The Original DC and Marvel Media Universes

The Original DC and Marvel Media Universes

In the 1990s, DC Comics and Marvel both had successful television universes for their respective cartoons - long before the MCU

I've written a lot of articles on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how it was unexpected and how they took their time developing these movies into the cultural phenomenon they are today. And trust me, I'll write even more as time goes on. However, these movies are not the first time there was a shared universe of comic book media. Of course there's always been actors reprising roles across different projects, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, both Marvel and DC had their own universes in animation. The DC Animated Universe (DCAU) and the untitled but still great Marvel animated universe defined superhero cartoons, certain aspects of both still being a major part of the comic book fandom. With that in mind, let's take a look at the cartoons that revitalized the animation market.

Following the success of the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film and to help keep the character in the mindset of children after Batman Returns, Warner Brothers partnered with Fox Kids to produce a television series based on the Batman mythos. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini came onboard as writers and designers, coming up with a unique style and tone – the show would be aired in a timeslot for kids, but would be darker and even more adult-targeted than most other cartoons at the time. Actor Kevin Conroy was signed on as Batman, and after a recasting following a mutual agreement with Tim Curry, Mark Hamill was cast as the Joker. The show was an instant hit, with critics praising the voice talent, the writing, the animation, and the gritty tone to the series overall. It was followed up by Superman: The Animated Series in 1996, and Conroy reprised his role in several episodes. Characters crossed over back and forth, and on Superman, heroes such as the Flash and Green Lantern were introduced to the small but growing universe. In 1999, after Batman: The Animated Series was canceled, Dini and Timm moved on to creating their own original DC series, this one being about a new person taking up the Batman mantle in the far future, titled Batman Beyond. Another huge hit, the show once again saw Conroy's Batman, now an elderly, retired Bruce Wayne. Just as this show was ending in 2001, the DCAU was still popular, and considering they had several characters already established in some way, Justice League was produced, and became one of the most famous and praised comic book cartoons of all time. The show was always adding new heroes to the mix, from icons like Wonder Woman and Green Arrow to more obscure ones like Red Tornado and Hawkgirl. Yet another show that tied into Justice League was put on air – Static Shock, based on the 1990s comic series. This show even had episodes on racism and gun violence, making it stand out against the rest of the DCAU. By 2006, however, the shows had ran their course, and Justice League, now titled Justice League Unlimited, was canceled, ending the fourteen year production on the universe.

In the 1990s, Marvel was going bankrupt. To get some extra cash, they sold off film rights to most of their characters, and started working on television programs to try and drive up merchandising money. Also working with Fox Kids, a series based on the X-Men was put to air in 1992, and much like BTAS, the series was darker than most other shows, but still kept a comic book feel to it. With this hit on their hands, Marvel looked to other characters they had to work with, and ordered another couple of shows to be made – Iron Man, Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk. Unlike X-Men, however, none of these cartoons were huge successes, but still got a couple of seasons. Here, characters began crossing over – such as Hulk being on an episode of Fantastic Four, with their respective voice actors carrying over into the other show. In 1994, Marvel premiered the famous Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The show is also infamous for restrictions Fox Kids and Canon Films put on the writers – no realistic guns, no punches, words like “kill” and “death” were banned, no origin story, and villains Sandman and Electro were off-limits. Despite these, the series was rivaling Batman as a superhero cartoon. While Spider-Man himself never appeared on other shows, characters would cross into this regularly. As Spider-Man was wrapping up a few years later, the idea of doing a loose sequel series came to mind, and a new cartoon was commissioned. Spider-Man: Unlimited was a very strange take on the character – he was sent to a parallel universe and had to fight to get his way back home. It didn't work out all that much, nor did Silver Surfer, a cartoon that had little connection to the Fantastic Four series on which the Surfer appeared. In 2000, after the less-than-stellar Avengers: United They Stand series that was Avengers-in-name-only, the Marvel television universe was ended, and production moved to different shows, including X-Men Evolution. Unlike DC, Marvel's universe was very loosely connected, existing mostly because actors were playing the same characters in single episodes of shows, whereas DC was crossing over villains and heroes pretty regularly. It should be noted that Mark Hamill also portrayed the Hobgoblin on Spider-Man: The Animated Series, being one of the few actors to play both a major Marvel and a major DC character at the same time.

So what effect did these franchises have? For one, the DCAU introduced Harley Quinn, who has since become one of DC's most popular characters. It also started the continuing run of Conroy and Hamill in their respective roles. The influence of the DCAU in the comics cannot be overstated – the origin story for Mr. Freeze was changed in the comics to reflect the origin from Batman: The Animated Series. Batman Beyond has a cult following and a currently-publishing comic series. On the other hand, the Marvel animated universe popularized the X-Men in the early 1990s, after the comics had lost some of their appeal in the late 80s. In turn, this caused Fox to look into making an X-Men film, creating the movie saga that is still being released now (though we'll have to see what happens when the Disney sale goes through.) Venom, a relatively new villain, was given mass exposure outside of comic fandom because of the Spider-Man cartoon. Justice League Unlimited had a similar effect, introducing the mainstream audience to more unknown and obscure heroes and villains. Marvel's own Spider-Man Unlimited has a similar following as Batman Beyond, but not to the same extent – mostly the costume just shows up in video games. The DCAU is much more influential, but the Marvel universe was what kept the company going during their financial troubles.

I like both companies' shows – they defined my childhood superhero fandom. Now, of course I prefer Batman: The Animated Series over The Incredible Hulk, but that doesn't mean one is worse than the other. As of right now, DC doesn't really have their own cartoon saga, though the Arrowverse does have some animated components, whereas Marvel has a fully-developed and established universe on Disney XD. The influence of the 1990s/2000s era will continue to be seen in comics and related media, and rumors are going around about a possible revival of the DCAU. Until then, well, it's not like we don't have access to the originals. X-Men defined the team for almost a decade, and the DCAU defined their respective characters for that time as well. There's new cartoons, new interpretations, but none as iconic as these were.

Cover Image Credit: DC Comics/Warner Bros.

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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