Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Multiverse Builds On MTV’s Long-Lost Cartoon


In 2021, some sort of shared universe for cinematic properties is not only common but expected – look no further than the latest example, Spider-Man: No Path Home, the last part of the first Spider-Man trilogy from Marvel / Disney / Sony but also a real nostalgia factory. The incarnations of characters from Spider-Man’s past, once lost behind walls of reboots and buy-and-sell rights issues, return to threaten Peter Parker and make all the money in the world at the box office. Relentless shots of serotonin based on the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is so powerful it can revive the dead, fictional or franchisable.

Almost 20 years ago, however, the idea of ​​a fantasy series crossing multiple mediums instead of unfolding in a set pattern of movie sequels was unknown, which makes MTV Spider-Man: The New Animated Series at least a little innovative. He wouldn’t exist for very long, his abrupt cancellation pushing him to the bottom of the pantheon of Spider-Man productions. But its existence gives a glimpse of a superhero expansion, no matter how prehistoric it feels compared to today’s offerings.

At first, the fact that we not only have a competent Spider-Man movie, but a really good movie seemed like a miracle. The Batman movies had apparently exhausted their options; Blade had been received as endlessly cool but not as a game changer; and the 2000s X Men was a hit, but often felt more like characters filtered through the aesthetic of The matrix than a true love letter to comics.

After decades of failed attempts at Spider-Man, Sam Raimi stepped in and scored a home run: the first film to score more than $ 100 million in its opening weekend, and critics who seemed stunned by it. to have enjoyed a comic book movie so much. With such unforeseen and monumental success, Spider Man would win not only a sequel, but a “New Animated” TV spin-off, long before Disney + unleashed a barrage of shows built around the hope that you’d like to see your superheroes on the big screen on a smaller one. .

Unfortunately, speeding up the spin-off meant swallowing up a plan that was already in motion. The new animated series was originally conceived as an adaptation of the very popular Ultimate Spider-Man, a comic that had started publication just two years before Raimi’s films and was by far the most consistent in the Ultimate Marvel imprint. Designed to reboot Marvel heroes, rebuild characters from the intricate web of lore, and remove them from the encyclopedia of the dead, rebirth and event streak they had amassed since the ’60s, the Ultimate line was a good starting point for new fans. It was ripe for a TV show, but the popularity of Spider Man launched a sort of “of course”. Now the show would serve as a sequel and spinoff of the film for voracious fans who couldn’t wait until 2004 to Spider-man 2.

Photo: wonder

But the effects of being a series developed as one thing and turned into another are evident from the start. Peter Parker’s design is obviously inspired by his Ultimate Spider-Man counterpart, with his character trapped between the silly vibes of all of Tobey Maguire’s men and the sarcastic teenager from the comics. Meanwhile, Mary Jane Watson, the other half of Raimi’s balance between superhero epic and romance, looks a bit like a Kirsten Dunst caricature you would do in Myrtle Beach.

It’s in the supporting cast that any attempt to be a direct spinoff continues to unfold, disconnecting her from the films she’s supposed to bank on. Keith Carradine plays J. Jonah Jameson, his dialogue clearly based on JK Simmons’ immortal performance from the film, but running on Carradine’s tame autopilot. An array of prominent Spider-Man villains also appear over the course of the short 13-episode series, ranging from The Lizard to Kraven the Hunter to Electro to Silver Sable to others. In a 20-minute cartoon, that’s a lot to throw at a Spider-Man who spends the first two films worrying about complex personal relationships with his antagonists.

The voice cast is a time capsule in its own right: Neil Patrick Harris plays Spider-Man, a role he would return to in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Game. Curt Connors, the scientist whose pride and ambition lead him to become the Lizard, is voiced by Rob Zombie. Virginia Madsen voices Silver Sable. Ethan Embry, currently playing Grace & Frankie, find perhaps the best role of the show in the Electro tortured.

The quality of their appearances varies, but a few are absolutely confusing in the context of the franchise’s overall continuity. For example, Connors, who would be played by Dylan Baker in a “Will They / Won’t They Turn Into A Supervillain” cameo in Spider-man 2 and 3, is brutally killed at the end of his episode. Regardless of whether it was due to poor planning or poor communication between the creators of the film and the TV series, it certainly confuses things, especially if you engage with it. New animated series as Raimi Spider-Man’s last resort.

Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man

Image: Sony Pictures

Peter, Harry and MJ in a pic from Spider-Man: The New Animated Series

Peter, Harry and MJ in a photo from the series.
Photo: wonder

Then there is the end. Consumed by guilt with Kraven the Hunter and The Gaines Twins (voiced by Jeremy Piven and, I’m not kidding, Kathy Griffin), Spider-Man throws his suit in the harbor and gives it all up. Due to their psychological warfare, Peter is manipulated into thinking that they killed both Mary Jane and then another love interest, causing him to lose confidence in the effectiveness of his heroism.

Obviously, by the time Spider-man 2 rolls, Spidey is back in action, and the classic plot of Peter Parker abandoning his superhero character due to his constant struggles would form the backbone of this film as well. But there would never be a Season 2, so audiences who managed to catch the two wondered how Peter got out of that particular rut, not to mention the complete lack of indication that he fought the nearly a dozen villains he encounters in the Show. The show can’t help but feel like Spider-man 2 light, given that New animated series never quite manages to develop a strong level of empathy towards his characters, trapped as they spin their wheels between films.

While The new animated adventureIt’s primarily a spinoff, an addition to its cast makes it an interesting prototype for the shared Marvel Universe: The Kingpin, voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan who also portrayed the Crime Boss in the 2003 daredevil movie. Along with Duncan’s role, the character’s race (Black, unlike the traditionally white Kingpin from the comics) also raises the question of whether this relates to the movies as well.

At first, with the film and TV rights to the characters still scattered after Marvel’s bankruptcy, it is not clear whether Kingpin’s inclusion was due to an agreement between various branches of entertainment or simply to dodge any legal issues. . However, given that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine almost made an appearance in the first film and the mention of Dr. Strange in the second, the Raimi trilogy is turned into a potential shared universe that focuses solely on the Spider-ey bits. Still, that’s a far cry from Kingpin’s latest cameo in Marvel TV and the modern MCU’s interconnection with access to virtually every Marvel superhero.

Spider-Man battling the Lizard in a still image from Spider-Man: The New Animated Series

Photo: wonder

Today, The new animated series remains a curiosity with a few brilliant moments. Embry’s turn as Electro is the closest the series comes to the pathos of Raimi’s films, with the character portrayed as a bullied alien who becomes a victim of his own anger. The animation, a cel-shaded 3D, is undeniably dated, but it also creates a series unlike any other animated release for Spider-Man. As a huge fan of Raimi’s movies, it’s just nice to sit in this world for a little while, although it’s not entirely clear if it is. Actually trying to be that world sometimes.

In the era of spinoff series with distinct and specific long-range planning in mind, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series is awkward in comparison. He also can never escape the fact that, despite its diversions, he’s meant to coincide with the movies, which means in the grand scheme of Spider-Man cartoons, that’s an outlier. The cartoon to follow him, the 2008s The spectacular Spider-Man, is one of the best superhero series of all time and is a fresh take on Spider-Man’s early years despite this story being told over and over again. the Spider Man series before it, the beloved 1994 Fox Kids cartoon, remained a nostalgic favorite (and brought the concept of a “Spider Verse” to screen). Same futuristic from 1999 Spider-Man Unlimited often feels more cherished, thanks to its crazy “Against-Earth” location, another addition to this pre-In the Spiderverse Spiderverse.

But it’s a show worth watching, especially as an example of the fledgling state of the blockbuster franchise that would eventually become the norm not only in the Marvel Universe, but also in the movie itself. . The formerly “infilmable” the Lord of the Rings gets a prequel series on Amazon Prime. Both Fast and furious and Jurassic World got cartoon spinoffs. DC and Warner Bros. jump on the concept of the Multiverse at its true value with, from 2022, three versions of a Batman in live-action. And before all of that, we had a Spider-Man cartoon on MTV; a TV series purported to be an adaptation of a comic book series that was edited to expand the world of a movie series that was also in part based on that same comic book series.

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