'60s animated adventure has peril, threat, cartoon violence.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Aquaman is an animated series from 1967 -- featuring the DC superhero -- with each episode consisting of mild threat, peril, and cartoon violence. Each standalone episode finds Aquaman (voiced by Marvin Miller) taking on some kind of villain in the shape of a monster or alien. These villains range from a one-eyed acid throwing sea monster to a sword-wielding giant. The violence is very cartoony, but there is punching and objects, such as rocks, are also thrown. Occasionally it's alluded to that a (minor) character has been killed, although their actual death occurs off-screen. Although Aquaman -- along with his sidekick Aqualad (Jerry Dexter) -- often finds himself in danger, he's never in any real jeopardy, largely because he is able to "command" the ocean's marine life to come to his aid. Fish, whales, seahorses, and other sea creatures become involved in the action, biting and butting as they aid Aquaman. Each episode features a guest appearance from a member of the Justice League, such as Superman and Flash, although they also appear as a collective. These adventures are often more perilous than Aquaman's solo outings, with a greater threat to Earth and even the universe. The show is very white with Aquaman bearing little resemblance to Jason Momoa's version of the character. Any non-white characters are restricted to being aliens and otherworldly beings. There are also few female characters -- there's no sign of Wonder Woman, for example -- and where they do appear, they are restricted to the role of being saved by the male superheroes.
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What's the Story?
Each episode of AQUAMAN finds the aquatic superhero (voiced by Marvin Miller) taking on an evil villain intent on causing harm to him and the city of Atlantis. Fellow superheroes, such as Superman (Bud Collyer) and Green Lantern (Gerald Mohr), also appear as they too are tasked with defending the Earth from evil forces.
Is It Any Good?
Having first aired in 1967, this animated TV series, with DC's aquatic superhero at its center, will cause feelings of nostalgia for some, but will feel dated and out of touch to younger viewers. Originally part of the The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, this version of Aquaman has been repackaged into less than 30 minute episodes. Each episode consists of two segments solely centered around Aquaman's adventures, which sit either side of a third segment featuring one, if not multiple members of the Justice League, including Superman, Atom, and Green Lantern -- although Wonder Woman's absence is notable.
Of course, judged against today's own standards, the animation looks tired. But it is vibrant and the action whizzes along. With each segment less than 10 minutes long, the writers waste no time in fitting in as many explosions, fights, and showdowns as possible. Any gaps in the plot -- and there are a lot -- are filled in by a narrator or one of the characters. And while Aquaman finds himself in a perilous situation each episode, he never feels in real danger, on account of the fact that he has the ocean -- and all that live in it -- at his beckon call. The Justice League segments provide more substantial threat, and even death. But the real issue with the show is how white and male dominated it is. There are hardly any female characters, and when they do appear they usually require saving or are cast aside allowing the men to do the fighting. There are also few characters of color, with any non-white characters playing the role of aliens, monsters, and otherworldly beings. When viewed through today's lens, it's an issue that is difficult to ignore.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the cartoon violence in Aquaman. Did you find any of the scenes too extreme for a cartoon like this? Did the fact that there were no serious consequences make a difference to how you felt about the violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How did this version of Aquaman compare to other versions you may have seen? What were the main differences/similarities? Which version did you prefer and why?
Aquaman and the other superheroes display acts of courage and teamwork. Why are these such good character strengths to have? Can you think of a time when you've displayed these traits?
Discuss the the female characters in the show. What role did they perform? What differences might be made with regard to this if the show was remade today?
- Premiere date: September 9, 1967
- Cast: Marvin Miller, Jerry Dexter, Diana Maddox
- Networks: HBO Max, CBS, Warner Home Video
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Ocean Creatures
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Last updated: August 30, 2022
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