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Super heroes never grow old
Author: Greg Nelson

Super heroes never grow old. And it seems that America never really grows old of its super heroes. From the television studios to the major film studios, the super hero genre just seems to live on and on year after year.

From the Amazing Spider-Man and Underdog to Batman and his sidekick Robin, super heroes of all kinds have long been keeping life safe for the world’s citizens via comic books, TV screens and the big screen.

While there have been a handful of original movies, most super hero films have been adapted from comic books. The most popular include a long line of Batman movies, but the last decade has seen movies featuring a long list of other super heroes including Spider-Man, Catwoman, Hulk, X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Most of these movies have not only been successful, but they have been blockbusters that have produced sequels, spin-offs and even highly successful product marketing.

Now comes the Greatest American Hero back for another round of super hero hysteria. Originally a TV series which aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983, The Greatest American Hero featured William Katt as teacher Ralph, Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson.

Created by producer Stephen Cannell, the original TV show chronicled the adventures and misadventures of Ralph after he was given a red suit by aliens…a suit that gave him superhuman abilities. Much of the show’s premise revolved around his inability to learn how to use the “magic jammies” and its powers properly since Ralph lost the instruction manual in the desert where he received the suit from the aliens.

The latest take-off of The Greatest American Hero (link to show) can be found in the form of webisodes produced by Timothy Ryder and Frank J. Zanca and currently airing online at The webisodes, based on the characters created by Stephen Cannell, continue along similar story lines as the original. Ralph continues his crime-fighting ways while he still struggles to comprehend and master the powers of the alien suit.

By bringing the Greatest American Hero (link to show) back to life, Zanca also stays true to his own super hero roots. A writer and producer, Zanca has also created the character Shadow Raven (link to show) for an internationally released comic book and the subsequent game, Shadow Raven: The Combat Card Game.

One thing is for sure, Hollywood will continue to look for ways to bring comic book super heroes to the big screen for a long time to come. A number of super hero films are already on the docket for release in the next couple years. Marvel plans to release a movie based on Thor in 2011, as well as The First Avenger: Captain America which will lead into a 2012 release of the Avengers. A remake of the Green Hornet television show is slated for a 2010 release. And DC Comics has already made plans to release Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max while Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5 are also in the works.

Other intended big budget super hero films include several X-Men spin-offs, as well as movies based on Wonder Woman and the Flash.

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