It is that time of the year again! The time where a certain wall-crawling web-head comes swinging past the public consciousness. It is time for another Spider-Man movie! Spider-Man is arguably Marvel’s greatest asset, yet until their partnership with Sony Pictures, they have not been able to use him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING marks the first Spidey film to belong to the shared universe Marvel has created, something that is sure to excite Spider-Man fans everywhere. The truth is most of us have been yearning for a Spider-Man portrayal as accurate as the one in SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

With its brilliant handling of comic book plots, its energetic animation, and convincing voice acting, SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES did for Marvel as BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES did for DC. It helped a generation bridge the gap between comics and TV and gave us an intimate look at a hero we love.

The show was comic book accurate. It was funny. Peter dealt with real issues. Honestly, SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is one of the best comic book shows ever, and here are five reasons why!

1. That SPIDER-MAN: ANIMATED SERIES Opener

Spider-Man Opener
The Spider-Man opening set the stage for excitement in this animated series.

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, radioactive Spider-Man.”

You knew when you first heard that web shooter, that things were about to go down. Instantly, with an electric guitar riff, you are transported to the top of New York City, swinging alongside Spider-Man himself, as he tries to get away from some of his most fiendish enemies.

That gang is all here, as Venom, Kingpin, The Lizard, and more try to capture the web-head, to no avail. You are introduced to most of the bad guys before the show begins; setting the stage for the action that follows. The music for the entire show was produced by Saban Entertainment who also provided music for the X-MEN animated show as well.

WATCH: Check out the opening for SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES!

The most impressive fact is that the theme for the series was performed by Joe Perry, of the hard rock band Aerosmith. Although, the song was written by Shuki Levy of the POWER RANGERS fame. The robotic voice, over the guitar, creates a futuristic environment, and it should.

Most of the characters (including Spider-Man himself), are the result of some scientific testing or accident. Going with a electric guitar gives us that edgy feel. The opener is one of the most iconic parts of the show, especially the symbolism of both Spider-Man, and the symbiote, fighting over Peter Parker. It is inviting, exciting, and the best way to let your viewers know they are in for a ride.

2. The Impressive Voice Acting

Peter Parker
Christopher Daniel Barnes plays Peter Parker in SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

When it comes to animation, the voice actors are the heart and soul of it. It is the reason we remember names like Tara Strong (Timmy Turner), Hank Azaria (Homer Simpson), and Kevin Conroy (Batman). They manage to give life to their characters, and it is all in the delivery. By raising their voice a few octaves, they can sound afraid.

With just a slight change in tone, they could show intentional malice. Each voice actor on this show carried the weight of their character. Some of these characters have been in existence for over 30 years, at the point of this show’s creation. That means the voice actors have the responsibility of portraying years of character development and expectation. For some of their characters, it would be the first time anyone heard them speak. That is monumental.

Related: Get more Mark Hamill in our 5 Best Batman/Joker Clashes!

For years, Christopher Daniel Barnes, who plays Peter Parker, was the voice of Spider-Man to me. He had a playful innocence which gave way to anger and desperation if need be. Another stand-out is Roscoe Lee Brown, who lends his voice to Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin. He added a level of gravitas and grandeur to the character, and that is the voice I hear when I read Kingpin’s dialog in comics now.

He does such a great job at portraying a powerful man, who can see all from his skyscraper in Manhattan. Furthermore, Green Goblin, in particular, is a treat to watch. His voice actor Neil Ross reprised his role as Norman Osbourne from the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon of old, which was a treat. Seeing him go from maniacal menace to concerned father, truly showcases Norman’s split personality. The Hobgoblin was voice by Mark Hamill himself!

3. The Rogue’s Gallery

Spider-man-Insidous-Six
The Insidious Six have Spidey in their clutches.

One of the things that make the Spider-Man comics so exciting is his villains. With more villains than I have fingers, Peter usually has his hands full as a crime fighter. The show does a tremendous job showcasing these baddies in a way that fans appreciate. Some of them get their own episode to terrorize the web-head.

Others get full story arcs to flesh out their villainy. Venom, who got a few episodes of his own, was able to show off his brute strength and savage nature. Kraven got to show off his hunting skills, and Kingpin demonstrated his ruthlessness. Green Goblin got his time in the sun too. It truly was a who’s who of Spider-Man villains.

