The upcoming launch of the Disney+ streaming service will bring with it a number of animated series' from Marvel's library throughout the years. This includes the entirety of the 1990s Fox Kids Marvel Animated Universe that cemented many of its heroes' popularity long before the movies. To commemorate these shows' availability on the highly anticipated streaming service, let's take a look back at the five best Marvel cartoons hitting Disney+ this November.
5. The Incredible Hulk (1996)
An underrated gem of a series, the 90s Incredible Hulk cartoon utilized the Jade Giant's rogues gallery and supporting cast better than any live-action or cartoon adaptations before it. Much like the X-Men animated series of the time, it was notably dark compared to its contemporaries. Portraying the body horror and ruined life of Bruce Banner in the intro alone, its protagonist's conflicting issues of loneliness and wanting to be left alone were especially well done for a kids' cartoon. There were also numerous appearances from other Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, War Machine, the Fantastic Four, Thor, and Sasquatch of Alpha Flight. Hulk was even voiced by Lou Ferrigno, who had played him in the live-action Incredible Hulk series from the 70s/80s.
4. Spider-Man (1994)
Aside from maybe The Spectacular Spider-Man, 1994's Spider-Man cartoon is what most older fans think of when it comes to seeing Spidey on the silver screen. A far cry from how the character is typically portrayed today, the show gave viewers a confident, competent and mature Peter Parker who was in college and had been Spider-Man for a few years by the time the show started. The biggest and baddest of Spider-Man's villains appear, including Scorpion, Mysterio, the Green and Hobgoblin, and the symbiotes Venom and Carnage, who were at the peak of their popularity in the early 90s. The stories were typically based on comics from throughout the character's publication history, though a majority of them were based on Spider-Man comics from the 1970s. Other heroes appeared as central figures in story arcs, namely Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and a well-known crossover with the X-Men. It was all anchored by the narrating, jovial talent of Spider-Man's voice actor Christopher Daniel Barnes, who would go on to be involved with several other Spider-Man productions. It is regarded, along with X-Men, as being easily the best of the Marvel Animated Universe.
3. Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010)
Beginning its run right before the release of the first Avengers movie, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes gave viewers a team and storylines very much based on established Marvel mythology. The series began with a run of micro-episodes, introducing the status quo for each Avenger before the series officially commenced. Throughout the first season, numerous issues of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run on The Avengers would be adapted, such as the origin of Wonder Man and the Ultron saga. The second season would introduce a litany of other Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, as well as to adapt more recent storylines like Secret Invasion. The show's somewhat simplistic art style belied deep characterization and world-building, becoming not only one of the best portrayals of numerous Avengers but easily the best Avengers cartoon to date.
2. X-Men (1992)
The 1992 X-Men animated series is what cemented the characters as pop culture icons, long before the movies put them into the mainstream spotlight. The show featured a team and storylines reflective of the comics of the time, with characters such as Jubilee and Cable starring in the show only a few years after their creation in comic books. The show adapted plots from the previous 20 years of its source material, namely The Phoenix Saga/Dark Phoenix Saga, The Legacy Virus, and the two-part story One Man's Worth, which was very similar to the then concurrent Age of Apocalypse. Not only did the show have an iconic, pulse-pounding theme song, but its voice cast was equally as memorable. Many of the actors would continue to voice the characters in the Marvel Vs. Capcom series of fighting games.
1. Wolverine and the X-Men (2009)
The far too short-lived Wolverine and the X-Men may have actually been not only the best X-Men cartoon but also one of the best Marvel cartoons, period. Casting Wolverine as the new leader of the titular group of mutants, the story involved the derelict X-Men trying to stop a dystopian future in which the Sentinels had ravaged the Earth. Much like X-Men: Evolution before it, many of the more ill-fitting elements of X-Men comics, such as aliens and inter-dimensional despots, are diminished or excised entirely. In their place is a world that, like the Fox movies, truly makes the X-Men seem as hated as they are powerful. Along with a fittingly somber tone, the show also featured easily the best version of Emma Frost outside of the comics, bringing her cold, manipulative sardonicism to the silver screen. Wolverine and the X-Men combined classic yet trite stories such as Days of Futures Past and The Dark Phoenix Saga into fresh, season-long plots, all the while featuring a litany of classic and newer characters. It's finale also teased adapting the iconic 90s Age of Apocalypse storyline, but the show was unfortunately canceled before it could continue its impressive run.
There are only a few other cartoons to Disney to release on this service to have the whole library, but no true fan can resist giving these classics another look. If the service is successful, who's to say that revivals of these and other series would be off the table? Hopefully, Spectacular Spider-Man would be the first to get that treatment.