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Rider Paladin

Spider-Man has had many adaptations and many representations of him in other media. The first was the 1967 animated series, which is still famous today for its theme song: "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can . . ." There were two live-action ones in the 1970s, one titled the Amazing Spider-Man and made in America, and the other made by Toei, a Japanese media company that specialized in tokusatsu. The Toei version recast Spider-Man as a Japanese youth imbued with spider-powers by a dying alien in order to fight against evil alien invaders with the help of special machines, including the giant robot that would become iconic to the up-and-coming Super Sentai franchise and its later American counterpart Power Rangers. In the 1980s, there were two animated adaptations, the first simply titled "Spider-Man," and the second being known as "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends," which teamed up Spider-Man with the X-Men's Iceman and an original female heroine named Firestar, as a substitute for the Human Torch and whose civilian design was based on an unused design for Mary Jane Watson. In the 1990s, James Cameron was going to make a Spider-Man movie, and an animated series was created to tie into that hypothetical film, but as the film was never made, the animated series stood on its own, and rather marvelously at that despite low-budget animation and senseless restrictions on references to death and senseless censorship --- lasers instead of bullets and nobody got to punch anybody, with fight scenes being conducted in the form of kicks, slams, and throws as though they were wrestling matches. Despite all of those drawbacks, it still managed to weave together a great revision of Spider-Man's story, culminating in one of the best tributes to the character I've seen in years.

Then came the 2000s. A new animated series was made to tie into the 2002 Spider-Man film, and was canceled after only one season, much like its predecessor Spider-Man Unlimited, which took Spider-Man to a parallel world ruled by genetically engineered beast-people that kept humans as second-class citizens, much to the consternation of many longtime Spider-Man fans who thought the space travel angle was too out-there for a "street-level" hero like Spidey. Several years later, Spectacular Spider-Man came along, which started with Spider-Man still in high school as opposed to the previous televised adaptations that had him as a college-aged young adult, and it turned out to be a hit with fans, recreating and distilling the best elements of Spider-Man's history and even creating an especially diabolical take on his longtime archenemy, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. Unfortunately, that got canceled due to Sony losing the rights to produce Spider-Man animated series, and Marvel decided not to renew it for the sake of creating their own unique animated take on Spider-Man under the name of Ultimate Spider-Man, which is currently set up as "Spider-Man teams up with the Marvel Universe," animated-style. Not only would it feature a teenage Spider-Man learning the ropes of how to be a superhero from Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., it would recurrently bring him into meetings and confrontations with many of the Marvel Universe's luminaries, some of whom would only be seeing animation for the first time.

Then there were the movies. In 2002, Sam Raimi, creator of Greek mythology-based cult hits Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena, Warrior Princess, made a movie based on Spider-Man, distilling the pathos and angst behind the cavalier facade of our web-slinging hero. While it and its sequels in 2004 and 2007 were commercial and critical successes from that vantage point, as well as offering more sympathetic takes on most of the villains the series adapted, it also merited a great deal of criticism from fans who thought that there was too much focus on Peter Parker's angst and inner conflicts and too little focus on his swashbuckling sense of humor as Spider-Man. It also gained criticism in its third film for having too many disparate-yet-intertwining plot points and what many fans felt was a misuse of Venom, whom Sam Raimi was on record saying he didn't even want to use in the film, having had the character forced on him by studio executives wanting to bank on Venom's popularity with fans. Despite that, it did well enough commercially that a fourth film was planned, only for irreconcilable differences between the studio and Raimi to cause Raimi to depart from the franchise and force the studio to go back to the drawing board . . .

. . . hence Amazing Spider-Man, the Movie. Amazing Spider-Man differs from the Raimi films in several ways, the first being an emphasis on Peter's scientific ingenuity, something many thought Raimi had downplayed for the sake of making Peter more identifiable with his audience. The second is that Gwen Stacy is Peter's first love interest in Amazing, as opposed to the Raimi films where Mary Jane was his first and true love. The third is that the movie will stay with Peter in high school as opposed to quickly moving him on to college. The fourth is that Oscorp is being built up as a looming shadow over Peter's life, as Gwen Stacy works as a science intern at the company and Peter's father also worked for Oscorp before his death, while Dr. Curt Connors was a colleague of Richard Parker in Oscorp, and it is at Oscorp that Peter is bitten by the spider that transforms him into his web-slinging alter ego, mirroring Ultimate Spider-Man's depiction of Oscorp experimentation as the source of Peter's spider-powers. The fifth is that it is ironically Peter's scientific acumen that is partially responsible for the creation of the Lizard by way of him perfecting a regeneration formula devised by Dr. Connors so that he could regrow his lost arm. The sixth is that Spider-Man is very clearly distrusted and feared by the public and even the police, to the point of Captain George Stacy, Gwen's father, staging a manhunt for the wall-crawler. And lucky number seven: Spider-Man actually makes quips and snarky remarks at his foes' expense, something that was woefully lacking in Raimi's Spider-Man films.

