Spider-Man: The New Animated Series

It's ten years old, so its name makes less sense now

spider man the new animated series
MTV

The new millennium was an exciting time to be a Spider-Man fan. Sam Raimi's first live action movie adaptation of the comic book character was lighting up multiplexes, introducing a new generation to the hero. Capitalizing on the renewed interest, Marvel launched the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series which updated Peter Parker and some of his classic storylines for a new generation. Less well remembered, however, was the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler's return to television around the same time...

What's The Deal?

Designed to follow on from the Sam Raimi films (sort of), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series hoped to court the character's new, hip, young audience by showing it on a channel which is for some reason still seen as having a hip, young audience: MTV. To really push the youth angle, they roped in Ultimate Spider-Man comic writer Brian Michael Bendis to consult and pen a couple of episodes, Bendis having done extensive research – hanging around malls and eavesdropping – to make sure the dialogue of his teen characters was as accurate as possible.

Still not quite cutting edge enough, The New Animated Series broke away from past Spidey cartoons in one other key way – it was completely computer-generated. The GCI look was “cel-shaded”, to give it the look of a comic or traditional cartoon. The suits behind the series were so concerned about getting the teen audience on board they completely eliminated Aunt May as a character.

She didn't appear at all, the suits worried kids would turn off if forced to look at somebody over the age of thirty for any sort of extended period of time.

Unfortunately, the desire to stay in line with the world set up from the Raimi movies meant the show couldn't step on the toes of the big screen franchise, meaning they avoided any villains that might be better served in a blockbuster summer film.

As such, classic Spider-Man bad guys were few and far between on the series. The Lizard, Electro and Kraven The Hunter all appear, mostly faithful to their comic book inspirations; then there were a number of “new” antagonists who were clearly alternate takes on existing villains, like sexy burglar Talon (clearly based on Black Cat), and Turbo Jet (sort of a riff on Rocket Racer).

The Cast

Much like the later Ultimate Spider-Man show, MTV's Spider-Man courted some known names for the voice talent of their series. Neil Patrick Harris – then remembered as the child star of medical sitcom Doogie Hoswer, now remembered as the grown-up star of hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother – was cast as the lead, opposite chart-topping singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb as Mary Jane Watson.

Beverly Hills 90210 heart-throb appropriately Ian Ziering voiced Harry Osborn, but the real names came in the villains: Rob Zombie was Curt Connors/The Joker, Michael Clark Duncan reprised his role as The Kingpin from the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie, even John C. McGinley of Scrubs and Point Break appeared as a high-tech criminal.

The Background

As you probably know if you're reading this, and have never even heard of Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, the show failed to light up the ratings.

Whilst it had a good lead-in with the mega-successful movies and its prime time placement on a big channel, with good reviews from critics, it failed to gain a big enough audience to warrant another season.

As such, the series ends on a cliffhanger. Possible Peter Parker love interest Indira "Indy" Daimonji is seriously injured thanks to his superhero activities, giving him cause to consider hanging up his Spider-Man costume. According to series director Brandon Vietti, if a second season had been commissioned it could have featured The Vulture and Mysterio.

The Show

Whilst it didn't feature that many classic villains, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series may have remained truer to the spirit of the comic books than the Sam Raimi movies did. They frequently delved into more obscure aspects of the Marvel Universe, including super-assassin Silver Sable and the like.



Not only that, but the teen drama aspects were surprisingly well-realized, taking a page from Bendis's book. Looking back, there are obvious issues with The New Animated Series; the CGI animation has dated, some of the voices are cast better than others (Keith Carradine does make a great, grumpy J. Jonah Jameson), and the stories got a bit repetitive with its parade of identical criminals in place of colorful supervillains.

The complete Spider-Man: The New Animated Series is available on DVD and streaming.

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Baker, Thomas. "Spider-Man: The New Animated Series." ThoughtCo, Apr. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/spider-man-the-new-animated-series-4039990. Baker, Thomas. (2016, April 30). Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/spider-man-the-new-animated-series-4039990 Baker, Thomas. "Spider-Man: The New Animated Series." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/spider-man-the-new-animated-series-4039990 (accessed November 22, 2017).