Dec 29, 2021

Spider-Man: The Animated series: a rant

 I guess it is time to go back to the 90s and listen to that guy from Aerosmith again...

Yes, the 1990s Spider-man Animated series was a strange creature... it wasn't my first Spidey series. That honor goes to syndication keeping the 1967 series alive, in addition to having the 1980s AND Amazing Spider-Friends all at the same time, which confused my child brain. Especially with the Iconic 1967 English intro being replaced with a weird Latin American song. I did see the original intro on a VHS tape when I was a wee lad. But my Tween Brain is less confused about 1990s Spider-Man. Looking at it from a "current year" perspective, we can call the show: corny, lame, low budget, childish, and all those insults that somehow they work for Filmation He-Man as well. 

These two Clips don't help my cause. But read me out. Yes, the show was corny and censored up the ass. Avi Arad was also one of the reasons the show was canceled, especially when he was teying to outMattel Mattel at using the show to sell toys. Then there's the infamous James Cameron Movie that held back the Origin, Electro and Sandman... that's why we got so much Hyrdoman!

For one to properly analyze the series, one must look at this from a 1994 perspective.
The Censors were heavy on violence, especially outside the US and were angry at shows like Batman TAS, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Gargoyles coming out a month before Spider-Man and not pulling any punches didn't help our webhead.

On the other front they had certain things they couldn't do, like many crossovers (the one with X-Men was expensive) Spidey couldn't appear in other shows.

This was problematic... But promoting shows that were in other networks was a big no-no... and despite being on the same Network as X-Men, that small cameo was super problematic.

So, many Spidey stories in which he crossed over with other characters had to be modified to hell or scrapped. Stories that were to dark had to be tweaked to hell or scrapped.
Gwen was ubdoable because people knew she'd die (had been dead for close to 20 years) and the debate about her death is controversial and a big no-no. That's why MJ ended up Getting Gwen Stacy'd to the Shadow Realm.

We then have Avi Arad trying to push toy product placement over story... He was the reason why Norman Osborn being the Green Goblin was delayed to have the Hobgoblin first, because of a Big Glider toy...

Used a couple of times in the show for product placement. The Spider Slayers were pushed as Product placement sonce their design screamed "Available now at KB Toys"... Comic accurate Spider Slayers are not as toyetic.

Production was hectic as well, so it's almost a miracle that they managed to pull something off. 

Now let's talk Spider-Man... outside the comics he had, a nifty themesong with a forgettable cartoon... can you remember ANYTHING from it? 

Peter reading a book?

You know that from a Meme.

Spider-Man sitting at a desk?

Another Meme, I swear if you mention Spider-Man pointing at a Spider-Man...

Spider-Man spoiling moments!

You didn't even TRY to make the meme make sense!?

Alright, I only know it cause of the memes... Have you seen that show!? That shit's barely watchable!

Language! Yes, yes it is. You can blame nost of the wtf factor on Ralph Bakshi... fun fact, the 90s Spider-sense is a nod to Bakshi's acid fueled animations. OK back on topic, the original cartoon had so many corners cut that it is now a circle.

After that it had the 1970s Live Action series...

Not that one... the American one... the less we talk about Supaidaaman the better.

I BARELY remember the series and didn't bother watching it because it was Spidey against normal criminals, despite being on syndication. I do remember catching some reruns on Sci-Fi channel. I remember saying that the only good thing about the show was the porno music... before being attacked by a flying chancla. Mostly for mentioning the word "porno" in front of my 5-7 year old brother, or my early teen self involuntarily admitting that I have had watched 70s porn in order to recognize the music.

The 80s... 2 Spider-Man cartoons made roughly at the same time... only one is mostly remembered...

It's not this one... it's the other one. With Firestar jumping from the cartoon to the comics... But Spider-Man's biggest marks on media outside of comics were a logo and a balloon...

So, where does this leave us? While Spidey IS Marvel's Flagship character, it was Hulk who was more successful at surviving outside the comics... until the 90s. As Marvel was spiraling down in bankruptcy they were trying in desperation to see what could stick and save their asses outside of comics. Enter Arad and ToyBiz. The first attempt was toys and to sell the toys cartoons were needed. Enter the X-Men...
Not those X-Men... the ones with the Hungarian Cop song

This toon put the X-Men on a more recognizable role. Coupled with a few good videogames, The X-Men became as recognized as Hulk. Spider-Man,  Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Avengers, Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer, among others tried to climb the popularity ladder. Cartoons and videogames came and went, but obly Spider-Man and X-Men somehow reached the top, while everyone else was forgotten. Virtually no one knew about Iron Man until Robert Downey Jr. Hell, before the MCU, who paved the way for Superhero movies? X-Men and Spider-Man. The only reason we had the 2002 Spider-Man, the popularity of the animated series at the time.

So, let's ignore the flaws and look at what it accomplished:

-it was the first Spider-Man series to stick to the rich lore from the comics as a source. While it wasn't exactly super faithful to the source Material, it did push some boundaries by adapting certain stories. Like The Kid who Collected Spider-Man... this time it was a little girl instead of a boy... and Doc Ock is horribly humiliated

-Unlike past series, this one relied on Marvel Comics characters as villains. The closest thing to a Made up Character is AGENT X, who could be a Spidey TAS Version of Sharon Carter or Black Widow. I mean this show had Morbius, Rocket Racer, Prowlers, Big Wheel, The Spider Slayers, Hydroman. 

-the few Big Crossovers it had could be considered events. It even had a "Spider-verse" roughky 20 years before the comics. It even referenced the infamous oneclay agasay. 

But as I mentioned before, it's not only the comics that get some love on this cartoon. Past iterations get some love as well. I already mentioned the Bashki Spider-sense, look at Peter Parker, he's the spitting image of Nicholas Hammond. The later outfit (brownish jacket, reddish shirt) is supposedly, a nod to the 1980s outfit in different colors. Personally, I don't see it, but Spider-Man Unlimited's Peter Parker outfit is a more obvious nod to the second TAS Outfit.

Some people may say that Spectacular Spider-Man is much Better than this one, and they'd be correct. The issue is that without this one,  Spectacular wouldn't have been as good, since it couldn't learn from the mistakes made here. So yeah, it's a flawed bit of media that played a key role for shaping the future.

Also, fuck Avi Arad... sure, he saved Marvel back then, but gained enough power to become a villain. (He forced Venom on Spider-Man 3, he forced Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2, and the Sinister Six without proper buildup plans were all him.)

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