The 1930's are interesting, we seem to be living in the science-fiction future of the 1930's, and economically, we seem to be doing them all over again.
Also, this is the decade where the superhero was truly born, so, any navigation of superheroes really starts here.
The 30's were pretty nifty....except for the institutionalized racism, and the rise of Nazism, and eugenics, and...again, the depression, and the dust bowl, and...ah, well, nobody's perfect.
Let's look at the nice parts....
The Johnny Weissmuller Tarzans
Wow, Robert Englund and Dick Durock got nothing on Johnny.
Twelve fuggin' Tarzan films.
See, I wasn't kiddin' when I said sequel-itis ain't new.
So, Tarzan, right, okay, created in 1912 in the pulp novels, then, there were 8 silent films of him from 1918 onward, then, in the 30's, the talkies came along, and Wessmuller became to Tarzan what oh...Arnold is to Conan.
He's the guy you think of.
"Me Tarzan, you Jane", that whole deal, that's all Johnny.
Ain't none of that in the novels.
Also, 6 of those were by MGM, the other 6 by RKO.
You don't see a lot of that.
Off the top of my head, New Line bought Jason from Paramount, but they only made three flicks with him.
You don't see another studio double the friggin' sequel count!
So, since 1912, Tarzan has been in...every medium, and I'll cover but a sliver of it here.
Allegedly, ol' Tarzan is the most well known literary character on the planet.
I'd be willing to believe it.
The song "Tarzan boy", the Carol Burnette Tarzan Yell, Chewie's Tarzan yell in "Jedi", he's seeped in everywhere.
He's in this country's bones.
I've seen a couple, couldn't tell ya the titles.
Certainly wasn't the New York one, that looks the most interesting.
Filmation's Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle
There we go! From 1976 to 1981, this is the one I had as a kid.
I goddamned loved it.
Tarzan The Ape Man
"They're washing me like a hooooorse!!"
Lame softcore porn, it was carried out of theaters by gales of laughter.
Shit, look, the poster doesn't even bill him, but Tarzan was played by our old buddy Miles (Ator) O'Keefe.
Man, you know you're in big trouble, when you're Tarzan, and not even billed....
TNT back when its programming was like TCM.
Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan
This one is my favorite.
Ya got Christopher Lambert from "Highlander", as Greystoke/Tarzan, Andie MacDowell as Jane, and, it's pretty good stuff.
The only Tarzan flick that I can remember that didn't in some way have the corners sanded off.
Pretty friggin' edgy.
About the best you're ever gonna get.
HBO, and basic cable. I oughtta own this. Shit, there ain't enough money in the word for all the movies I've said this about.
Right, and then Disney did theirs, and I bet they think they own him forever now....
Phil Collins did the song, and...he's got a good set of pipes, but he's just an awful person....
Maybe in a hundred years, when Disney finally gets mismanaged badly enough to implode, there'll be a Tarzan flick that can contend with, and even top "Greystoke".
Course, there might not be jungles, indeed, trees by then, so the future people won't even understand it...
...I've seen bits of this for free somewhere somehow....was it in the TV section of Wal-Mart? I dunno..somethin...
Oh, and yeah, to tie this into crossovers, one time, Tarzan fought the Predator.
Yup.... So, on to Edgar Rice Burrough's other creation...
John Carter of Mars
So, he premiered in 1912, like Tarzan. Certainly not as popular as Tarzan, but he's had a cult over the years.
Carl Sagan was a fan as a kid. It got him into astronomy, and the rest is history...
He's got a big budget Disney flick coming out this year, so, clearly, they still own the Burrough's estate stuff.
Hmnh, 2012, exactly a century, nifty.
Dear 1930's, if you write a story that's too imaginative to accomplish with your crappy special effects, it's gonna take a century to fully realize, and you will be dead.
Just lettin' ya know.
Faithfully yours, Diacanu.
Anyhoo, I include him in the 30's, cuz like Tarzan, he was bigger in the 30's, and 40's.
Even had a comic strip done by Burroughs's son.
N/A I'll probably check out the flick someday.
Zorro (in film)
Okay, so Zorro premiered in the pulps in 1919.
And who knew?
It was by an American!
One Johnston Mculley.
Yep, I always figured Zorro as Mexican, they've claimed him as theirs.
McCully was also creator of "The Spider", which inspired Stan Lee in the creation of Spiderman.
Of course, Zorro himself clearly heavily inspired Batman.
