DC and Marvel offer animated superhero shows suitable for kids and teens of all ages, keeping the entire family engaged with familiar characters.
Series like “Justice League Action” and “Spidey and His Amazing Friends” adapt comic book heroes for younger audiences with safe, engaging content.
While some shows may be a bit edgier, there are plenty of appropriate options like “Batwheels” and “I Am Groot” designed specifically for young children.

Superhero stories have always had a multigenerational appeal, with both DC and Marvel hosting a variety of kid-friendly content across their various platforms. The best animated superhero TV series based off of properties from both comic book continuities typically have cast a wide net, avoiding from delving too far into territory that would exclude at least teen audiences, if not children. However, it can be difficult or uncomfortable to put a child in front of animated shows like Marvel’s What If…? or DC’s Young Justice, which may toe the line of kid-friendly a little too aggressively.

Luckily, there is plenty of safer content produced by both Marvel and DC aimed directly at younger viewers. From ages as young as four years old, kids can be entertained with animated offerings that feature the same characters their parents might know and love, keeping the entire family engaged at once. While non-Marvel or DC superhero cartoons like PJ Masks and Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir have stepped on the comic book giants’ toes in recent years, both companies still offer some fierce competition in the 4 to 12-year-old age range.

10 Justice League Action

Ages 5 and up

An incredibly versatile series, Justice League Action is a superhero team-up show made with a clear love and reverence for its source material. The series goes out of its way to showcase a variety of DC heroes, from household names like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to more obscure characters like Swamp Thing and Plastic Man. Not only that, but the series even loosely follows actual DC comic storylines, loosely-adapted for a kid-friendly format.

Beyond the serialization and relative accuracy to the source material, the best part of Justice League Action is the dynamic between its many heroes. Like it’s progenitor series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League Action frequently sees heroes across all corners of the DC mythos coming, having their personalities clash in endlessly entertaining buddy-cop dynamics. While the series is just a tad edgier than the average cartoon aimed at its demographic, with the occasional black eye or knockout via electricity in its fight scenes, Justice League Action is appropriate for ages five and up.

9 Spidey and His Amazing Friends

Ages 4 to 7

A direct answer from Marvel to the success of PJ Masks, Spidey and His Amazing Friends takes rides the wake of the success of the Spider-Verse movies to capture a young viewership. Following a trio of dimension-hopping Spider-People, Spidey and His Amazing Friends, the series ages down Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Gwen Stacy to better relate to their target audience. To keep young kids from getting confused with the multitude of webslingers, they also get new superhero names– Spidey, Spin, and Ghost-Spider, respectively.

Suitable for a very young audience, Spidey and His Amazing Friends never gets too scary or dangerous, with villains like Doc Ock and Green Goblin reduced to committing minor acts of petty mischief only to be overcome with the power of teamwork, presenting a strong moral message for impressionable kids. The series also isn’t afraid to expand its roster of heroes, introducing original creations like robot spider sidekicks or guest stars like Captain Marvel or Iron Man. Proudly wearing an all-ages badge, Spidey and His Amazing Friends is a great superhero kids show, if not the best Spider-Man cartoon.

8 Spider-Man

Ages 7 to 12

One of the many similarly-named Spider-Man cartoons that can be difficult to discern, Spider-Man separates itself with a decidedly increased emphasis on child-friendliness. The 2017 series doesn’t re-invent the wheel when it comes to portraying Spider-Man’s origins and rise to superhero greatness, playing it relatively straight by opening on the fateful day of Peter Parker’s radioactive spider bite. But the series does have an interesting twist in its presentation of morals and lessons for a young audience, emphasizing Peter Parker’s status as a gifted scientist.

Early on, Marvel’s Spider-Man has Peter Parker using the scientific method to test out his powers, introducing young viewers to critical science concepts while keeping them entertained with a spectacular Spider-Man interpretation. This emphasis on scientific methodology continues as Spider-Man faces each of his classic villains, strikingly portrayed in an anime-inspired art style. Though certainly more mature than Spidey and His Amazing Friends, 2017’s Spider-Man manages to outdo its poorly-received predecessor series, Ultimate Spider-Man.

7 Teen Titans Go!

Ages 8 to 13

The best episodes of the original Teen Titans were some of the best animated superhero media ever made, making it all the more controversial when the IP was revived as Teen Titans Go!. With a cutesy art style, enhanced emphasis on comedy, and a blisteringly-fast pace to keep up with the limited attention spans of the modern age, Teen Titans Go! may be lamented by many fans of the original, but the series is an unmistakably successful kid’s series. Currently, the superhero team comedy dominates the majority of Cartoon Network’s daytime block, and for good reason.

Teen Titans Go! caters to multiple audiences at once, peppering in low-brow gross-out humor that resonates with young viewers while sneaking in tongue-in-cheek references to the greater DC catalog that only eagle-eyed adult viewers will catch. Even if it may have “dumbed down” the original Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go! can be surprisingly clever when it needs to be, and can even shock returning fans with the occasionally gorgeously-animated fight scene. That being said, the series is a bit raunchy for a kid’s show, which may rub some parents the wrong way.

