After the success of the first Spider-Man film, Sony and Mainframe Entertainment released Spider-Man: The New Animated Series as the first fully CGI show to feature everyone's favourite webslinger. It was released in 2003 on MTV, thus gaining the Fan Nickname of MTV Spider-Man.
The series was initially supposed to be an adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, but ended up taking place after the events of the first live-action film. It still had Brian Michael Bendis as a writer from the Ultimate series and the artistic style did harken slightly towards Mark Bagley's artwork, but ultimately it became its own thing.
Starring Neil Patrick Harris in the title role, the story of the show involved Peter, Harry and Mary Jane Watson during their years in university. Harry is struggling over his father's death, Mary-Jane has begun pursuing acting in the middle of her strained relationship with Peter, and Peter is doing what he is usually forced to do; juggle battles against supervillains with his personal life. It's somehow darker than your usual Spider-Man series, and mature as well. Shamefully, it's greatly overlooked.
The series was rather short-lived, at only 13 episodes. A second season was planned but never started. It would be the last Spider-Man TV series for a good number of years, until The Spectacular Spider-Man came along.
Not to be confused with the series that inspired the name from this one, Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
It needs love on the character sections.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Averted. Peter gave up on being Spider-Man permanently by the end of the series due to the show not being renewed for a second season. However, it's pretty obvious he would have resumed his career had it been made, because when has he ever stopped permanently?
- Action Girl: Shikata is an assassin hired to take on Spider-Man in "The Sword of Shikata".
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Harry Osborn is a blonde instead of an Auburn or a redhead (or a brunette) just like in the comics and most adaptations.
- Adaptation Origin Connection:
- The origin of the Lizard is tied into the Green Goblin as Curt Connors lost his arm thanks to Oscorp testing an explosive that's implied to be the prototype of the Green Goblin's pumpkin bomb.
- Peter Parker and Max Dillon are college classmates before the latter becomes Electro.
- Adapted Out: Executive Meddling that frowned on old people being present saw J. Jonah Jameson get Demoted to Extra, and ensured that Robbie Robertson—and outside of a picture—Aunt May and Uncle Ben never appeared at all.
- Almost Kiss: Peter and MJ have one in the first episode, where MJ pins Peter close to the wall and leans in saying that she always trusts her feelings, but it turns out she was just adjusting the position of the flat-screen TV. Given this is Peter and MJ we're talking about though, this is pretty much the only time one of these is teased.
- Alternate Continuity: To the Spider-Man Trilogy, being that while it's said to take place after Spider-Man 1, it doesn't line up at all to Spider-Man 2. Core differences is that Dr. Connors becomes the Lizard and dies in the same episode, MJ taking on a punk look and Harry Osborn being blonde (although this could be justified as Harry dying his hair). It's implied it could be canon to 2003's Daredevil together, due to this version of Kingpin being black and even being voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan.
- Anti-Villain: The show's most common way of adapting villains, or even making their own Canon Foreigners, is by portraying them in a more sympathetic light. This, combined with the show's tendencies to kill off villains, results in a lot of tragedy.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: When asked by local nut, Christina, Peter admits that he does not believe in psychic abilities. Ironically, the villains he would face in the season finale, would be twin psychics.
- Ascended Extra: A background girl with pink hair and camo pants would get the name Francesca and become Harry's girlfriend in the final episodes.
- Badass Mustache: Kraven has a cool moustache.
- Badass Normal: Kraven, Talon, and Silver Sable are all villains who don't have powers, but still prove to be challenging enemies for Spider-Man.
- Betty and Veronica: Mary Jane and Indy fulfill the roles of romantic rivals to Peter.
- Big "NO!": Spider-Man lets one out when Kraven kills Mary Jane. Fortunately, it turns out to be an illusion.
- Blood Knight: Shikata really enjoys fighting her enemies. If she enjoys fighting them enough as with the case with Spidey she'll kill anyone who gets in the way of their fights including the employer who hired her to capture Spidey to begin with.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted. Blood is certainly shown in certain scenes like with the Lizard's rampage through the police station. The impact of the violence loses nothing. We have Spider-Man cut, bleeding, and bruised, heads sliced off and electrocution, giving even The Dark Knight a run for its money.
- Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: The Pterodax take a news studio hostage, demanding the surrender of Spider-Man. Is anyone actually surprised that Peter Parker happened to be one of the hostages?
- Canon Discontinuity: The series makes a lot of references to taking place after the first live-action movie, but Spider-Man 2 seems to ignore it, based mainly on the fact that Curt Connors/The Lizard dies in this series, but is alive, well, and apparently has never transformed before in the film. Additionally, Peter and Harry's living arrangements are reflective of most of the first movie where they're sharing an apartment, whereas their living arrangements in the second and third movies had Harry back in his dad's penthouse and Peter in a small apartment (and chances are they took hold when Norman died). There are a few things that are carried over into the second movie like Harry's drinking and tension with Peter due to the latter taking Spider-Man photos. Which is probably coincidental more than anything.
- Canon Foreigner: Indy and most of the villains (Christina, Shikata, Pterodax, Talon, Turbo Jet, and the Gaines Twins) were created for this show and never appeared in the comics. The only villains from the comics were Lizard, Electro, Kingpin, Silver Sable, and Kraven. However, some of the villains from the series are expies of comic antagonists. Talon being Black Cat and Turbo Jet being Rocket Racer come to mind.
- Cassandra Truth: In one episode, Peter fails to make it to one of Mary Jane's theater performances (again) and the next day, he attempts to apologize to her with a story about how he was abducted by the FBI, questioned and then left on the George Washington Bridge... which actually happened. MJ doesn't believe him and assumes that he just didn't want to come and deliberately blew her off.
- Cel Shading: The series is animated by CG, but its visual look is a deliberate attempt to combine traditional hand drawn animation as well.
- Continuity Nod: The series supposedly takes place after the first film, so there's a few of these here in regards to that.
- Mary Jane and Spidey's famous "upside-down kiss" is given a few mentions.
- Harry is still grieving over the death of his father, Norman Osborn, thinking that Spider-Man killed him and Peter is unable to tell him how it really went down.
- A reference is made that Mary Jane used to date Flash in high school.
- Spider-Man encounters the Kingpin, who resembles and is voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, making the Daredevil movie in the same continuity as the series and Spider-Man movies.
- Darker and Edgier: Definitely a lot darker than the usual Spidey fare, given how often the series shows people getting killed. The PG rating isn't just for show.
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter is wonderfully prone to sardonic wit in this series, but this may be the one series where Harry does it just as often if not more.
- Downer Ending: The series ends with Indy in a coma, that she may never recover from, caused unintentionally by Spider-Man, Peter's relationships with Mary Jane and Harry are damaged to a greater extent than ever before, Spider-Man is viewed as a criminal by virtually the entirety of New York City, who actually demand him to leave, and Peter quits being Spider-Man by putting his costume into a suitcase filled with bricks and throwing it into the river. A second season was planned to restore some of these events, but never materialized.
- Enhance Button: When Peter accidentally captures video of an assassination attempt on the Mayor, part of the tape is broadcast on Empire 1. Silver Sable, the perpetrator, then breaks into his apartment to try and steal the tape, in case she appeared in the unaired part of the video. Indy and Peter deduce the burglar's motive, and then "Auto-Sharpen" a still from the video to reveal Silver Sable pointing a gun in the background.
- Expressive Mask: The eyes on Spidey's mask are able to register his emotions.
- Talon is loosely based on Black Cat, being an attractive thief. She was even originally going to be Black Cat until the casting of Eve persuaded the creators to retool her into a different character.
- Turbo Jet is similar to the comic villain Rocket Racer, mainly in that he's an African-American crook who uses technology to give himself super speed.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted, the guns are real (typically a Beretta) and are realistically portrayed.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: In stark contrast to other Spider-Man animated series, the show features notably detailed forms of death like electrocution, being shot to death, and actual decapitation by sword. Not to mention visible blood and dismembered fingers are shown from the violence.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Peter and Mary Jane as usual, although MJ has a bit of competition in this series in the form of Indy.
- Honor Before Reason: Shikata, clearly, cares more about facing Spider-Man honorably rather than turning him in on her employer's terms for the money.
- Hostage Situation: "Tight Squeeze" had a group of Russian terrorists hold several people hostage and threaten to blow them up if Spider-Man didn't show up in time. Peter Parker was among the hostages.