All in all, these elements sound like they'll add up to one very good Spider-Man film, but that's just my take. You're all free to disagree and argue over which adaptation of Spider-Man is the best, so long as you do it in a civil fashion and lay off the personal insults and character assassination.

3/13/2012 #1
I love the 90's cartoon. 'Nough said. :3
4/30/2012 #2

I've enjoyed the Toei 90's and right now the newest show Ultimate Spider-Man.

4/30/2012 #3
I haven't seen the live-action shows, but I LOVE Ultimate Spidey! XD High-five!
4/30/2012 #4
Rider Paladin

Same here. The great thing about the 90s cartoon was that it had team-ups with other superheroes as a recurrent event in the series. Even better, those team-ups tended to take root in Spider-Man's own adventures and problems, so it was relevant to the series' ongoing arcs as opposed to just being fanservice. My favorite was the one with Daredevil, when Peter had been framed for treason as per his new job being at a secret front for the Kingpin's operations, and Matt Murdock was hired to defend him in court while they fought each other as Daredevil and Spider-Man (each unaware of the other's true identity). It helped that Matt/Daredevil had a personal enmity with the Kingpin which added some resonance to his and Spider-Man's quest to clear Peter Parker's name and expose the Kingpin's manipulations.

However, what really takes the cake for me in the 90s cartoon is the series finale, "Spider Wars." It's even more fun for me now that I can identify the Spidey comics that inspired each alternate version of Spider-Man. Web of Spider-Man #100 for Armored Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man #100 for Six-Armed Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Funeral for an Octopus for Octo-Spidey, and The Clone Saga for Scarlet Spider and Spider-Carnage. I thought the story of Scarlet Spider and Spider-Carnage was particularly heartbreaking, in terms of a hero pushed so far over the edge by all the loss and misery in his life that he'd succumb to a malevolent alien's influence and try to destroy absolutely everything around him as a solution to his pain and his "brother" who likely had to watch it all happen and was helpless to stop him until the other Spider-Men came along. The scene with the alternate Uncle Ben from the Armored Spider-Man's reality having one last moment with Spider-Carnage and then "our" Spidey to remind them of who they are and what they stand for . . . that was a beautiful yet heartrending moment, too, because Spider-Carnage killed himself as the only way to stop himself from inflicting more pain on others (and maybe as an end to his own pain) and "our" Peter would end up having to go back to a world where Uncle Ben was still dead. Not to mention that Scarlet Spider would still have to go back to a ravaged New York City in his world and be faced with restoring not only the city, but the name of Spider-Man as well.

4/30/2012 #5
My favorite "other" Spiderman was the six-armed one. I have a thing for mutations. :3 I'm not obessed with Man-spider. I just really like to see insane stuff like that, which is why the Lizard is my favorite villain. :)
4/30/2012 #6
Rider Paladin

It's cool, and it was delightfully crazy, though my 9-year-old self was scared as hell at the time. Even today, I can't bring myself to watch the episode where he grew four extra arms at the end. That was just some frightening s*** right there.

The Lizard was pretty cool, at least for the more tragic aspect of him; being a nice guy scientist who just wanted to find a way to help people and ended up turning himself into a monster. My favorite episodes with him in it were the Secret Wars episodes, where Spidey was able to awaken Dr. Connors' mind within the Lizard's body. Paging Dr. Lizard!

4/30/2012 #7
Lol. You're lucky you saw the 90's cartoon regularly as a kid. I barely got to see it until I saw it on Netflix. I spent the next three days watching the possibly best cartoon on Earth. :3 I did see one piece as a kid though, when he grew extra arms. Even back then, I ws intriged insteed of scared. Why was I not scared then? :/
4/30/2012 #8
Rider Paladin

Dunno. We're all wired differently, I guess.