6 DC Superhero Girls

Ages 6 to 12

Superheroes may be a stereotypically boy-oriented genre, with fight scenes, science fiction elements, and primarily male characters causing many animation execs to falsely believe that catering to young girls would be a waste of time. In reality, girls interested in superhero fiction are one of the most criminally neglected quadrants of viewership comic book companies have historically missed out on. Luckily, DC was able to recognize this and course-correct with DC Superhero Girls, a cartoon that puts heroines in the spotlight with a target demographic of young girls ages 6 to 12.

Following in the footsteps of other animated shows of the past that captured the imagination of young girls with stories of heroines with secret identities, like The Winx Club and Sailor Moon, DC Superhero Girls provides exactly what its name promises. The characters all exist as aged-down versions of their classic comic book counterparts, all students attending Metropolis High School. This provides the show the opportunity to weave in life lessons revolving around school and personal life through the superpowered action the DC Comics badge evokes.

5 Hulk And The Agents Of SMASH

Ages 6 to 12

While Hulk has been neglected by the MCU for a long time thanks to the sticky legal situation surrounding the character, Marvel’s animated offerings have had no such restrictions on featuring Bruce Banner and his associated characters. Enter Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, a short-lived series that posits a unique superhero team made of Hulk himself and other Gamma-infused, muscle-bound comrades. Unique for a kid’s series, the entire cartoon is framed around Rick Jones’ documentation of Team Hulk as a web series following their exploits.

Strangely, this cartoon winds up being one of the most faithful Hulk adaptations available in general, let alone among animated kid’s shows. With characters like Rick Jones and Red Hulk that have yet to appear in the MCU, Hulk and the Agents of SMASH is one of the greatest windows into Hulk’s stories from the comics TV viewers can watch. The series is highly serialized, with spanning plots of danger and intrigue that pit the government against Team Hulk, giving it a hard floor of six years old or so as a minimum age to watch.

4 Batwheels

Ages 3 to 8

Shows like Bob the Builder and animated movies like the Cars franchise have proven time and time again that talking vehicles are, for whatever reason, insatiably popular with very young audiences. DC’s animation studios have realized and taken advantage of this with Batwheels, a 3D cartoon aimed at very young viewers that stars the Bat-Family’s most iconic vehicles as its main cast. Premiering on Cartoon Network’s preschool block, Cartoonito, the series is one of the few superhero properties to have a target demographic of viewers under 6 years old.

The series keeps up with the Batwheels, a team of Bat-vehicles given sentience by the Batcomputer, operating and existing independently of the actual Bat-Family. The heroes being literally born yesterday gives a great reason for the starring characters to be childlike in demeanor while keeping staples like Batman and Robin more true to their classic adult incarnations. Between the child-friendly plots and obvious merchandising capabilities, Batwheels has quickly risen to prominence as one of the most beloved shows for very young children to come out in recent years.

3 I Am Groot

Ages 2 to 6

Once a straightforward tree monster faced by The Fantastic Four, Groot’s presence in Guardians of the Galaxy have led to him becoming one of the most beloved MCU characters ever. During his tenure as a sapling, Marvel released I Am Groot, an adorable series of short adventures centered around Baby Groot as he learns and grows. Though I Am Groot‘s canon status in the MCU is still up for debate, it remains one of the most undeniably cute and kid-friendly pieces of content the franchise has ever produced.

Amazingly, Vin Diesel returned for the short series to lend his voice to the Baby Groot, even if he does only ever say three words. Bradley Cooper also returns as Rocket Raccoon, drastically toned-down in temperament for a personality more suitable for young viewers, turning him into something of a tough, but caring parental figure. From the photorealistic animation to the heart-melting adventures of the wide-eyed titular treant, I Am Groot‘s largely dialogue-free episodes can be suitable for viewers as young as two years old.

Ages 6 and up

Long before Justice League Action, Marvel was taking advantage of their large roster of interconnected heroes with The Superhero Squad Show. Based on a toy line from Hasboro, the series presented blossoming Marvel fans with pint-sized versions of classic Avengers members like Falcon, Iron Man, and Thor while also roping in members of the X-Men like Wolverine and Ice Man. Balancing its diverse roster, the series also has a surprising focus on serialized storytelling.

The titular Superhero Squad is pitted against Doctor Doom’s own legion of villains in a race for the shards of the Infinity Sword, a clear adaptation of the classic comics, The Infinity Gauntlet and The Infinity War. The continual story may be difficult to follow for viewers younger than 6, but the kid-friendly action and infectiously bright tone may infect children even lower than the target demographic as fans. Adults can also appreciate the clear knowledge and reverence for the source material that the series displays over the course of its narrative.

1 X-Men: The Animated Series

Ages 7 and up

Undeniably the best animated series to feature the X-Men, X-Men: The Animated Series brought the human hero team to popularity long before the live-aciton films of the early 2000s. Presenting audiences with the quintessential versions of the beloved X-Men most fans recognize by their incarnations in the show, the cultural impact of X-Men: The Animated Series can’t be understated. The advent of follow-up series X-Men ’97 has also revived interest in the decades-old cartoon in the modern day.

Admittedly, the series does have some very 90s sensibilities that might not resonate with children of the digital age, from the standard-definition aspect ratio to the often cheap-looking art. However, the engaging storylines, phenomenal voice acting and character design, and boundless energy of the iconic opening theme more than make up for it, giving the show a lasting cross-generational appeal. Even if it is dark and mature at times, X-Men: The Animated Series is one of the best cartoons for kids to come out of Marvel.

“}]] Marvel and DC keep young children included.  Read More