And Black Star, and The Crimson Clown, both had gas guns long before Green Hornet.
So...McCully, like Wylie, is another unsung name in comics history...
Like Tarzan, Zorro has been in every media and medium.
Starting in the 20's with the first two films above with Douglas Fairbanks which really helped to popularize the character.
Then, "The Bold Caballero", and "Zorro's Fighting Legion", in the 30's.
A remake of "The Mark Of Zorro", in the 40's with Tyrone Power.
A re-remake in the 70's with Frank Langella...wait...Langella was Zorro?
And Ricardo Montleban was the villain? And Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) was Ricardo's daughter?
That must've kicked ass!
And then, finally, the two Antonio Banderas ones of today.
Zorro (on television)
Disney (them again!) did a Zorro series in the late 50's.
And, if you're an X-er, then, your Boomer parents could probably hum you the theme to that.
1981 saw Filmation do a cartoon, and that's the one I had as a kid, along with Tarzan.
The early 90's had a new live-action Zorro on Family channel, before they got all Jesus-y, and turned into Ion.
I think this was my favorite, they really did it up.
The late 90's had an ANIME version...well, I'd love to see that out of curiosity.
There was also a Warner brothers cartoon about the same time, and that looks to be a remake of the Filmation one.
And...2008 had Zorro in a futuristic setting (dig the lightsaber) in a series called "Generation Z". ...sorry I missed that...apparently, it was on Telemundo.
Nope, didn't have no goddamned Telemundo in '08...
*Checks Youtube* oh, no, it's terrible.
And...when you modernize him....he's pretty much completely Batman.
Hmm, defender of the poor and oppressed...we don't have a guy like that in our fucking culture.
Not even to fucking dream about.
We've got these superhero movies coming out, and they're great, and I love them, but...what are they fighting?
Aliens, and wizards, and shit that doesn't matter.
Where's the guy going after the IRS, and Wall Street, and...y'know?
The people that fucked it all up.
Everyone's fucking scared, I guess. I dunno.
We could use a fucking Zorro now.
All these heroes came up in the depression, and here we are with our very own fucking depression (everyone's scared shitless to call it that) where's our fuckin' heroes?
Where's Zorro smacking around a banker with his sword pommel?
Where's Robin Hood looting an armored car full of bailout money on the way to some multinational that sold liar's loans?
*Sigh* dark times, dark times....but they were then.
Let's have those themes... 50's...
Kaiketsu Zorro...um...wow...holy shit!
...aren't you so fuckin' glad the Japanese exist?
Zorro The Gay Blade
So, rewind back again to 1981, and Hollywood churned out...this gem. A spoof, of course. George Hamilton plays a dual role of Don Diego/Zorro, and his flamboyantly gay brother who fills in for him when he hurts his leg. Foolish.
Okay, so, as a kid, me and my across the street neighbor played make-believe games of every single thing that was on HBO at the time.
Pink Panther, Vacation, Pandemonium, everything.
And, sure enough, we did "Zorro The Gay Blade".
We had no idea what gay was, what sexuality even was, we were oblivious to the concepts of spoof, and camp, we just thought it was a regular Zorro movie, and Zorro had a funny acting brother.
He was "the one with the whip".
I just never wanted to be the one with the whip, cuz a sword is better.
*Shrug* ....my life has been non-stop weird...*head shake*
Little Orphan Annie
The strip premiered in 1924, the radio show in 1930, and, the Broadway show in 1977, and, the film adaptation of that show in 1982 (see here) and...I didn't know this, a remake in 1999.
And...the radio show was apparently Ralph Parker's favorite in "A Christmas Story". ...and was sponsored by Ovaltine.
Again, see here.
Okay, it's 1927...but, close enough, and it's the first science fiction film, and Metropolis got cribbed as the name of Superman's city, so....
Premiered in the pulp short story turned novel "Armageddon 2419 AD", in 1928 as Anthony Rogers, he wouldn't get his nickname "Buck", until the premiere of the comic strip based on it in 1929.
The film serials would debut in 1939.
There was a 50's TV series, but...I couldn't find anything for graphics for this post... Then, of course, there was the 70's/80's series that was on when I was a kid...
...and, that's been about it, there have been constant attempts since then to revive it, none of them seem to take.
The latest stab is by the people who do "Star Trek: Phase II", but...that doesn't seem to be going anywhere so far...
Aaanyway, the original story had "Buck", get trapped in a mine collapse, and exposed to a radioactive gas that knocked him out, and preserved him until 2419.
