The Spectacular Spider-Man (titled The Spectacular Spider-Man Animated Series) is an American 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.
- Main article: List of Spectacular Spider-Man episodes
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.
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.
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.
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 thatCletus Kasady/Carnage, Mac Gargan/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.
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 Eddie Brock/Venom, 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.
Peter Parker/Spiderman: 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.
Eddie Brock/Venom: Edward Charles Brock Jr. has had a life-long connection to Peter Parker, with both of their parents having died together in a plane crash. But while Peter had May and Ben Parker to act as his legal guardians, Eddie did not have anyone to take him in. Because of this he has always carried an envious subconscious hatred towards Peter for being able to live an easier life. However, he has repressed this attitude over the years by acting as a friend and mentor to Peter, often calling him "Bro". At Midtown High he was a quarterback for the football team, but defended Peter from harassment despite his inner resentment towards him. When the series begins, Eddie is a freshman at Empire State University, working as a lab assistant under Dr. Curt Connors. There he is joined by Peter and Gwen Stacy, who earn similar positions through their high school science class. As the series progresses, Eddie develops animosity towards Peter due to a series of misunderstandings, often involving photographs Peter had taken while secretly disguised as Spider-Man. Eddie is voiced by Ben Diskin.
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 and Lisa Ortiz.
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.
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.
L. Thompson Lincoln / Tombstone / Big Man: Lincoln is the main villain of the series as he was the crime lord Spiderman had been dealing with in Season 1. Despite working a crime boss called the Big Man, he's been called many names. His favorite is "Tombstone". Lincoln is also a philantropist. Lincoln is voiced by Keith David and Kevin Michael Richardson.
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.
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.
The Mandarin: Name and origin unknown, the Mandarin is a crime lord who remained hidden while Spiderman was fighting crime, but now after the break out on Ryker's island, he re-emerges to gain control of all New York. The Mandarin will be voiced by Lance Henriksen or Ron Perlman.
Electro: Originally an electrician and friend of Dr. Curt Connors, Max Dillon is electrocuted in a freak accident when his power drill falls on a faulty wire, throwing him back against an experimental tank of electric eels and being exposed to the liquid inside. Though Max survived, his body became an unstable living electrical capacitor. Soon after, Dr. Bromwell has Max wear a jumpsuit to contain the electricity to protect himself and others, with his body, especially his face, turned into an electric field. Maddened by his physical isolation, combined with Spider-Man harassing him, Max takes on the name of "Electro"--after Spider-Man jokingly called him that during their first fight. Electro is voiced by Crispin Freeman.
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