'The Amazing Spider-Man' Countdown: Spider-Man Swings Through the 1970s

'The Amazing Spider-Man' Countdown: Spider-Man Swings Through the 1970s

Dec 12, 2011

John Gholson is a life-long comic book fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. You can also read his Avengers Countdown here at Movies.com.

Yes, the Sam Raimi movies were pretty good, but don’t even act like The Amazing Spider-Man is the character’s first reboot. Before the 1970s were over, fans were subjected to FOUR different versions of their beloved wallcrawler. And worse yet, almost none of them were anything like the comic book character! So, relax. Don’t sweat the reboot. The worst that could happen to Spider-Man has already happened. Read on...

Spider-Man (1967-1970)

When you hear “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can,” you’re hearing the catchy theme song to the very first Spider-Man animated series. The show maintains Spidey’s charm, with his trademark quips and crazy rogues gallery, even through the crude, noticeably cheap animation. The show ran for 52 episodes, with the first two seasons airing on Saturday mornings on ABC.

Fun Facts: Infamous animator Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Lord of the Rings) produced seasons 2 and 3 of the show.

The Electric Company (“Spidey Super Stories” segment, 1971-1977)

Strangely, this is the version of Spider-Man that I grew up with -- an oddly mute wallcrawler who loved teaching phonics. It’s the first live-action depiction of Spider-Man, and It’s especially weird to see this footage today, with a shabby Spidey interacting with an impossibly young Morgan Freeman. His dialogue appears as simple word balloons (accompanied by what sounds like a pop and a duck quack), designed to get children excited to read (it worked for me!). There were 28 “Spidey Super Stories” segments produced over the course of The Electric Company’s run.

Fun Facts: Not a single Spider-Man villain from the Marvel comics appeared on The Electric Company, though he did take on Morgan Freeman as Dracula and a character named “Sandman” who put folks to sleep.


The Amazing Spider-Man (1977-1979)

For a character known for his quick wit, Spider-Man rarely gets a chance to mouth off in his live-action depictions. Here, Nicholas Hammond played a perfectly stoic Peter Parker and a near-silent Spider-Man for thirteen sporadic episodes that aired on CBS over the course of three years. The show never really found a foothold as episodes were too expensive to produce, and creator Stan Lee was vocal about the show’s dull plots.

Fun Facts: Once again, Spider-Man never faced any Marvel super-villains on his own show, instead facing off against terrorists, mad scientists, and theives.


Spider-Man (??????? aka “Supaidaman”1978-1979)

It would be tough to re-invent Spider-Man as any less faithful than he appears in Toei’s version. The Japanese sentai version Spider-Man (think Power Rangers) launched from a movie into 41 episodes of the least Spidey-like Spider-Man show that ever hit the airwaves. Peter Parker’s Japanese counterpart Takuya Yamashiro gains spider-powers from an enchanted bracelet given to him by an alien. Spider-Man can also transform the alien’s ship into a giant robot named Leopardon. While not exactly (or remotely) canon, Stan Lee reportedly liked the show. You can stream most of the episodes directly from Marvel’s own site.

Fun Fact: “Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?” Not here. In Toei’s version, Spider-Man referred to himself as “Messenger from Hell, Spider-Man” and “Iron Cross Killer Spider-Man.”


News from the Web

-- Fans won’t have to wait too long for a sequel (of sorts) to Amazing Spider-Man. Activision’s upcoming video game tie-in will take place immediately after the events of the film. Using something that development house Beenox calls “Web Rush technology,” the trailer promises a free-roaming Spidey game, peppered with New York City landmarks.

-- A lot of folks were disappointed that the first “official” look at the Lizard came in the form of a Pez dispenser, but I’d like to direct my outrage at Pez for switching from heads to busts. A Pez dispenser is supposed to be a big ol’ candy-spittin’ noggin! If I wanted busts, I’d go to a museum. As for the look of the Lizard himself, it’s appropriately Ditko-esque (I think many fans were hoping for something closer to Todd McFarlane’s take on the beast). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that another, better image of the villain appeared the very same week, as a piece of concept art from Spidermedia.ru. He’s missing his lab coat and purple pants, but it looks like the classic Lizard to me!

-- Newsarama featured a list of “10 Things You Might Not Know About Spider-Man.” Some of the details are things most Spider-Man fans will know (Spidey sense, mechanical web shooters), but there are some other bits on there that don’t immediately come to mind when one thinks of Spider-Man (like the fact that Peter Parker’s parents were super-spies).

-- The first theatrical teaser poster for The Amazing Spider-Man has been revealed, prompting many to wonder what “untold story” they’re talking about. Personally, I think the simple adjective “amazing” at the bottom of the poster would’ve been more effective. Promising an “untold story” muddies the fact that this is a completely new movie, not a never-revealed side story to the events we’ve already seen in the original trilogy. The design carries over the brooding look that’s been so pervasive in all of Sony’s marketing material for the film so far.


There are 204 days until the release of The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3, 2012.  The Marc Webb film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys If

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