Pop Culture References in 90s Cartoons and Stan Lee

I'm current wading through the 90s Fantastic Four series (the one that aired on Fox alongside Iron Man) and it's incredibly hard to watch. It's a heck of a lot cheesier than I ever remember and I don't just attribute that to the show being old now; I've seen both X-Men and Batman recently and they seem just as relevant today. One of the more interesting things about this Fantastic Four show is that it has a lot of extremely 90s-oriented pop culture references. I've only watched the first seven episodes but so far they've mentioned MTV several times and Beavis and Butthead twice. Was there any connection between the show/network and MTV at the time? The fact that the Thing is a big Wayne Newton fan has also been referenced several times; was/is this also the case in the comics? (I didn't read the Fantastic Four at all in the 90s.) In one episode, Johnny has a stack of "Fleer Marvel cards" which the Thing is framed for ruining.

Above all else, each episode begins with Stan Lee talking enthusiastically (he uses his hands!) about the episode. He actually appears in a few of the episodes as an animated interjection in order to translate Skrull speak to English. I think Stan Lee's appearance in itself is a pop culture phenomenon. I remember seeing him before these shows or on the videos (anyone remember the X-Men videos distributed by Pizza Hut in the 90s?) and for me, he became associated with that particular time for superheroes, comics, and cartoons. Watching these videos coupled with a recent reading of old Lee/Ditko Spiderman where I was unable to NOT hear Stan Lee's voice narrating in my head made me think, "My (future) kids probably won't get the voice and visualization of Stan Lee because they weren't alive in the 90s."

When we watch Marvel movies today, who is the obligatory Stan Lee cameo Easter egg for?

Did Stan Lee become the piece of pop culture I think of him as in the 90s or is that just my perception because I was a kid in the 90s? How do older and younger comics fans perceive him? (He was obviously around long before the 90s but I'm wondering when his voice and actual appearance became important.)

I'm also curious about pop culture references in other superhero cartoons. I haven't seen a lot of the more recent shows; are there a lot of pop culture references? What about the other 90s shows? Spiderman? Iron Man?

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The Absurd Cost of AWESOME

Okay, so this is just a warm up. Are you ready?

That's right. PURPLE. PANTS.

Let's talk about them.

  • they're purple
  • they're pants
  • they're stretchy and comfortable
  • they make my butt look great
  • heck yes, I want them

But oh, hey.

  • they're $90 (PRO TIP: you can try them on for $0 at the mall and your butt will look awesome for 3 minutes)

So what does this have to do with comics? I told you, this was just a warm up...

THIS EXISTS.

GOLDEN. F'ING. HAMMER. Stormbreakerrrrrrr.

Let's talk about this hammer, shall we?

BUUUUUT

Can you hear me weeping? I'm weeping right now.

Feel free to share your tips on discrete bank robbery or getting through life without purple pants and a golden hammer.

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Superheroes That Make My Loins Quiver: Thor (circa 1986)

Why is 1986 Thor such a dreamboat? Let's take a look...

Just look at how manly he is. He's got that pretty, long blonde hair and a silly hat with wings but just look at that stern expression. And that beard. Now that's a man that chops down trees and fights bears with his fists. You just know he goes home every night, sits in front of his stone hearth and eats steak while wearing a burgundy robe with a gold cord. And do you think 1986 Thor smells like Axe body spray? H-E-double-hockey-sticks NO. 1986 Thor smells like a real man, not a frat house. He smells like sweat and pine trees.

But wait -- there's a much gentler side to 1986 Thor. He will compliment your cooking and do the dishes. Even my mom would have to agree that this guy is totally dreamy.

1986 Thor is big, strong, and handsome.......and he likes playing with kids. Seriously. Is there anything hotter than a guy that knows how to deal with kids?

The zoo?! Really?! That's just........that's just too freaking cute. Really. Stop it, 1986 Thor. Stop being so good with kids and stop looking so adorably joyful and cuddly while smelling like sweat and pine trees.

He actually took them to the zoo! He wasn't just talk! Oh, 1986 Thor. Let's have babies.

Do I even notice that 1986 Thor is telling a story about himself? No way. I'm too busy swooning and planning our future together. I'll be working full time and he can be a stay-at-home dad for our three kids and two cats.

Sigh.

What superhero will you be taking home to meet your mom?

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House of Gay

When I read the whole "DC quickly fumbles to out-gay Marvel" stories, my first thought was that these are kind of weak attempts. Sorry; Northstar is kind of lame. And DC is probably going to make someone gay that is equally lame (please not Jimmy Olsen; that would be a total cop-out). Since these attempts are kind of lame and definitely not A-list, the next move needs to be a big one. In order to out-gay DC, Marvel needs to have An Event.

House of Gay. Which is followed by the Scarlet Witch whispering "no more heteros" and the world being left with a handful of straight people.

DC couldn't possibly top that. Unless, you know, they made Batman gay.

But seriously...I love Wally West. Love him as he was, love that he was a blue collar guy, love that he was dating/married a hot Asian chick. I say, make Wally gay. And because I also love Linda, turn Linda into Liam, sexy Asian American transman and partner of gay Wally West.

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Inhumans movie?

I finally saw the Avengers which means I finally Googled the Avengers. I found a few blog posts stating that there was a possibility an Inhumans movie would be made. I wonder how likely that is? The Inhumans are my favorite group of Marvel characters and I would LOVE to see a badass, intimidating Blackbolt on the big screen. The thing is, I'm not sure they're for the casual movie-goer. How would they tie into what has already been established in the movie universe?

And since we're getting into the cosmos, could we maybe see Beta Ray Bill in a future Thor film?

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