Saturday, December 09, 2017
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Challenge of the Super Friends: "Secret Origins of the Super Friends" (October 28, 1978)
In “Secret Origins of the Super Friends,” Lex Luthor hatches a new plan to stop the Super Friends. He will use a time machine, and travel back in time to undo the creation of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Superman, three of the most powerful super friends.
First, the Legion of Doom travels to Paradise Island of 1941, and Cheetah defeats Diana Prince in an Amazon tournament, thus becoming Wonder Woman herself.
Next, Lex Luthor replaces Hal Jordan when he is visited by the Green Lantern Corps., and Abin Sur, on Earth.
Lastly, the Legion travels back to Krypton of the past, and diverts young Kal-El’s rocket away from Earth, to a different planet with a red sun. There, the boy grows up as just another citizen, unaware of his destiny as the man of steel.
With these powerful Super Friends out of the way, the Legion of the Doom captures the other members of the Hall of Justice, and makes them fight one another using a “Hypnotic Anger Ray.”
Fortunately, while in captivity, Batman and the other heroes learn from the Legion of Doom memory banks that there are missing Super Friends, ones whom they have no memory of at all, because of the altered timeline.
Batman, Robin, and the others launch an attempt to bring Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern back into existence.
Although “Secret Origins of the Super Friends” features many of the same lapses of logic and dramatic consistency that frequently plague this 1977’s Hanna-Barbera series, it nonetheless must count as one of the better episodes of Challenge of the Super Friends.
The reason is simple. For the first time, we get some background info on members of the Super Friends, and the way they came to be superheroes. The origins of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Superman are all explored in depth here, and the audience even gets to see the great Jor-El, as he argues about the impending destruction of his home world.
These sequences are fascinating for how they depict the beginnings of these heroes, and, in dramatic fashion, showcase how the Legion of Doom undercuts and subverts them. It is terrible, in particular, seeing deceitful Cheetah adopt the Wonder Woman mantle, defeating Diana. It is bracing, and alarming, as well, to see Lex Luthor in the uniform of Green Lantern.
The mechanics of the altered time lines are kind of dodgy here, but it hardly matters, as Batman restores his friends to the timeline and corrects the universe in the process. However, I couldn’t help but think, while watching this installment, that the most powerful origin to undercut in the story would have been Batman’s.
Imagine if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t been murdered. Batman would have never come into creation, and Bruce would have grown up happy, with both parents alive and well. This fact would have created a real bind for the other Super Friends. Could they alter time if it meant killing Bruce’s parents, and taking away the boy’s happiness? What a fascinating that story would have made!
Next week: “Revenge of Gorilla City.”
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