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The Super Hero Squad Show is an animated television series by Marvel Animation based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro, and a humorous take on the Marvel Universe. The series' animation is produced by Film Roman. While at first coming off as a ridiculous Disneyfication, especially since it began airing about two weeks after Disney announced it would buy Marvel (though this was in production way before that and Disney had nothing to do with it), it turns out to be more of a series full of jokes only the older comicbook fans will get. Taken like this, it's surprisingly funny.Prior to the beginning of the series, the villainous Doctor Doom, in pursuit of universal domination, attempts to acquire the limitless reality-bending power of the "Infinity Sword". He is stopped by Iron Man, but as a consequence of their battle, the sword is shattered into numerous "fractals" that rain down on SuperheroCity.As the series begins, Doctor Doom has forged alliances with just about every supervillain, forming the Lethal Legion in order to hunt down the scattered fractals, each of which possess dangerous and different powers of their own. Doom's forces, including his two primary henchmen M.O.D.O.K. and the Abomination, dwell in Villainville which is separated from Superhero City by a giant wall erected at the start of the series premiere. Once again opposing Doom's plan is Iron Man, now leading the elite team known as the Super Hero Squad, consisting of The Falcon, the Incredible Hulk, Silver Surfer, The Mighty Thor, and Wolverine. The Super Hero Squad are headquartered in the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, and are frequently aided in their defense of Super Hero City by their superhero friends, including their boss Captain America, rookie "Squaddie" Reptil, S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Ms. Marvel, and many more.The second season starts after the Infinity Sword is reforged; it's taken by the Silver Surfer when he rejoins Galactus as his herald. The plot focuses on Thanos, who wants to complete the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to become supreme ruler of the universe. The Scarlet Witch takes the Silver Surfer's place as the Squad travels across the universe to foil Thanos' plan.Originally aired on Cartoon Network. Now airs on The Hub.
Scarlet Witch: I don't think pirates ever attacked the Pilgrims. In fact, I don't think the pilgrims even landed until—
1602!Stan Lee: What am I, a history teacher?
Artistic License – Paleontology: As a dinosaur-themed shapeshifter, Reptil is the major offender. To protect himself, he grows "Stegosaurus armor". Stegosaurus' plates were thin and covered barely anything. And that doesn't even consider the time he grows stegosaurus plates on the bottom on his feet SO HE CAN SKATE. To fly, he grows "Pterodactyl wings". Pterodactyls were not dinosaurs, and their wings didn't look like bat wings (with multiple bony "fingers" going through the middle). And then there's the time he morphed a hadrosaur's beak to use it as a shovel. Brilliantly, all of these examples occurred in the same episode.
Badbutt: Wolverine, and every other anti-hero who guest stars in the show (e.g. the Punisher).
Badly Battered Babysitter: Happens to Wolverine of all people, in "Revenge of the Baby Sat!" where Iron Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are transformed into toddlers because of a time mishap.
Barack Obama: The Mayor's campaign posters do seem VERY familiar...
Big Bad: Dr. Doom in the first season, Thanos in the 2nd. The theme song even changes to reflect this between seasons. Dark Surfer takes role for remainder of Season 2.
Book Ends: Season 1's arc starts, as shown in the intro, with the Infinity Sword being shattered as a consequence of Iron Man and Doctor Doom fighting over it. In the Series Finale, Earth is returned to normal when the Infinity Sword (this time with the Infinity Jewels) is shattered as a consequence of Iron Man and Doctor Doom fighting over it.
Bratty Half-Pint: Episode 6 introduces us to Brynnie Bratton, who gives both sides a hard time over a fractal in a tiara she wears that her father gave her.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens at least once per episode in the 2nd season. The Mayor of Super Hero city does this frequently.
Stan Lee: If I was writing this episode, we'd all be a lot funnier.
Ms. Marvel berates Impossible Man for breaking the fourth wall for no good reason. He does it all throughout the episode that he shows up in, including revealing that he is the head writer of the show.
