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Spider-Man, also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series, is an award-winning American animated series starring the Marvel Comics superhero, Spider-Man. The show ran on Fox Kids from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998. The producer/story editor was John Semper, Jr. and production company was Marvel Productions. Reruns can currently be seen in various countries on Jetix, and Disney XD in the UK on Saturday's and Sunday's.


The series tells the story of a 19-year-old Peter Parker in his first year at Empire State University, and his alter-ego Spider-Man. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his powers, is single and a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle. The show features most of Spider-Man's classic villains, including the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Rhino, the Shocker, The Vulture, and the Chameleon, as well as more recent villains such as Venom, Carnage, and the Hobgoblin. Over the course of the series the single Peter Parker contends with the romantic interests of Mary Jane Watson, Black Cat and her alter ego, Felicia Hardy.

Production overview

While Marvel's X-Men: The Animated Series was being produced by Saban, Spider-Man was produced by the newly formed Marvel Films Animation; it was the only series that in-house studio produced, but was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha with Korean studios. The series is the second longest-running Marvel show created, after X-Men, as well as the longest-running series based on Spider-Man. It is currently owned and distributed by The Walt Disney Company, which acquired all Fox Kids-related properties from News Corporation and Saban International in 2001.


Avi Arad was the executive producer of the show. One of the obligations of working with Fox was to make the show educational by introducing resolvable, child-appropriate social issues. Semper said he believed Spider-Man to be particularly good for this because the show takes place in real world New Yorkmarker making it able to tackle problems "closer to home".


Concept art for Spider-Man.
To reproduce the New York's style background illustrators undertook a large amount of visual research, using photo archives from above New York, particularly rooftops. Maps were consulted for references and buildings were faithfully reproduced.

It has been reported that the animation cells depicting Manhattan's Pan Am Buildingmarker were scrapped after being complete because the California-based art staff learned the Midtown landmark had been given a new sign more than a year earlier.

The animation staff were directed to populate the city with cars and crowds on the street level. Semper believed that was one of the limitations of earlier Spider-Man animated projects.

Originally, Marvel Films planned to make the backgrounds completely CGI while Spider-Man 'webslinged' around New York, yet due to budget constraints were forced to use traditional cel based animation while occasionally using CGI backgrounds. As well, reuse of animation became more common as the series progressed, which also included reuse of animation involving a character speaking (these scenes were sometimes slowed down in order to better match the actor's voice to the animation).


By 1994, heavy censorship was being enforced by Fox because certain shows were being banned for excessive violence in some countries. So in a bid to make Spider-Man as politically correct as possible, the producers of the show were instructed to abide by their extensive list of requirements. Among the notable restrictions were:

Not mentioning "death", "die", "dead" or "kill"

Death and words with strong negative meanings were to be avoided, leading Semper to skirt around the issue. "Destroy" and "destruction" were frequently employed as synonyms. For example:
  • Rather than explicitly stating that Uncle Ben was killed the show only says that he "was shot" and that Peter "let him down."
  • It is stated that the Punisher's family was "caught in a crossfire between rival gangs", and the same applied to the wife of the Destroyer.
  • In "Night of the Lizard," after the Lizard is transformed back into Dr. Conners, he is unconscious. His wife asks Spider-Man, "Is he-" and Spider-Man says, "He'll be okay." cutting her off.
  • In "Hydro-Man," when Hydro-Man is defeated and evaporated, Mary Jane askes "Is he-?" Spider-Man cuts her off by saying "Not necessarily." He goes on to explain that water that evaporates always eventually returns to the earth in the form of rain.
  • In "Turning Point," when the Green Goblin returns after seemingly perishing, Spider-Man says, "You?! But I thought you were-" and the Green Goblin cuts him off with, "I'm not.. but you'll soon be!" before throwing a Pumpkin Bomb at Spider-Man.

Notable exceptions:
  • In "Sting of the Scorpion", when J. Jonah Jameson offers Gargan to get back at Spider-Man, he replies by saying that he'd "kill for the chance."
  • In "Hydro Man", Liz Allan says "kill" in pig latin to Mary Jane.
  • In "The Return of Kraven," when Felicia's mother is attacked by Kraven, she says "That madman nearly killed you."
  • In "Enter the Green Goblin," Mary Jane suggests that Harry is trying to "avenge the death of his father."
  • In "The Spot," when trying to reason with The Spot, Spider-Man says "You're no killer."
  • In "Farewell, Spider-Man," Spider-Carnage, an insane version of Peter Parker combined with the Carnage symbiote, is snapped to his senses by a still-living Uncle Ben related to the rich Spider-Man of that reality. Because the Carnage Symbiote is trying to regain control, Spider-Carnage commits suicide by detonating a 'reality bomb' in a small portal.
  • Several other characters, including Mysterio, Jameson's wife and the Kingpin's father are implied to have died off-screen.
  • Death words are used regularly in the Six Forgotten Warriors five-part episode saga.