- Inspector Javert: Officer Barr is obsessed with capturing Spider-Man and proving he's a criminal.
- Ki Attacks: Shikata projected green energy blasts that also doubled as telekinesis.
- Killed Off for Real: A good number of villains end up dead as a result of their actions in this series, such as The Lizard, and Electro.
- Lunacy: Shikata gained her immortality and regeneration by reflecting moonlight off her magic sword and onto herself.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- At the end of the series, one of the psychic twins, Roxanne, tricks Spider-Man into pushing Indy of the roof of a building by creating an illusion where he thought he was fighting against her instead. As a result of this, Peter quits being Spider-Man.
- Also happened in "The Party" when Spidey is forced to kill Max Dillon/Electro(who in this continuity is one of his friends from high school!).
- Mythology Gag:
- Never Found the Body: Silver Sable's apparent death shows no signs of a corpse, and bubbles can later be seen rising up from the spot in the water where she fell. This is in fact the reason why Spider-Man isn't surprised that she shows up working with Kraven at the end of the series. But, as it turns out, that was just a mental illusion.
- Not Me This Time: Kraven the Hunter apparently murders Mary Jane. In a rage, Spider-Man nearly kills Kraven, only to discover that Kraven is innocent. Mary Jane was never murdered, and Spider-Man had been tricked by two other villains into thinking Kraven had killed her. (Kraven had killed the parents of the villains, and they weren't powerful enough to take revenge themselves.) Kraven doesn't get away scott-free, however: Spider-Man still drops him off with the police.
- Oh, Crap!: Peter comes to the realization that he's in serious trouble especially often in this series.
- Only Six Faces: Many of the characters have similar designs and the animators note that they were prone to recycling animation.
- Samurai: Shikata's schtick is that she's a warrior bound by honor.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: On account of MTV, writers get away with openly implying that the characters had sex with their partners, mostly with shots of them arriving at their friend's place to see a girl there the next day, wearing the previous night's clothes.
Spider-Man: Maybe I need an image makeover. *Whilst using his fingers as makeshift "ears" and speaking in a darker tone of voice* I'm... Spider-Man.
- "Heroes and Villains"
- During one discussion with Peter and Harry about a thief-
- Spider-Man contemplating why Turbo Jet is praised as a hero while he isn't:
Peter: I bet the X-Men get to go to parties.
- During Peter's Cassandra Truth moment in "Royal Scam":Peter: "I was literally two steps outside the theater, when these two Men in Black yanked me into the back of a black van!"Harry: Did they have a talking pug?
- The first (aired) episode:
- "Mary wants something about my personal life. Help me, Harry won Kenobi. You're my only hope."
- Peter is science partners with Christina, who would turn out to be an Ax-Crazy Stalker with a Crush for Spider-Man. After an experiment that sends her over the deep end, Peter describes her to Mary as "The science partner from Sunnydale."
- The How Do I Shot Web? meme is referenced when Dr. Zellner drugs him: his web shooters are sluggish and he turns up his palms like the popular comic image.
- "Heroes and Villains"
- "Take That!" Kiss: Talon gives two to Spider-Man in quick succession during their first fight, though only blowing him a kiss and not actually kissing him. First, after she kicks him away and puts her goggles back on she turns back to him and blows a kiss before running off. Then, after Spider-Man is stuck holding a piece from a construction building in place to stop it from falling into the streets, Talon blows him another goodbye kiss to taunt him before dissappering.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Flash Thompson. He's much more of an idiotic jock than before.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Peter pines for MJ at the start of the season while MJ waits for him to make the first move, then when he gets in a relationship with Indy, MJ crushes hard for him, and in the finale, Peter seems to have a Love Epiphany for MJ but then Indy's hospitalization, his vilification and him quitting as Spider-Man ends that.
- Unstoppable Rage: Happens to Spider-Man in the season finale, when he is tricked by a pair of psychic twins into thinking that Kraven The Hunter had killed Mary-Jane.
- Wham Episode: "The Party" is where the series really starts to take a darker turn where two regular characters are killed (one of them by Spidey himself) and is one of the few times in the character's history that he has knowingly broken his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule.