Anyone still remember the MTV show Spider-Man: The New Animated Series? Back in 2003, after the Sam Raimi film was a huge success for Sony, the creators of the MTV show (who were originally going with an adaptation of the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book series) decided to tailor their show to fall within the Raimi continuity.
The problem, however, is that after the show ended, Raimi kept making Spider-Man sequels, both of which seemingly screw up The New Animated Series‘ place in the timeline, especially given the show’s ending. Or do they? After re-watching the show, it turns out no they don’t. The New Animated Series could still be taken as canon in the Raimiverse, and here’s why.
One of the biggest problems with the timeline is that, in the MTV show, Peter Parker quits being Spider-Man after defeating twins with psychic powers, thanks to a large amount of psychological trauma they inflicted on the webslinger (part of which involved him thinking Mary Jane was dead and tricking him into severely injuring his other love interest, Indy).
Obviously, we see in Spider-Man 2 that Peter is still the titular superhero while in college, leaving the canonicity of the last scene of the show in question. But, remember that Peter is a junior in college during the events of Spider-Man 2 (the sequel takes place two years after the events of the first film, in which the character is graduating from high school). The show, meanwhile, is set just a year after the first film, or in other words, during Peter’s freshman year of college. We can see a clue for this in the episode “Law of the Jungle”, when Peter remarks how “the anniversary of [Harry’s] dad’s death” is occurring during the first night of the episode.
Even without a second season to help smooth things over (which supposedly could have featured villains like Mysterio and Vulture), there’s still plenty of time between the show and Spider-Man 2 for Peter to work through his grief and continue being Spider-Man some time before the film starts (which also puts the "Spider-Man losing his powers" plot point from that film in a whole new light, since one could argue that he’s still dealing, subconsciously, with his grief and anger from the show).
You might also remember that Dr. Curt Connors, the same character that transforms into the Lizard in the show, is noticeably still employed at a university in the films, and is alive since his seeming death in the show. But remember that no one knew Connors turned into the Lizard in the show, save for Peter, so he could’ve cured himself and gone back to work eventually (although at a different school, as discussed further below).
As for the fall, we never explicitly hear someone say that the character died on screen. Remember too that his Lizard Formula is a regenerative serum. A fall from a great height, especially for a super villain who can regenerate parts of his body, isn’t exactly much to deal with. This would also be a better explanation for why Peter took the Venom symbiote to Connors in Spider-Man 3 rather than a more qualified scientist, since Connors in the film remarks, “I’m a physicist, not a biologist” (possibly saying that just to distance himself as much as possible from his Lizard days).
Also notice during the scene that Connors doesn’t really seem to be disturbed by the alien life form on his desk, nor does he really question the fact that Peter has it, since by this point he’s used to dealing with strange things after his Lizard transformation and fight with Spider-Man.
The problem with this is that, during the first film, where Peter mentions how “Dr. Connors fired me” as an assistant (despite being shown working with Connors during the “Law of the Jungle” episode). However, it’s still possible that Connors would call on Peter from time to time to help with experiments, especially if Peter made himself available in an effort to get his job back.
The last big problem with the continuity of the show is that the characters are going to Empire State University, like in the comic books, rather than Columbia University, like in the films. This one is a little trickier to explain away, but the big key here is trauma.
Like I said above, Peter is dealing with a lot emotionally by the time The New Animated Series finishes. It’s not hard to believe that he would want to transfer to another school after almost killing someone just to get away from it all and start fresh. This would also help him keep tabs on the Lizard, especially since Connors is now shown to be teaching at Columbia. Mary Jane, meanwhile, could have stayed at ESU and finished her degree, later moving on to getting her own place while trying to make it as an actress, where we find her in Spider-Man 2.
What do you think about this show fitting into the canon of Sam Raimi's movies? Let me know in the comments below, or through Twitter at @comicsvsworld. While you’re at it, don't forget to check out my website, Comic Books vs The World, for even more comic book related content.