Ahead of the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we take a look at five decades of Spidey in celluloid
Ahead of the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we take a look at the web-slinging superhero’s screen appearances, which span almost five decades.
Spider-Man (1967 – 1970) ‘Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…’ goes the famous intro sequence to the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. In the short five years since Spider-Man’s first appearance in the comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, the hero rapidly ignited the imagination of many readers; so the natural progression was to create a cartoon that resonated with the same audience, using the same vivid visuals and depicting the same awkward teenage Peter Parker. While it’s filled with a fun energy, the show feels very much like the Hanna-Barbera toons of the time (think Scooby-Doo with superheroes), and gives Spidey an annoying chutzpah that contrasts the near-pitiful weakness of Peter. The first season of the show, while largely confined to the Daily Bugle, followed his adventures in the comics – until season two, when consultant (and creator) Stan Lee left, leaving the superhero to face villains that were mainly recycled from stock footage from the production company’s other show, Rocket Robin Hood.
The Amazing Spider-Man (1977 – 1979) In the late 1970s, Spider-Man was revived for TV in the form of a live-action show starring Nicholas Hammon as the titular hero, still fresh off the success of 1965’s The Sound of Music. Unfortunately, even from the opening sequence, it’s clear that this particular screen incarnation was ill-judged: the soundtrack wouldn’t have been out of place in a cop show of the time, and the sub-par costumes and effects made for a recipe for disaster. Amazingly, the show found an audience (and high ratings), and ran for two years. Still, fans criticised the show for straying from the comics, and even Spider-Man’s creator Stan Lee thought it was ‘too juvenile’. Its 90-minute pilot episode could count as the first ever Spider-Man film.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994 – 1998) For many fans, this is the favourite small-screen Spider-Man. The animated series debuted in 1994 and ran until 1998, but still enjoys plenty of re-runs. The show began with Peter Parker already fighting crime as everybody’s favourite neighbourhood webslinger – dropping his backstory on the assumption that the audience would already be familiar with the superhero. It also included other great characters from the comic universe, including the Green Goblin, the Lizard and Mysterio. The production team constructed a believable New York City, consulting photographic archives and maps, and reproducing buildings faithful to their real-life counterparts. It was very popular on Fox Kids, following the network’s successful X-Men and Batman animated series – and, after X-Men, it’s the longest-running Marvel show ever. The production arguably boosted interest in the superhero, which spilled into the 21st century.
Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3 (2002 – 2007) For 25 years, the Spider-Man movie was stuck in development turmoil following myriad script versions and copyright difficulties. The screenplay was finally picked up by director Sam Raimi, and the rest is superhero-on-celluloid history. Each of the three movies under Raimi’s supervision broke box-office records, and helped expose the world to the superhero genre which is now healthier than ever thanks to the likes of The Avengers. Despite the third instalment leaving a sour taste for many with its saturation of villains and dance sequences, Spider-Man and its first sequel hit the dramatic heights necessary for such a compelling character; mixing the super-powered thrills of the genre with the emotional gravity of Peter Parker’s struggles with his dual gift and curse, it was always going to be a hit.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) When it was announced that the movie franchise was being revived a mere five years after the last incarnation (Spider-Man 3), film buffs were filled with shock. But it’s not unprecedented: Alfred Hitchcock ‘rebooted’ a few of his films in a short time frame, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is enjoying a new take this year following 2007’s release. When audiences finally got to enter the new filmic world of Spider-Man, they found plenty to love, primarily Andrew Garfield’s near-perfect portrayal of Peter Parker and an intelligent love interest in the form of Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). However, thanks to plenty of studio interference during every step of production, the end result felt less like a spectacle and more like what was feared: a diminished return. Early reviews for the sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, have been more positive – so here’s hoping Spidey’ll get another film he deserves.