Western Animation / Spider-Man (1967)

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"Courtesy of... your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!"

"Spider-Man, Spider-Man
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size
Catches thieves just like flies
Look out!
Here comes the Spider-Man..."
— Opening verse of the Title Theme Tune

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 to Bugle 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 at the 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.

Where this world fits in the Marvel Multiverse is a bit spotty: it was originally listed as Earth-6799 in the Marvel databooks; Spider-Verse retconned it to Earth-67, in reference to the year it first aired; Web Warriors features a world called Earth-3015, which a caption states to be the world of "a cartoon or two".note 


Tropes used in this series include:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Betty Brant changed from a brunette to a redhead.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The Lizard's real name is changed from Curtis Connors to Curtis Conner.
    • Montana of the Enforcers is for some reason called Cowboy.
    • "Captured by J. Jonah Jameson" is an adaptation of the first appearance of the Spider-Slayer robot, but has the Spider-Slayer's inventor Spencer Smythe's first name changed to Henry.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Starting with the second season, many of the villains in the cartoon inexplicably had green skin.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Meme:
  • 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.
  • Camp: The show revels in how campy and hokey it can get.
  • Canon Foreigner: There are a fair amount of villains created for this cartoon that never appeared in the comics. Among the most notable original villains are Parafino, the Human Fly twins (no connection to the villain who would later appear in the comics), and Dr. Matto Magneto (not to be confused with the archenemy of the X-Men).
  • Catch Phrase: "Wallopin' web-snappers!"
  • Cats Are Mean: Pardo possesses the ability to turn into a giant black cat.
  • Clear My Name: Happens on quite a few occasions. Also, Jameson tends to blame Spider-Man for crimes in a lot of episodes, sometimes accusing him of working with the villain even when Spider-Man was clearly trying to stop them.
  • Clip Show: Aside from the "new" episodes made by editing or recycling footage from older episodes, the last episode of the series, "Trip to Tomorrow", had Spider-Man talk a boy out of running away from home by telling him of how difficult his own adventures were. The scenes shown are from the episodes "Thunder Rumble", "Return of the Flying Dutchman", and "The Evil Sorcerer".
  • 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 villains from Rocket Robin Hood, the villains 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, runs a newspaper company and is pretty bossy and unrelenting toward his employees. In fact, a screencap from an episode of this series serves as this trope's page image.
  • 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, both on their own and when put together.
  • Determinator: In "The Sinister Prime Minister," Spider-Man is the only one who knows the visiting Prime Minister is an imposter, but is forced to flee while growling "I can't prove it now, you phony, but I'll be back!" Throughout the story, Spider-Man makes good on that threat as he is forced to strike again and again until he can finally expose the villain and save his victim.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Infinata certainly qualifies, in arguably the weirdest episode of the second season (which is saying something!). Kotep the Sorcerer probably qualifies, too.
  • Expy: Klivendon is based on Kraven the Hunter, while Charles Cameo is similar to the Chameleon for being a master of disguise. It's possible that they were used in place of Kraven and the Chameleon because of the fact that the comic villains had appeared in The Marvel Super Heroes.
  • 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 'History's Greatest Villains'.
  • Human Popsicle: "Cold Storage" has Spider-Man incapacitated when two criminals lock him in a freezer and set the temperature to way below zero. Before being thawed out 24 hours later, Spidey dreams that he wakes up in a future full of ruined buildings and men who act primitive and savage.
  • Hurricane of Puns: So many puns that the Vulture ended up begging for mercy to make Spidey stop making egg jokes.
  • Hypno Ray: In "The One-Eyed Idol" the titular item does this to Jameson with its Hypnotic Eye.
  • Ice Person: The Plutonians are a race of ice aliens.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Jameson is so obsessed with proving Spider-Man is a "menace" that HE WILL automatically accuse Spider-Man of any crime, even when the evidence clearly contradicts him. In one episode where the Green Goblin kidnaps him as a way to summon evil spirits, Jameson ACTUALLY thinks Green Goblin is Spider-Man who just changed his name and costume!
  • Invisible Jerkass: Dr. Noah Boddy, who goes after Jameson for ridiculing his theory of invisibility. There is also the vanishing Dr. Vespasian.
  • 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 can disguise himself as anyone and tries to impersonate Peter Parker in the episode "Double Identity".
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dr Smarter is a well-regarded scientist.
    • 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 with other abilities, such as Ventriloquism. Then there is Spider-Hearing...
    • The web itself is incredibly versatile for forming any object Spider-Man needs for a given situation. In "Fountain of Terror", he makes a boat, complete with a motor driven propeller, entirely of web.
  • Off-Model: It's rare for anything to be on model in this series.
  • Origins Episode: There were two consecutive episodes devoted to explaining the details of Spider-Man's past.
    • The appropriately titled "The Origin of Spider-Man" retells how Peter Parker gained his abilities from being bitten by a radioactive spider as well as how he was motivated to become a crime-fighter after a burglar killed his uncle Ben.
    • "King Pinned" reveals the circumstances under which Peter Parker first got his job as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Paul Soles used a lower-toned voice for Spider-Man.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Several of the Krantz Films episodes adapted from the comics had changes made to the story that were understandable.
    • In the original "To Cage A Spider" comic story, Spider-Man is knocked unconscious by the Vulture and taken to prison. In the cartoon, Spider-Man is knocked out by two bank robbers who get in a lucky shot, presumably to work around having to pay licensing fees to use the Vulture.
    • The cartoon version of "The Big Brainwasher" has Mary Jane Watson as Captain Stacy's niece, since Gwen Stacy never appeared in the show.
    • The cartoon version of "The Madness Of Mysterio" makes Mysterio look like a green-skinned Woody Allen, presumably to avoid licensing issues with using his trademark fishbowl helmet costume.
  • 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.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: "Revolt In The Fifth Dimension". Just don't step on the rugs...seriously...
  • 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.
    • Some episodes within the second and third seasons were also recycled into "new" episodes. One of the most jarring examples was "Spider-Man Battles the Molemen", an edited version of "Menace from the Bottom of the World" that aired two episodes after the original episode and changed it so that the mole-men's leader was an actual mole-man instead of a criminal in disguise.
  • Related in the Adaptation: The series adapted the comic story "The Big Brainwasher", which features Mary Jane and Captain Stacy. However, since Gwen Stacy never appeared in the series, Captain Stacy became Mary Jane's uncle.
  • 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.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: In the title sequence, "Jewlery Store" is spelled wrong. In the next shot, it's fixed.
  • Stock Footage: A great 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.
  • They Called Me Mad!: The motivation of a lot of mad scientist villains Spidey took on, especially after switching production companies and mostly coming up with their own villains to not have to pay to license existing Spider-Foes.
  • Villain Team-Up: One episode sees Dr. Noah Boddy brings Green Goblin, Vulture and Electro together to get revenge on Spider-Man.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Despite dropping the comics rogues gallery, the Krantz Films series directly adapted several plots from the official comics.
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