LEGENDS OF THE SUPERHEROES

5 Stars
Year Released: 1978
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 97 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

I would love to have been in the pitch meeting for this one. “Okay, let’s take some classic DC characters and strip them of any dignity that they may have. Comic book fans will just love that.” I can imagine that back in 1978 there were many an angry comic nerd, shaking their fists at their televisions and cursing the name of Bill Carruthers and all who were involved in creating this train wreck. But nowadays, the two 45-minute television episodes of “Legends of the Superheroes” are desired by comic fans everywhere. “Legends of the Superheroes” makes for either great party viewing or a great party clearer — it all depends on the crowd of people you hang out with. My brother, who’s been living with me for the past month, said twenty minutes into this thing, “If I had a home, I’d go there right now.” So there you are.
“The Challenge”
I don’t know why I was talking about dignity before. Collected here are some of the most worthless superheroes ever devised by man — Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Huntress, Flash and the Black Canary. No Aquaman, however. Guess he was too busy shaking his ass at landfills and grocery stores. Each of these heroes gets their own introduction; whether they’re beamed down or appear out of fog, they’re treated like the superhero rock stars that they are not. And then the desecration really begins — Adam West and Burt Ward reprise their roles as Batman and Robin. Robin shows off his gymnastic skills during his introduction by doing a couple of back flips. It’s goofy as hell, but at least he seems in-shape. Then Batman gets his turn in the spotlight. Actually it looks more like Fatman, with Adam West just standing there with his thumbs hooked into his utility belt, looking like he’s doing all that he can to not shit his tights. It’s either the saddest sight you’ve ever seen or the funniest. You make the call.
We’re then introduced to the show’s villains as they sit around in some foggy cave during villain roll call. And taking roll is Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. Joining him are Solomon Grundy, Mordru, Dr. Sivannah, Sinestro, Giganta and the Weather Wizard. What’s particularly funny here is that, for some reason, whenever a villain’s name is called, they cut loose on the Riddler and zap him with their special powers. Might I add that Frank Gorshin wasn’t looking very young in 1978, so this violent roll call winds up turning into “pick on the old man in green tights” time. They should’ve gotten Klaus Kinski to play the Riddler instead. Now, that’s an old man worth picking on.
So, what are of all these villains gathered for? A plot to destroy the world, what else? And this plot involves a Doomsday Device built by Dr. Sivannah, with clues leading to the device concocted by the Riddler.
Later, at the Hall of Heroes, during a ceremony celebrating the past accomplishments of Retired Man (I guess that was funny to someone back then), the superheroes are dropped a note informing them that somewhere there is a Doomsday Device, waiting to go off. The heroes split up to find it, but not before Batman tells everyone that if they find it, they should leave a message at the gas station down the road. The gas station down the road. Oh, Jesus.
Unbeknownst to Batman and Robin, their car has been tampered with by Sinestro, so not long after they depart the Hall of Heroes, they’re forced to pull over to that gas station mentioned earlier. And who’s there at the phone booth, bugging out at what she sees? Marsha Warfield. “Ellen! Girl, you won’t believe what I just saw. This guy with funny ears and a cape. Yeah, he’s with this little dude in hotpants and leprechaun shoes. Yeah, they just drove in.” I don’t know about you guys, but if I were Ellen, I’d be hightailing my ass down to the gas station to watch the festivities.
Besides Marsha Warfield, Solomon Grundy, disguised as a gas station attendant, is there to greet them. It doesn’t take long before his cover is blown and a fight erupts…if you wanna call it a fight. I’ve seen third graders scrap better than these guys. Anyways, looking like a zombified Jake Busey, Solomon Grundy wrecks the Batmobile, kicks Batman’s ass and sends him packing on foot with his tail between his legs. What kind of Batman is that? Not only does he run from a fight, but he also runs from a guy that totaled his ride. What a pussy! I also have to add that for a guy who supposedly has “devil may care courage,” Robin sure didn’t do a whole helluva lot to help his partner. In fact, he didn’t lift a single finger. This is where I took a break to burn all of my Batman comics.
