DC Super Friends "The Joker's Playhouse" shares several elements of its opening sequence with Challenge of the Superfriends, including introducing the Legion of Doom.[6]

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special

The opening sequence of the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special parodies the opening of Challenge of the Superfriends with the Legion of Doom substituted for Robot Chicken original characters Chicken, Mad Scientist, Nerd, Humping Robot, Composite Santa, Gummy Bear, the Unicorn, and Bitch Puddin'. The Legion of Doom, Hall of Doom, and Hall of Justice also feature prominently in the episode.

In popular culture

In the video game DC Universe Online, if a player decides to play as a super-villain rather than as a superhero, they will be a part of the Legion of Doom, which meets in a large headquarters that is at the bottom of the ocean (similar to how the Legion's headquarters are on the show), with supervision by Noah Cuttler, aka The Calculator.

References

  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1983). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part I: Animated Cartoon Series. Scarecrow Press. pp. 275–278. ISBN 0-8108-1557-5. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 802–804. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  3. ^ Michael C. Rupprecht. "Hanna-Barbera Superfriends Chronology". Archived from the original on January 28, 2008. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  4. ^ McNeil, Alex (1997). Total Television Book and CD-ROM. Penguin (Non-Classics). ISBN 0-14-026737-9.
  5. ^ Nobleman, Marc Tyler (29 July 2011). "Super '70s and '80s: "Super Friends"—Darrell McNeil, animator". Noblemania. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  6. ^ "DC SUPER FRIENDS™ The Joker's Playhouse DVD Episode | Imaginext | Fisher Price". YouTube. 2011-08-26. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2016-06-01.

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