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Spider-Man and his Adaptive Friends

Updated on July 2, 2012

We should have given spider sense to the Marx Brothers!

Spider-Man is one of the most beloved comicbook superheroes, and the tent pole for Marvel comics. But he's seen many adaptations beyond his comic books. Some have been great. Some have been Broadway musicals. And not good Broadway musicals, at that. In fact, most of the adapations skew towards the Broadway muscial side.

The first incantation was his cartoon series in 1967. It had a spectacular theme song! That's really the only good thing you can say about it. I mean, any show that gives a character a super power that never works is clearly not bringing their A-game.

For example: the animators found a way of making an animated character without animating his body ninety percent of the time. When did they animate it? Usually for a head to turn. A typical scene involved: 1) Spider-Man looking at a foe. 2) Spider-Man looking at the villain springing a trap. 3) The bad guy and Spider-Man watching the trap working. 4) Spider-Man looking around for something to get him out of the trap. 5) The villain watches Spider-Man get out of the trap. This would take roughly ten minutes and a commercial break to pull off.

The animators also decided that drawing webs on a stationary character would be too exhausting. I can imagine it now. "Are you kidding me? We have to knock off ten episodes by lunch! We can't spend all that time drawing."

I guess the black and white costume did make him look a little chubby.
I guess the black and white costume did make him look a little chubby.

Stan Lee soon introduced newspapers to The Amazing Spider-Man. Have you ever cracked a comic book and thought, "This is great, but is there a way to read this story in fifty parts over the course of a year without a point of reference to go back to?" From 1977 on, there was now a way.

The positive point of the comic strip was that things moved so slow that they didn't have time to incorporate some of the lame plot lines of the comic book. You know, like Spider-Man having hundreds of clones. Or his marriage suddenly disappearing after making a deal with a demon.

The negative point? When he wore the cooler black and white costume, he retained the red and blue one in a black and white strip.

Wait...what?

Couldn't you see Spider-Man saying that?
Couldn't you see Spider-Man saying that?

From 1977 to 1979 The Amazing Spider-Man became a live action show on CBS. It was very expensive to make, but it got dynamite ratings. The network wound up cancelling it because it already carried The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman and didn't want to be known as the super hero network. The network bided their time and began slowly building their empire until it became the juggernaut they always wanted to be...the CSI network.

Then in 2002 The Amazing Spider-Man swung onto the big screen. Of course they had to make some minor changes. They dropped the "The Amazing" from his name. They also did away with his mechanical web shooters. But despite the changes, movie audiences couldn't get enough of the flicks. The three movies raked in hundreds of millions of dollars and was so beloved by fans that the studio rebooted the franchise five years after the last one.

Wait...what?

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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 3 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      I remembered watching (in the theatres) Batman's "Mask of the Phantasm". The first fight he has against Chuckie Sol's gang and he pushes the table on top of the gangster. The gangster's hand is reaching for the gun and Batman casually stomps on the table to knock the guy out.

      All I thought was, "YES! This is what I was waiting for."

    • montuckyblogs profile image
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      montuckyblogs 3 years ago from Helena, MT

      Oh, I know. I was one of the many kids. It's funny that you pulled that Batman cartoon: that was exactly the point where I was suddenly excited to see comic characters on the TV screen again. I used to spend my time in front of the TV set watching Hanna Barbara's awful "animation" for most of my kid life.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 3 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      People talk about early animation techniques. Yeah, they were pretty bad. The problem is that before we started farming out most of the animation work to the Far East, the process was expensive, exhausting, and required a lot of animation work.

      It wasn't anything like it is today.

      Early animators, like Ralph Bakshi, were fond of filling in animation sequences with lots of stock footage that they would show over, and over, and over again. They also tried to do a few things like rotoscoping, like tracing over live footage to make it look animated.

      Cheap tricks.

      It also didn't get any better when parents started to complain about the violence of superhero cartoons. These new rules made major characters like Batman and Spider-man into lame acrobats who somehow pranced their way around villains until they either gave up from boredom or were gassed by some kind of non-violent anti McGuffin.

      You have no idea how happy older viewers were to see Batman slugging it out again in the 90's. Cartoons stopped being lame and the quality of their game improved significantly.