From here on, the superheroes all encounter little traps laid by the villains. For example, the Green Lantern comes across a gypsy (Sinestro) who tries to steal his ring and Batman and Robin jog their weary asses into a phony used car lot to try and score a new set of wheels, seeing that Batman punked out in defending the Batmobile. But the turds don’t start hitting the fan until Hawkman (looking mighty yolked, I might add) and the Black Canary get themselves captured by Grundy when they stop by the gas station. And yes, Marsha Warfield is still there describing the exciting events to her friend who’s too much of a lazy ass to show up and watch herself. Yet still, Marsha Warfield has been on the gas station phone all day. That doesn’t say a whole lot for her now does it?
How do Hawkman and Black Orchid get out of this situation? Well, Captain Marvel stops by and decides to have a little tire throwing contest with Grundy. The results of the contest find Marvel freeing his friends. And being that she’s been there all day, Marsha Warfield relays to them the location of the villains’ secret lair.
Discovering they’ve been had, the villains make a couple of last ditch efforts to stop the superheroes from reaching their lair to switch off the Doomsday Device. One of these last ditch efforts is to set up a lemonade stand where tainted lemonade will be handed out to the heroes, thereby draining their powers. The plan works alright (on Captain Marvel anyways…Captain Jackass is more like it) but Grundy accidentally serves his villainous cohorts the tainted lemonade as a victory toast. Of course, this is where the heroes enter the lair, kick some ass and turn off the Doomsday Device. And that about does it. One episode down and one more to go.
During the end credits, it’s revealed that the latest episode of Quincy has the doc go on “a desperate search to find the one person who can help him stop a VD epidemic.” With television like this, who needs a life?
“The Roast”
That’s right, it’s a superhero roast! And what’s a roast without a proper MC? And that MC is Ed McMahon. Hell yeah! And you know Ed must’ve been hittin’ grandpa’s cough syrup pretty good for this show. After all, wouldn’t you? Funny thing is, Batman introduces Ed as a man who’s famous for relaxing and enjoying himself. And if you don’t believe that, check out this line from Ed himself, “These guys have super powers, some of them even got them by falling into a vat of liquid. That happened to me last week at the Budweiser plant.” Ed rules!
What’s special about this roast, besides that it’s total bullshit, is that it’s a bunch of people in the hot seat, not just one guy. All of the heroes from the previous episode get their turn to be ripped on. And so the roast proceeds like any other. Weatherman shows up to berate the heroes as does Hawkman’s mother to take apart her own son, but it’s not until Ed introduces a not-so-well-known superhero in the minority that the train derails. Ed calls out…Ghetto Man. A black guy in ’70s attire comes out to bash the heroes before flying away with the cry of — KAREEM! I imagine someone got fired for this one.
The derailment continues as the show starts to become more sketch-based rather than just having unfunny comics come on to rip the super friends…I mean the superheroes. One such sketch has Robin bummed because he totaled the Batmobile. Captain Marvel assures him that everything’s cool…that is until right at that moment, Batman gets a distress signal and calls on Robin to follow him to the Batmobile. Robin does his best to avert Batman’s attention from his precious car (a car that he ditched so easily in the last episode), but being the detective that he is, Batman determines that the Batmobile is in fact totaled. “Wait till you see what I’m going to do to you when I get you back to the Bat Cave,” he says. Oooo, I bet.
And then the train finally goes off the cliff as the roast continues with appearances by Solomon Grundy, Sinestro and a musical finale by Mordru.
Unbelievable. These shows, the only “Legends of the Superheroes” episodes in existence, are like live action Super Friends shows if Sid and Marty Kroft did them.
Oh yeah, don’t forget that Quincy crusades to unmask an incompetent plastic surgeon.



Posted on May 1, 2002 in Reviews by
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