Western Animation: Fantastic Four
"Reed Richards is elastic,
Sue can fade from sight,
Johnny is the Human Torch
The Thing just loves to fight!
Just call the Four! Fantastic Four!"Fantastic Four (1994-1996) was a 1990s Animated Adaptation of Marvel Universe Super Hero team the Fantastic Four. Shown as part of the syndicated "Marvel Action Hour" along with Iron Man, it was retooled for the better between the first and second seasons, gaining improved writing, much improved animation, and a much, much better (and Affably Evil) Doctor Doom voiced by Simon Templeman.Like the comics themselves, the Four in this cartoon would run into other Marvel superheroes. One episode saw the Four joining forces with Daredevil, Thor appears twice, and another episode saw them having to fight The Incredible Hulk, who was deceived by Dr. Doom (true to form). They also appeared in episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (the three-part "Secret Wars" arc) and The Hulk's own cartoon (well, just the Thing; the three others went on vacation).
—From the opening theme
- Action-Hogging Opening: Both seasons have this. Like everything else, it was improved in the second season.
- Animation Bump: Season two, done by Philippine Animation Studio Inc, went over a MASSIVE bump when compared to season one, it almost looks like the show was made during two different decades between seasons.
- Batman Cold Open: In the Season 2 premiere, "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them".
- Bloodless Carnage: In a surprising aversion of Family-Friendly Firearms, Klaw kills T'Chaka with a real gun (though we only see the Reaction Shot from witnesses) instead of a laser pistol or something like that. Despite that, when T'Chaka's corpse is seen, there's no blood or bullet wounds.
- Bluffing the Advance Scout: Reed tricks the Skrulls into thinking the Earth would be too dangerous to conquer by showing them clips from Ben's old monster movies.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Happened to the Thing (twice!) and to the Invisible Woman, adopting the identity "Malice".
- The Cameo: Stan Lee (voiced by himself), Dick Clark (voiced by himself) and President Clinton (voiced by Jim Cummings), to name a few.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Lavina Forbes doesn't appear in Season 2.
- Continuity Cameo: On the superhero side of things, the X-Men, the Avengers and even the Scarlet Spider appear during Season 2. There's a shot of Juggernaut's hand emerging from the Hudson River in the Hulk episode (possibly after Gladiator threw him in there), and we get brief glimpses of Speedball, Darkhawk and Namorita as the Silver Surfer flies around in the opening of "Doomsday".
- Crazy-Prepared: Black Panther takes out three of the four heroes by using specially crated plans to either exploit their weaknesses or negate their superpowered advantages.
- Cross Over: The Fantastic Four appeared in the Incredible Hulk episode, "Fantastic Fortitude," though only the Thing has a major role. Doctor Doom (with Simon Templeman returning) appeared in "Doomed" and "Hollywood Rocks."
- Damsel in Distress: The Cold Open of "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them."Sue: This is pretty uninspired. The big, bad Doctor Doom kidnapping me to lure the Fantastic Four to your wretched little island?Doctor Doom: Yes, I'm so sorry to involve you in the time-worn damsel-in-distress cliche, Mrs Richards. I fear the only thing missing is the onrushing train. However, sometimes expediency outweighs originality.
- Deadpan Snarker: Doom in season 2 was a fan of Wicked Cultured snark while in a winning position. The Damsel in Distress quote is an example. Also, when he leaves Thing in a state of And I Must Scream in Central Park during the series finale, he quips, "Do watch out for pigeons."
- Ben and Johnny.
- Daredevil proved to be a Deadpan Snarker of Spidey-levels in his brief team-up.
- Deus ex Machina: When Galactus looks to feed on Earth in a desperate attempt to survive, the Fantastic Four fight him along with Thor (who met Galactus earlier) and are clearly losing. Suddenly, Ghost Rider shows up out of nowhere with no foreshadowing, brings Galactus down with his Penance Stare, and then leaves just as quickly. Even Thing lampshades how random the whole thing is.
- Disappeared Dad: Well, step-dad, actually. The Puppet Master and Alicia got into a brief fight when he was about to crown a puppet version of himself to become king of the world. He was accidentally thrown out the window the same time the crown fell off the puppet. By the time the Fantastic Four came to her rescue, the Puppet Master "seemed to have wiped off the face of the earth."
- Sue and Johnny's own father. The elder Storm was involved in an altercation that led to another man's death. It wasn't cold-blooded murder, but he went into hiding out of fear. He only returned to perform life-saving surgery on Sue, but subsequently was arrested. He was later killed as part of a Skrull plot.
- Dimension Lord: Psycho-Man, if only in the sense that his is the only known world in the subatomic universe he rules. Either Annihilus or Blaastar would count, once their battle for the Negative Zone is resolved.
- Disney Death: The Thing in "Nightmare in Green." Doctor Doom in "Doomsday," who was revealed to be alive in The Incredible Hulk episode "Doomed."
- Distant Reaction Shot: Of Johnny's supernova attack in "Doomsday", which can be seen from the upper atmosphere.
- Enemy Mine: To stop Ego the Living Planet, Reed and Thor go to the guy who attached his rockets to him in the first place - Galactus.
- Evil vs. Evil: Annihilus vs Blaastar in "Behold The Negative Zone".
- Expository Theme Tune / Theme Tune Roll Call: The first season features a relentlessly cheerful theme song with lyrics that explains our heroes' origins and their powers.
