Superhero Parodies: Ranking the Top 5

Don’t Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One…

Narrator: “Individually, it had been a long and winding road, but together, the Beat-Alls, or the Bad Four as they were also known, had finally conquered Townsville.”
Mojo: “Now give me money/That’s what I want!”
Their rise to fame can be attributed to their ability to deliver hit after hit after hit… to the Powerpuff Girls.

Powerpuff Girls “Meet The Beat-Alls” (Season 3, Episode 12)

People take superheroes too seriously. Fans argue incessantly over plot points, who would win in a fight, and treat every dollar the hero earns as points proving their favorites’ worth. Meanwhile, people who don’t like superheroes scream about superhero fatigue or how other movies can’t compete with Disney or Warner Bros money. Everyone forgets that the entire point for a fan is to have fun. They’re comic books, remember?

Superhero parodies are great for reminding everyone just how goofy the cape and costume crowd is. The parodies are classic jokes poking fun at overdone tropes and deflating melodramatic backstories. You get some bad eggs like The Boys or Marville, but they’re the minority. So which are the Top 5 Superhero Parodies? Let’s find out.

#5 The Ginyu Force

Parody of: Super Sentai/Power Rangers
Played By:  R. Bruce Elliot, Christopher Sabat, Greg Ayres

Captain Ginyu:-gether!
All: [posing as flowers bloom behind them] “We are The Ginyu Force!

Dragon Ball Kai “”The Countdown to Battle Begins! Enter, The Ginyu Force!” (Season 2, Episode 28)

Superhero parodies don’t need to share their source material’s morality. Great jokes can be made by familiar archetypes acting completely out of character. Strike a pose as these supervillains make their grand entrance!

The Ginyu Force is a mercenary group kept on retainer by Frieza, Emperor of the Galaxy. The Ginyu Force are some of his strongest military forces, despite being eccentric. They pose mid-attack, play rock-paper-scissors to determine who fights first, and break into dance routines at the drop of a hat. Any hat, anywhere. 

Captain Ginyu is the group’s leader and the source of their quirks. He is the strongest member and has the ability to steal an opponent’s body by swapping souls with them. His second in command is Jeice, an Aussie-accented alien who overexplains euphemisms.

Recoome is the Force’s theatrical strongman. Breaking bones is the only thing he loves more than posing. Burter is a snake-like alien obsessed with becoming the fastest being in the universe. Arrogant and lazy Guldo rounds out the Ginyu Force. Physically weak, he has psychic powers and can stop time while holding his breath.

Fun Fact: The Ginyu Force’s names are a joke. Captain Ginyu is based on gyunyu, the Japanese word for milk, while his comrades are creme, (Recoome) cheese, (Jeice) butter, (Burter) and yogurt (Guldo). A small sample platter of author Akira Toriyama’s love for puns and name theming.

#4 Superhero Parody: Freakazoid

Parody of: Superheroes, 90s Internet Culture, others
Played by: Paul Rugg

Freakazoid: “You mean ‘don’t say Candle Jack?” [cuts to Freakazoid captured]
Steff: “Freakazoid, why did you say his name?
Freakazoid: “Cause I-I wanted to do one of those funny things, like on, you ever watch F Troop?,  where Agarn says “There’s no way I’m wearin’ a dress! Absolutely not! No dress!” And Forrest Tucker’s like, “Yeah, you’re wearin’ that dress! You’re gonna wear that dress!” And they wipe and Agarn’s wearin’ a dress!”
Agarn: [crossdressing]“Yoo-hoo! Loco Brothers! Look who’s here for you!
Candle Jack:Oh! I love that bit!

Freakazoid, “Candle Jack” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Many superhero parodies tell compelling stories beyond their humor. They often embrace goofiness, but prioritize action so that the humor doesn’t overwhelm the story. Sometimes, the showrunners hold nothing back. Steven Spielberg’s Emmy-winning superhero parody goes whole hog, the one next to it, then buys an entire hog farm to keep going.

Dexter Douglas was an early computer nerd whose system was upgraded with a powerful microchip. His cat jumped on the keyboard, accidentally entering a command that implanted all of the internet’s information into Dexter’s head. By shouting “freak out” he can transform into a blue, pop-culture obsessed madman called Freakazoid.

Freakazoid has superhuman strength, durability, and can turn into lightning. He often investigates crimes, then disappears with his buddy, and returns just in time to save the day, all while referencing old TV trivia.

Freakazoid was tossed around the schedule and his quips went over the head of viewers not collecting social security checks. Knowing that they wouldn’t get a third season, the showrunners decided to end the series in the most fitting way possible. 

The villains united and kidnapped Freakzoid’s idol, carpenter Norm Abram, to create a superweapon. Freakazoid defeated them with Norm’s help, then gathered his entire cast to sing “We’ll Meet Again” at the Hollywood Bowl.

