by: Steve (@MisterJackal)
Summer is here and The Avengers have come blown us all away becoming Disney’s highest grossing movie of all time. Comic books have had a very hard time translating to both television and movies. Bringing us to the reason why you are reading this, Spider-Man! Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, making his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. Originally, Peter Parker is an orphan teen raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben going through adolescence while being a costumed crimefighter with super-strength, agility, wall crawling and senses danger allowing to react quickly against the bad guys. The friendly neighborhood web swinger has had SO many different iterations, some better than others.
Starting in 1967, Spider-Man had his first animated series that lasted about three years. Extremely low-budget and included an reused an entire episode Rocket Robin Hood, that’s right backgrounds, characters and even storyline. The best thing and most know thing that came out of this show was its theme song.
Spider-Man was also an occasional character on the childrens educational show The Electric Company on a segment called Spidey’s Super Stories in which he would only speak in speech balloons so the children can read. How sweet! In 1977, The Amazing Spider-Man starring Nicholas Hammond as the wall crawler and even though it did receive good ratings lots of fans complained about the poor production quality and the fact that most of his adventures are absolutely ridiculous.
In 1978, there was a live action tokusatsu Spidey series produced in Japan that included giant robots, very similar to Ultraman or the Kamen Rider series. Here is the difference. Spider-Man was not Peter Parker, his name was Takuya Yamashiro, a young moto-cross racer that sees a UFO, The Marveller, crashing down to Earth from the planet “Spider”. His father is a space archaeologist that is killed while investigating the crash. Takuya follows his dad to the crash site and he finds the last warrior of the Planet Spider, Garia who is searching for the destroyer of his home, Prof. Monster and The Iron Cross Army, but needs a successor to continue the fight. So Garia injects Takuya with his blood giving, him spider-like powers and also gives him a bracelet that actives his spider costume, shots web lines, and controls The Marveller, which turns in to a giant fighting robot called Leopardon! BAD ASS! But obviously had nothing to do with the comic besides the name Spider-Man.
In 1981, NBC aired Spider-Man, where Peter Parker was a crimefighting college student that worked as a photographer at the Daily Bugle and took care of Aunt May. But it didn’t do well with fans so they created Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends where he teamed up with Iceman of the X-Men and Firestar. Not very good… Then we don’t get any Spidey until 1994, when Fox created yet another Spider-Man: The Animated Series, which aired for 5 seasons (the longest running Spider-Man series yet).
This series aired originally on Fox Kids side by side with X-Men. It was also, in my opinion, the closest and translation from comic to the small screen to date. The show focused on Spider-Man and his alter-ego Peter Parker, a student at Empire State University that freelanced as a photographer at the Daily Bugle. You are probably thinking its sounds just like the other series, blah blah blah. NO! It had the same base story, of course its Spider-Man, but what made it so go was that it also focused on all of his classic villians: Kingpin, Green Goblin, Rhino, Shocker, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Chameleon and my personal favorite Venom. Not only that but it also dealt with Parker’s love life, like his relationship with Mary Jane Watson and Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat. What more can you ask for in a good animated series.
It was then followed in 1999 by the short-lived Spider-Man Unlimited. Check out the plot… John Jameson, son of J. Jonah Jameson, is sent on a mission to Counter Earth (another Earth on the opposite side of the Sun). During this mission Peter Parker tries to stop Venom and Carnage from boarding the space shuttle and fails! WHAT!? Earth loses contact with Jameson and now the media blames Spider-Man. Parker is later believed to have died trying to save a guy from a burning building. He then uses this to his advantage and creates a new suit using nanotechnology from Mr. Fantastic to incorporate stealth technology and sonic weapons to his arsenal and goes on a rescue mission to Counter Earth. Sounds pretty cool right? Well, it only last 13 episodes with a cliffhanger that was never concluded. F***!
Ok, I think you are tired of me rambling on about television and are probably wondering what about the movies Steve?! In 2002, Sam Raimi, (The Evil Dead series) and Columbia Pictures brought us Spider-Man to the big screen. Starring Toby Maguire as Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn and James Franco as Harry Osborn. Peter Parker is a high school student that gets bitten by a genetically engineered super spider that alters his genetic make up giving him spider-like powers, including the ability to generate organic webbing (yes, he can shoot webs out of his skin). After his uncle is murdered, he decides to use his powers to protect New York City. (YAY, SPIDEY!) As the web head is discovering himself, industrialist Norman Osborn creates a performance enhancing serum that goes horribly wrong when he test it on himself causing him to create a psychotic and murderous alter ego, The Green Goblin! Personally, I thought this movie was fun the first time I saw it, being that it was the first version of Spider-Man on the big screen and seeing him swing through New York and fight the Green Goblin. But at the end of it all I wasn’t really sold, I thought it could have been done a little differently and I left yearning for more.
