Today, we saw the first glimpse of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. It was a brief glimpse. Iron Man was funny, calling him “Underoos.” It was cool seeing him pull the shield out of Cap’s hand. And…that was it. It did what it set out to do, whetting our appetite for a small wait until the film is released in two months (with other sci-fi/superhero movies to make the wait more bearable).
But there was one aspect of that brief glimpse that was a bit more subtle (just a bit) and that reminded me of my favorite television incarnation of Spider-Man, the 2009 cartoon series Spectacular Spider-Man. It was when Spidey’s eyes moved…in his mask. Yes, we all noticed that and the intent is clearly to make his in-costume face more expressive like it is in every printed version of Spider-Man, both comics, and animation. This expression was something that Spectacular did very well. I look forward to seeing this play out just as well in the movie. That brief movement of the eyes made me think about other things that Spectacular Spider-Man did very well that I would like to see in this new block of Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man/Avengers films.
First, the way they did the origin story in Spectacular was very fast-paced. The producers of this show knew that most kids had seen the three Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and dove right into the important stuff. The first scene of the first episode shows Spidey in action. He is beating up two hoodlums, including a pre-Sandman Flint Marko, spouting quips that are way funnier than anything he says in the movies. We learn in this scene that Spidey has thrashed Flint a number of times before. Sort of a verbal flashback, information is presented that shows history.
There are more verbal flashbacks as we jump right into Peter’s life a few months after he has been fighting crime as Spider-Man. Peter is starting school again after summer vacation. As Peter leaves for school, we see Aunt May, still dealing with the death of Uncle Ben. And we see Peter’s relationship with his Aunt, how close they are, something that plays out very well for the rest of the series. Point being that the story jumps right into Spidey being a hero and the origin story stuff is presented in very quick flashbacks. Getting bitten by a spider in a lab, Uncle Ben’s death and even his short-lived career as a wrestler are shown in flashbacks and not in present day story. This may bring to mind what Deadpool was being praised for by fans, diving right into the action and then filling you in. THAT is what the new Spider-Man movie needs.
Batman Begins and Man of Steel did that somewhat, but “present day” was not when they were superheroes, so you still had to sit through 4o minutes of origin story to see the hero in the costume. This Spider-Man cartoon did not have three episodes of origin story like Superman: The Animated Series, although having some of the better writers and producers from the Bruce Timm DC cartoon universe on board. With the new Spidey movie, because we are dealing with a character that has been rebooted twice, those origin story flashbacks (if any) will need to be short and sweet. And the first episode of Spectacular showed us that this could be done, bringing everybody up to speed in a speedy way, and then telling thrilling stories in present day.
Many of the other things that we’ve heard about he new MCU Spider-Man from online reports are also done very well in Spectacular Spider-Man. We know that the new Peter Parker is going to be high school age for a few films and that it is going to have “John Hughes” vibe, which is definitely a thought I had while watching this series. The “high school” stuff gave this series a depth and maturity that I initially dismissed when I saw the animation style. I was an adult when this show came out, and I was immediately won over by the maturity and the stories that, yes, did feel like a cartoon John Hughes movie.
This inspired me to keep picking up DVDs of this show, which were, at the time, being sold at my local Price-Rite checkout counter. See, I do mundane things as well, just like Peter Parker. I’m not a hero all the time. And if you love that aspect of this character, check out this show.
Have you seen Spectacular Spider-Man ? Did you like the new Civil War trailer? What do you hope to see in this new batch of MCU Spidey movies? Comment below.