Not using realistic weapons

Many realistic guns were not allowed, and no firearms could shoot bullets, so instead they fired lasers complimented by 'futuristic' sound effects. This often led to scenes in which ordinary policemen wielded futuristic pistols. However, in Episode 3.09, Robbie Robertson's son Randy finds a real-looking gun in his father's desk, though it is never fired on screen, and in Episode 56, when Keane Marlow is telling the story of how he lost his wife, the bank robbers are firing a pistol and a semi-automatic. In "Day of the Chameleon", the Chameleon is about to pull out a realistic looking pistol from behind his back before Spider-Man stops him. In "Sting of the Scorpion" a flashback shows Jameson's wife's killer supposedly using a realistic gun in a drive by shooting. In the episode "Make a Wish", a police officer is also pointing a realistic looking pistol at Spider-Man. It is worth noting that the roughly contemporary Batman: The Animated Series, which also aired on Fox Kids, portrayed realistic firearms onscreen throughout that show's run without ever having an episode banned or censored as a result. Kasidy however threw a realistic grenade in "The Return of Venom pt.1"

Other restrictions

  • Spider-Man was not allowed to hit anyone with his fist, however there were a few exceptions. In "The Spot," he uses his spider-sense to guide a punch through a dimension portal and knock out the Spot. He also punches the Scorpion's tail near the end of the episode, "The Sting Of The Scorpion," and punches the villain twice in "The Final Nightmare."
  • No crashing glass was allowed. However, in "The Cat," when Spider-Man and Doc Ock are battling in Felicia and Anastasia Hardy's home, Ock accidentally smashes a glass window with one of his tentacles.
  • No children in peril, although in "Rocket Racer," there is a scene where the Rocket Racer, a teenager named Robert, is stuck to the bottom of an elevator, about to be crushed until Spider-Man saves him.
  • No vampires were allowed on the show. This created complications with the use of the characters Morbius the living vampire and Blade the vampire hunter. Consequently, Morbius only drains victims through suckers on his hands, rather than by biting them in the traditional vampire style on the neck, and instead of blood, his sustenance is referred to only as "plasma." The word "blood" is used regularly in non-vampire episodes. True vampires later appeared anyway, primarily in the form of Blade's vampire mother, but they are not shown actually biting anyone.
  • Spider-Man was not allowed to harm any pigeons when he landed on rooftops.
  • Cletus Kasady a.k.a. Carnage is not a serial killer in the series, just a madman. Carnage never actually uses his symbiotic blades to harm anyone, he is either stopped or dodged. He also absorbs people's energy rather than killing them outright. He has made a few references to attempts to murder. For instance in "Carnage," when Baron Mordo states to him that he needs to absorb a few more life forces, Carnage says "Only a few? Too bad!". He also refers to his process of draining life force as "feeding".

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, ABC Family heavily edited the season one finale "Day of the Chameleon" to remove the World Trade Centermarker buildings, parts of the New York skyline, and a helicopter crashing into a building, exploding, and falling to the ground below, among other shots. This resulted in the first scene being impossible to comprehend as it was originally intended. Dialogue was re-looped to match the new, shorter version. Some production credits from the episode are missing as well, due to their being on screen during the omitted footage. Another noticeable edit can be viewed in season three's "Enter the Green Goblin." In the original, the Goblin Glider slams into a building with Spider-Man riding on top. In the newly edited version, the scene is cut, and Spider-Man is shown simply emerging from a hole in the side of the building. Yet another edit occurs near the end of season two's "Duel of the Hunters," when it is revealed that Kraven and Punisher's last battle with the "Man-Spider" is in fact inside the parking garage of the World Trade Center, and that Kraven had deduced the location by smelling some webbing left at a previous battle and detecting remnant soot in it from the terrorist bombing of the early 1990smarker. The whole sequence of Punisher finding out where they are and Kraven's explanation of how he knew where to look for them was cut.

Cancelled film

The show's producers were instructed to leave long time villains Sandman and Electro out of the series due to their use in James Cameron's script. Spider-Man also aired without an introductory episode because this was supposed to be explained in the film. When the project eventually fell through, Semper worked a flashback into the episode "Make A Wish" and introduced Electro to "The Six Forgotten Warriors" five part episode.




Spider-Man: The Animated Series was one of the most popular shows on Fox Kids, ranking with and occasionally above other hit shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series. Even after the series ended, it still had an impact on the entertainment industry, boosting sales of myriads of Spider-Man merchandise and popularity. The show was named the 84th best animated series by IGN.


First series of the show's toy line.