After one character makes a comment that breaks the fourth wall, other characters literally crash through a wall and Iron Man says "You know that's the fourth wall we've broken today."
Butt Monkey: This seems to be M.O.D.O.K.'s role. On the good guys' side, we have the Falcon. And more so his pet, Redwing, who suffers Amusing Injuries constantly. (At one point, he's sucked into the Helicarrier's rotors!)
Captain Ethnic/Captain Geographic: Ruthlessly parodied in the form of the All Captains Squad, which includes established heroes Captain America and Captain Britain... as well as Captain Australia, a boomerang slinging hero, Captain Brazil, a senorita who can dance a samba that causes sonic booms, and the diminutive but powerful (and economically prosperous!) Captain Lichtenstein. While Wolverine was a part of that squad, he became known as Captain Canada.
Canon Foreigner: The Mayor of Super Hero City, Captain Australia, Captain Brazil, Captain Lichtenstein and Brynnie Bratton.
Canon Immigrant: Reptil, who was created for the show, then appeared in the comics even before the show debuted.
Cardboard Prison: Subverted. Every time Doom tries to escape prison in season 2, he fails. He is finally freed by Molecule Man because he's a reality warper.
Catch Phrase: "Hero up," and "No problems... adamantium skeleton." (The latter is given by you-know-who in a pained or dazed manner whenever he suffers Amusing Injuries... which is often. He also says "Don't call me 'Wolvie'" often. Doom will often be heard yelling "Nuts!" after an Off Screen Crash. Lampshaded by himself as his own catchphrase at the end of the final episode.
Chewing the Scenery: Basically every scene with Dr. Doom in it. (Just goes to show that they understood the character.)
City of Adventure: Superhero City, occasionally crossing over the segregatory wall into Villainville
Composite Character: Scorpio in the show is a disguise used by Nick Fury, which is kind of fitting as the two are brothers in the comics (and Nick has disguised himself as Scorpio in the past). Nick Fury himself could be deemed a composite of his Ultimate and Classic selves.
Couch Gag: In the opening of every episode, Hulk is transformed into something else; including the original Jack Kirby drawing of Hulk, Joe Fixit, and... a baby. Sometimes doubles as a Shout-Out, such as Simpson-Hulk.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the intro for a second season episode, Dr Doom is seated on an electric chair, the camera zooms in as we hear:
Any last words, Doom?
Do your worst...
Then it's revealed that that "worst" is an psychotherapy session with Captain America.
Covered in Mud: Abomination, in response to being compared unfavorably to a dog, digs a huge pile of dirt and covers Reptil, Wolverine, and Thor in dirt to the point only their eyes are showing.
Dumb Is Good: Hulk chooses to invoke this trope when his Infinity Fractal-induced brilliance makes him an ineffective know it all who can't even fight properly. At one point, a fractal gives Hulk a moment of intelligence while he is doing a crossword puzzle. When it wears off, Hulk proclaims, "HULK NO UNDERSTAND HULK!"
Embarrassing Slide: In "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill", Bill uses a Viewmaster to show Thor the history of his people. However, one of the slides shows Bill on holiday, riding a surfboard in a Hawaiian shirt.
Flight, Strength, Heart: Doctor Strange's mystical abilities include "levitation, travel to other dimensions, transformation of matter, Bulgarian cow-tipping... and he's great at Sudoku."
Foreshadowing: In "Mysterious Mayhem at Mutant High", Reptil laughs off the divining rod that Ringmaster was using to locate fractals and tosses it in the trash. As he and Wolverine are flying away, the rod begins to shake and twitch violently and point towards Reptil in the sky, and the rock he wears around his neck begins to react as well in a subtle manner. There had been many subtler hints. Reptil is the only one not depowered by Brynnie Bratton's fractal powered tiara and when he and Wolverine golf with M.O.D.O.K. and Abominationhe picks up a fractal and he is unaffected but Abomination is. And for some reason Wasp always goes for her opponent's ass when she attacks; her favorite target seems to be Screaming Mimi.
