The Spectacular Spider-Man is an American animated television series based on the superhero character published by Marvel Comics and developed for television by Greg Weisman and Victor Cook. In terms of tone and style, the series is based primarily on the original stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, with a similar balance of action, drama, and comedy as well as a high school setting. However, it also tends to utilize material from all eras of the comic’s run and other sources such as the film series and the Ultimate Spider-Man comics.
The Spectacular Spider-Man premiered on March 8, 2008 during the Kids’ WB! programming block of The CW, and received critical acclaim. The series aired its second season on Marvel’s sister network, Disney XD in the United States and ended its run on November 18, 2009, also receiving positive critical attention. Although a third season was planned, the series was cancelled before production could begin.
The two seasons of the series are each set during a semester of Peter’s high school years, with season one running from September to November and season two from December to March.
The first season features Peter Parker beginning his junior year at Midtown Manhattan Magnet highschool, having only acquired his powers and alias as Spider-Man in recent months. While harassed at school, primarily by Flash Thompson, he is close friends with classmates Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. In order to help support his Aunt May after the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter is able to get freelance work at the Daily Bugle, run by J. Jonah Jameson, by obtaining pictures of his alter-ego in action. He and Gwen are also given junior lab assistant positions under Dr. Curt Connors at Empire State University, where they join their friend and mentor Eddie Brock.
As Spider-Man uses his powers to fight against petty crime, he gains the attention of the Big Man, who orchestrates crime in New York City. With the help of Norman Osborn and Dr. Otto Octavius, the Big Man oversees development of a project to create “supervillains” designed to distract Spider-Man from other crimes and stop damaging his profits. However, these motives become greatly challenged as the mysterious Green Goblin enters the picture. Throughout the first season, other opponents are introduced, including Vulture, Hammerhead, the Enforcers, Electro, Lizard, Sandman, Rhino, Tombstone, Doctor Octopus, Black Cat who has a crush on him, Shocker and Chameleon. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason appear as Chameleon’s associates. Spider-Man’s symbiote black suit also makes an appearance, eventually leading to Eddie Brock’s transformation into Venom.
Peter’s life becomes significantly more complicated as he finds himself torn between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan, both of whom have confessed their feelings for him. Norman Osborn takes on the role of Peter’s mentor, pulling strings to re-establish his job as Dr. Connors’ lab assistant, as well as overseeing the installment of the conniving Dr. Miles Warren into the ESU Labs. Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, Peter investigates the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the “Master Planner”, whose actions gradually escalate, leading to a three-way gang war between his own super-villain forces, the Big Man’s established order, and the old guard of Silvio “Silvermane” Manfredi’s family. Peter’s search for Eddie Brock also leads to the return of Venom and the Green Goblin returns to attempt to put an end to Spider-Man. The season ends with the apparent death of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, and Harry swearing his revenge against Spider-Man. In the end, it was revealed that Norman actually survived, and was leaving the country.
Other new characters introduced in the second season include Kraven the Hunter, Calypso, Sha Shan Nguyen, Silver Sable, Roderick Kingsley, and Molten Man. Chameleon’s associates Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason return as Mysterio and the Tinkerer respectively.
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