In the rush to make as many Marvel animated series as possible, a much-forgotten Fantastic Four series happened and even had two full seasons. One of the show’s 26 episodes devoted the entire story to The Black Panther. To the best of my knowledge (limited), it’s the first significant portrayal of the Black Panther on the small screen. Welcome to the latest edition of MARVELOUS ANIMATION.
1. The Animation of The Thing Looks Terrible
Generally speaking, most people hold the 90s Marvel animation look in high regard. But holy shit did they phone in the look for The Thing here. It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong but it just looks low rent. It also does not make for a particularly intimidating image either. Big failure here that is presumably an issue for The Thing the whole series.
2. The Heart of the Episode is The Black Panther Squaring Off Against The Fantastic Four
Despite the Fantastic Four and Black Panther being much celebrated Marvel HEROES, the majority of this episode is devoted to them attacking each other. Black Panther was initially positioned as a potential villain with unclear motives for the fist half of the episode. My speculation is that they were hoping that his lesser well-known status might get audiences to believe he was actually a villain for real?
3. The Black Panther is an Incredible Strategist
Black Panther does not just hold his own against all four members of the Fantastic Four. He actually has them completely on the ropes. Instead of just using the powers of the Black Panther to overwhelm them, he actually displays cunning strategies to give himself a chance at victory. It was fascinating to see him not just as a super strong/fast athlete, but also a master tactician. It is a side of the Black Panther that should be seen more often in his portrayals.
4. Keith David Makes for an Incredible Black Panther
Keith David has obviously been an excellent voice actor for a long time. I never would have thought to have him in this role, but he gave T’Challa a real somber/wise quality that you do not always see. It certainly paired well with T’Challa’s more cerebral combat strategy. It’s tragic this appears to be the only time David ever voiced the character.
5. Klaw Killed T’Chaka in a Flashback
They really jammed a lot into this episode. After the Black Panther and Fantastic Four get on the same page, they have to unite to defeat Klaw. Klaw, as revealed in a flashback, is responsible for the death of T’Chaka and of course stealing lots of vibranium.
6. T’Challa’s Motivation for this Episode is BIZARRE
T’Challa convinced himself that challenging The Fantastic Four and defeating them would prove to himself that he was ready to take on Klaw again…the mental gymnastics there are simply bizarre. But the payoff is the sequence where Black Panther takes them on 1 vs. 4 which was by far the most satisfying sequence of the whole episode.
7. A Giant Red Ape
8. Klaw’s Final Pokemon Evolution is Hilarious
After Klaw is seemingly killed, he immediately comes back as this sort of evolved thing. Klaw becomes some sort of sonic being that can create giant red animals to fight his enemies at his will. It’s just so random and insane.
Recommendation: Strong recommendation especially if you are hungry Black Panther stuff. It did not however make me more interested in seeing more of this limp Fantastic Four show. Everything about them was flat and uninteresting.