Four-Fingered Hands: Made more obvious by the fact that the Infinity Gauntlet has all six gems placed on the back of the hand when, traditionally, each gem is placed on the knuckle of each finger with one more on the back of the palm.
From Bad to Worse: It was bad enough that Thanos got the Infinity Gauntlet with all 6 Infinity Gems. But when Face-Heel Turn Silver Surfer defeats Thanos and takes the gauntlet, he seizes the moment by destroying the Helicarrier v.2 and banishing the Super Hero Squad to another dimension of Time, Space and Reality.
When the Mayor tried to reason with the Dark Surfer, he threw the Earth out of its orbit, nearly destroying its atmosphere from that alone, and slowly sending it further and further away from the sun.
The episode featuring their encounter with Dormammu has their physical makeups being altered and one instance shows Falcon along with his pet falcon Redwing dressed up in wedding attire, with him in a tux and the falcon in a wedding gown. His remark: "Hey! It is NOT like that!"
In "Night at the Sanctorum," the heroes have to find a new place to temporarily live, and Iron Man reads off a list of heroes to stay with. He gets to She-Hulk and says to himself, "Well, maybe if it was just ME."
In the above episode: While crammed in the back of the Punisher's van, one of the heroes starts muttering something about his nipple.
Iron Man: Hulk, you trying to lose us our G rating?
War Machine mentions something about Iron Man dating She-Hulk:
War Machine: Didn't you dump her when you found out she was— Iron Man: Gentlemen don't discuss such things!
When She-Hulk shows up in a season 2 episode, she asks Iron Man why he never calls her. He responds with this line:
Look, it's not you... It's just.. I've this thing about dents.
In "Honor Thy Sky-Father", Thor and Hercules face off in a competition. In one round, they have to fight an eight headed Hydra and bring back one of its heads. Thor rushes in, fights, and then brings back a bag.
Fin Fang Foom loses his pants during the first season finale, shocking even the mighty Galactus! (Interestingly, nothing is seen underneath.) Which makes it also a Shout-Out to the not kid-friendly Nextwave.
In the final episode, Iron Man mentions Doom not being allowed near pools anymore, to which Doom insists that whatever Mr. Fantastic said, he was lying, and Doom was just leaking coolant. Iron Man says "coolant that color?"
Good Is Old-Fashioned: Taken to hilarious lengths with Captain America, who reminisces and asks everyone if they remember them building a dam... during the Depression. Also, he's not accepting President Roosevelt's calls. And multiple stories about "The War"; "During the war..." is almost a catchphrase for him.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: The first season seems to deal with gathering pieces of an all powerful sword. The Infinity Gems in the second season.
Impossible Shadow Puppets: In "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill", Thor, stranded on the far side of the galaxy, decides to practice his shadow puppetry. He starts with a rabbit ("Fluffy"), a detailed wolf ("Fenrir") and concludes with an impossible dragon ("Fáfnir"). Having mastered shadow puppetry in seven seconds Thor then goes mad with boredom.
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Wolverine and Reptil face off again M.O.D.O.K and Abomination in a full game of golf to decide who gets control of a fractal. The villains lose and then subvert the trope by trying to take it by force. However, they seem to be ashamed of themselves since they decided to lie about it.
Limited Animation: Although the animation is generally of good quality, there are often times where a character conspicuously repeats an action (like firing an energy blast or pushing a button) repeatedly. There are also scenes of characters just staring at nothing, or even scenes being rewinded.
Medium Awareness: One episode features Dr. Doom and Magneto joining forces to obtain fractals, and end up accusing each other of stealing the entire pot. They had Falcon supposedly imprisoned, but he suddenly appears out of nowhere and snatches the remaining fractal in front of them.
Magneto: I did not steal your fractals!
Falcon: Actually, it was me. Wish I could tell you about it, but... read the message boards.