- The theme in closing credits added the lyrics "that's all, no more".
- Faux Affably Evil: Psycho-Man.
- For the Evulz: Mr. Fantastic accuses Psycho-Man of using his science to oppress his people through psychological torture. Psycho-Man just shrugs it off and responds, "Call it a hobby".
- Grand Finale: "Doomsday." Doctor Doom again steals the powers of the Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four struggle to take him down.
- How We Got Here: The Four discuss their origins at a fund-raiser held by Dick Clark in the two-part premiere "The Origin of the Fantastic Four".
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Season two uses a heroic, and awesome orchestral theme.
- Karma Houdini: Super-Skrull got away scott free despite his involvement in Franklin Storm's death.
- Landlady: Ms. Lavina Forbes in Season 1.
- More Than Mind Control: It's heavily implied that Psycho-Man took hold of Sue Richards/The Invisible Woman by using his science to exploit the already existing insecurities in her as a member of the team, and especially her fears about how her husband views her. Malice is therefore not entirely a creation of Psycho-Man, but Sue's darker side brought to the surface. See That Man Is Dead.
- Ms. Fanservice: Susan Storm, obviously.
- Mugging the Monster: A couple of guys swipe Alicia's purse in the Hulk episode, apparently not noticing the giant orange guy in the trenchcoat sitting next to her.
- Mythology Gag: The second season intro features references to the cover of Fantastic Four #1, their first battle with Doctor Doom, their adventure in Attilan: the hidden city of the Inhumans, and their battle against the Super-Adaptoid.
- Never Recycle Your Schemes: Averted - the Grand Finale involves Doom recycling his "steal the Silver Surfer's power" plot from season one, although he makes sure that Galactus is a long way away this time.
- Off Model: The first season was done by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons, neither studio known for producing action based cartoons outside of The Disney Afternoon or Hanna-Barberanote .
- The Thing in particular fared worse than the others, looking more like a character from Tiny Toon Adventures (Which both companies also worked on) and gaining a fifth finger in some shots.
- Rushmore Refacement: Near the end of the first intro, the faces on the mountain switch to the team's heads.
- Shockwave Clap: Hulk vs Torch.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Super-Skrull for the rest of Season 1 in the end of his debut in the titular episode, after he was thrown and sealed in a volcano.
- That Man Is Dead: Malice, who is really a Brainwashed and Crazy Invisible Woman:Reed, Ben and Johnny: (together) Sue!Malice: The name's Malice. Susan Richards was a pathetic creature. Ignored at worst, patronized at best - someone who was frustrated at every turn.
- The Starscream: Warlord Krang.
- Tearjerker: The Thing's Disney Death after being beaten senseless by The Hulk in "Nightmare In Green". The Hulk feels guilty for making Alicia cry.
- In "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them," the four lose their powers in a nuclear explosion and Ben is overjoyed to be normal again. However, he is forced to reclaim his powers to save the team and Daredevil from Doctor Doom - ruining his plans for a normal life with Alicia. Poor guy even crushes the ring he was going to propose with.
- Sue and Johnny are reunited with their fugitive father, however it is cut-short when he is killed in a Skrull plot. The team head off to the Skrull homeworld for revenge, and discover the one responsible, Morrat, not only set up a trap for them by having them lose their powers, but wanted to usurp the Skrull Emperor, with his fiancee (and the Emperor's daughter) at his side. It eventually ends with them getting their powers back, and Morrat's treachery exposed. The Emperor's orders Morrat's execution, and his daughter almost takes the bullet for him, but Sue's force field protects her, deflecting the beam to Morrat. The Emperor's daughter grieves over Morrat's dead body, The Emperor decides to end any hostilities with the team for saving his daughter's life, and confirms Morrat killed Sue and Johnny's father. The four realize although they get their revenge, it doesn't make them feel any better.
- The Notable Numeral
- This Cannot Be!: Doom's reaction to Ben overcoming his gravity-increaser.
- Two of Your Earth Minutes: When Annihilus faces off with Blastaar.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Lavina Forbes
- Unstoppable Rage: The Thing to Doctor Doom in "And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them" (see Tearjerker above for why). Doom hits him with a device that magnifies gravity's effect on him - and is genuinely terrified when Ben gets right back up and keeps attacking. He even crushes Doom's hands, which are shown to be in bandages in his next appearance half a season later.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: In the episode "Behold, A Distant Star", Susan and Johnny's long-lost father Franklin Storm was killed by a Skrull plot. They both want to avenge him by attacking the Skrulls (or to kill the Skrull responsible). By the end of the episode, after the Skrull Emperor gives the team a pardon for saving his daughter from a crossfire between Skrull groups, they asked for the one who killed Franklin. The Emperor sadly points to Morrat, her daughter's lover, who tried to overthrow the Emperor. The team leaves for home, feeling much worse.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Thing and the Human Torch.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In "Behold, A Distant Star", a woman was shocked that the Invisible Woman prevented her teammates from hitting her father. A man pointed out the reason why.
- Wolverine Publicity: Netflix lists its streaming of The Marvel Action Hour under Iron Man's name.
- You Killed My Father: Ulysses Claw killed T'Challa's father when he was young.
- Morrat had Susan and Johnny's father killed in a Skrull plot.
See Fantastic Four for a list of all the other works with this title.