Welcome to the second phase of The Daily Fandom’s Retro Series, last month we did the 60s! This month we’re unfurling treasures from 70s Pop Culture, whether it be comics, movies, literature, or television. Since there are so many to choose from, we’ve decided to only highlight the Top 10 treasures. However, if you believe we’ve left out something crucial, let us know in the comments below!
1. Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74)
Not long after Star Trek: The Original Series’s three-season stint ended, NBC realized there was a void for sci-fi loving audiences. However, the studio had already sold all of the props and sets for the beloved tv show. Since Saturday morning cartoons were all the rage, they hired Filmation production house to create Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Filmation, Star Trek: The Animated Series (1974)
The animation continued the adventures of Captain Kirk in the USS Enterprise. Furthermore, the show took advantage of the visual flexibility of the medium. It was also the first Star Trek tv show to receive an Emmy award.
I wanted to include this show in this list because of two main reasons. Firstly, without this show, the iconic meme Sarcastically Surprised Kirk wouldn’t exist! It can be easy to forget that pop culture influences contemporary internet memes and culture.
Sarcastically Surprised Kirk
The second, more important reason, is that the animated series features one of the only three times that a woman takes command of the USS Enterprise. Uhura takes command this time in the episode titled “The Lorelei Signal”. The other times when women take over the ship are the respective first and last episodes of the Original Series.
The Lorelei Signal
Considering the strict gender and race politics of the age, a plot revolving around a black woman having such a position of power in Star Fleet is worth noting. Especially since Leonard Nimoy had to demand that Nichelle Nichols and George Takei be cast in the animated series.
2. All New, All Different X-Men and the Rize of the Bronze Age (1975)
Giant-Size X-Men 1
While the X-Men existed long before 1975, in the hands of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and while that Silver Age group is iconic and built solid foundations for decades of comics, when it comes down to it, Giant-Size X-Men #1 by Dave Cockrum is where the X-Men get their start. Giant-Size X-Men #1 introduces Wolverine as a mutant, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. It introduces Krakoa and sets the stage for one of the most well-known retcons in X-Men history.
Wherein Xavier gets a team of young mutants killed then wipes everyone’s minds (one of those mutants being the third Summers brother). It presents the X-Men as an international team and launched the most famous run in X-Men history. This would include Chris Claremont’s epic stint on the book. Alongside New Teen Titans the Uncanny X-Men became bronze age darlings after this relaunch.
3. The Princess Bride (1973)
When discussing The Princess Bride, one is referring to the 1987 film starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, and Andre the Giant. Many are unaware that William penned the adventure/ fantasy/ comedy as a novel in 1973. All of the memorable scenes from the movie are in the book as well. Heck, the novel is even more outrageous!
20th Century Fox, The Princess Bride (1987)
At one point characters traverse into Prince Humperdinck’s Zoo of Death, which touts anacondas, spitting cobras, and the sucking squid. The film elected to only reveal it as a secret lair where the Prince houses the Machine that he uses to almost kill Wesley. No matter the difference in media, The Princess Bride remains a cultural phenomenon to this day. Everyone loves to quote the famous lines. My favorite being,
“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die!”
4. Green Lantern/Green Arrow Team-Up (1971)
When talking about the 70s and comics nothing is more prominent than the Bronze Age. The Bronze age is a period of comic book storytelling starting in the 70s and ending when the 90s rolled around. Roy Haper’s story is arguably the most famous of them all.
The backdrop to this story is, ostensibly, the Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-up book wherein conservative, military boy Hal Jordan and rich, robin hood liberal Green Arrow, go on adventures together and have some opinions on the world and politics in general. It’s a good premise, actually, and one that marked comics as “growing up” at a time when they were struggling to be seen as not just for kids.
The famous storyline of this era is Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86. It’s called Snowbirds don’t fly, and is the storyline that establishes Roy Harper, also known as Speedy Green Arrow’s sidekick, as having a drug problem and the fallout of that when his mentor finds out.
In hindsight, the issue is weird, comes out of nowhere, and is just a little bit awkward to read in 2o18, but the relevance of drug addiction being brought into mainstream comics, and this aspect of Roy’s history, has had long-lasting impacts to this day.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The most recent adaptation of Douglas Adams’ story reared its head in 2005, starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent. However, before that, there were various video games, comic books, radio shows, a tv series, and even stage adaptations of the comedy science fiction series. Among other things, the novel spurred the idea that the answer to life is 42.
