Spider-Man often does whatever a spider can, quite literally everywhere. Across all sorts of media, Spider-Man has tested out the waters, and while in some ways he’s done the best in others he’s done the best he could at the time.
With Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 out on October 20th, let’s take a look back at Spider-Man on TV!
Spidey Super Stories (1974)
During the 70s and into the 80s, Marvel produced a series of comics called Spidey Super Stories that were aimed at kids ranging from 6-10 years of age. This show is based off of that run of comics but features only Spider-Man and none of his iconic villains.
Spider-Man made his live-action debut as a recurring skit on The Electric Company, a children’s show that helped kids develop their reading and grammar skills. Now, I will say this came out way before my time. I didn’t learn about this until researching the content for this article, having said that, it’s pretty dated. Spider-Man never actually talks, and his dialogue only comes out as word balloons to encourage watches to improve their reading skills.
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was originally intended to be a continuation of the 2002 Spider-Man film starring Tobey Maguire, until that films sequel contradicted the show completely due to the ending showing Peter giving up as Spider-Man. Tackling mature themes and solid voice acting, this is a pretty decent show in the Spider-Man line up if you can get passed the animation which is a little jarring.
Admittedly, I never watched this. The animation looked horrible and the premise just seemed pretty convoluted, so I passed it off. It features Peter Parker going to Horizon High, which I do have to say I love reading this show seemingly takes advantage of Peter’s genius intellect and bases a show around it. My only negative would be that Miles Morales shouldn’t be the same age as Peter and Gwen, that ruins the dynamic of Peter being this mentor/father figure to Miles.
This show came out at the same time as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and while the latter lasted for three years, this show lasted for one year, though both shows are considered to be connected to one another. While it’s not a horrible show at all, it’s your general plot of Peter trying to balance life with his dual identity all while throwing in several guest appearances from many characters of the Marvel universe.
The Amazing Spider-Man (1977)
Again, this is a show that came out way before my time, and I have known about this for a while, though I just recently watched clips of the pilot episode on YouTube and I must say, it’s not too horrible. Nicholas Hammond stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and he does a pretty fine job in the role and I can say that about all the actors on the show. I can easily see why this show lasted a couple of years and having watched The Incredible Hulk as a kid, I wish these two had crossed paths since other Marvel characters did make their debut in the Bill Bixby lead series.
Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)
The animation in this show is pretty decent and is easily one of the best looking Spider-Man cartoons however the writing itself was pretty bland and uninspired. The show lacked a lot of character depth and its humor is dumbed down for a younger audience, calling this show Ultimate Spider-Man suggests that this show tackles darker and heavier themes much like its comic counterpart did, however, it doesn’t.
Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends (2021)
This is a children’s show. I want this to be known about this one, which should be easily realized just by looking at the animation style alone. It’s fairly entertaining for this viewer and if I had kids, I’d likely watch it with them.
I remember growing up and watching this show and being so confused about this show after watching Spider-Man: The Animated Series, it’s a sequel (kind of) but it doesn’t acknowledge the previous show at all and features none of the voice actors for its main cast. Having watched it recently, I like it. Some of the animation or character designs are kind of weird and there’s an overuse of shadowing on a lot of the characters, but it’s a solid show for its 13 episodes. Though it does end off on a cliffhanger and a second season was never realized, but this is a show worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of Spider-Man.
Premiering in 1967, Spider-Man makes his animation debut on ABC with one of the most iconic theme songs in superhero history. Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, served as a consultant on the show and helped bring Spidey to life. Though fairly campy and humorous, this show is a lot of fun and great to watch. The later seasons went down as far as quality goes due to budget concerns, but all in all, it’s a solid cartoon for fans of any age.
Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends (1981)
Seemingly taking inspiration from Superfriends, this show gave us Spider-Man teaming up with Iceman and newcomer Firestar from the X-Men. Featuring more freak-of-the-week monsters, this cartoon also featured heroes and villains not commonly associated with Spider-Man. Hosted by Stan Lee, this show had much more of a children’s show vibe and was a staple for kids in the 80s and 90s.
The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)
The Spectacular Spider-Man is easily one of the best Spider-Man cartoons ever made. It’s hard for me to rank this one above the 90s cartoon or not. I truly love both and they both serve the generation they were made in so well. Spectacular Spider-Man covered a lot of classic comic book storylines but with its modern twist as well as having amazing animation and perfect voice acting, particularly Spidey’s Josh Keaton (he also voices Electro in Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4). Though it only lasted two seasons and was canceled due to Disney buying the TV rights, this iteration is a must-watch for any fan of the webhead.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994)
It’s wild to believe how many great cartoons the 90s had. From Batman: The Animated Series to X-Men: The Animated Series to Gargoyles, they all stand out. And if you’re a Spider-Man fan and you grew up in the 90s, this was likely a show you watched a lot. If it wasn’t for Spider-Man: TAS, the trait about the symbiote making Peter bad would have never happened as that was established in this show. It’s target audience is kids, but like a lot of the cartoons from the ’90s, the show tackles heavy themes and darker material from the comics that fans of any age will love.
This is my ranking of the Spider-Man shows out so far, with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 right around the corner, it’s been lovely ranking and revisiting both the shows and movies or just researching the ones I haven’t watched. In my opinion, there isn’t a horrible iteration of the webhead in any form of media, they all serve a purpose for a certain demographic they were made in for the time they were made in.