Marvel Animation/Film Roman (September 14, 2009 – January 2, 2010), Shout! Factory (July 13, 2010), single disc, 154 mins plus supplements, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1, Not Rated, Retail: $14.93
The Super Hero Squad defends Super Hero City from attacks by Doctor Doom and his henchman who are searching for the powerful Infinity Sword.
The Sweatbox Review:
Ever since X-Men the movie came out over a decade ago, Marvel has been working overtime in getting their properties made into films and into the public consciousness. Nearly every superhero movie they have released has also been accompanied by an animated series. X-Men spawned X-Men: Evolution. Spider-Man led to Spider-Man: The Animated Series on MTV. Most recently, Iron Man has been followed by Iron Man: Armored Adventures. When it was announced that Marvel was grooming multiple superhero franchises that were to be combined into an Avengers film, few were surprised when an Avengers-like show finally showed up in the form of The Super Hero Squad Show. Sure, it’s not officially The Avengers, but the roster of superheroes does overlap significantly. There will be an official Avengers animated show later this year, but for now this one has sufficed.
Officially, the characters are based on 2 inch action figures created by Hasbro. The main superheroes featured on the show are Iron Man, Hulk, Falcon, Silver Surfer, Thor and Wolverine. However, each episode features guest superheroes from the expanded Marvel Comics universe. In the first few episodes alone, we also get to see Captain America, Miss Marvel, the Fantastic Four, Reptil, Wasp, and Storm. Each of the main characters represents a different factor needed in order to have an effective team. Iron Man represents technology, the Hulk represents strength, Falcon represents speeds, Silver Surfer represents energy, Thor represents the elements, and Wolverine represents the animal factor. On the other side, Doctor Doom forges an alliance of super villains called the Lethal Legion. However, the villains we mostly see from episode to episode are MODOK and Abomination. Like with the superheroes, various villains make an appearance throughout the first few episodes including Klaw, Screaming Mimi, Toad, Dormammu, Juggernaut, and Loki.
The main plot of the show centers around a super weapon called the Infinity Sword that was destroyed into different parts called Infinity Fractals. The complete sword would make Doctor Doom virtually unstoppable in his quest to conquer the Earth. The Fractals are scattered throughout Super Hero City where the Super Hero Squad is located. Doctor Doom continuously sends his henchmen into the city to retrieve the fractals one by one until he has the completed sword. While Doom needs all of the fractals to complete his weapon, each fractal actually gives its holder some sort of power or ability. This leads to an element of danger in each episode as the super heroes avoid touching it directly at all costs. In a running gag that happens in the opening titles, we see the Hulk pick up a fractal and turn into something different in each episode. Sometimes this change also happens inside the episodes whenever someone touches one of the fractals.
The show is very light-hearted in tone, but with plenty of action and adventure. The villains are never scary, and most of their schemes are over-the-top. In most of the episodes, a new hero takes the spotlight, although they initially tend to mess up in defending their city or a fractal. By the end of the episode, they have redeemed themselves and managed to protect Super Hero City for another day. In fact, new villains also make regular appearances in each episode, and this is part of the fun of the show. With every new character, new powers, personalities, and weapons are featured making the show fun to watch. Overall, the show is a humorous take on the average, serious superhero shows of late. However, we still get the action and adventure we expect from watching superheroes on the screen. This can even be exemplified by the episode titles which are humorous takes on popular expressions, with an added exclamation mark at the end acknowledging the action element.
The episodes included in this release are:
And Lo…A Pilot Shall Come!
This Silver, This Surfer!
Hulk Talk Smack!
To Err Is Superhuman!
A Brat Walks Among Us!
Is This Thing Loaded?
There are five special features included in the “Bonus Features” section of the DVD.
First up is “Stan Lee Interview” (2:45) featuring an interview with Marvel superhero legend Stan Lee, who actually lends his voice to the mayor of Super Hero City. Lee provides an entertaining interview that is largely geared towards kids. He shows his excitement about the show and the different characters that show up. He also talks about his joy in doing voice-over-work.
There is also a Music Video” for the theme song of the show called “Super Hero Squad World Tour (1:55). It features the characters walking up the red carpet and being presented to crowds around the world in a tour that takes them through Hollywood, Las Vegas, London, Paris, Sydney, Waikiki Beach, and Washington, DC (where they have multiple photo-ops with Obama).
Finally, there are three trailers included in this section of the DVD. They are for The Super Hero Squad Show, Super Hero Squad Online, and SHS: The Infinity Gauntlet Video Game.
The DVD is presented in a standard transparent keep case. The cover features Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Iron Man, and Falcon. The Hulk and Silver Surfer are featured on the back cover. Inside the DVD case is an insert with episode guide and an advertisement for other Shout! Products (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Dinosaur King, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show).
Ink And Paint:
Being based on 2 inch toys, the character designs have a stunted look in the animated series. They are adults (or at least teenagers) in every aspect, but with square bodies and large heads. Overall, the show features a very nice animation style that is consistent throughout the episodes I have watched. The animation style, with the comical, stunted look, adds to the show by keeping it in line with the humorous tones of the show.
The show is presented here in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Chapter stops are included after intro, opening titles, and the commercial break. Episodes can be played individually or by using the “Play All” feature on the main menu.
I really like the music featured in the show. Aside from the theme music, which is a very catchy rock track, there are cool musical themes used throughout the show that enhance the story. It makes the show sound more exciting and entertaining. The DVD is being released with a very good English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, in addition to an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The track faithfully suits the show’s music and action scenes. No subtitles are included in the DVD.
I really enjoyed watching The Super Hero Squad Show. Being a fan of Marvel superheroes, I was excited to see them all here in one show. I was particularly excited to see Thor which has been missing from most superhero shows of late. The show is cleverly designed and features a great mix of action and silly humor perfect for children and adults alike. I never found the show to be dumbing down any of the dialogue or action sequences. At the same time the producers have been able to keep it age-appropriate. I am a bit puzzled as to why this is just a single disc release as it could have just included a second disc with more episodes. Either way, there are 26 episodes in the show’s first season, so at this pace we should expect an additional 3 volumes. Overall, this show is recommended for fans of Marvel superheroes as well as for young kids who like action/adventure shows with a dose of comedy.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?