In 2003, there is just another animated series titled Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, which computer animated and Peter was voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. This series was supposed to continue after the events from the movie and included Kingpin as depicted in the Daredevil adaptation for theaters. It aired on MTV and only lasted 13 episodes.
The next year, 2004, Spider-Man 2 was released with the majority of the original cast as well as Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavious a.k.a. Dr. Octopus. This film took place three years after the first, Peter is struggling between being Spidey and his personal life. Mary Jane is engaged and Harry Osborn has his heart set on avenging his father’s death. Dr. Octavious was in a freak accident while testing a dangerous fusion based experiment and the four mechanical tentacles he is using permanently fused to his spine making him even madder than he was. He goes on a crazed rampage through New York but Peter is going through his own issues; he is upset for being a horrible friend, he is hung up on Mary Jane and he loses his powers because he wants to lead a normal life. This one was my favorite of Spider-Man trilogy! Mostly because a lot of it looked more like a Raimi film, I loved the story and Alfred Molina did a great job as Doc Ock (one of my favorite Spidey villians). After seeing this I was really excited for the next one!
Soon after we hear rumors that the next villain was going to be Venom (I lost myself. I love Venom! My absolute favorite Spidey bad guy) and the Sandman. Then I heard Topher Grace from That 70’s Show was going to play Eddie Brock a.k.a. Venom and my hopes dropped a considerable amount. Not because he is a bad actor, because I think he is a decent actor, but I couldn’t see him as Brock let alone Venom. So I forced myself to think it was all going to be alright, he will bulk up and the CGI will make it awesome.
Spider-Man 3 was released and was such a disappointment to tons of people, not just comic book fans. Harry Osborn is still crying about his dad being killed by Spider-Man in first part, finds out that Peter is actually Spider-Man in part two and uses Mary Jane to plot his revenge against the web head and eventually becomes another version of the Green Goblin. Eddie Brock is a rival photographer working for the Bugle and is out to make Spidey instead of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we all know and love. Then there is Flint Marko a.k.a. The Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church, is an escaped prisoner that winds up falling into a particle accelerator becoming a shape shifting sand being and goes out trying to rob banks to raise money for his dying daughter. Peter then finds out that Sandman was actually the one that killed his Uncle Ben and filled him with so much anger resulting in him getting the attention of this mysterious symbiotic goo from outer space which bonds with him, giving him a new costume and darker outlook. Sounds cool, right?! NO!!! I was going to continue to rant about how bad it was but if you guys like message me and I will rant about it separately. (Rage building inside)
Shortly after in 2008, we have The Spectacular Spider-Man which was fun mixture of the first few years of The Amazing Spider-Man and Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man. The story followed Peter Parker as a teen living in New York but he is dating Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane is just a friend. This was also the first Spidey series where some of the supporting characters were people of color, much like the Marvel Ultimate universe where Nick Fury is black. I really enjoyed this show because much like the comics, it showed Peter and Gwen’s growing relationship and that most of the first season focused on the creation Venom and Eddie Brock as well as the first appearance of the Green Goblin. Sadly it only lastest for two seasons when Sony’s adaptation copyrights went back to Marvel.
Earlier this year, Disney XD started airing Ultimate Spider-Man which is a bit different from any other Spidey shows. In this one, Peter is recruited by Nick Fury to become a part of a hero team, much like the Avengers, with Luke Cage a.k.a. Power Man, White Tiger, Iron Fist and Nova. After watching a few episodes, I must say it is enjoyable and reminds me a lot of Teen Titans (oh no, DC reference in a Marvel story). Hopefully this show last because I feel it has a lot of potential.
This week, in theaters we have a reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise! YAY! The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone (swoon) as Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors a.k.a. Lizard and is directed by Marc Webb (coincidence, maybe, I don’t know but a Spider-Man movie directed a guys thats last name is Webb is pretty cool to me.) Here is the plot…
Teenage social outcast Peter Parker spends his days trying to unravel the mystery of his own past, and trying to win the heart of his high school crush, Gwen Stacy. Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase belonging to his father, who abandoned him when he was a child, which leads him to his father’s former research partner, Dr. Curtis Connors. The discovery of his father’s secret coupled with an encounter with a genetically altered spider, will ultimately shape his destiny to become “Spider-Man” and bring him face to face with Connors, who becomes the Lizard.
After seeing a bunch of trailers and reading a bunch of reviews, I am totally sold on this movie and can not wait for it! If you haven’t seen a trailer, get out from under your rock and watch it now!