The Spectacular Spider-Man (TV series)
The Spectacular Spider-Man is an American animated television series based on the superhero character published by Marvel Comics and developed for television by Greg Weisman and Victor Cook. In terms of overall tone and style, the series is based principally on the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko and Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. runs on The Amazing Spider-Man, with a similar balance of action, drama and comedy as well as a high school setting. However, it also tends to use material from all eras of the comic's run and other sources such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and the Ultimate Spider-Man comics.
|The Spectacular Spider-Man|
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
|Theme music composer||The Tender Box|
|Opening theme||"Spectacular Spider-Man"|
|Ending theme||"Spectacular Spider-Man" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
The CW (season 1)|
Disney XD (season 2)
|Original release||March 8, 2008 – November 18, 2009|
|Preceded by||Spider-Man: The New Animated Series|
|Followed by||Ultimate Spider-Man|
The Spectacular Spider-Man premiered on March 8, 2008, during the Kids' WB programming block of The CW. The series aired its second season on Marvel's sister network Disney XD in the United States and ended its run on November 18, 2009. The entire series was broadcast in Canada on Teletoon. Although a third season was planned, the series was cancelled before production could begin due to legal problems between Disney (who purchased Marvel during the show's run) and Sony Pictures Television (who created the series).
The two seasons of the series are each set during a semester of Peter's high school years, with season one running from September to November and season two from December to March.
Producer Greg Weisman has stated that the show's theme is "The Education of Peter Parker." In keeping with this theme, each of the series arcs is named after courses of study: season one's arcs are Biology 101, Economics 101, Chemistry 101 and Psychology 101, and season two's arcs are Engineering 101, Human Development 101, Criminology 101 and Drama 101.
The first season features a shy bookworm named Peter Parker beginning his junior year at Midtown Manhattan Magnet High School, having only been bitten by the genetically-modified spider and acquired his powers and alias as Spider-Man in recent months. While harassed at school, particularly by football star Flash Thompson, he is close friends with classmates Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. In order to help support his Aunt May after the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter is able to get a job as a freelance photographer at the Daily Bugle, owned by the loudmouth, irascible, egotistical, and gruff publisher named J. Jonah Jameson, by obtaining pictures of his alter-ego in action so he could carry out a smear campaign against Spider-Man that has, at least temporarily, turned much of the gullible city against the hero. Peter and Gwen are also given junior lab assistant positions under Dr. Curt Connors at Empire State University, where they join their friend and mentor Eddie Brock. As Spider-Man uses his powers to fight against petty crime, he gains the attention of the Big Man who orchestrates crime in New York City, with attention initially drawn to his fights with the Enforcers, Vulture, Electro and the Lizard. With the help of Norman Osborn, his chief scientist Dr. Otto Octavius and criminal Hammerhead, the Big Man (alias of crime lord Tombstone) oversees the development of a project to create "supervillains" designed to distract Spider-Man from other crimes and stop damaging his profits. These new enemies include Sandman and Rhino, both petty criminals who regularly fell victim to Spider-Man. However, the Big Man's plans become greatly complicated when the mysterious Green Goblin enters the picture. Throughout the first season, the other opponents are introduced are Black Cat who has a crush on him, Shocker and Chameleon. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason appear as Chameleon's associates. After the Green Goblin is vanquished, Spider-Man's symbiote black suit makes an appearance, eventually leading to Eddie Brock's transformation into Venom.
Peter Parker's life becomes significantly more complicated as he finds himself torn between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan, both of whom have confessed their feelings for him; he eventually chooses Liz. Norman Osborn takes on the role of Peter's mentor, pulling strings to re-establish his job as Dr. Connors' lab assistant, as well as overseeing the installment of the conniving Dr. Miles Warren into the ESU Labs. Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, Peter encounters new villains Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter, leading him to investigate the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the "Master Planner". When the Master Planner's first scheme fails, Spider-Man is faced with a three-way gang war between the Planner's super-villain forces, the Big Man's established order, and the old guard of Silvio "Silvermane" Manfredi's family. Peter's search for Eddie Brock also leads to the return of Venom, who attempts to expose Spider-Man's secret identity and remove his powers. Finally, when the three major crime lords are arrested, Spider-Man once again goes up against the Green Goblin, who is once again bent on eliminating the wall-crawler once and for all who is later revealed to be Norman Osborn. The series ends with a cliffhanger due the show ending before a third season could be produced.
Other new characters introduced in the second season include Calypso, Sha Shan Nguyen, Silver Sable, Roderick Kingsley and Molten Man. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason return as Mysterio and the Tinkerer respectively.