It has been most popular in Britain, unsurprising considering the popularity of Doctor Who. Adams even wrote episodes for the other series! Both narratives revolve around space travel, aliens, and wacky adventures. The novels have gained international success and have been translated into over 30 languages. It is safe to say that it has positively influenced geek culture over the decades.
6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
There is an alternate universe in which time is measured in Invasion of the Body Snatchers remakes. The first movie is from 1956. It was remade in 1978, then again in 1993, and again in 2007, and currently, there are talks of another remake. However, the 1978 version is largely stood by as a quality, influential film.
This movie is historical both as a science fiction horror thriller, a remake that made itself more well known than it’s source. This can be in no small part because of the culture into which the movie was released. Cold War America post-Watergate was frothing at the mouth with paranoia and suspicion. The age of free love was running right up against the age of nuclear stalemate, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the kind of movie whose message of paranoia and danger still speak to people.
Also, Leonard Nimoy is in it.
7. The Exorcist (1973)
Warner Bros, The Exorcist (1973)
Today, even if they haven’t seen it, most people have heard of the classic supernatural horror film The Exorcist. The film’s simple plot revolves around a possessed teenage girl, her mother, and two priests attempting to save her. Surprisingly, it soon became one of the highest grossing films in history and the first horror movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
From its initial release up until now, many consider The Exorcist to be the scariest movie of all time. The contents of the film are particularly infamous considering many audience members from its first showings would line up to hurl after viewing certain scenes. For example, when Regan’s head spins or she levitates.
Warner Bros, The Exorcist (1973)
One tends to wonder how such a film was ever green-lit in the first place. Much less how it gained the critical acclaim it did. Several movies have been released following in the footsteps of the classic horror in the genre of possession: The Conjuring (2013), The Omen (2006), and Annabelle Creation (2017) to name a few. It has even been parodied in films like Scary Movie 2 (2001).
8. Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
What would revisiting the 70s mean without revisiting the origins of a juggernaut of a game that continues to this day? As I write this I’m preparing to start a new campaign with my friends for the following year in the shiny and simplified 5E system. Back in 1974, there was only one version of the game. And it was the one published by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. You could play as a Fighting-Man, Magic User, or Cleric, Human, Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling. Hell, there were only three alignments: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic.
Looking at today’s D&D which, with expansions, includes dozens of playable races, it’s remarkable how long the game has lasted and how much it’s built upon the bones laid out in 1974. The original game received great reviews and awards, and while it borrowed heavily from the wargames before it, D&D became functional the first official tabletop RPG and has been the model which everyone else built off of.
9. Logan’s Run (1976)
Logan’s Run is an adaptation of an American science fiction novel. The setting is a dystopia in which everyone is killed by the government on their 30th birthday. It won a Special Academy Award for its special effects.
Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, Logan’s Run (1976)
Themes existing in the film include hedonism and individualism. At one point Logan casually asks Farrah Fawcett’s character, Jessica, if she is a lesbian in response to her initial disinterest in him. Quite a contrast to the realities of what queer people had to deal with in society back then. It is also fun to explore what it means for freedom if you’re living with a short expiration date. Logan’s Run remains a prolific piece of early science fiction today. It is one reason why the 70s are sometimes considered the birth of modern sci-fi.
10. Space Invaders (1978)
Is there a video game title more universally known than Space Invaders? Dropping in 1978 back when you still needed coins to play, it is one of the earliest and most iconic games in the industry. It’s inspired countless games, aesthetics, and emulators, and the enemy sprite is ubiquitous in gaming.
The creator of the game, Tomohiro Nishikado had to essentially invent the hardware he ran his game on, that’s how early in the development games as an industry were. It was one of the first games with continuous music, and variance within said music. This game was massively influential both within and without the industry. Arcades in Japan could open with only Space Invaders and it quadruples Atari’s sales in the 80s. It marks an upswing in the popularity and viability of games, and without it, many of the developers who went on to be pioneers in the industry would not have been.
70s Honorable Mention:
Costumes in the 70s in comics were superb. Please enjoy these examples.