Again in "Days, Nights and Weekends of Future Past":
Scarlet Witch: What do they write about me on your message boards?
Falcon: Uhh... nothing but positive things.
Scarlet Witch: Liar! No one EVER writes positive things on message boards!
The title cards are a homage to the Marvel covers of the 1960's and 70's. In particular, the first episode, featuring the Mole Man, has one that pays homage to the famous first cover to Fantastic Four, with the featured superheroes standing in for the members of the Fantastic Four.
Captain America, talking on the phone about a reenactment of Gettysburg he's attending: "Relax, Brubaker! It's just a Civil War, what could go wrong?" It's also a nod to Ed Brubaker, long-time writer of Captain America.
In the Squad's fight with the Skrulls in space, in a seemingly absurd attempt to get past the heroes' defenses, three of those aliens disguise themselves as cows. Definitely a gag at what happened to the Skrulls on their first appearance in the Fantastic Four when Mr. Fantastic hypnotized the four Skrulls into cows. And possibly a hint, as done in the The Kree Skrull War, that there is one particular Skrull missing and is disguised as someone, particularly a significant guest star, which in this case is "Thanos".
In a flashback that's obviously in this universe's equivalent of The Eighties, Thor has his own rock band, and his attire is reminiscent that of Dargo Ktor (the guy in the future who possessed the power of Thor introduced in The Eighties).
In the episode with the many clones of Wolverine, one of said clones is none other than X-23 in a Wolverine outfit, manicuring her claws.
The Napoleon: Captain Lichtenstein. Tiny, but economically prosperous!
Gray Hulk: Ah, M.O.D.O.K. The Mental Organism Designed Only for Kick-ball. M.O.D.O.K.: Yes, it—Hey! That's not what it stands for!
Played straight when he once says the "K" stands for "Kick-butt".
In "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses!" when Ms. Marvel falls in love with M.O.D.O.K. (thanks to Amora of course) Hawkeye tells Iron Man that they cannot risk Ms. Marvel siding with the villains, since she knows all of the Squad's secrets. So he tells Iron Man that she must be... destroyed.
The Only Ones: The Squaddies have to take care of everything. Even those who have some sense that a big event is going down, such as Doctor Strange, wait until our heroes have come to them before offering to help.
Role Reprisal: A few actors who portrayed Marvel characters in past productions returned to voice their characters.
In "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing", Sponge Bob Square Pants' iconic laughter can be heard when Hulk is channel surfing. Seeing as how Tom Kenny is the lead in the show, this isn't quite surprising. What is surprising though is that Nickelodeon is a rival channel to Cartoon Network.
In "Election of Evil", the Mayor references Spider-Man, the most major of missing Marvel characters, quite a lot. For starters, he tries to get superpowers by "getting bitten by a radioactive bug", and his campaign motto is "With great responsibility comes great power... and vice-versa."
Reptil's favourite cheese is Queso da Joe ("It's super-cheesy!")
M.O.D.O.K: "Ever since Knuckles Quesada got out of prison, he just hasn't been the same."
In "Tales of Suspense" Doctor Doom gets a friend request from Magneto and Titanium Man. This is the name of a Paul McCartney song from the Wings era.
In "The Final Battle, 'Nuff Said!", the Squaddies warp to the end of the Universe. Scarlet Witch was hoping there'd at least be a restaurant there.
One scene shows Saturn in the Earth's sky like the ending of The Quiet Earth.
Shown Their Work: As evidenced by the huge amounts of in-jokes and Mythology Gags the show uses. One example that stands out is in "Enter: Dormammu", in which the Hulk is the only squaddie to notice Dr. Strange's astral form, as a gag. It's not one of the Hulk's better known powers.
Sizeshifter: The Wasp has the power to both shrink and grow.