Three comics based on the series were produced:
  • Spider-Man Adventures (December 1994 to February 1996) Spider-Man Adventures #1-4 was later reprinted in Kellogg's Froot Loops Mini-Comics #1-4.
  • Adventures of Spider-Man: (April 1996 to March 1997) This featured new stories based on the series. Adventures of Spider-Man was later reprinted in Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #11-21 from August 1996 to May 1997.
  • Marvel Adventures

A number of video games based on the series were also produced:

Electronic versions of classic Spider-Man comics were released by Marvel that included narration by Christopher Daniel Barnes and featured animation and theme music from this series. Spider-Man novels inspired by selected episodes were also released. A wide variety of themed merchandise (lunch boxes, cereals, clothing etc) was produced. McDonald's produced a themed line of Happy Meal toys for the show but this paled in comparison to the extensive official toy line that ran over 8 series and included a staggering amount of play sets and vehicles.

Release availability

Despite the fact that the show ended more than a decade ago, the success of the live-action Spider-Man films have sparked more interest in new fans, allowing the series to air in reruns thanks to its new owners: Disney. Notably, the episodes aired in their chronological order, not Fox's original air dates. Unfortunately, as with revivals of similar shows, many scenes are cut out.

DVD releases

Region 1

To date, the only releases have been several volume sets from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment that feature 4 or 5 episodes each. It is unknown if season sets of the series will be released at some point.

Title Release Date
Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown 30 April 2002
  • The Sins of the Fathers Chapter II: Make a Wish
  • The Sins of the Fathers Chapter III: Attack of the Octobot
  • The Sins of the Fathers Chapter IV: Enter the Green Goblin
  • The Sins of the Fathers Chapter V: The Rocket Racer

  • 1967 Classic Episode: "The Origins Of Spider-Man"
Spider-Man: The Return of the Green Goblin 29 October 2002
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter XII: The Spot
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter XIII: Goblin War!
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter XIV: The Turning Point
  • Partners in Danger: Chapter I: Guilty
  • Partners in Danger: Chapter VIII: The Return of the Green Goblin (WARNING: This is missing its background music)
  • 1967 Classic Episode: "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus/Magic Malice"
Daredevil vs. Spider-Man 11 February 2003
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter VI: Framed
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter VII: The Man Without Fear
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter VIII: The Ultimate Slayer
  • The Sins of the Father: Chapter IX: Tombstone

  • Classic 1966 Bonus Episode: "King Pinned" - Featuring Kingpin
  • Fantastic Four Bonus Episode, "And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them" - Featuring Daredevil
The Ultimate Spider-Man Collection 2 November 2003
DVD Sets:
  • Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown
  • Spider-Man: The Return of the Green Goblin
  • Daredevil vs. Spider-Man
Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock 29 June 2004
  • Doctor Octopus: Armed And Dangerous
  • Partners in Danger: Chapter II: The Cat
  • Partners in Danger: Chapter III: The Black Cat
  • Partners in Danger: Chapter V: Partners

  • A classic 1967 bonus episode: The Power Of Dr. Octopus/Sub-Zero For Spidey (only available on the DVD edition)
Spider-Man: The Venom Saga 7 June 2005
  • The Alien Costume, Part One
  • The Alien Costume, Part Two
  • The Alien Costume, Part Three
  • The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter X: Venom Returns
  • The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter XI: Carnage

Region 2

In the UK and Germany, Clear Vision Ltd. has released the all five seasons on DVD as of October 19, 2009.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Complete Season 1 13 June 22, 2009
Complete Season 2 14 August 3, 2009
Complete Season 3 14 August 17, 2009
Complete Season 4 11 September 15, 2009
Complete Season 5 13 October 19, 2009

Other releases

  • A Canadian DVD containing four episodes from the "Mutant Agenda" episodes.
  • A VCD release by Magnavision Home Video.
  • A boxed set of all the DVDs released in Poland, simply entitled "Spider-Man: 5 DVD Set". The front of the box features the same graphics as "The Ultimate Villain Showdown", but is relief.
  • Several two-episode DVDs released by Marvel in 2002 prior to the acquisition by Disney.
  • The entire first season is available on Xbox Live and iTunes through Disney XD.

Bootleg DVDs of the show have become popular among fans due to a lack of official DVD releases. The bootlegs feature all of the episodes but some of them have low video quality and watermarks. This is likely to change as the entire series becomes available in the UK. Spider-Man: The Animated Series is currently the 23rd most wanted unreleased DVD at


Writer / Producer John Semper Jr. won an Annie Award in 1995 for Best Individual Achievement for Writing in the Field of Animation for the episode "Day of the Chameleon". Spider-Man was nominated for 1 1996 Image Award for Outstanding Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special.

International syndication



External links

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