We’re seven movies into the X-Men canon now, so we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane to the super-group’s first screen appearance: the “Dr. Doom’s Day” episode of the 1966 animated series The Marvel Super Heroes. These aren’t the sleek, serious X-Men we know and love though. Here, the crime-fighters are called the Allies (or Alliance) for Peace*, a defrosted Iceman makes Fred Flintstone look fleet of foot, and Professor X says things like, “My mutant brain senses danger.”
"Dr. Doom’s Day" is actually based on the adventures of the Fantastic Four and stars Fantastic Four foe Dr. Doom, as well as Sub-Mariner. (A rights issue prevented producers from using the actual Four, which means the X-Men’s screen debut was also a case of sloppy seconds.) That’s not the only crazy cross-pollination in the episode, which features original mutant members Cyclops, Angel, the Beast, and Marvel Girl, along with Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. And Mole Man!
All in all, The Marvel Super Heroes was a fine first credit for a budding crime-fighting core. It’s also a reminder that no matter much X-Men: Days of Future Past pretends to revisit the X-Men’s history, we know how it really started: with Iceman running over that simple yellow background, over and over again.
Watch the rest of the episode below, and see if you can find the Fantastic Four Easter egg at the 1:50 mark.
*Update May 23, 2014: Comic writer-historian Mark Evanier, author of the Jack Kirby retrospective, Kirby: King of Comics, tells us via email that "the company that produced the shows didn't have the rights to use 'The X-Men' so they changed the names." Thus the group was referred to here as, alternately, the Allies for Peace and the Alliance for Peace.