The Marvel Action Hour

The Marvel Action Hour

Synopsis of Saturday Morning Show

Two titans of the Marvel Comics universe joined forces for this weekend syndicated package. The Fantastic Four were old television pros, having starred in two previous animated series, but Iron Man was a relative newcomer to cartoondom, with only a run of five-minute serialized adventures on Marvel Superheroes to his credit. Both were 60’s creations of Marvel founder Stan Lee (along with Jack Kirby for the FF and Don Heck for Iron Man).

The Fantastic Four came into being thanks to a rocket designed by ace scientist Reed Richards. Pilot Ben Grimm (Reed’s best friend) took the experimental rocket up for a test flight, bringing along Reed, Susan Richards (Reed’s wife), and Johnny Storm (Susan’s younger brother). When the ship passed through cosmic radiation too strong for its shields to withstand, the passengers were all bombarded with cosmic rays. Crash landing on earth, the four discovered that the radiation had left each of them with a strange, new power.

Reed, soon to be called Mr. Fantastic, became a pliable mass, with limbs that could stretch to seemingly endless limits. Sue gained the power of invisibility, and was thus named The Invisible Woman. Ben became The Thing, an incredibly strong, orange granite behemoth who constantly grumbled about his new lumpy appearance. Johnny gained the ability to "Flame on," encasing his body in fire and giving him the power of flight. The impetuous youth's new powers earned him the nom de superhero The Human Torch.

Unlike previous versions, this Fantastic Four ran storylines adapted straight from the comics, sometimes taking a more serious tone than earlier FF cartoons. Arch-nemesis Dr. Doom made his obligatory appearances, but the FF were also menaced by the planet-eating Galactus and his heralds, the shape-changing Skrulls, and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, who wanted to make the Invisible Woman his undersea bride. Two and three-part stories were commonplace, and romantic flings (such as Johnny’s with the Inhuman Crystal) covered full seasons.

Iron Man was the alter ego of billionaire industrialist playboy Tony Stark, who suffered a life-threatening heart condition and built an advanced suit of armor to keep himself alive. The suit possessed the power of flight, could fire “repulsor rays,” and had a variety of other advanced weapons and gizmos. In the series, Iron Man was teamed up with Force Works, consisting of bow and trick arrow expert Hawkeye, sorceress The Scarlet Witch, War Machine (Tony’s buddy Jim Rhodes in another Stark-designed suit), time/space traveler Century, and Tony’s girlfriend Julia Carpenter, a.k.a. Spider-Woman (not the same one from the 1970’s cartoon). Logistics were handled by Tony’s intelligent computer, H.O.M.E.R.

The heroes most often matched forces with The Mandarin, who wore multiple rings of great power. Assisting The Mandarin was his dragon, the equally evil Fin Fang Foom. A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) frequently showed up to raise a ruckus, as did their creation M.O.D.O.K., the guy with the extremely oversized head. Other villains ranged from technology-powered baddies like Blizzard, The Beetle, and Stiltman to otherworldly enemies like Dark Aegis.

Like The Fantastic Four, Iron Man took most of its plots from the comics, including a memorable two-parter in which Tony went on a vigilante crusade and eventually had his armor destroyed (he later built a new set).

Both components ran 26 episodes over the course of The Marvel Action Hour’s two-year television stint. After the show’s cancellation, the superheroes continued their long runs in the comic book world, and rumors still circulate about feature film adaptations of each title.

Release History

1994 syndicated

TV Sub Categories

animated
sci-fi/fantasy
action/adventure

TV Studio

Marvel, New World Entertainment

Television Cast

Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards Beau Weaver
Invisible Woman/Sue Storm Lori Alan
Human Torch/Johnny Storm Brian Austin Green
Human Torch/Johnny Storm Quinton Flynn
The Thing/Ben Grimm Chuck McCann
Dr. Doom Neil Ross
Dr. Doom Simon Templeton
Alicia Masters Pauline Lomas
Black Panther/T'Challa Keith David
Crystal Kathy Ireland
Daredevil/Matt Murdock Bill Smitrovich
Dick Clark Himself
Ego, the Living Planet Kay Kutor
Franklin Storm Sr.* Richard McGonagle
Galactus Tony Jay
Gary Owens Himself
Ghost Rider Richard Greico
Gorgon Michael Dorn
Hulk/Bruce Banner Ron Perlman
Hydro-Man Brad Garrett
Impossible Man Jess Harnell
Karnak Clyde Kusatsu
Maximus the Mad Mark Hamill
Medusa Iona Morris
Miss Forbes Joan Lee
Mole Man Gregg Berger
Namor, the Sub Mariner James Warwick
Princess Annelle Mary Kay Bergman
Psycho Man Jamie Horton
Puppet Master Neil Ross
Rick Jones Benny Grant
The Seeker Kerrigan Mahan
Silver Surfer Robin Sachs
Silver Surfer Edward Albert
Super Skrull Neil Ross
Terrax the Terrible Ron Feinberg
Thor John Rhys-Davies
Trapster Beau Weaver
Triton Rocky Carroll
Ulysses S. Klaw Charles Howerton
The Watcher Alan Oppheheimer
The Wizard Ron Perlman
Iron Man/Tony Stark Robert Hays
Century James Warwick
Century Tom Kane
Hawkeye/Clint Barton John Reilly
Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff Jennifer Darling
Spider-Woman/Julia Carpenter Casey Defranco
Spider-Woman/Julia Carpenter Jennifer Hale
War Machine/Jim Rhodes James Avery
War Machine/Jim Rhodes Dorian Harewood
War Machine/Jim Rhodes Jim Cummings
The Mandarin Ed Gilbert
The Mandarin Tony Ito
Modok Jim Cummings
The Beetle John Reilly
Blizzard Chuck McCann
President Bill Clinton Jim Cummings
Crimson Dynamo Stu Rosen
Dark Aegis Scott Valentine
Dreadknight Neil Dickson
Fin Fang Foom Neil Ross
Firebrand Neil McDonough
Nick Fury Phillip Abbott
H.O.M.E.R Tom Kane
Justin Hammer Tony Steedman
Justin Hammer Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
The Hulk/Bruce Banner Ron Perlman
Hypnotia Linda Huldahl
The Leader Matt Frewer
Madame Masque Lisa Zane
Stiltman Dorian Harewood
Stingray Tom Kane
Titanium Man Gerard Maguire
Warlord Morrat Dan Gilvezan

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