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Legends of the Superheroes

Entry updated 11 March 2024. Tagged: TV.

US tv mini-series (1979; vt Challenge of the Superheroes). Hanna-Barbera Productions for NBC-TV. Characters created for DC Comics by C C Beck, Bob Kane, Gil Kane, Gardner F Fox, others. Executive Producers William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Produced by Bill Carruthers. Directed by Carruthers, Chris Darley. Written by Peter Gallay, Bob Layton, Paul Levitz, and Mike Marmer. Host: Ed McMahon. Narrator: Gary Owens. Cast includes Jeff Altman (Weather Wizard), Aleisha Brevard (Giganta), Ruth Buzzi (Aunt Minerva), Charles Callas (Sinestro), Garret Craig (Captain Marvel), Gabriel Dell (Mordru), Rod Haase, Barbara Joyce, Howard Morris (Dr Silvana), Mickey Morton (Solomon Grundy), Howard Murphy, Bill Nuckols, William Schallert, Burt Ward, Danuta Wesley as Danuta, Adam West and Alfie Wise. 100 minutes. Colour.

The Justice League of America has gathered to honour both Batman (West) and Robin (Ward) as well as a retired Superhero, the Scarlet Cyclone (Schallert). The proceedings are interrupted by the villainous Legion of Doom informing the gathered heroes that they have planted a super-bomb capable of annihilating the Earth within twenty-four hours unless the League can find and disarm it. The villain's actual plan is to trick the heroes into drinking a Drug which will take away their Superpowers They succeed in this effort, but the heroes nevertheless defeat them and disarm the bomb. In Part Two, everyone including the Villains attends a banquet "roast" of Batman and Robin celebrating their careers, hosted by McMahon. This segment was undoubtedly inspired by the popular Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts specials which aired occasionally on NBC from 1974 to 1984. These featured a guest of honour at a banquet presided over by Martin, during which numerous good-natured insults were targeted at the guest by various other celebrities of the period.

This mini-series is of considerable historical importance, marking the first live-action appearance of the Justice League en masse and of the individual characters the Atom (Wise), Black Canary (Danuta), Green Lantern (Murphy), Hawkman (Nuckols), the Flash (Haase), and the Huntress (Joyce). It was also the last time West and Ward would reprise their signature roles of Batman and Robin in a live-action format, and Frank Gorshin's last official appearance as the Riddler. Presumably Superman and Wonder Woman failed to appear owing to these character's involvement in the film Superman (1979) and the still-current CBS-TV series Wonder Woman (1974-1979) Wonder Woman Film/TV. The whole affair was every bit as campy as West's 1960s series Batman (1966-1968), if not more so. [GSt]

see also: Birds of Prey.


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