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The Spectacular Spider-Man (titled The Spectacular Spider-Man Animated Series) is an Americanmarker animated series based on the Marvel Comics character, developed for television by Victor Cook and Greg Weisman. It premiered on March 8, 2008 during the Kids' WB! programming block of The CW. The series currently airs on Disney XD in the United States.

In terms of tone and style, The Spectacular Spider-Man is based primarily on the original stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, with a similar balance of action, drama, and comedy as well as a high school setting. However, it also utilizes material from all eras of the comic's run, as well as other sources such as the film series and the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics.

Synopsis

The first two seasons of the series are set during a semester of Peter's high school year with season one running from September to November season two from December to March.

Season 1

The first season features Peter Parker beginning his junior year at Midtown Manhattan Magnet High School, having only acquired his powers and alias as Spider-Man in recent months. While harassed at school, primarily by 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 freelance work at the Daily Bugle, run by J. Jonah Jameson, by obtaining pictures of his alter-ego in action. He 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 the help of Norman Osborn and Dr. Otto Octavius, the Big Man oversees development of a project to create "supervillians" designed to distract Spider-Man from other crimes and stop damaging his profits. However, these motives become greatly challenged as the mysterious Green Goblin enters the picture. Throughout the first season, other opponents are introduced, including Vulture, Hammerhead, the Enforcers, Electro, Lizard, Sandman, Rhino, Tombstone, Doctor Octopus, Black Cat and Chameleon. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason appear as Chameleon's associates. Spider-Man's symbiote black suit also makes an appearance, eventually leading to Eddie Brock's transformation into Venom.

Season 2

Peter's personal 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. 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 investigates the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the "Master Planner", whose actions gradually escalate, leading to a three-way gang war between his own 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.

Other new characters introduced in the second season include Kraven the Hunter, Calypso, Sha Shan Nguyen, Silver Sable, Roderick Kingsley, and Molten Man. Chameleon's associates Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason return as Mysterio and the Tinkerer respectively.

Future

The series has currently 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 a third season does go ahead, producer Greg Weisman has stated that Scorpion and Hobgoblin will make their appearance.

On September 1, 2009, the television rights for Spider-Man were returned to Marvel by Sony, presumably in conjunction with Disney's purchase of the comics company. The effect this will have on The Spectacular Spider-Man's future is unknown at this time. Eric Rollman, president of Marvel Animation, has further stated that "no decisions have been made either way" regarding the fate of the series.

Characters

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 as direct equivalents to their older counterparts from the comics, but rather as characters who evolve into their more established roles.

Main Characters



The main characters featured in the opening credits:

Peter Parker: Bitten by a genetically altered spider, Peter donned a spider themed costume and sought to fight crime after allowing a burglar to escape, only to have that same criminal later kill his Uncle Ben. He learned that "with great power comes great responsibility", a phrase that now drives him to act as a super hero. Peter is voiced by Josh Keaton.

Gwen Stacy: Gwen is the daughter of police chief Captain George Stacy, and is one of Peter Parker's best friends and intellectual equal. Although initially fairly shy and unconcerned with her appearance, she gradually evolves into a more confident and attractive character more closely resembling her comic book counterpart. Gwen is voiced by Lacey Chabert.

Harry Osborn: Harry is Peter's friend and is the son of industrialist Norman Osborn. He constantly lives in his father's shadow and considers Peter a good friend, though at times also resents him for earning Norman's respect, which Harry has never been able to do. He appeared as the Green Goblin in Season 1. Spider-Man suspected the Goblin was Norman until he followed the Goblin home. Harry is voiced by James Arnold Taylor.

J. Jonah Jameson: Jameson is the loudmouth, egotistical publisher and editor of the Daily Bugle, a major tabloid newspaper. Showing excessive pride in his son, John Jameson, he is obsessed with exposing fraudulent claims to heroism, and is therefore always demanding pictures of Spider-Man so that he can continue his smear campaign against the vigilante. Jameson is voiced by Daran Norris.

Mary Jane Watson: Mary Jane is the niece of Aunt May's friend, Anna Watson. She attends the Fall Formal as Peter's date before ultimately switching schools to be at Midtown. Mary Jane befriends Peter and Gwen, and is initially determined to stay single, desiring to be a 'free agent'. Mary Jane is voiced by Vanessa Marshall.

Flash Thompson: Flash is a star football player at Midtown High. While he idolizes Spider-Man, he frequently bullies and harasses Peter Parker, believing him to be a "stuck-up egghead," despite the fact that they had originally been friends when they were much younger. Flash is voiced by Joshua LeBar.

Liz Allan: Liz is a cheerleader at Midtown High. She is initially the girlfriend of Flash Thompson and shows great resentment towards Peter. As the series progresses, her true feelings become apparent as she demonstrates a much more open and accepting side. Liz is voiced by Alanna Ubach.

George Stacy: George is Gwen's protective father and a police captain. He is open-minded, believing in Spider-Man when others like J. Jonah Jameson dismiss his vigilante activities. George is voiced by Clancy Brown.

Norman Osborn: Norman is Harry's father and the head of OsCorp. A ruthless businessman who believes himself incapable of failure and never apologizes, Norman is involved in many shady dealings with the Big Man. Norman is voiced by Alan Rachins.

Supporting Characters

The series sports a very wide supporting cast. Every named character who appears in the series, even very minor characters, is at least loosely 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).

Villains

The series incorporates a number of villains from different eras of the Spider-Man universe, almost all of whom are introduced as regular characters before they transform into established villain personas.

Production

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 is 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). It premiered on March 8, 2008 on Kids' WB on The CW, one week after it was originally scheduled to premiere.

The series is developed for television by supervising producers Victor Cook and Greg Weisman; Victor Cook is the series supervising director and Greg Weisman is the series 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 show's creators are striving to reach 65 episodes. 26 episodes of The Spectacular Spider-Man have been produced so far. The commission for further episodes relies solely on Disney XD's season 2 ratings.

The title sequence for the show was directed by Victor Cook with the theme song written and performed by The Tender Box.

Reception

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 Spectacular Spider-Man the 30th in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows in January 2009, outranking both Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The Spectacular Spider-Man was also awarded Best Animated Series 2008 with the series' version of the main character being named TV's Best Hero in 2008.

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."

Home video

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 9th, 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 on July 28, 2009.

DVD volume 5 was released in region 1 on November 17, 2009.

Season 1 and 2 of the series is available in the iTunes store in the U.K. and season 1 was recently made available in the U.S. iTunes store.

Toys and merchandise

Hasbro released a toy line of action figures in March 2008.

Happy Meal will have its 30th Anniversary with The Spectacular Spider-Man Toys at McDonald's.

Crew

  • Greg Weisman - Supervising Producer/Story Editor/Writer
  • Victor Cook - Supervising Producer/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
  • Jaime Thomason - Voice 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


References

External links




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