#3 The Gray Ghost

Parody Of: Adam West, The Shadow
Played By: Adam West

Bruce Wayne: “As a kid, I used to watch you with my father. The Gray Ghost was my hero.”
Trent: [realization] “Really…
Bruce:And he still is.

Batman the Animated Series, “Beware the Gray Ghost” (Season 1, Episode 18)

Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. Playing a sad story straight in the right context brings more schadenfreude than a thousand comedians cracking jokes. So ridi, pagliaccio, at this superhero parody.

Simon Trent is an actor famous for portraying a superhero called The Gray Ghost. He was typecast after the show ended and struggled to find work, eventually resorting to selling memorabilia and resenting his former role. That all changed when a terrorist held Gotham City hostage.

Batman realized that the terrorist was basing his plan off an episode of The Gray Ghost, his favorite show as a child. He missed that episode’s ending and went to Trent, who had the only remaining copy. The two are caught in a bombing attempt, but Batman’s heroics inspire Trent to suit up as The Gray Ghost and help investigate the crime.

The Gray Ghost and Batman discover that the bombings are being done by remote control cars, the same ones that Trent had sold for rent money. After solving the crime and capturing the villain, the Gray Ghost franchise and Trent’s career became popular again. That led to Bruce Wayne attending a fan event and tacitly revealing his secret identity to Trent.

Fun Fact: The showrunners wanted to laugh with Adam West, not at him. They planned to scrap the entire episode if he refused to voice The Gray Ghost.

#2 Superhero Parody: Duck Dodgers in the 24½ Century

Parody of: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Cold War
Played By: Mel Blanc, Joe Alaskey

Duck Dodgers:A-ah! Got the drop on you with my disintegrator pistol! And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates! [he pulls the trigger and it turns to dust] Huh, well, what do you know? It disintegrated.”

The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie

Some superhero parodies are profound and use humor to entertain while highlighting serious issues. This parody begins more serious than most, but still remembers how to be Looney.

Space explorer Duck Dodgers is recruited by scientist I.Q. Hi. Earth’s government has run out of a critical resource called the Shaving Cream Atom, and Dodgers must conquer Planet X to replenish the supply. He is assisted by Porky Pig’s character, named The Eager, Young Space Cadet.

Duck Dodgers claims Planet X for Earth, only for Marvin the Martian to claim it for the Red Planet a few seconds later. They bicker over ownership, quickly escalating into a shooting war as they mutually try to assure the other’s destruction. Duck Dodgers ultimately blows up Planet X to secure the victory, happily claiming a remaining patch barely big enough to fit him for Earth. 

Duck Dodgers was one of Looney Tunes’ most popular shorts, receiving several sequels and an entire show in the early 2000s. Parodies shifted from the Cold War to sci-fi in general, with Wile E. Coyote as a Predator, a Klingon Yosemite Sam, and Duck Dodgers unintentionally becoming The Green Loontern to battle Sinestro. Marvin remained his primary enemy, joined by the deadly, but smitten Martian Queen Tyr’ahnee.

#1 Squirrel Girl

Parody of: The Silver Age of Comics
Played By: Misty Lee, Milana Vayntrub

Squirrel Girl:Get in the purse, Tippy-Toe. I guess I’m not joining anime club after all. I guess I’m just gonna have to go kick Galactus’ butt instead.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Superhero parody characters are often useless in a fight. They might be able to blunder their way to victory, but are otherwise pretty weak. That’s not the case with this parody. She’s the strongest character in the Marvel Universe.

Doreen Green is a teenager with several squirrel-themed superpowers, the ability to talk to squirrels, and no fourth wall. She became Squirrel Girl and picked a fight with Iron Man to become his sidekick. He was unimpressed, especially when she got them captured by Doctor Doom. Squirrel Girl redeemed herself by summoning an army of squirrels and single-handedly defeating Doom. Iron Man told her to come back when she was older and he’d consider taking her on as a sidekick.

Squirrel Girl was intended to be a one-off parody, but became an internet favorite years later. She was reintroduced as a member of the Great Lakes Avengers with a running gag of defeating much stronger villains offscreen, including Deadpool and Thanos. The joke evolved into her being the single strongest character in Marvel, at the cost of Squirrel Girl always being busy during Event stories.

Squirrel Girl joined The Avengers as a nanny for Jessica Jones’ and Luke Cage’s daughter. She eventually left for college and her character was reworked. She now seeks nonviolent resolutions against powerful villains and has earned a reputation for being unbeatable. Squirrel Girl stands as her college’s defender alongside similar heroes Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi.

Who is your favorite superhero parody? Is there one better than these? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Warner Brothers

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