Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reader Ian C. wrote in to ask if they ever explained why the Super Friends let two non-powered teenagers hang out with them.
This is an unusual one, in the sense that there are really three answers to this question, which all pretty much exist distinct of one another.
First off, there is the "real" answer, that is the real life answer. The real life answer is that Hanna-Barbera believed, whether true or not, that kids appreciated having younger, sort of "point of view" characters that would interact with the older characters so that they would serve as sort of self-identifiable characters for the kids. You know, you can't be Superman, but you could be Marvin, so seeing Marvin hanging out with Superman is fun because then you can see yourself hanging out with Superman. That sort of thing.
To a certain extent, as well, Marvin and Wendy provided a little bit of comic relief, also, as they would often get up to crazy shenanigans that the Super Friends would have to save them from.
It's like the joke from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, " "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday," in referencing how every week the character of Buffy's sister, Dawn, seemed to get into trouble (Buffy aired on Tuesdays at the time).
The funny thing about Marvin and Wendy is that they only appeared on the first season of Super Friends, but that first season was replayed CONSTANTLY for YEARS before they brought back the show with new episodes, so that one season has just as much impact as the other seasons of the series.
Oh, and Marvin and Wendy came complete with Wonder Dog, an anthropomorphic canine sidekick. All Hanna-Barbera shows, by law, had to include an anthropomrophic dog on them. If they did not have them, then I believe Bill Hanna would have to go to jail or something like that.
After the first season, the show tried to keep the younger characters as the viewer identification characters, but now made them super-powered in the replacements for Marvin and Wendy, Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins!
Okay, so that's the "real life" answer.
Next, we have the "in the TV series" answer. The answer to this one is, no, there is no reason why the Super Friends let two fairly ordinary teenagers hang out with them and get trained to be crime fighters. It's not that Marvin and Wendy were awful people or anything. Heck, Wendy is actually useful. But there is no really good reason on the show as to why they would need/want to hang out with these specific two teens and their weird dog. This is not to say that perhaps the show's creators had something in mind for why they were there, but if they did, it never made its way into the actual series.
Okay, so that's the "on the TV series" answer.
The last answer, though, actually comes with a real explanation and that is the "comics based on the TV series" answer!!