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Western Animation / Spider-Man: The New Animated Series

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"Maybe I need an image makeover.... I'm... SPIDER-MAN!"
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 it ended up taking inspiration from the first live-action film and roughly continued the story from there (even though it did not actually share a continuity with the film or its sequels). 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 Parker, Harry Osborn 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.

Notably, the episode "Royal Scam" features a guest appearance from the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who reprises his role as Wilson Fisk ("The Kingpin") from the live-action Daredevil film adaptation released the same year that the series debuted, strongly implying (albeit in vague terms) that the show takes place in the same universe as the film. That may not sound like a big deal today—but in a time before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that was the closest thing to an official crossover between two big-budget Marvel Comics movies that most fans had ever seen.

Its fanbase has grown over time, to the point an unofficial revival was being developed by a team of skilled and passionate fans. Though, that project has been cancelled since then.

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.

Provides examples of:

  • 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?
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Christina's attempt at creating glue results in an incredibly powerful acid that can corrode anything it makes contact within seconds.
  • Action Girl: Shikata is an assassin hired to take on Spider-Man in "The Sword of Shikata".
  • Adaptational Badass: Peter's spider-sense has been upgraded from simply warning him of danger to letting him know of potential danger and crimes near him, even if he won't be harmed himself. This also includes visions of the potential danger, making it easier for him to find it.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Harry Osborn, and by extension his father Norman, 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.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: Like in the 2002 film, Peter has organic webs as opposed to web shooters.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Curt Connors is far more bitter and rude than his usual portrayal even before becoming the Lizard, and he is fully in control of his actions when he does become the Lizard, and uses his new powers to murder anyone he has a grudge against.
  • 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 are 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). While Kingpin is black and voiced Michael Clarke Duncan, it doesn't share continuity with Daredevil (2003). Officially, it takes place on Earth-760207 which is separate from the world of the Raimi films and Daredevil.
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call: In one episode Peter uses a payphone to give the police an anonymous tip about the next target of a bunch of criminals. Quite humorously the dispatcher then asks him to provide his name and location, with him spelling out what "anonymous" means.
  • 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.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The crook who tried to murder Curt Connors is brutally murdered by Connors after Connors becomes the Lizard.
    • Doug Reisman, who continuously humiliated, pranked, and even nearly killed Max Dillon, is tortured and murdered by Dillon after he becomes Electro.
  • Ax-Crazy: While a far more tragic and sympathetic character than his comic book counterpart, Electro is a good deal more violent and unhinged than usual.
  • 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.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Sally is the one person who showed Max Dillon any kindness in his life. In his second episode, Electro starts to haunt her with the intention of transforming her into a being of pure energy like him.
  • 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.
  • Broad Strokes: For the most part, the events of the 2002 film seemed to have happened in this universe as they were shown, but given that the Peter is identified as eighteen on the anniversary of Norman Osborn's death it can be assumed they happened in Peter's senior year of high school unlike in the film where he starts college. There are however some differences: Mary Jane seemingly never dated Flash and her relationship with Harry was apparently a normal break up, while Peter never outright rejected Mary Jane like at the end of the film, with the two trying to sort through their feelings for each other at the start of the show.
  • 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?
  • Bullying a Dragon: Several people seem determined to harass and attack Spider-Man till he snaps out of either bias or petty cruelty. While most of them fail, this is a blatantly stupid idea, and as the Gaines Twins learn the hard way, when sufficiently motivated, Spidey can and will murder people.
  • 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.
  • Canon Welding: Spider-Man encounters the Kingpin, who resembles and is voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, which places the Daredevil movie in the same continuity as this series and Spider-Man movies (at least the first one).
  • 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 are 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Definitely a lot darker than the usual Spidey fare. While there isn't a death in every single episode or any gore, the PG rating wasn't just for show as blood was shown and some characters were shown or implied to be killed. People also used real guns, unlike previous cartoons where characters used laser guns to be more child friendly.
  • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • The Lizard is alive and well in the comics, but here he dies in his first appearance.
    • Electro is Killed Off for Real at the end of his final appearance, while in the comics he only died after a very long supervillain career.
  • Deconstruction: Of superhero cartoons. While most superhero cartoons use Bloodless Carnage and make it clear that nobody is killed, here it’s shown clearly that the villains are violently murderous as most real-life criminals are and not afraid to kill people to get what they want, and all supervillain’s rampages can severely injure and even kill innocent bystanders. The villains also have reasons for what they do, and most are either common thieves who just happen to have equipment that lets them keep up with Spider-Man or genuinely mentally unstable people with superpowers who cause a lot of harm in pursuit of their goals. Spider-Man’s You Fight Like a Cow schtick is far more subdued, his methods to stop crime often leads to loads of collateral damage, and while he tries to stick to his Thou Shalt Not Kill he's often forced against villains he can't normally beat and while trying to stop them sometimes ends up causing their deaths. And finally, him being a Hero with Bad Publicity pursued by the police is based more on several police officers’ prejudice than any real evidence, and some officers like Officer Barr are willing to flat out ignore evidence to support their views rather than admit they could be wrong about Spider-Man.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Lizard suffers this when Spidey catches him in a web while hanging from a helicopter, planning to transport him back to the laboratory to undo the transformation, but the villain is out of control and still trying to attack Spidey, resulting in him cutting the web and falling to his death.
