Spidey is heading back to the theaters on May 4th for his third big-screen outing called, strangely enough, Spider-Man 3. The whole gang will be back but its quite possible that this could be the last Spider-Man movie in the series. Actor Tobey Maguire was recently quoted as saying, “I’m not sure if there are more stories for this character that are interesting enough to be excited about doing more. I am not completely closed to the idea of another one if it made sense but I would say the odds were in favor of this being the last one.” What will fans of the old webhead have to look forward to? How about a new animated show? Having starred in eight previous series, Spider-Man’s certainly no stranger to the boob-tube.
Spider-Man debuted in the August 1962 issue of Amazing Fantasy published by Marvel Comics. The character was co-created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko and was the first to give their hero problems that readers could relate to. Peter Parker wasn’t the popular kid in school, couldn’t get a date, was usually broke and couldn’t afford a car even if he had a date. On top of that, though many recognized his Spider-Man secret identity’s heroism, many (including his boss J. Jonah Jameson and his beloved Aunt May) saw him as a menace to society. The hero was an instant hit with comics readers and he set the standard for ‘realistic’ heroes for years to come.
Spider-Man made his small screen debut in an animated series in 1967. Though the animation was very limited, the 52 episodes of Spider-Man developed a cult following that can still sing the series’ catchy theme song today.
That series was followed by regular live-action appearances on PBS’ The Electric Company in 1974 and a short-lived live-action Spider-Man series in 1977 (starring Nicholas Hammond, who years earlier played the eldest son Fredrick in The Sound of Music film).
In 1981, Spider-Man returned to the animated world in a syndicated Spider-Man series. That led to an NBC Saturday morning series entitled Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends which ran for three seasons. Spidey was partnered with Iceman (from The X-Men) and an original female hero named Firestar.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series aired 10 years later in 1994 for the FOX network. This version ran for five seasons and was replaced by Spider-Man Unlimited. Unlimited told the tales of our hero after being transported to a strange Counter-Earth. Apparently, viewers felt left behind and the series lasted only one year. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was a computer-generated cartoon that basically picked up where the 2002 theatrical film left off. It starred Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D., How I Met Your Mother) but only lasted 13 episodes.
Now, a new series created by Culver Entertainment is set to debut in early 2008. Tentatively titled The Amazing Spider-Man, the new animated adventures are being created under the supervision of Greg Weisman. Weisman is known to animation fans from his work on Disney’s Gargoyles and Warner Bros.’ The Batman. The new Spidey show will air on the CW’s number one rated Saturday morning schedule Kids’ WB! (wouldn’t you think they’d consider changing the name now that the WB network is gone?).
What’s in store for Peter Parker and his heroic alter-ego this time? The series will pick up the comics mythology with 16-year-old Peter starting his junior year of high school. He must conceal his secret identity while juggling the real life challenges of home and school life as well as combating the world’s toughest super villains. Though it sounds a lot like previous incarnations, this won’t simply be like the tales from your Dad’s era.
Weisman notes, “Our goal is to reinterpret these great characters and concepts for our millennium. We’ll have plenty of resonant material for the Spider-Man fan, while engaging the Spider-Man novice with the same thrills we experienced when we were first exposed to the character. Our stories will appeal on multiple levels with plenty of eye-candy, action, humor and colorful characters for the youngest demographic balanced with extensive character development for ‘tweens, teens and adults.”
Sony Pictures Television Co-President Zack Van Amberg added, “Spider-Man is such an important brand for Sony Pictures and we’re thrilled to keep the momentum going by taking it back to television with an animated series on Kids’ WB!. It’s also an excellent way to launch Culver Entertainment, our newest television company. ”
Though the movies may be ending, it sounds like there are no plans for Spidey to vacate the skies of New York City anytime soon. Now, if some hero could figure out a way to rescue me from that theme song that has gotten stuck in my head… Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…argh!
|The opening to the original Spider-Man series in 1967.
||The live-action series from 1978. Gotta love that funky music!
|Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends aired on NBC in 1981.
||The 1994 Spider-Man series opening.