In this future, Europe collapsed economically, China gobbled up all of Russia and Europe, then, turned its sights on America, conquering it with airships with heat rays, and driving a small rebellion into the wilderness.
There's constant mention of "the white and yellow races", so...it's a bit on the racist side... Eh, 30's, whaddyagonnado?
In the 80's show, Buck is cryonically frozen by the busted life-support system of his shuttlecraft, and, as far as I recall the "The Han", aren't so much as mentioned.
It was "Draconians", or somesuch.
Dammit, can't find the full opening with all the hot chicks crawling around, someone keeps taking it down. Fucking Youtube nannies, get a life.
This'll have to do...
Premiered in the strip "Thimble Theatre", in 1929, in the Max Fleischer cartoons in 1933, and the Robin Williams film in 1980 (see here).
And...everything else on Earth in between.
Even a brand of spinach, and puffed wheat cereal.
Oh, and the arcade game in 1982.
Again, see here.
The Shadow debuted as the nameless host of the radio series "Detective Story", in 1930, then, branched out as his own fleshed out character in his own pulp mag in 1931, and then, got his own radio show in 1937.
So, he's the first of these guys to actually start in the 30's.
And, the first to be birthed by this newfangled gadget, radio.
From '37 to '38, he was actually voiced by Orson Welles.
And, in '37 and '38 there were two film serials "The Shadow Strikes", and "International Crime".
I forgot to put 'em in the graphic, but there were also serials in the 40's.
And, like Tarzan, Zorro, and Buck before him, he's been in every media.
Especially the comics.
The comics kept him alive into the latter half of the 20th century.
And, that took us all the way up to.....
...the Alec Baldwin flick in the 90's.
He also seems to be another inspiration for Batman. The modus operandi was Zorro, but the tone of those early Bob Kane & Bill Finger strips was totally The Shadow.
Seen the Baldwin flick, not much else.
Dick Tracy the comic strip premiered in 1931, made the jump to the silver screen in the serials in 1937, and then as a series of feature films starting in 1945.
1947's "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome", featured (as the villain, of course) Boris Karloff! I've actually seen that one, not too bad.
And, like all of the above, he's been in everything, radio, animated cartoons, comic books, toys, breakfast cereals, the whole deal. Culminating in...
...the Warren Beatty flick in the 90's.
Hmm, the 90's had a love affair with the 30's and 40's....
Like I said in my Zorro rant, you'd think it would be now, what with this second depression, and all.... ..whatever...
Oh, right, and, apparently, Beatty still owns the rights to the character from then, and is sitting on them, and put the kybosh on an attempted 2008 revival.
Prick. Guess we gotta wait for him to fucking die.
Seen the Karloff flick, and the Beatty flick. Karloff one was better.
Also, my high school library had a lot of great resource books, and one had the history of every comic character ever, and, I got a pretty damned good lowdown on Dick Tracy from those.
Also, my late grandmother was a Dick Tracy junkie.
The Lone Ranger
Another one born in the medium of radio, he premiered on the airwaves in 1933.
He then spun off onto TV from 1949 to 1957 played by Clayton Moore.
He was treated like shit, but I'll get to that....
Anyway, yeah, there was a cartoon that ran from 1966 to 1968 and had weird shit in it like "The Wild, Wild, West".
I never saw that, and I'm glad.
Then, there was the one from the early 80's that I'm familiar with, and that one was more realistic, and historical, and was done by Filmation.
Indeed, Tarzan, Lone Ranger, and Zorro made up an "Adventure Hour". Pretty fucking sweet.
Okay, then we get to this fucking debacle...
The Legend of the Lone Ranger
...yep, this was shat out in 1981, and bad enough it was a miserable flop, but this is where they fucked over poor Clayton Moore.
They signed an injunction against him that he couldn't dress up as the Ranger at conventions to sign autographs and such, to the point, where they wouldn't let him wear the fucking mask in public in any capacity.
Nothing to do with money, or anything, just to be petty destructive dicks.
Just as a bit of lawyer prick waving to say "our guy is The Lone Ranger! Yooouu can't haaave him! Nyeeehh!".
Well, their shitty movie bombed, so, they pissed everyone else off too.
If I remember right, they gave in, and left the poor bastard alone.
Like, fuckin, 5-10 years later.
Then he fuckin' died.
They've never done that before or since.
You never see New Line fucking with Robert Englund, or Heather Langenkamp, or anybody over their convention stuff.
