We already know that Toei's Japanese Spider-Man show gave us one of the weirdest versions of Spider-Man ever, but did you know that Marvel played an incredibly important role in the evolution of the Sentai genre as we know it?
Youtubers ToyBountyHunters multiple-part series on the history of Sentai shows in Japan, It's Henshin Time! recently took a look at the importance of a character collaboration initiative between Toei and Marvel in the 1970's:
The collaboration didn't just give us Takuya Yamashiro and his delightful theme tune, but birthed what is now one of the most important and identifiable aspects of a Super Sentai show - the presence of a Giant robot in the heroes' toolkit to fight the monster of the day. Takuya's robot, Leopardon, was the first of its kind in a Tokusatsu show - and would inspire the evolution of the popular Sentai show format into Super Sentai shows, upping the scale of the genre into giant fights between monsters and robots instead of just a group of Sentai battling it out on the ground.
Although Spider-Man only ran for a year, Marvel's venture with Toei continued with Battle Fever J, which initially started out as an idea for a Captain America themed show - but culminated in the show's Sentai team featuring a female member dubbed Miss America, based on Marvel's own character of the same name. Like Spider-Man before them, Team Battle Fever had their own giant robot, Battle Fever Robo, making them the first ever Super Sentai Show in history.
Toei and Marvel's collaboration would lead to the creation of two more Sentai series - Denshi Sentai Denjiman and its successor Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan (infamously the first Sentai show not to include a female hero, to the outrage of fans) - before ending. Stan Lee considered bringing Sun Vulcan to the US, but Marvel never found a western broadcaster to pick it up, and the genre wouldn't really hit mainstream audiences until a decade later with the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers making their début in 1993. But there you go - who knew Spider-Man and the Power Rangers had more in common that just a love of tight spandex outfits?
You're reading Toybox, io9's new blog for all things pop culture. From merchandise to awesome fan creations, TV recaps and critical commentary on the hot topics of the day, you can find it all here!