Related: 6 Reasons Why We Love Spider-Man (And Won’t Ever Stop)

The show also introduces the “Insidious Six,” who are more commonly referred to as the Sinister Six. This popular group of villains consisted on Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Scorpion, Shocker, Rhino, & Mysterio. Each of these villains was given their own episode prior, so they were fleshed out as characters before joining the group. The Insidious Six is a staple in comics, as they try to destroy Spider-Man, once and for all.

They are a serious threat to Spider-Man in any incarnation, and this was the team’s debut in animated form. Even without them, there is always another villain causing unrest. Hydro-man is robbing a bank, Shocker causes trouble, Vulture is up to no good, and Morbius is out on the prowl. Even with all the villains on this show, nothing overshadows its hero. They are the necessary evil that makes each episode can’t-miss.

4. The Compelling Story Arcs

Spider-man Symbiote
Spider-Man tries on a new outfit in NYC

It is amazing how this cartoon manages to fit in so many major Spider-Man story arcs. With 18 minute episodes, the majority of the arcs are in self-contained three to four episode bundles. It handled classic storytelling. All of Spider-Man’s greatest hits are in this cartoon, which is great. They deal with discovering the symbiote body suit and the creation of Venom.

They tackle the mutant agenda and the now infamous Clone Saga. Moreover, the show manages to capture Peter’s love for Mary Jane, as well as his affinity for Felicity Hardy aka The Black Cat, in a way that seems natural. The show was an accurate portrayal of the struggles Peter had been facing in comics for years.

Any one of these story lines could be the plot for a motion picture, and the fact that we got them for free, through beautiful animation, was a miracle. The voice acting was icing on the cake. Each story showed how persevering Peter Parker is as a character, even when tested to his limits.

Being able to digest these bit sized versions of huge comic book arcs allowed me to understand the universe Spider-Man and Marvel shared together, cementing its place as must-watch media. It was a crash course in all things Peter Parker.

5. The Unexpected Cameos

Wolverine Spiderman
When Spidey is around, you never know who will drop by.

New York City can be a lonely place, even though it houses more than 8 million of the world’s occupants. Sometimes, it can feel like you don’t have anyone to count on. Fortunately for Spider-Man, he had friends from all corners of the world who help him out when the chips are down. Anyone from Marvel’s roster of heroes can drop in at any time, adding an element of unpredictability to an already cool show.

Before the creation of the MCU, these “cameos” were a comic book fan’s dream. Peter has found himself fighting alongside the most iconic characters in Marvel history, and now we get to relive it in animation. In fact, Spider-Man is not alone when it comes to wanting to see justice prevail. It takes a team to defeat evil sometimes.

Related: Get more info on Spidey’s future in the MCU!

Whether it is Blade showing up to help get rid of a vampire, Daredevil making cameos as both vigilante and lawyer, or a full on X-Men crossover, this series was never short on characters. While we may never see Wolverine and Peter Parker side by side in live action, SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES did not have that problem.

They gave us every team up they could, and the show became better because of it. Every cameo felt right. Nothing seems forced or over the top, and some characters even got an origin story. Seeing heroes like the Fantastic Four and Captain America made me excited for each team up. It was an organic way to educate fans on the extensive roster that is Marvel Comics.

Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

MTV Spiderman
Shows like MTV’s Spider-Man failed to replicate the success of its predecessor

Sadly,  SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES aired its last episode on January 31, 1998. When the show was over, it was not because of bad ratings or poor performances, but a dispute between the executive producer and network head. The show remains a highly influential take on Spider-Man himself, even after the multiple shows that came after. It has heart. It has spectacle. In other words, this is not just a case of nostalgia.

It’s easy to look back with rose-colored glasses and praise shows from our childhood. This show is different though. It transcends just nostalgia for comic fans. Furthermore, It is magical. This show had all the hallmarks of a classic and was ahead of its time, much like BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Many shows have come after, trying to replicate the formula unsuccessfully.

The failed MTV series, for instance, was blasted for being “too adult.” Others like ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, get the criticism of being “too childish.” Somewhere in the middle sits this series, enlightening children, and adults alike, and showing them a hero they can root for. It gives them something to believe in. It shows them a hero; they could emulate and, when you think about it, isn’t that the whole point?

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One Comment

  1. Eric Matthew Ramirez

    Eric Matthew Ramirez

    June 19, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    This show was my absolute favorite when I was a kid. Even more than Batman TAS, but only by a little. Seriously, reading this makes me wanna go back and watch it all before I see Homecoming. Great work!

    Reply

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