Spider-Man (1994 TV series)
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Spider-Man (also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series) is an American animated television series featuring the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man, which ran for five seasons (65 episodes) starting November 19, 1994 and finishing January 31, 1998. The producer/story editor was John Semper, Jr. and production company was the Marvel Productions. Reruns can currently be seen on Toon Disney. The show is generally considered by fans to be the most 'true to source' Spider-man media adaptation in terms of atmosphere, visuals and characters.
The series tells the story of a nineteen year old Peter Parker in his first year at Empire State University, and his alter-ego Spider-Man. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his powers, is single and a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle. The show features most of Spider-Man's classic villains, including The Kingpin, The Green Goblin, The Lizard, The Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, The Rhino, The Shocker, The Vulture, and The Chameleon, as well as more recent villains such as Venom, Carnage, and The Hobgoblin. Over the course of the series the single Peter Parker contends with the romantic interests of Mary Jane Watson, Felicia Hardy and her alter ego, The Black Cat.
While Marvel's X-Men series was being produced by Saban, Spider-Man was produced by 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. This show is the second longest-running Marvel show created—after X-Men which lasted for six years—lasting five seasons and 76 episodes. It is currently owned and distributed by The Walt Disney Company, which acquired all Fox Kids-related properties from News Corporation and Saban International in 2001.
Stan Lee, and Avi Arad were the executive producers of the show. Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man claimed to check "every premise, every outline, every script, every model sheet, every storyboard, everything to do with putting the show together".
He and producer/story editor John Semper recruited writers who had experience from the comic books to work on scripts, among them was Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman. Producer Bob Richardson desired to give the show a "contemporary live-action feel" by merging CGI and traditional animation. Richardson described the outcome to be more "NYPD Blue than The Smurfs."
One of the obligations of working with Fox was to make the show educational by introducing resolvable, child-appropriate social issues. Semper said he believed Spider-Man to be particularly good for this because the show takes place in real world New York making it able to tackle problems "closer to home."
To reproduce the New York's style background illustrators undertook a large amount of visual research, using photo archives from above New York, particularly rooftops. Maps were consulted for references and buildings were faithfully reproduced.
It has been reported that when the animation cell 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.
This article or section may contain an unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. Please help Wikipedia by adding sources whose main topic is "Spider-Man (1994 TV series)". See the talk page for details. (December 2007)
By 1994, heavy censorship was being enforced by Fox because certain shows were being banned for excessive violence in some countries. So in a bid to make the Spider-Man animated series as politically correct as possible, the producers of the show were instructed to abide by their extensive list of requirements. Among the notable restrictions were:
- Not mentioning "Death", "Die", "Kill" or other words with a strong negative meaning. Death was to be avoided, leading Semper to skirt around the issue. "Destroy" and "destruction" were frequently employed as synonyms. For example:
o Rather than explicitly stating that Uncle Ben was killed it is only said that he "was shot" and that Peter "let him down." o It is stated that the Punisher's family was "caught in a crossfire between rival gangs", and the same applied to the wife of the Destroyer. o At one point, when the Green Goblin returns after seemingly perishing, Spider-Man says, "You?! But I thought you were-" and the Green Goblin cuts him off with, "I'm not.. but you'll soon be!" before throwing a Pumpkin Bomb at Spider-Man. o When Hydro-Man was defeated and evaporated, Mary Jane asked "Is he-?" Spider-Man cuts her off by saying "Not necessarily." He goes on to explain that water that evaporates always eventually returns to the earth in the form of rain. o There were exceptions, such as when Felicia's mother was attacked by Kraven, and stated "That madman nearly killed you." or when Mary Jane suggested that Harry was trying to "avenge the death of his father."
- Many realistic guns were not allowed, and no firearms could shoot bullets, so instead they fired lasers complimented by 'futuristic' sound effects. This often led to scenes in which ordinary policemen wielded futuristic pistols. However, in Episode 3.09, Robbie Robertson's son Randy finds a real-looking gun in his father's desk, though it is never fired on screen, and in Episode 56, when Keane Marlow is telling the story of how he lost his wife, the bank robbers are firing a pistol and a semi-automatic. In "Day of the Chameleon", the Chameleon is about to pull out a realistic looking pistol from behind his back before Spider-Man stops him. In "Sting of the Scorpion" a flashback shows Jameson's wife's killer supposedly using a realistic gun in a drive by shooting. It is worth noting that the team behind the roughly contemporary Batman: The Animated Series portrayed realistic, if anachronistic, firearms onscreen throughout that show's run without ever having an episode banned or censored as a result.
