Before Disney had the rights to Spider-Man on TV, he bounced around from channel to channel. After the success of the first Spider-Man movie, Marvel wanted to capitalize on its success by making a new animated series. The home for this new show wasn’t on any kid’s network, but MTV. The show wanted to do things no Spider-Man show had done before, and that meant being as different as possible.
How did Spider-Man get on MTV?
The show came to light after the success of the first live-action Spider-Man movie, Marvel wanted to make a new show loosely based on the movie. They also knew they wanted the show to have more of a teenage audience. They wanted people who watched the movie to watch the show, so they put it on MTV, as that’s what was popular back then (crazy how much has changed right?). The show started out as a direct follow-up before Spider-Man 2, but it changed course quickly. It then became more of a show focused on college-aged Spider-Man with inspiration from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, which skewed more toward an interpretation based on the “real world”.
What was the Show Like?
The show generally focused on Peter Parker’s college-age adventures. The unique part was since it was on MTV, the show could get away with more adult stories. Multiple episodes featured characters dying, getting into major injuries, and other adult situations. The show didn’t say a character died from some laser, they would show them dying of a gunshot or other fatal injuries. The show also wasn’t afraid to feature episodes that didn’t have a happy ending. One great example is the first Electro episode, where Electro was bullied mercilessly by his peers and eventually turned into the supervillain we’re familiar with. He got hazed at a party where he thought he was accepted and then killed the leader of the fraternity he was rushing to. The show wasn’t afraid to get mature, and it showed.
What Happened to the Show?
Spider-Man the New Animated Series, while an interesting experiment at the time, didn’t meet the expectations MTV had for it. The show didn’t do abysmal in the ratings, but it didn’t do amazing either. MTV really just wasn’t the place for a Spider-Man show, and Marvel hasn’t really done anything like it since. The show had animation, which while impressive for the time, didn’t really age all that well as time went on. It had designs that didn’t really look like the movie versions of those characters at the time. At the end of the day, the show felt like it didn’t really know what it wanted to be. The show, while not bad, just didn’t really work out.
If you want to read about how MTV’s reality show “The Challenge” came to be, check out this article here!