4/30/2012 #9
...So... What now? Oh- what was your favorite episode? Mine was Season 2, Episode 8: Duel of the Hunters. (Big surprise. XD)
4/30/2012 #10

Mine too god i did not see that one episode coming.

4/30/2012 #11
Rider Paladin

Man-Spider vs. Punisher vs. Kraven the Hunter . . . yeah, that was an awesome three-way fight.

4/30/2012 #12
...And then Morbius cam along. :(
4/30/2012 #13
Rider Paladin

Uh-huh. Which wasn't so bad, but they dragged it out too long. Good thing about it was that we got an appearance from Blade before the movies made him famous.

4/30/2012 #14
Yah. Wait... if Morbius stole that vial of Spidey's mutating blood, wouldn't he mutate into the Man-Spider as well? (It also disturbed, and confused, me that the Vulture could speak in Man-Spider form. That's messed up. 0,0)
4/30/2012 #15

Well the bat drank it first and gain the power to turn others into Vampires so that's way Morbius became what he is now.

4/30/2012 #16
Ah... also, am I the only person who thought it was cool that Morbius said plasma instead of blood?
4/30/2012 #17

Well i was kid back then so i didn't understand it at first to be honest.

4/30/2012 #18
Bummer. You know, I never really understood the censerships they had back then.
4/30/2012 #19

Nor did i looking back on it...their censorship was stupid.

4/30/2012 #20
Ray Bradbury predicted that censorship would get out of hand... in fact, I was tempted to mention Spiderman: TAS in a report I did about censorship. I decided against it.
4/30/2012 #21
Rider Paladin

Uh-huh. And by the way, Morbius didn't have the power to turn other people into vampires like him on his own. He had to use the Neogenic Recombinator tweaked with bat DNA to make someone become a vampire, and Miriam, the Vampire Queen from a later episode managed to use it for that purpose. Alas, the Recombinator was smashed and everyone she'd turned reverted to normal; wow, really? Oh, and when Morbius exposed himself to it in the final episode of his original arc to save Felicia from becoming a vampire like him --- thank you very much, Spider-Man and Blade --- he turned into a man-bat. Oh, Marvel . . .

4/30/2012 #22
KKD Silver

Twisted... but I like the 90s cartoon the best. The only thing I'd wish they'd fix for today's audience would be the fact that they didn't hide certain words with others, and use different excuses for something that's plain and simple. I mean, really?! Giving Morbius suckers on his palms rather than sucking blood traditionally? They didn't even call it BLOOD! They called it plasma, the stuff blood's made of without the blood cells. How's THAT gonna sustain a vampire, which they covered up 'til near the end.

4/30/2012 #23
Rider Paladin

Yeah. I think, Spectacular Spider-Man aside, the 90s cartoon had the best development and interpretations of the characters. I should mention that the suckers on Morbius's palms made him even creepier to some people. It's just the whole plasma thing that really fell flat. And yeah, it was stupid of them to keep finding ways around saying that people actually died or were killed that just sound silly to most of us today.

4/30/2012 #24
KKD Silver

Come to think of it... with the fact that most characters seemingly come back from the dead, it makes more sense to hide the whole death or killing concept.

4/30/2012 #25

Its kinda stupid i mean they completely had a stupid explanation to Hydro-Man's first death.

4/30/2012 #26
Rider Paladin

Yeah, including the fact that he shouldn't even be dead because he's water and therefore he'll eventually reconstitute himself and on a rainy day . . . he'll be back. Making him a clone in his reappearance was annoying, but I suppose it was necessary to make the revelation of how Mary Jane really came back make a little bit more sense --- and you gotta admit, it was pretty sad when she died.

4/30/2012 #27

Now that..that you can call a true death i cried when her clone died damn that was heartbreaking.

4/30/2012 #28
KKD Silver

They were actually hoping that after the series finale, they'd send Web-Head to medieval times to find Mary Jane as (I think) a princess trapped in a tower.

4/30/2012 #29
Rider Paladin

Right there with you. Not in the crying sense, but I was crying on the inside. I mean, Spider-Man had to lose the woman he loved twice, and said woman was going to her death the second time thinking she was only a botched copy of the woman he "truly" loved. Truly, truly heartbreaking stuff. Goddamned Miles Warren.

4/30/2012 #30
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