Spiritual Successor: The whole franchise is most likely to have been—at least partially—inspired by Mini Marvels. With that said, how much of a "successor" the series may be is debatable since Mini Marvels is still ongoing. Plus, Chris Giarrusso's style and approach are different, in that he depicts the heroes and villains (most of them, anyway) as kids rather than just Super-Deformed grown-ups.
Granted, he only tries to overthrow Doom once. In every other episode, he's Doom's loyal Butt Monkey.
The Face-Heel Turn Silver Surfer towards Thanos. Not only does he trick Thanos into giving him the Infinity Gauntlet, but he even banishes him into the Soul Gem.
Stock Footage: If the hour-long pilot is a good indication, at least once per episode stock animation of the core characters posing with attitude while the theme song plays will be utilized. Ka-Zar manages to RUN AWAY during the footage.
Falcon: He moved fast in just ten seconds.
"Mysterious Mayhem At Mutant High" does it with Reptil. Just Reptil.
Strapped to a Bomb: There's an episode where the Scarlet Witch is sent back in time to World War II, caught by the Red Skull and then tied to a rocket, but is then saved by Captain America and the Invaders (Bucky, the Jim Hammond Human Torch, and Toro).
Superheroes Wear Tights: It's a general rule of the toyline, the show and the games: if a heroine's uniform exposes the midriff or the tights on the comics, those parts will be covered (Storm also wears leggings, and in the MMOG, Tigra wears a one-piece swimsuit rather than the comics' bikini). It's kids merchandise, after all.
Toilet Humor: At least in the pilot. Not even Doom is exempt.
Falcon: Redwing, take care of that jewel on his forehead!
M.O.D.O.K.: THAT'S UNSANITARY!
It also appeared in "From the Atom... It Rises."
In one episode, Human Torch and Silver Surfer destroy part of the Baxter Building. Cue a shot of Thing sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper only to have the bathroom crumble around him.
In "Fate of Destiny!", when Iron Man summons the squaddies it's likely Thor's on the... er... "throne of Asgard" when the alarm sounds. They don't show anything, but he is sitting down reading a magazine, and he lets out a barely audible grunt before leaving.
Training Montage: Doom gets one, including Rocky's sweater. His teddy bear (also with Doom armor) stands in for the trainer.
Visual Pun: At one point in "Enter Dormammu", Doctor Strange's fractal-corrupted magic turns the heroes into various other things. Wasp becomes an insect, while Iron Man becomes a clothing iron and then a golfing iron.
What Happened To The Wasp?: The first season starts off by indicating that the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is the home of other members of the Avengers such as Hawkeye and Wasp. After getting a decent amount of focus for a couple episodes, they're never seen or heard from again.
Wicked Stepmother: Enchantress cast a spell on Odin to make her marry him so she'd become Queen of Asgard. With this, she became Stepmother of Thor and Loki. Unfortunately for her, because of a rule Loki invoked in an attempt to take the throne for himself, since she's a "peasant", Odin technically abdicated by marrying her. Loki even went as far as casting a spell to prevent Enchantress from breaking hers. However, before Loki managed to dethrone Thor, Enchantress decided she could use Odin to take over by force since he's the most powerful Asgardian. Fortunately Odin broke both spells.
Witch Hunt: Scarlet Witch is subjected to one by the founding citizens of Super Hero City in the year 1602, despite the fact that she had only shown good intentions and helped defend the city against the dreaded pirate Captain Doom up until that point. The Mayor reasoned that even though everyone likes her on an individual level, she is still guilty of being a witch.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Doctor Doom's mother attacks Hulk with her "sonic nag", to which Hulk responds that he doesn't fight girls. When she pours it on, he gets pissed and responds with his own sonic roar, properly causing a building to fall on top of her.
Yuppie Couple: A bratty little girl appropriately named Brynnie Bratton appears several times and is usually pouting because whatever she was doing is interrupted by the heroes and villains fighting. She eventually gets A Day in the Limelight in the sixth episode, where her dad gives her a tiara (with a fractal in it) as a gift, and she causes problems for both sides.