Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 18-C: The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy Pt. 3

Note: We are still on top of the building.

Alrighty,we are now gonna be talking about the series that we've all been waiting for. Spider-Man The Animated series a.k.a. The 90's Spidey Cartoon.

Mina: Yay! Um,Hey Stefan,I've got a question. Why are we doing this episode on the rooftops?

Because I felt it was appropriate,since I was doing a Spider-Man episode.

Mina: Oh,Ok!

Spider-Man The 90's Cartoon aka also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series ran on Fox Kids from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998. The producer/story editor was John Semper, Jr. and production company was Marvel Productions.

The series tells the story of a 19-year-old Peter Parker in his first year at Empire State University. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his powers. He's also single and a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle.

The show features most of Spider-Man's classic villains, including the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Rhino, the Shocker, The Vulture, and the Chameleon. 90's Spiderman villains such as Venom, Carnage, and the Hobgoblin also appear.

Mina: Over the course of the series the single Peter Parker contends with the romantic interests of Mary Jane Watson, Felicia Hardy and her alter ego, the Black Cat. Parker you stud!

While Marvel's X-Men: The Animated Series was being produced by Saban, Spider-Man was produced by the newly formed Marvel Films Animation. It was the first series that the studio produced,even though the show was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha as well as Korean studios.

The series is the second longest-running Marvel show created, after X-Men, as well as the longest-running series based on Spider-Man. It's currently owned and distributed by The Walt Disney Company, which acquired all Fox Kids-related properties from News Corporation and Saban International in 2001.

Mina: And lets not forget anout Disney's Marvel Buyout in late 2009.

Anyway,Avi Arad was the executive producer of the show. One of the obligations of working with Fox was to make the show educational by introducing resolvable, child-appropriate social issues.

Mina: Don'cha just hate that.

*laughs*,Anyway,Semper said he believed Spider-Man to be good for this because the show takes place in real world New York,making it able to tackle problems "closer to home".

Mina: Ah,Smart move.

Examples of social issues dealt with in the series, include peace between waring nations,cults,the Make A Wish Foundation,the value of education,the evils of street gangs,legal rights,drug addiction,and the dangers of obsessive or stalking boyfriends.

Mina: To reproduce the New York's style background,illustrators undertook a large amount of visual research and using photo archives from above New York,especially rooftops. Which is where we are now. Maps were consulted for references and buildings were faithfully reproduced.

Mina: It has been reported that the animation cells depicting Manhattan's Pan Am Building were scrapped after being complete because the California-based art staff learned the Midtown landmark had been given a new sign over a year earlier.

Mina: The animation staff were directed to populate the city with cars and crowds on the street level. Semper believed that this was one of the limitations of earlier Spider-Man animated projects.

Originally, Marvel Films planned to make the backgrounds completely CGI while Spider-Man 'webslinged' around New York, yet due to the budget,they were forced to use traditional cel based animation. Though,CGI backgrounds were used occasionally.

Reuse of animation became more common as the series progressed, which also included reuse of animation involving a character speaking.

Mina: These scenes were sometimes slowed down in order to better match the actor's voice to the animation.

By 1994, heavy censorship was being enforced by Fox because certain shows were being banned for excessive violence in some countries. So in a bid to make Spider-Man as tame as possible,the producers of the show were instructed to abide by their extensive list of requirements.

Mina: Damn the FCC!

Mina: Among the notable restrictions were: Not mentioning "death", "die", "dead" or "kill" Death and words with strong negative meanings were to be avoided, leading Semper to skirt around the issue. "Destroy" and "destruction" were frequently employed as synonyms.

Another way the producers made the show more kid-friendly was the realistic weapon ban. Y'see,many realistic guns were not allowed on the show, and no firearms could shoot bullets, so instead they fired lasers complimented by 'futuristic' sound effects. This often led to scenes in which ordinary policemen wielded futuristic pistols.

Mina: This was a common theme in Cartoons at the time. In fact I think it's still goin' on in todays cartoons.

However, in some episodes,realistic guns can be seen...though they were rarely fired. It's also worth noting that Batman: The Animated Series, which also aired on Fox Kids, portrayed realistic firearms onscreen throughout that show's run without ever having an episode banned or censored as a result.

Mina: Unfortunatly,there were Other restrictions.

Yeah,Spider-Man was rarely allowed to hit anyone with his fists. Other restrictions include: No crashing glass,No children in peril,No realistic Vampires,No Hard-Core Villains,and Limited blade weapon use.

Mina: Because of the 'No Hard-Core Villain' rule,one Spidey villain was tamed down greatly.

Mina: Cletus Kasady a.k.a. Carnage was originally a Homicidal Maniac in the comics.In the show however he's just a madman. Also,Carnage never actually uses his symbiotic blades to harm anyone. To Threaten,Yes!To Harm,No!

Mina: Carnage also absorbs people's energy rather than killing them outright. He has made a few references to attempts to murder,but that's it.

The reruns were also censored. Y'see after the September 11 attacks, ABC Family heavily edited the season one finale to remove the World Trade Center buildings, parts of the New York skyline, and a helicopter crashing into a building, exploding, and falling to the ground below, among other shots.

This resulted in the first scene being impossible to comprehend as it was originally intended. Dialogue was re-looped to match the new, shorter version. Some production credits from the episode are missing as well, due to them being on screen during the omitted footage.

Another noticeable edit can be viewed in season three's "Enter the Green Goblin." episode. In the original, the Goblin Glider slams into a building with Spider-Man riding on top. In the newly edited version, the scene is cut, and Spider-Man is shown simply emerging from a hole in the side of the building.

Mina: Yet another edit occurs near the end of season two's "Duel of the Hunters," episode. See,Kraven and Punisher's last battle with the "Man-Spider" is in fact inside the parking garage of the World Trade Center, and that Kraven had deduced the location by smelling some webbing left at a previous battle and detecting remnant soot in it from the terrorist bombing in 1993.

The whole sequence of Punisher finding out where they are and Kraven's explanation of how he knew where to look for them was cut. But despite these restrictions,Spider-Man the Animated series is a great show.

Mina: You said it. Anyway,a Spider-Man movie based on this series was planned,but never came to be. The movie was gonna have Electro as the main villain.

That's correct Mina. See,Spider-Man never had an introductory episode in this series,but was supposed to have one in the related movie. But because the project fell through,Spidey was left without a backstory..at least for a while.

Mina: Eventually,a flashback was worked into the series in the "Make a Wish" episode.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series was one of the most popular shows on Fox Kids, ranking with and above other hit shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series.

Even after the series ended, it still had an impact on the entertainment industry, boosting sales of Spider-Man merchandise and popularity. The show was also named the 84th best animated series by IGN.

Writer / Producer John Semper Jr. won an Annie Award in 1995 for Best Individual Achievement for Writing in the Field of Animation for the episode "Day of the Chameleon".

Spider-Man was nominated for 1 Image Award for Outstanding Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special.

Well that's all she wrote for this series. The Conclusion of the Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy is next,so don't go away.

Mina: Next up,Spider-Man Unlimited and the Spectacular Spider-Man.

1 comment:

KingsSideCastle said...

This is the series that got me to really like Spiderman. I really enjoyed it a lot. Great post SFD. ^_^