- Spider-Man was not allowed to hit anyone with his fist, however there were a few exceptions. In Episode 39 ("The Spot") in which he used his spider-sense to guide a punch through a dimension portal and knock out the Spot. He also punched the Scorpion twice in "The Final Nightmare."
- No crashing glass was allowed. However, in Episode 43, when Spider-Man and Doc Ock were battling in Felicia and Anastasia Hardy's home, Ock accidentally smashed a glass window with one of his tentacles.
- No children in peril, although there was a scene where a teenager was stuck to the bottom of an elevator, about to be crushed until Spider-Man saved him.
- No vampires were allowed on the show. This created complications with the use of the characters Morbius the living vampire and Blade the vampire hunter. Consequently, Morbius only drained victims through suckers on his hands, rather than by biting them in the traditional vampire style on the neck, and rather than blood, his sustenance was referred to only as "plasma." However, the word "blood" is used regularly in non-vampire episodes. True vampires later appeared anyway, primarily in the form of Blade's vampire mother, but they are not shown actually biting anyone.
- Spider-Man was not allowed to harm any pigeons when he landed on rooftops.
- Cletus Kasady a.k.a. Carnage was not a serial killer in the series, he was just a madman. Carnage never actually used his symbiotic blades to harm anyone, he was either stopped or dodged. He also absorbed people's energy rather than killing them outright. However, he has made a few references to attempts to murder. For instance, when Baron Mordo stated to him that he needed a few more life forces, Carnage said "Only a few? Too bad!". He also referred to his process of draining life force as "feeding".
There are, however, notable exceptions to these rules. Examples include:
- When Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson confront Hydro-Man in Episode 2.03 for the last time, Hydro-Man vaporizes when he touches hot ground, and never returns.
- Due to the unstable DNA structure of the clones of Mary Jane Watson and Hydro-Man, they vaporized and died.
- Several other characters, including Mysterio, Jameson's wife and the Kingpin's father were implied to have died off-screen.
- It should be noted that the restricted words were sometimes mentioned regardless of Fox's censorship. For example, in "The Insidious Six", Scorpion states that he'd "kill to work for the Kingpin" (a common exaggeration used by many). Another variation appears in "Hydro Man", where Liz Allan says the word in pig latin to Mary Jane. When trying to reason with The Spot, Spider-Man said "You're no killer." Scorpion even said the word "kill" in his first appearance and the death words were used regularly in the Six Forgotten Warriors five-part episode saga.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, ABC Family heavily edited the episode "Day of the Chameleon" to remove the World Trade Center buildings, parts of the New York skyline, and a helicopter crashing into a building, exploding, and falling to the ground below, among other shots. This resulted in the first scene being impossible to comprehend as it was originally intended. Dialogue was re-looped to match the new, shorter version. Some production credits from the episode are missing as well, due to their being on screen during the omitted footage. They also removed the last two episodes of the second season since both of them featured a building burning down. Another noticeable edit can be view in season three's "Enter the Green Goblin" episode. In the original, the Goblin Glider slams into a building with Spider-Man riding on top. In the newly edited version, the scene is cut, and Spider-Man emerges from a hole in the side of the building. Another edit occurs near the end of episode 21, when it is revealed that Kraven and Punisher's last battle with the "Man-Spider" was in fact inside the parking garage of the World Trade Center, and that Kraven had deduced the location by smelling some webbing left at a previous battle and detecting remnant soot in it from the terrorist bombing of the early 1990s. The whole sequence of Punisher finding out where they are and Kraven's explanation of how he knew where to look for them was cut, though the battle scenes within the garage are left intact, since obviously they could belong to any parking garage until the final revelation.
The proposed James Cameron live-action Spider-Man movie was intended to feature the villains Electro and Sandman, and so as a result they were completely left out of plans for the series. When the movie eventually fell through Electro was added to one of the later episodes, but the Sandman remains one of the most prominent members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery not to appear in the cartoon. Betty Brant was also missing in the series. Instead, J. Jonah Jameson started out right away with an African American secretary named Glory Grant, who was Jonah's secretary after Betty left in the comics.