When I was little, I loved superheroes. I mean, I loved superheroes. And unlike today, pretty much the only place you could find them was in comic books.
But in the 1970s, things began to change. Suddenly superheroes were coming to life, thanks mostly to two things: the CBS network and SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE.
ABC had tested the waters first in 1975 with the WONDER WOMAN TV series starring Lynda Carter. Maybe it was the success ABC found that got the ball rolling for CBS. For whatever reason, all of a sudden CBS decided it needed to be in the superhero business, and it jumped in with both feet, first with a live-action SPIDER-MAN TV-movie, which after a while became a short-lived television series. Not long after that was the INCREDIBLE HULK series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, which would find much more success. And CBS kept trying, rolling out several CAPTAIN AMERICA movies, and even a DOCTOR STRANGE TV-movie. It even picked up WONDER WOMAN for two more seasons in 1977 after ABC cancelled the series.
While all this was going on, there was something even bigger in the air: SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, which was due to hit theatres in Christmas 1978.
The thing to remember is that all media, and all pop-culture, was so much more transitory in the ’70s. Not only is there no internet, there’s no VCRs. If you missed something on TV, you might never see it again. Period.
So how does a little superhero-crazed kid in 1978 try desperately to hang on to these moments when his heroes were finally coming to life?
Scissors. Magazines and scissors. I must have cut every photo out of every newspaper and magazine I could get my hands on, as these superhero projects would be publicized in the weeks and months before they debuted. And there were a lot of them. Remember: no Internet. With no internet and only three television networks, the main mouthpiece for publicity in those days was print. And publicize they did.
I remember the stack of clippings I accumulated by 1979 or so, articles and interviews and publicity shots, from everything from TIME MAGAZINE and TV GUIDE to PEOPLE and the NATIONAL ENQUIRER. That bulging manila envelope full of memories is long gone now, no doubt thrown away by my mother during one of her periodic cleaning frenzies in which without fail something of mine would disappear, and all responsibility for its disappearance denied to high heaven. But I remember those photos like it was yesterday. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, here they are. Every photo you see on this page was a photo that at some point Li’l Scott clipped out of a newspaper or magazine.
So what’s the point of all this maudlin meandering, you might ask?
Here’s the thing. Of all those TV shows and movies, in that brief window of popularity, the one thing I wanted more than anything was a team-up. Even at the tender age of seven, I remember thinking “if Spider-Man and Hulk and Captain America are all on Channel 5, why can’t they put them all in the same show?” But part of me also knew that was never gonna happen. Even then I had a weird sense of how showbiz works, and I knew there would never be a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie with Christopher Reeve, Adam West and Lynda Carter. There’d never be an AVENGERS movie with Cap and the Hulk and Spidey on screen together. Couldn’t happen.
And it only took about 30 years, but here we are, and it’s happening. It’s really happening. It happens all the time now. People walk into a theatre and sit down and see the Avengers all on the screen together, Cap and Hulk and Thor and Iron Man and Hawkeye. If you’d asked me 30 years ago, I’d have said it would never happen. Hell, if you asked me 10 years ago, I’d have said it would never happen.
My seven-year-old self wouldn’t have taken it for granted. I have to remember not to either. Life’s a lot more fun that way.