The timeline of the original Spider-Man story-arcs has been condensed and reconfigured in order to include classic and important characters who originally appeared much later. Characters such as Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn are depicted not completely as direct equivalents to their older counterparts from the comics, but rather as characters who evolve into their established roles from the comics. The series also sports a very wide supporting cast. Every named character who appears in the series, even very minor characters, is based on a character who appeared in the original comics, Ultimate Spider-Man series (such as Kenny Kong), or film series (such as Bernard Houseman). The series also incorporates a number of villains from different eras of the Spider-Man universe, almost all of whom are introduced as regular characters in first episodes before they transform into established villain identities (an example is Eddie Brock, who was introduced at the very beginning of the series, but only became Venom in the season 1 finale).
- Josh Keaton - Peter Parker/Spider-Man
- Benjamin Diskin - Eddie Brock/Venom
- James Arnold Taylor - Harry Osborn, Fredrick Foswell/Patch
- Lacey Chabert - Gwen Stacy
- Alanna Ubach - Liz Allan
- Kevin Michael Richardson - L. Thompson Lincoln/Tombstone/Big Man (subsequent episodes), Principal Davis
- Daran Norris - J. Jonah Jameson, John Jameson
- Vanessa Marshall - Mary Jane Watson
- Steven Blum - Green Goblin, Chameleon, Blackie Gaxton, Dillbert Trilby, Seymour O'Reilly
- Joshua LeBar - Flash Thompson
- Andrew Kishino - Kenny Kong, Ned Lee
- Clancy Brown - Alex O'Hirn/Rhino, George Stacy, Ox (first episode)
- Alan Rachins - Norman Osborn
- Thom Adcox - Phineas Mason/Tinkerer
- Ed Asner - Ben Parker
- Deborah Strang - Aunt May
- Dee Bradley Baker - Dr. Curt Connors/Lizard
- Irene Bedard - Jean DeWolff
- Jeff Bennett - Montana Brice/Shocker, St. John Devereaux, Bernard Houseman
- Xander Berkeley - Quentin Beck/Mysterio
- Angela Bryant - Calypso
- Max Burkholder - Billy Connors
- Robert Costanzo - Sullivan Edwards
- Nikki Cox - Silver Sable
- Jim Cummings - Burglar (1st Time), Crusher Hogan
- Keith David - L. Lincoln Thompson/Tombstone/Big Man (first episode)
- Grey DeLisle - Betty Brant, Sally Avril
- John DiMaggio - Flint Marko/Sandman, Hammerhead
- Charles Duckworth - Hobie Brown
- Robert Englund - Adrian Toomes/Vulture
- Bill Fagerbakke - Morris Bench
- Miguel Ferrer - Silvio Manfredi/Silvermane
- Crispin Freeman - Max Dillon/Electro
- Elisa Gabrielli - Ashley Kafka
- Brian George - Aaron Warren, Miles Warren
- Dorian Harewood - Dr. Bromwell
- Tricia Helfer - Felicia Hardy/Black Cat
- Kelly Hu - Sha Shan Nguyen
- Clyde Kusatsu - Ted Twaki
- Phil LaMarr - Fancy Dan/Ricochet, Robbie Robertson, Randy Robertson
- Stan Lee - Stan
- Eric Lopez - Mark Allan/Molten Man
- Jane Lynch - Joan Jameson
- Peter MacNicol - Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus
- James Remar - Walter Hardy/Burglar (2nd Time)
- Kath Soucie - Dr. Martha Connors, Anna Watson
- Cree Summer - Glory Grant
- Danny Trejo - Ox (subsequent episodes)
- Courtney B. Vance - Roderick Kingsley
- Eric Vesbit - Sergei Kravinoff/Kraven the Hunter
- B.J. Ward - Mayor Waters
- Greg Weisman - Donald Menken
- Thomas F. Wilson - Stan Carter
- Greg Weisman - Supervising Producer/Story Editor/Writer
- Victor Cook - Supervising Producer (Season 2)/Supervising Director
- Diane A. Crea - Producer
- Eric Vesbit - Associate Producer
- Wade Wisninski - Associate Producer
- Dave Bullock - Director (four episodes)
- Kevin Altieri - Director (four episodes)
- John Diaz - Production Manager
- Kevin Hopps - Writer
- Matt Wayne - Writer
- Andrew Robinson - Writer
- Randy Jandt - Script Coordinator/Writer's Apprentice/Writer
- Jennifer Coyle - Director (six episodes)
- Sean "Cheeks" Galloway - Lead Character Designer/ Character Supervisor
- Jamie Thomason - Voice Casting and Dialogue Director
- Meagan Healy - Production Art Supervisor
- Brian G. Smith - Production Art Supervisor
- Ben Maloney - Production Assistant
- Sherrian Felix - Production Coordinator
- Jennifer L. Anderson - Post Production Assistant
- Sean Herbert - Animation Clerk
The Spectacular Spider-Man was announced by Kids' WB Senior Vice President and General Manager Betsy McGowen and Sony Pictures Television Co-President Zack Van Amburg in March 2007. The series was produced by Sony Pictures' direct-to-video label Culver Entertainment and its television animation studio, Adelaide Productions (due to Sony's holding of the Spider-Man film franchise rights).
The series was developed by supervising producers Victor Cook and Greg Weisman; Cook as supervising director and Weisman as story editor. The lead character designer for the series is Sean Galloway. The art style of the series is more simplified than in previous incarnations but retain their iconic elements. This choice was made to ensure Spider-Man would move as he should and replicate the fluidity from Sam Raimi's movie incarnation. The title sequence for the show was directed by Victor Cook with the theme song written and performed by The Tender Box.
Weisman has stated that in adapting the comics for the show, the producers "tried to follow what [they] came to call "The Five Cs": Contemporary, Cohesive, Coherent, Classic and iConic." "The advantage of hindsight" allowed the show to be "more coherent and cohesive than the original" comic continuity, which contains "considerable duplication, a false start here and there, [and] conflicting interpretations." Weisman studied all of the characters to find their "core essence," and the show often combined characters and storylines when necessary for the sake of coherence. For example, Flash Thompson was found to be "a bully, who deep down is actually an honorable guy," while Shocker was found to be an "iconic costume" with no character, so he was combined with Montana.
The series stopped production with a renewal dependent upon the ratings for season 2 on the U.S. Disney XD channel and the sales of the DVDs. If the third season were to have gone ahead, producer Greg Weisman stated that Carnage, Hobgoblin, Hydro-Man, and Scorpion would have made their appearances as well as planning to cast Marina Sirtis as Emily Osborn's voice. On September 1, 2009, the television rights for Spider-Man were returned to Marvel by Sony. At the time, President of Marvel Animation Eric Rollman further stated that "no decisions have been made either way" regarding the fate of the series. Newsarama reported that the series' cancellation occurred just after The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in December 2009.
On April 13, 2010, Marvel announced that a new series loosely based on the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book storyline would air on Disney XD in the fall of 2011, which actually aired on April 1, 2012. The same day the new series was announced, Weisman told IGN: "I've heard nothing directly from Marvel, but I think the Ultimate Spider-Man announcement makes it fairly clear that Spectacular is over." Marvel Animation and Sony also commented on this to Marvel Animation Age, confirming that the series had ceased production.
Weisman would later write that in 2009, in exchange for concessions on the movie rights, Sony had relinquished to Marvel its license to produce television works that used Spider-Man and associated characters, but had retained ownership of The Spectacular Spider-Man series and all of the production elements created specifically for it, such as character designs and storylines. Therefore, neither Sony nor Marvel could continue production of the series, as each lacked some of the essential rights to do so. Additionally, at approximately the same time that Sony returned the Spider-Man television rights to Marvel, Marvel was acquired by The Walt Disney Company.
The series was released to critical acclaim. Before the series premiere, Matt Sernaker of ComicsOnline interviewed some of the Spectacular Spider-Man development team at WonderCon 2008 after a preview screening and stated: "This new Spider-Man series truly is SPECTACULAR... surpasses all of the previous incarnations with ease. If you are a Spidey fan you will not want to miss this."
Early in the series' run, Alan Kistler of ComicMix called the series "one of the best superhero adaptations I’ve ever seen (and trust me, I've watched more than anyone will probably consider reasonable). It’s fun, it’s smart, it's mature, it’s witty and every episode leaves me wanting more."
In an article entitled "8 Reasons to Watch Spectacular Spider-Man", Reggie White, Jr. from Spiderfan wrote: "If you aren't watching The Spectacular Spider-Man on CW Kids' WB, you are missing out on what is quickly becoming one of the greatest Spidey cartoons of all-time."
Stu from Marvel Animation Age writes in his review of the series: "At time of writing, The Spectacular Spider-Man stands as Marvel’s finest animated effort and surpasses most of DC’s finest efforts – the only shows in Spectacular’s league really, is Batman: The Animated Series itself. With more episodes, it may just surpass it."
IGN stated that Greg Weisman "has only cemented his reputation for quality television animation with his work on Spider-Man." IGN also named The Spectacular Spider-Man the 30th in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows in January 2009, outranking both the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The Spectacular Spider-Man was awarded Best Animated Series in both 2008 and 2009 with the series' version of the main character being named TV's Best Hero in 2008. Subsequently, it was placed second in the Top 25 Comic Book TV Shows in 2011.
Outside of comic resources, Variety highlighted that "although seemingly conceived largely to push a new line of Hasbro toys... the soon-to-fadeout Kids' WB (on the CW!) delivers a credible new version of 'Spider-Man,' emphasizing his relatable headaches as a 16-year-old superhero."
The series was initially developed so that each three to four episode arc could be edited together into a feature-length home video release. The first DVD for the show, entitled "Attack of the Lizard", followed this plan with the first three episodes edited together to form a stand-alone story with additional footage. The region 1 version was released on September 9, 2008.
This release strategy changed with the region 1 release of the second and third DVDs of the series on March 17, 2009. Originally promoted with the titles "Rise of the Supervillains" and "The Goblin Strikes" respectively, these releases were revised to feature the televised versions of the episodes and were ultimately released as numbered volumes. Since then, retailer stores have stopped releasing "Attack of the Lizard", and have replaced it with volume 1. Volume 4 was released in region 1 on April 28, 2009, in the same format.
"The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete First Season" DVD was released in region 1 on July 28, 2009.
The first 4 volumes that comprise season 1 for region 2 have been released with volumes 3 and 4 having been released on August 23, 2010. The remaining 4 volumes comprising season 2 have not been released on DVD in the U.K.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the series are available to buy in the U.K. and U.S. from the iTunes Store (360p); both seasons are also available to buy in the U.K. from the PlayStation Store (480p), Amazon Video (SD/HD) and Google Play (SD).
In promotion for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it was announced that The Spectacular Spider-Man would get a Blu-ray release containing all 26 episodes. It was released on April 22, 2014.
On June 14, 2013, Saban Brands announced that they had acquired the broadcast rights to air the series on Vortexx on The CW for the Fall 2013-14 season, marking its return to The CW since the conclusion of the first season aired on June 14, 2008.
The series officially started airing on Vortexx on August 17, 2013 and it ended on September 27, 2014.
Toys and merchandiseEdit
- Interview with Greg Weisman (Part 1) by Sean Elliott: Archived June 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. March 7, 2008
- Interview with Greg Weisman (Page 3) by Eric Goldman: June 27, 2008
- SDCC 07: The Spectacular Spider-Man July 27, 2007
- Ask Greg June 3, 2009
- Interview with Victor Cook (Part 1) by Sean Elliott Archived January 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. April 4, 2008
- Ask Greg (Weisman): March 09, 2008
- Ask Greg May 14, 2009
- Ask Greg (Weisman): May 03, 2008
- Press Release For Upcoming "The Spectacular Spider-Man" DVDs, Season Two Updates by James Harvey: January 30, 2009
- "Update as of January 2009". S8.org. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- Ask Greg (Weisman): March 24, 2009
- IGN: November 1, 2009
- Pepose, David. "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: The Animated Series, Disney XD 2011". Newsarama. April 13, 2010.
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- "Marvel Animation Age - Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)". Marvel.toonzone.net. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- var authorId = "56857231" by Eric Goldman. "The Spectacular Spider-Man's Past and Future". Tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- "IGN - 30. The Spectacular Spider-Man". Tv.ign.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- "IGN TV: Best Animated Series 2008". Bestof.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- "TV Best Animated Series 2009 - Spectacular Spider-Man". Bestof.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
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- "IGN's Top 25 Comic Book TV Shows - TV Feature at IGN". Tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- Lowry, Brian (March 5, 2008). "The Spectacular Spider-Man TV Show Review". Variety.
- "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Greatest Cartoons of All Time". TV Guide. September 24, 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- TVshowsonDVD.com by David Lambert: Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine. June 28, 2008
- TVshowsonDVD.com by David Lambert: Archived 2009-05-22 at the Wayback Machine. June 18, 2009
- TVshowsonDVD.com by David Lambert: Archived 2009-09-11 at the Wayback Machine. September 8, 2009
-  February 25, 2010
- "Play.com". Play.com. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- "Vortexx on The CW Unveils New Action Adventure Programming for 2013-'14 Slate - Business Wire". 14 June 2013.
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- "McDonald's Happy Meal website". Happymeal.com. 2010-02-22. Archived from the original on 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
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- "BK Kids' Meals Toys". Club BK. Burger King Corporation. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
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