Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From Spectacular Spider-Man to Ultimate Spider-Man, Part 2: Rebirth

So, as I hope I've made abundantly clear, Marvel did not cancel Spectacular Spider-Man. Now that I've gone over all that legal rigamarole, let's talk about what happened from a production standpoint. You know, the stuff that's less ire-inducing, but more intellectually interesting.

Don't click away. Don't click away!
Spectacular Spider-ManWith Sony's previous effort, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (starring Neil Patrick Harris) barely remembered by anyone, Sony gave the job to Victor Cook and Greg Weisman, the latter of which you may remember as the guy who gave us such non-forgetables as Gargoyles and Young Justice. (Ironically enough, TNAS was supposed to be an adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, meaning that SSM is sandwiched between two failed efforts at adapting the Ultimate Universe.) Sean Galloway was brought in to design the characters, and his unique style (though it had its detractors) was specifically chosen to emulate the energy and fluidity of Sam Raimi's films (as I discussed in the first part, Webb hadn't been contacted to do a reboot yet).

According to Weisman, the driving force behind the series was "The Five C's." Contemporary, Cohesive, Coherent, Classic and iConic. What this means in reality is that their goal was to take the classic Spider-Man stories and tie them together in one gigantic narrative. Vulture and Doc Ock worked at OsCorp, Eddie Brock and Peter Parker were best buds, and all the super-powered thugs (like Sandman and Shocker) worked for the same guy. In fact, Shocker and Montana were the same guy, because they felt that Shocker was just an "iconic costume" with little personality.

In the same vein, the episodes of the show all fit into three-to-four-episode story arcs, with idiosyncratic naming. The first three episodes were named after biological theories, the next three had to do with economics, and so on. In fact, the original plan was to make extra scenes for each story arc and release each arc as its own "movie." This was vetoed after the first one, "Attack of the Lizard."

So after that legal ordeal that I went over last time, Spectacular Spider-Man wasn't continued after Season 2, leaving a lot of plot threads unresolved, and a lot of episode ideas unrealized. Weisman apparently had an outline for 39 additional episodes, which would bring us the origins of enemies like Scorpion, Carnage, and Hobgoblin. Marina Sirtis (aka Deanna Troi) would have voiced Emily Osborn, we'd have gotten the Clone Saga, Mr. Negative, straight-to-DVD movies about Peter in college, and Mary Jane would have become Peter's girlfriend, even though Weisman said he wouldn't kill off Gwen. How does that work? Who knows? We never will.

With too many obstacles in the way of completing Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel got to work on their own brand-spanking-new cartoon.

Ultimate Spider-Man
Josh Keaton (SSM's Peter Parker) auditioned to reprise his role for this show. Just thought I'd get that little bit of trivia out of the way.

Brian Michael Bendis (who created the Ultimate Spider-Man comics in the first place) and Paul Dini (one of the masterminds behind the DC Animated Universe) were put in charge of this loose (very loose) adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics along with the creators of Ben 10, "Man of Action" (Steven T. Seagle, Joe Kelly, Joe Casey, and Duncan Rouleau).

As this was the first installment in the Marvel Animated Universe, Jeph Loeb (Marvel Head of Television) confirmed that Ultimate Spider-Man took place in the same universe as Avengers: EMH, despite the fact that Luke Cage and Iron Fist were completely different between versions, among many many other differences. With the cancellation of Avengers: EMH, Avengers Assemble was brought in to not only replace it, but also to match up with Ultimate Spider-Man.

Speaking of the MAU, Ultimate Spider-Man has several episodes guest-starring the Hulk, culminating in the Hulk gaining increased intelligence to set up Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., further expanding the mythos of the MAU. And there's even a recursive comic adaptation: Marvel Universe: Ultimate Spider-Man.

So, all in all, the end of Spectacular Spider-Man led to something bigger and better. Well, we had to lose Spectacular Spider-Man and Avengers: EMH to get it, so the jury's still out on "better."

C'est la vie.

See you next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment