Written by John Semper
Final episode date 31 January 1998
First episode date 19 November 1994
Networks FOX, Fox Kids
|Genre Action/AdventureSuperhero fiction|
Created by Stan LeeSteve Ditko(characters)
Based on Spider-Manby Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Developed by Marvel Films AnimationSupervising ProducerBob RichardsonSupervising DirectorBob Richardson
Starring Christopher Daniel BarnesJennifer HaleGary ImhoffEdward AsnerRoscoe Lee BrowneSara BallantineRodney Saulsberry
Cast Christopher Daniel Barnes, Ed Asner, Jennifer Hale, Sara Ballantine, Rodney Saulsberry
Spider-Man, also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series which is based on the Marvel Comics superhero, Spider-Man. The show ran on Fox Kids from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998, and ran reruns on the Jetix block on Toon Disney and on Disney XD. The producer/story editor was John Semper, Jr. and the production company was Marvel Films Animation.
- Production overview
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Release availability
- VHS and DVD releases
- Spiritual successor
While Marvel's X-Men animated series was being produced by Saban, Spider-Man was produced by the newly formed Marvel Films Animation; it was the only series that in-house studio produced, but was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha with Korean studios. For many years, the series was the second longest-running Marvel show created, after X-Men, as well as the longest-running series based on Spider-Man (until Ultimate Spider-Man surpassed its record in 2015). In some episodes, realistic guns were depicted, but only in flashbacks, such as the showing of guns being fired during a flashback about The Destroyer's origins where his wife was killed in the crossfire during a crime. In November 2014 podcasts, Semper clarified that the show was not censored as much as any other show at the time and that every time this has been brought up to him, he feels it has been blown out of proportion; Semper said that Marvel had no creative control on the TV series because Marvel at the time was in a tough time and close to bankruptcy. In addition, Semper stated that Stan Lee had influence on the show in the first thirteen episodes. The series is currently owned and distributed by The Walt Disney Company (Marvel's parent company), which acquired all Fox Kids-related properties from News Corporation and Saban International in 2001.
To reproduce New York City's style, background illustrators undertook a large amount of visual research by using photo archives from above New York, particularly rooftops. Maps were consulted for references and buildings were faithfully reproduced.
It has been reported that the animation cels depicting Manhattan's Pan Am Building were scrapped after being complete because the California-based art staff learned the Midtown landmark had been given a new sign more than a year earlier.
The animation staff were directed to populate the city with cars and crowds on the street level. Semper believed that was one of the limitations of earlier Spider-Man animated projects.
Originally, Marvel Films planned to make the backgrounds completely CGI while Spider-Man 'webslinged' around New York, yet due to budget constraints were forced to use traditional cel based animation while occasionally using CGI backgrounds. As well, reuse of animation became more common as the series progressed, which also included reuse of animation involving a character speaking (these scenes were sometimes slowed down in order to better match the actor's voice to the animation).
Marvel outsourced the show's music to distributors Saban Entertainment, who were also responsible for the music in the concurrent X-Men cartoon airing on Fox Kids. The theme for the series was performed by Joe Perry of the hard rock band Aerosmith, although the song was written by Shuki Levy. Levy, Kussa Mahchi and Udi Harpaz are credited as composers of the orchestral background score.
The series focuses on Spider-Man and his alter ego Peter Parker during his college years at Empire State University. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his superpowers and is a part-time freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. The show features most of Spider-Man's classic villains, including the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Shocker, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Scorpion, Rhino, the Vulture, the Chameleon, and Venom. Over the course of the series the single Peter contends with the romantic love interests of Mary Jane Watson, Felicia Hardy and her alter ego, the Black Cat. The show also features appearances from various other Marvel superheroes; including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Blade, Doctor Strange, the Punisher and Captain America.
A large number of storylines and events from the comics are loosely adapted in the series, such as:
Spider-Man is considered among both Spider-Man fans and comic book industry experts as one of the greatest animated television series of all time, as well as the most faithful Spider-Man animated series to date.
It garnered exceptionally high ratings for a Saturday morning cartoon and shortly after its premiere was the highest rated and most popular children's television show in the country. It also received wide critical praise for its portrayal of many different storylines from the comics.
Its ultimate cancellation after 65 episodes was not due to ratings trouble, but due to disagreements between executive producer Avi Arad and network head Margaret Loesch.
Even after the series ended, it still affected the entertainment industry, boosting sales of myriad Spider-Man merchandise and popularity. The show was named the 84th best animated series by IGN.
Three comic book series based on the TV series were produced:
A number of video games based on the series were also produced:
Electronic versions of classic Spider-Man comics were released by Marvel that included narration by Christopher Daniel Barnes and featured animation and theme music from this series. Spider-Man novels inspired by selected episodes were also released. A wide variety of themed merchandise (lunch boxes, cereals, clothing, etc.) was produced. McDonald's produced a themed line of Happy Meal toys for the show. However, this paled in comparison to the extensive official toy line that ran over eight series, and included a staggering amount of play sets and vehicles and actually lasted longer than the television series itself.
Despite the fact that the show ended in 1998, the success of the live-action Spider-Man films have sparked more interest in new fans, allowing the series to air in reruns due to its new owners: The Walt Disney Company.
In February 2012, Marvel.com uploaded every episode for streaming purposes, although they have now been removed.
The entire series is available for instant streaming on Canadian Netflix as of July 28, 2016. The entire series is available on iTunes, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Vudu.com
VHS and DVD releases
During the series' run, some episodes were released on VHS. These were from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
In the late 1990s, another selection of VHS compilations were released by Marvel Films/New World Entertainment (these tapes were distributed in Canada by Telegenic Entertainment). These releases featured episodes edited into 70-80, 90-100 minute movies based on the particular story arc.
To date, the only VHS and DVD releases of the series in the U.S. have been several volume sets from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment that feature 4-5 episodes each.
In the UK, Sweden, and Germany, Clear Vision Ltd. has released all five seasons on DVD as of October 19, 2009.
Bootleg DVDs of the show have become popular among fans due to a lack of official DVD releases. The bootlegs feature all of the episodes but some of them have low video quality and watermarks. This is likely to change as the entire series becomes available in the UK. The series is currently the 9th most wanted unreleased DVD at TVShowsOnDVD.com.
Writer / Producer John Semper Jr. won an Annie Award in 1995 for Best Individual Achievement for Writing in the Field of Animation for the episode "Day of the Chameleon". Spider-Man was also nominated for one 1996 Image Award for Outstanding Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special.
On November 1, 2014 at the Comikaze Expo, where the show's 20th anniversary was celebrated, John Semper Jr. revealed that much of the cast and crew of Spider-Man, himself included, had agreed to reunite for a new crowdfunded series entitled "War of the Rocket Men". In addition, in late 2014, Semper Jr started a website (cartoonspiderman.com) that features behind-the-scenes content, podcasts about the show, a link to the Facebook page that Semper regularly posts on and more. On April 16, 2016, Semper's YouTube account posted a video in which he revealed that he had written a short story following up on the series, detailing Peter finding Mary Jane, referring to the story as "an autobiographical fan-fiction" in which he reminisced on what it was like writing the last episodes of the series, as well as detailing how Peter and Mary Jane would have been reunited, adding one could think of it as "the lost episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series". Semper explained that he would be releasing this as a perk on a crowd-funding campaign for War of the Rocket Men. The video also featured the returning voices of Christopher Daniel Barnes and Sara Ballantine as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson respectively in an audio promo prologue entitled "Peter Finds Mary Jane".