In March 2008, we saw the launch of The spectacular Spider-Man. For the uninitiated, The spectacular Spider-Man was intended to bring the Spider-Man of the comics to Stan Lee (character creator and Marvel pioneer), Steve Ditkoand John Romita Sr. to children raised on by Sam Raimi live action trilogy. The result was an animated series with the action and flair of Raimi’s early 2000s Spider-Man. movies, 60s comic camp and Stan Lee’s signature humanity. To call it a home run would be an understatement.

The series is one of the few examples of children’s programming that, instead of addressing children, challenges them. A little like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he did a terrific job of introducing compelling conflict for both adults and children, but in a kid-friendly way. Anyone who’s ever tried to write something family-friendly will tell you that’s a hard line to toe. Being completely and uncontroversially appropriate for kids while crafting stories that anyone of any age could be interested in is a feat to behold.

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In its short run, the series has dealt with issues of substance abuse, gambling addiction, financial stress, mental health, and more. Not to mention the fact that he has collected fascinating mysteries and stories. I first watched this show as a kid when it first aired. Going back to it years later, at the age of 21, I had forgotten how good it was to use twists and turns. There were several episodes where I couldn’t predict the turn, where I didn’t know what was going to happen next in the mystery, and where the reveals were more than satisfying. As someone who literally gets paid to watch TV, it can be hard to catch me off guard, to really get sucked into a mystery. It doesn’t happen often. Yet this friendly family Spider Man show managed to have me on my edge more than once.


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All that being said, it’s not perfect. The 20 minute length definitely hurt the show. After factoring in the intro and outro, there’s maybe only 17-18 minutes left, in which they’re usually going over the villain’s backstory, continuing whatever’s going on in the life of Peter Parker, have our hero and villain engage at least twice in the episode, all before tying together in a neat arc. It’s tight. Especially as an adult more used to 40-minute dramas and feature films, the ridiculously fast pace can be off-putting at times.

Yet even when the show feels a bit fast-paced, it still manages to build compelling stories. One thing that I really liked about the show was the focus on the existence of organized crime in New York. On the one hand, it allowed writers to speed up villain stories to save time, as everything could be easily substantiated through organized crime scenes, but more importantly, it added an extra layer of fun to the rarely explored Spider-Man universe. . Inter-gang crime politics ended up being one of the most compelling parts of the story for me on my last watch, even with how little time was spent on it. The writers do a great job of setting up a fascinating political struggle between Peter’s many enemies.


That’s all before we even started talking about the incredible cast of characters. I alluded to the fact that Peter himself (played by Josh Keaton) was well done, but I can’t stress this enough – he’s honestly the perfect mix between Tobey Maguireit is Parker down to earth nerdy and Andrew Garfieldit is Charismatic Spider-Man. Around Peter we have an excellent Gwen Stacey (played by Lacey Chabert), the more convincing Flash Thompson (played by Josh LeBar) I’ve ever seen in Spider-Man media, the only valid Liz Allen (played by Alanna Ubach) in non-Spider-Man comic media, and the most loyal Stan Lee GM I’ve ever seen (played by vanessa marshal). Even that only scratches the surface. I just don’t have enough time to go through all the extremely well-made characters on the massive cast list. The only character I found myself wanting a bit more of was Harry Osborn (played by James Arnold Taylor), which is strange because usually Harry is easy to understand. In the end, Harry’s story should have been compelling, but I just found his whiny-rich loser persona too distasteful given the situation his best friend Peter finds himself in and how little he ever done to help. While I can appreciate that for the target audience, the kids who can’t understand how privileged Harry really is, it might be more forgivable.


If it was as good as I say, then how the hell did it get canceled after only two seasons? Short answer: Hollywood bullshit. See, in 2009 Disney acquired Marvel while Sony still had a deal that gave them the rights to Spider-Man. Some behind-the-scenes deals have taken place between Disney’s Marvel and Sony, which ultimately led to Sony giving up (some) Spider-Man TV rights in exchange for the chance to produce more Spider-Man movies – but they have retained ownership of all resources for Spectacular Spider-Man (character designs, plots, etc.) The result was that neither Disney nor Sony had sufficient rights to continue the story and considering how profitable the show was relative to the size of each company, it wasn’t worth Probably not worth buying the rights to. Or maybe Disney sought this resolution intentionally out of a desire to conform their animated Spider-Man to the style of their other Marvel animated shows. Either way, it was a frustrating ending for a series that only seemed to get better with each episode.


In 2021 (12 years after the show’s original ending in 2009), #SaveSpectacularSpiderman managed to reach #9 on Twitter trending, so it’s clear the show still maintains a dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, given all the time that’s passed, how convoluted Spider-Man’s rights seem to have become behind the scenes, and the odd position The spectacular Spider-Man himself was taken, it’s unlikely either studio (and doubtful they even will) will take any steps to recreate it, leaving Greg Weismanit is (the mastermind behind the show) Peter Parker for always being the Spider-Man who deserved better.