No wonder we need fucking heroes.
I mean, are these really supposed to be our role models out in the world?
Fucking douchebag lawyers that slap each other five, and go "Huh huh! Yeah! We picked on an old man! We threatened him with jail if he puts a fuckin' mask on!
Is that what kids are supposed to want to grow up into?
What the fuck happened?
The above covers it.
Debuted in his own pulp mag in 1933, has featured in every medium, and inspired....everybody.
Its influence can be felt even today, in shows like "The Venture Brothers".
He's pretty much the first true superhero, but wouldn't be known as such until later. He had gadgets like Batman, an arctic base called "the fortress of solitude", like Superman, he was a scientist, surgeon, inventor, and musician, like Buckaroo Banzai, and he was a millionaire like Bruce Wayne.
He'd even use his brain surgery techniques to cure criminals of their sociopathic tendencies.
Heh heh! Yeah! Cut the evil out!
Take Hugo Danner's powers, and Doc's...everything else...you've got all the superheroes.
Doc's books also featured the answering machine, television, handheld machine guns, night vision goggles, automatic transmissions, railguns, and flying-wing style planes long before they became real.
And, his oath ain't too shabby...
"Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man".
Damn, a better hero's oath you'd be hard pressed to find.
In 1975, a film was made, and that's the second image you see there.
Like Buck, they keep trying to get another movie going, but the universe seems against it.
I can't leave this life until I've read these fuckin' books.
Spencer made me hip to 'em back in the 90's, and, I always forget to look 'em up.
The strip premiered in 1934, and was very quickly followed by....
....the serials in 1936.
And, whenever you think of corny old SF serials in relation to what we have for effects now, the mind invariably harkens beck to Flash Gordon.
Although, his were probably the best of the lot, there were a lot of low-rent knockoffs of Flash sullying his name.
Then, there were the shows...
...the radio serial premiered in 1935, in-between the strip and film serials, and was pretty much a reading of the strip.
Then, came the first television show in 1954, an animated cartoon in 1979-80 that I kiiinda remember....
...then, "Defenders of the Earth", that premiered in 1986, and I totally remember that. That teamed Flash up with The Phantom, and Mandrake The Magician.
It was pretty cool. There was a Marvel comic, and a video game of this too.
Then...there was a version where he was a skateboarding teenager in 1996, and I fortunately don't remember that at all... I probably deftly avoided it.
Then, they did a version on SyFy in 2007-08 that was just a flat out abomination.
But...the one I love best, the good ol' 1980's film...
Definitely true to the flavor of the serials. And...you know a character is a pop culture icon, when they inspire the spoofs...
Flesh Gordon, and Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders
...from the 70's, and, if you thought "Zorro The Gay Blade", was in bad taste.... Ho boy...*laughs*
The above stuff covers it.
The Green Hornet
Yet another character born in radio, Green Hornet premiered in 1936, and I did not know this, is/was related to The Lone Ranger. He's the son of TLR's nephew, and GH's show is a direct spinoff from TLR's. GH spun off into film serials in the 40's, and then....
...television in the 60's.
...the film in 2011.
And, in between, various comic books, yadda, yadda....
Seen the show, and the movie, the radio, not so much....
From the same creator as "Mandrake The Magician", the strip began in 1936, was adapted as a serial in 1943,
The Phantom was in the animated "Defenders Of The Earth", in the 1980's "See Flash Gordon", and, was in the critically acclaimed "Phantom 2040", by Aeon's Flux's Peter Chung in 1994.
....the Billy Zane flick in 1996.
Okay, so Phantom's gimmick is this, the first Phantom vowed vengeance on all evil way back in 1536, and the 1930's Phantom, Kit Walker, is his 21st descendant, and has bullshitted the locals of his fictional country into thinking he's the same one from 1536, but is immortal.
The Phantom was the first superhero to wear a skin tight suit, and to have white eyes when his mask is on, which DC comics ran with like crazy.
Phantom also has a cave headquarters like Batman.
All the pieces are floating together, aren't they?
Seen both the cartoons, had one of the comics, seen the film...not a fan. He's important historically, though.
Action Comics #1
Debuted in 1938, featured Superman on the cover, and was the dawn of the age of the superhero.
Check it out!
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
2004's homage to 30's and 40's serials.
Didn't see it, but critic s lost their minds over this, and I'm always suspect of films that critics lose their minds over. Phew, and that, was the 1930's.
Up next, I love the 40's!!