Since his comic debut back in 1962, Spider-Man has been brought to life both on television and the big screen with movies such as the Raimi trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2, and soon Spider-Man Homecoming. We've had many television shows with Spider-Man, such as the 1977 live action series The Amazing Spider-Man and the 1978 Japanese live-action series Spider-Man.
We've also been blessed with countless animated Spider-Man television shows, with the 1994 animated series being arguably one of the best animated #SpiderMan shows we've had so far. We currently have the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show, which takes the character we know and love and tells a different story from the comics than we're used to. However, it's time for something new and here's why:
This animated series had a much larger budget than others before it. It had a novel-like format with one continuous story arc per season. The series based many of its episodes on the comics, displaying Peter Parker's continuous conflict with his alter ego, Spider-Man. This was the longest animated series as it contained 65 episodes over the course of five seasons. This was until 2012's Ultimate Spider-Man passed it.
'The Spectacular Spider-Man' (2008)
This animated series relied more heavily on the stories and creations from Lee/Ditko's The Amazing Spider-Man comics and Bendis/Bagley's Ultimate Spider-Man comics. It followed the early adventures of Peter Parker during his high school years. It had many of the same early characters with a few of their ethnicities changed. It aired for two seasons, each with 13 episodes, and although critically acclaimed, it was cancelled when #Sony relinquished its rights to produce animated works using Spider-Man and other associated characters.
So What's Wrong?
These two shows by far are my favorite animated Spider-Man cartoons, with The Spectacular Spider-Man series being slightly more favorable simply because it was more recent and contemporary. I enjoyed watching the Spectacular Spider-Man show because it followed a direct narrative with Peter Parker in high school (more closely related to the comics). The artwork was strange at first, but I quickly came to enjoy it.
I enjoyed the character development as well, especially from Flash Thompson, as towards the end of the show he started to develop a friendship with Peter (as it happens in the comics). It's a shame that the show was cancelled, especially since they ended it on a cliffhanger and it seemed that the story was about to pick up and change.
So what's wrong with the current Spider-Man show? Well, nothing to be honest. I just personally don't enjoy the direction they took Spider-Man and how they're handling the story. Let me explain.
'Ultimate Spider-Man' (2012)
This animated series first animated in 2012 with Drake Bell voicing the character of Peter Parker / Spider-Man. This series' reactions have been rather mixed, as the character is seen to constantly break the fourth wall (similar to Deadpool). This incarnation of Spider-Man is a lot more dim and childish compared to other versions of the character in the past. His sense of humor is less on the witty side and tends to lean more towards toilet humor and simple rhymes. The character is less responsible and less experienced (more of a goofball), but can show competence in certain situations.
1) I will admit that I didn't watch every episode of the series. I started watching the first season when it first aired and immediately wasn't a huge fan of the direction they were taking the show. I only made it partially through the season before giving up.
2) I, personally, did find some of the humor enjoyable; however, it did seem to rely too heavily on it. There were times when the fourth wall breaks were entertaining, but they didn't fit the character of Spider-Man.
3) The animation and action was definitely a step up from the last series, which naturally comes with time, but still good nonetheless.
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So What Do We Need?
What we need is a Spider-Man series similar to The Spectacular Spider-Man show where we follow the adventures of Peter Parker throughout high school as he struggles with his powers, social life, and new villains arising. We need great animation, a lot of action, and witty humor rather than toilet humor.
The reason why the 1994 and 2008 shows were very popular was because they were story-driven, meaning that each episode led into the next. Another reason that the 2008 show was my favorite was because it focused solely on Peter Parker / Spider-Man. Despite the success of the 1994 series, it had tie-ins with other shows such as the X-Men show, which was cool, but took me out of the mindset of the show being about Spider-Man. The Ultimate Spider-Man series had countless tie-ins and superhero team-ups (S.H.I.E.L.D., Deadpool, The Avengers, and the small team of heroes that were in almost every episode: White Tiger, Iron Fist, Nova, and Power Man).
A story-driven and well-animated show focusing solely on the character of Spider-Man will greatly help Marvel's animation genre because (let's be honest) many of the animations that have been created have fallen short of DC's animated shows and movies. Their television shows such as Teen Titans, Justice League, Batman, and Young Justice (just to name a few) have been great at being both entertaining and story-driven.
(Or Netflix could just pick up where the Spectacular Spider-Man left off...)
While doing research for this article, I came across a piece of news that I'd completely forgotten about. A new animated Spider-Man show was announced a few months ago that would replace Ultimate Spider-Man. As of now, the show is titled Marvel's Spider-Man and it is supposed to pick up from where Spider-Man: Homecoming will leave off.
I don't know exactly how to feel about this. I like the fact that there will be a new Spider-Man cartoon to replace Ultimate Spider-Man, but I don't like it being connected to the MCU. As much as I enjoy all the connections to and from the MCU, I'd rather have a Spider-Man cartoon that would stand by itself. Ultimate Spider-Man tried to connect part of its last season to the Spiderverse event that was happening in the comics and I personally didn't enjoy it very much. They also might be limited in what they can tell in terms of story because they'd have to take into consideration what the movies would be showing.
No matter. Whatever happens, happens. Whether you agree or disagree, leave a comment below.