How You Probably Missed Out on the Best SpiderMan Cartoon

first_img ‘Spider-Verse’ Creators Plan Sony Marvel TV ShowsWatch These Movies Before ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Stay on target With another new Spider-Man movie coming out next year, it’s easy to look back on every Spider-Man release and compare them all. There are 11 television series, 6 films released since 2000 (including the upcoming Marvel one), and a Broadway play that we often forget about. That’s not including the early films in the 1970s and foreign knock-offs that have made Spider-Man one of our most visible superheroes.However, for me it’s easy to choose the best. It wasn’t any of Sam Raimi’s films or the nostalgic 1994 cartoon. It’s Spectacular Spider-Man, a cartoon that premiered in 2008 and immediately rose above every other depiction. It ran for only two seasons, a total of 26 episodes, but it captured the web-slinger in his prime high school days. Practically every other character was portrayed with complexity and  sometimes sympathy, while also ensuring that Peter Parker never came off as a perfect hero.The show took “with great power comes great responsibility” and ran with it. The central theme, which ran on the WB, is about this idea of choice, and how awful Peter Parker is at dealing with the consequences. This is a teenager who messes up constantly, to the point where he causes literal damage to the people around him including some of the show’s villains. Considering Spider-Man’s motto is about responsibility, he really knows how to never listen.Peter is constantly letting friends down in his quest to be a hero, whether it’s missing out on important dates with Gwen Stacy (or Liz Allen, depending on the season), or being the exact reason why Hammerhead creates supervillains such as Rhino and Sandman. His conflict with the Symbiote, and subsequently Venom, is based on him discarding it without care and it attaching on to someone with just as much of a problem with Peter Parker as it does. The relationships between the villains and heroes are closely-knit, meaning that almost every fight is personal and has massive stakes.To pad out its story, the show has everything, and I mean everything. The series packs so many villains, characters, and plot points into its short two seasons: Green Goblin, Oscorp, every member of the Sinister Six, Molten Man, Black Cat, Venom, Gwen Stacy, Liz Allen, and Mary Jane Watson. For those unfamiliar with Spider-Man’s cast and history it works as a great primer and it never feels cluttered.Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are notorious for trying to include too many villains, but in Spectacular it never feels over-done or confusing. Everybody is connected in some way, so villain team-ups make sense and plot-of-the-week episodes are packed with enough overarching story to never feel burdensome.The show isn’t without its flaws. The concept of the Green Goblin is that he’s a man in a costume. However, the Goblin’s getup in the cartoon is too realistic to be believable. It’s a mask, but it moves and emotes like a real face. The animation is basic. The characters have very large eyes and the color work is blocky, which doesn’t match the more grounded, mature writing. It also makes telling specific characters apart a challenge in certain scenes (especially when they’re out of costume).The structure of the story–seeing how Peter attempts to cope with that work/personal life balance, how Harry Osborne deals with addiction, how the crime bosses of New York City toy with people’s lives in order to focus on the singular goal of killing Spider-Man–is tight despite all these loose threads and while it was abruptly canceled on an anger-inducing cliffhanger, things still felt satisfying for the audience in terms of that story. I won’t spoil it for you here, but it’s an, if you can excuse the pun, intricately-tangled web of motivations and events and it all comes together in a way that is genuinely shocking.Sadly, if you missed out on this show when it was airing, there are only a few ways to watch it. You can buy the first season to stream on Amazon (but not the second, to my knowledge). You can buy the DVD set at certain online locations and you can purchase both seasons on YouTube. Otherwise, this show has all but disappeared unless you look for it through illegal means. I watched it the first time when it was available for streaming on Netflix, and by this time it had already been canceled.The reasons behind the cancellation are mostly bureaucratic and a consequence of the Disney/Marvel deal in 2009. Sony had the rights to the character in the early 2000s, but it gave up the animated rights in order to hold on to the live-action film rights when Disney gained control over Marvel. When Marvel picked up the rights, they started over with the Ultimate Spider-Man, which debuted in 2012 and is still in production over on Disney XD.It’s a shame that, for whatever reason Disney couldn’t pick up and continue Spectacular in some form. Ultimate is a completely different beast, designed to accommodate much younger audiences and to tie-in with the comics and the larger Marvel universe. Spectacular Spider-Man was separate, a unique take on the character that didn’t stray too far from his original incarnations, but managed to honor him and his supporting cast even more.If I were you, I’d seek it out immediately, even if you’re feeling that so-called “superhero fatigue.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more