  • 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. While it is the bleakest of all the Spider-Man media adaptations so far, a second season was planned to restore or expand on some of these events, but it never materialized.
  • Dumb Muscle: Flash Thompson and the Biker Twins started out as this before Dr Zellner's experiments gave them superintelligence. However, they were so dumb previously that their bodies had to work much harder to sustain the increased intelligence or they would eventually die, unless they were given an antidote to undo the effects and turn them back to normal.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Series Moment: While aired Out of Order, “The Party” was the first episode aired, and the entire episode does a good job of establishing the show’s Darker and Edgier tone.
  • Expressive Mask: The eyes on Spidey's mask are able to register his emotions.
  • Expy:
    • 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.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In "Mind Games: Part 2", the Gaines Twins flee to the rooftop after Spider-Man discovers the warehouse they've been hiding in, with Roman taking the door marked "Rooftop Access 1", and Roxanne taking "Rooftop Access 2". Pursuing them, Spider-Man gets locked in a psychic battle of wills with Roxanne as she reaches the rooftop, eventually overpowering her and letting her fall over the edge in his disoriented state. However, eagle-eyed viewers will note that she runs out of the doorway marked for the first access route, implying something is off. Sure enough, the real Roxanne lifts another psychic illusion, and when Spider-Man looks over the edge again, he sees it was Indy who actually fell from the roof.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Flash Thompson gets this in the episode "Flash Memory" after getting treatment from Dr. Zellner. He comes up with an antidote when all of the test subjects experience weakness, fatigue, and eventual death.
  • Ghost in the Machine: Electro appears to Sally through her laptop and TV to send her messages.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Doug Reisman, the relentless head of the Sigmas that Max has to deal with. Despite being apparently popular at the university, Doug is not a nice person. It’s almost satisfying to see him getting killed off at the hands of the man he bullied.
    • Officer Barr is the embodiment of everyone's belief that Peter Parker is a criminal, and he will outright ignore anyone who claims that Spider-Man is a hero.
  • 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.
  • Hotter and Sexier: As part of this Darker and Edgier reimagining there are far more sexual innuendos than usually seen in a Spider-Man cartoon, female characters often dress in form fitting clothing that bare their midriff, and while not outright stated both Harry and Peter are shown to have slept with their respective love interests in two different episodes.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The series ends with Peter throwing his Spider-Man costume into the river, swearing he won't be Spider-man again.
  • Inspector Javert: Officer Barr is obsessed with capturing Spider-Man and proving he's a criminal, to the point of outright ignoring a witness’s testimony so that it fits his belief. He’s also pretty incompetent, and outright harasses Peter while interrogating him.
  • Ki Manipulation: Shikata projected green energy blasts that also doubled as telekinesis.
  • Kickthe Dog: The Gaines Twins torment Mary Jane with psychic visions while holding her hostage, allowing her to think she's escaped her bonds and slipped out of the room she's being held in, only to be attacked by the Lizard. They then reveal that she never even got up from her chair and that the ropes holding her are just for show.
  • 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.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: Shikata stabs Spider-Man in the shoulder with her sword, and the webhead promptly removes it without even flinching.
  • Loony Fan: Christina is one to Spider-Man, before graduating to Stalker with a Crush as a result of Sanity Slippage from a power surge while she was wearing a metal colander on her head.
  • Lunacy: Shikata gained her immortality and regeneration by reflecting moonlight off her magic sword and onto herself.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Christina kidnaps Mary Jane with the intention of killing her, so she can win Spider-Man's love.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • At the end of the series, one of the psychic twins, Roxanne, tricks Spider-Man into pushing Indy off the roof of a building by creating an illusion where he thought he was fighting against Roxanne 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 scot-free, however: Spider-Man still drops him off with the police.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: After her ordeal with Christina, MJ suddenly realizes as she talks about it with Peter that Christina's whole "soul mates" obsession is too similar to her earlier attempts at forcing Peter to share intimate knowledge with one another.
  • 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.
  • Prank Gone Too Far: A pretty dark version happens in "The Party", where Doug Reisman plays a prank on Max Dillon; the "prank" is actually kidnapping, blindfolding him and taping a helmet to his head so he couldn't identify him, and leaving him inside a limo. It goes wrong when Max accidentally drives the car into a construction site and nearly drowns in concrete before Spider-Man saves him. Doug, however, doesn't let up, and orchestrates an insanely cruel prank that publicly humiliates Max, and drives him to a mental breakdown. Upon his transformation into Electro, Max electrocutes Doug to death.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Heroes and Villains"
      • During one discussion with Peter and Harry about a thief-
      Harry: You mean like Robin Hood in Men in Tights.
      • Spider-Man contemplating why Turbo Jet is praised as a hero while he isn't:
    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.
    • 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:
    Peter: I bet the X-Men get to go to parties.
  • Retronym: This series was originally referred to as just Spider-Man during its original 2003 release. The exact Character Title was already used across different media. Therefore, it had gone through various nicknames like "MTV's Spider-Man", "Spider-Man 2003", or "Spider-Man Animated Series" by the Annie Awards. It wasn't until the 2004 home release that it was officially referred to by its current title retroactively.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Christina is one to Spider-Man, and Max Dillon is one to Sally.
  • "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 disappearing.
  • 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.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ironically, while Spidey is harassed and hated for his heroism, Turbo Jet is hailed as a hero for stealing stuff.
  • Western Terrorists: Pterodax, a bunch of Russian terrorists who style themselves after Pteranodons and go around on jet packs.
  • 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.