Evolution Of A Cartoon: Spider-Man
Take it as a good thing or bad when I say that the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films have made this superhero a revitalized classic. Spawning a new breath of popularity in media, but this week we’re gonna focus on the evolution of our favorite web-head from the very beginning…Because you already know the end.
To get this out of the way, this is the cartoon that had the classic Spider-Man theme song. Notice how they misspelled jewelry as “jewlery” around the 0:40 mark.
This show was notable because of its small budget, which resulted in very poor animation. Heck, they even used the same stock footage from the show Rocket Robin Hood. The amount of stock footage is easy to notice when you see many episodes. But the only part that really bothered me is that the animators only put webbing around Spider-Man’s head, hands and feet. I mean why can’t they afford to put it on the torso? My reasoning is to either put the webbing entirely around Spidey or not at all.
The plots were very basic, especially in the first season. It would typically involve Spider-Man getting into some engagement with a classic Spider-Man villain like Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin, defeats them, then gets berated by J. Jameson for some BS. It’s really formulaic, but it turned into trash in the 2nd and 3rd season because of all the re-hashed animation and characters.
Here’s some cartoons from the first season:
Alright I know this technically shouldn’t count, but I’ll be brief. With all of the Spider-Man live-action television shows going on, there was one show that lasted 16 episodes that featured Spider-Man. That show was called Spider-Woman.
If I had to sum it up in a nice paragraph, I’d say it’s the higher-budgeted version of the 1967 cartoon, except with stupider plots and villains…oh and Spider-Woman
Here’s the only thing I could find of this travesty:
This was the kinda-sorta-maybe reboot of the series. While Spider-Woman did a quite horrible job as a distraction for a year to bring us this Spider-Man cartoon.
At first glance you’ll notice that Spider-man now has webbing throughout his suit and that the animation quality is noticeably better. They even brought villains and heroes from other Marvel series such as Dr. Doom.
The plot for the cartoons are, albeit cheesy, are more engaging than the 1967 version. There are some laugh-out-loud moments because of how initially stupid some of the plots are. I mean why is the Vulture of all villains to kidnap scientists?
Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends 1981
This series was aired Spider-Man series aired. It isn’t really a spin-off or a sequel considering that the timelines are roughly the same.
I thought this series was even stupider than the previous one. True you had Spider-Man, but you also had lame Marvel heroes such as Iceman and Firestar. This series also brought up a question to me, how did they shove a highly expensive laboratory into Aunt May’s house without her noticing? Regardless, the series is really cheesy, but if you learn to accept it, you’ll get used to the cheesiness.
I’m pretty sure that Iceman sounds like Freddie from Scooby Doo.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series 1994
This is the Spider-Man cartoon that most people are familiar with. Even though the Spider-Man cartoon series has been known to be extremely cheesy, this one still is but is considerably less so.
The animation quality was pretty good back then as hand-drawn animation and the character designs are pretty darn good too. This cartoon gave us the basic blueprint of what Spider-Man should look-like. The city was a weird use of bad CGI, the city looked ugly in the intro and due to budget constraints, they had to reuse most of that lame CGI.
The overall stories were decent and showcased almost every Spider-Man villain, including characters from the extended Marvel universe. While all the episodes were linked in an arching story, the last few episodes broke the fourth wall by introducing all new types of Spider-Men to fight Spider-Carnage. Then to top it all off Spider-Man meets Stan Lee at the end of the episode. From then on it was left on a cliff-hanger but was never revisited due to budget constraints. Why did they seriously name it Spider-Carnage?
In summation, Spider-Man: The Animated Series was arguably the better Marvel cartoon, only rivaling X-Men and the Hulk.
Here’s some cartoons:
Spider-Man Unlimited 1999
This was a Spider-Man in a different universe. Astronaut John Jameson, the son of J. Jameson (Confusing?), lost contact with Earth because of Venom and Carnage. Spider-Man tries to save the day, but ultimately gets blamed in the process. So Spider-Man goes into a another planet in hopes to save the astronaut. Instead they end up in Counter Earth which basically has animals called Beastials being the dominant species and humans being reduced to slaves.
Every character has gone through a major redesign. Venom looks-like a steroid abusing junky, Carnage is creepily skinny and Spider-Man now has a cape. Funny factoid, the voice actor for Spider-Man (Rino Ramano) did the voice for Spider-Man in the Spider-Man video game back in 2000, which was based off of Spider-Man: The Animated Series…Try saying that five times fast!
This cartoon only lasted for 13 episodes because a show called Pokémon was airing during this time and was pretty darn popular. So the Spider-Man Unlimited series fell into obscurity and will most likely never brought back.
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series 2003
Following the extreme popularity of the Spider-Man movie, MTV released a CGI reboot that is a more teen-oriented Spider-Man that loosely follows the storyline of the movie. Remember IMing or Singular Wireless? Yeah, this show is really weird. First death is no longer implied, it’s shown. There is usage of very light language to fit that TV-PG rating too! The CGI is pretty bad because of all the jaggies, poor walking animations and shadows. The voice acting is laughably bad, Neil Patrick Harris does not fit in the geeky feel of Peter Parker and the man who did the voice of Weasel from I AM Weasel is the voice of Kraven The Hunter.
To sum it up in a nice bow, this series was only made just to appeal to the teen audience, hell there was a rule where they can’t show elderly people on the show because of the fear of losing the teen audience. That kinda explains why you never saw Aunt May.
Thanks to Crackle, embedding is impossible, so here’s the link:
The Spectacular Spider-Man 2008
Talk about polar opposites. While Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was trying to appeal to teens by having a more mature overtone, this show was going for the children crowd. All the characters look light-hearted and death or any mentioning of it is gone.
The show follows Peter when he was in High School and the show focuses on him getting his powers, going to school and being a photographer all at once. The seasons separates which semester Peter was going to school, so by that logic if Peter was a Junior, the show would have lasted four seasons. Luckily it only lasted half of that.
This is the overly-caffinated Spider-Man who has a curfew. That’s all I should say, but let this cartoon be your final opinion.