Western Animation: Spider-Man (1967)
"Courtesy of... your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!"
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size
Catches thieves just like flies
Here comes the Spider-Man...
The first show to ever feature the eponymous pop culture phenomenon
premiered on September 9, 1967 on the ABC
television network and ran for a total of three seasons, entering into syndication during its final season in 1970.
Each episode from the first season more or less followed the same basic formula: Something weird happens somewhere in New York, and we see the villain causing it — usually one from Spidey's classic comic book rogues gallery. J. Jonah Jameson
, the Daily Bugle
editor, relays the information through lots of yelling and fist-pounding
employees Betty Brant, Jameson's secretary, and Peter Parker, the Bugle
's star photographer. Jameson orders Parker to get pictures. Peter somehow finds out who the attacker is, and goes on the hunt for them as the web-slinging, wall-crawling hero, Spider-Man. Spidey manages to find the villain and defeat them, usually by leaving them All Webbed Up
and with a note that always ended in, "your friendly neighborhood Spiderman". After an Every Episode Ending
of Peter, "Miss Brant" and Jameson discussing the aftermath of Daily Bugle
, the episode ends. Usually each episode consisted of two 15-minute segments, though more than once there was one full-length half-hour segment.
Grantray-Lawrence Animation was the original production company responsible for the series, but were on the brink of bankruptcy by the time it premiered and had filed
for it by year's end, forcing them to hand over production duties to Krantz Films, Inc., known at the time for shows like Rocket Robin Hood
and for being the then-home of Ralph Bakshi
, who became this show's lead animator. Under Krantz's watch, budgets were slashed by more than half and the show took on a very different tone
, reintroducing Peter as the geeky Ordinary High-School Student
he was when he first appeared (in fact, the first episode of the second season was a retelling of Spidey's origin story, complete with the Refusal of the Call
and death of his Uncle Ben).
The classic comic book rogues gallery was thrown out because of licensing costs, replaced by generic green-skinned alien King Mooks
and their Mook
henchmen, more often than not the product of Stock Footage
recycled from episodes from the aforementioned Rocket Robin Hood
. This series' animation also became much, much more limited, with shots of Spider-Man web-swinging reused more than once in one scene
, and the skies over New York City becoming all sorts of ominous-looking colors
(green with dark clouds, etc.). Finally, episodes from the first season, featuring said rogues gallery, were cut up and split together to form new episodes.
However odd this cartoon may have been, it's quite popular and not without its fans, who enjoy it for a variety of reasons. It holds the distinction of being the first-ever cartoon to feature the eponymous superhero, not to mention the first-ever medium outside of comic books to do so. (The Ear Worm
theme song was a big help, too.) A DVD release of the series was issued in 2004, but went out of print after a few years.
In the Marvel Multiverse, it was originally listed as Earth-6799 before being retconned to Earth-67, in reference to the year it first aired.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Betty Brant changed from a brunette to a redhead.
- Art Evolution: Budget slashes during the second season caused the cel layouts to become more detailed - though, naturally, this came at the expense of the animation, which was now even more slow and choppy than usual.
- Batman Gambit: In "Farewell Performance," Spider-Man gets Jonah to reverse his stance on tearing down the Castle Theater by simply publicly agreeing with him.
- Becoming Part of the Image: Happens to Spider-Man in episode 45.
- Catch Phrase: "Wallopin' web-snappers!"
- Cloud Cuckoolander: The Vulture is a bit of an odd bird in this version.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the second season, mostly because of using footage of villians from Rocket Robin Hood, the villians were inevitably green-skinned.
- Composite Character: Mary Jane became Captain George Stacy's niece presumably to compensate for the absence of Captain Stacy's daughter, Gwen.
- Da Editor: J. Jonah Jameson, just like before. In fact, a screencap from an episode of this series serves as this trope's page image.
- The Dark Age of Animation
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Plutonians only kidnapped Dr. Smarter just so he could help them get back home.
- Darker and Edgier: The second season on, oh so much. The first episode of the second season is also notable for including Spider-Man's origin story (adapted not, despite from popular belief, from Amazing Fantasy #15 [though some lines are used], but from the then-new Spectacular Spider-Man magazine series), and the second episode featured the Kingpin.
- Deadpan Snarker: Spidey, as always. Betty Brant has her moments, too. Also, Electro, Green Goblin and Vulture when put together.
- Electro can be pretty sarcastic with Spider-Man, too.
- Eldritch Abomination: Infinata certainly qualifies, in arguably the weirdest episode of the second season (which is saying something!). Kotep the Sorcerer probably qualifies, too.
- Explosive Leash: In the episode where Medusa appeared (no, not that one, this one) she ended up getting one put on her by the villain.
- Expy: Klivendon to Kraven and Charles Cameo to Chameleon. Most likely due to the fact that Kraven and Chameleon appeared in an episode of the Marvel Super Heroes 1960s TV series.
- Harmless Freezing: In the first episode but Spider-Man combats this with a self-made heating unit on his chest... which doesn't get used anyway.
- History's Crime Wave: Parafino's Wax Robots of 'Historys Greatest Villains'.
- Hurricane of Puns: So many puns that the Vulture ended up begging for mercy to make Spidey stop making egg jokes.
- Ice Person: The Plutonians.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Jameson. To quote Betty Brant: "Beneath that gruff exterior is a gruff interior."
- Large Ham: Jameson. Even moreso here than in most of his other incarnations.
- Limited Animation
- Master of Disguise: Charles Cameo
- Meaningful Name: Dr Smarter.
- And Dr. Noah Boddy the invisible man!
- Mook: Many in the second and third seasons, more often than not with a King Mook for a leader.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Besides having a web for every occasion, Spider-Man dabbled in other abilities, such as Ventriloquism.
- Off Model
- Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Paul Soles used a lower-toned voice for Spider-Man.
- Pseudo Crisis: Most episodes show Spider-Man trapped by the villain or "falling to his death" for the commercial break. He almost always escapes afterwards by swinging away with his web, or by making an unlikely object out his web.
- Really Gets Around: Post-Re Tool, high school student Peter Parker literally had a different girlfriend every episode.
- Re Cut: Throughout the latter two seasons, several episodes from the first season (more specifically, those featuring the actual comic book villains) were cut into different sections (and in some cases spliced with bits of other episodes) to create all-new episodes with a new script, to get around the budget issues.
- Re Tool: Grantray-Lawrence Productions, the show's original company, went bankrupt in 1968, forcing them to hand over the series to Ralph Bakshi's company. The change is very evident: More and more generic green-skinned villains began appearing, the show began taking on a Darker and Edgier tone akin to the 1970s The Incredible Hulk series, and the focus was more on Peter's home and school life, including more time at home with Aunt May and more on his life as an Ordinary High-School Student, phasing out the Daily Bugle almost entirely. In truth, there were so many differences from the first season one would've thought this was a whole new series entirely.
- Stock Footage: A large abundance of it. Particularly notable during the second season, when endless shots of Spidey swinging across the city (sometimes the same shot would be seen three times in a row) were combined with intercut footage from Rocket Robin Hood as a means of severe cost cutting.
- Villain Team-Up: One episode sees Dr. Noah Boddy brings Green Goblin, Vulture and Electro together to get revenge on Spider-Man.