‘The Spectacular Spider-Man’: A flawless representation of an iconic character


Connor Youngberg

Illustration by

Connor Youngberg, Associate Design Editor

Spider-Man is one of the most iconic characters in the world. Since the web-slinger was brought to life by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the 1960s, there have been countless comic books, TV shows, movies, video games and more that feature the iconic character. Every single depiction of Spider-Man is different, but there is one that stands above the rest as the best.

“The Spectacular Spider-Man” premiered in 2008 as an animated series focused on a high- school-aged Peter Parker. While many movies and shows had done that before, they never quite nailed it. However, “The Spectacular Spider-Man” nails it.

The show faced an abrupt ending following season two, but fans of the series finally have something to look forward to. Producer of the upcoming animated film “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Chris Miller, confirmed on his Twitter account that this version of the character was included in a recent promotion for the film. Although his role will likely be limited in the film, hopefully Parker’shis appearance leads to a potential season three and a continuation of what I believe to be the best representation of Spider-Man.

Arguably the best part of the series isn’t Spider-Man, but rather the relationships between characters. The show’s ability to create new, unique storylines while remaining true to the character’s comic book counterpart is outstanding. Parker’s two main friends are Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn, with Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson and Liz Allan as recurring characters.

I love the show’s ability to balance all of the characters into one series without it being too much. For some reason, nearly all of the Spider-Man depictions never have Watson and Stacy coexist, which never made much sense. This show gives both of them meaningful roles, neither of which are not exclusively as a love interest.

In fact, Allan is the main love interest for most of the series, much to Thompson’s dismay. In most Spider-Man media, Thompson is simply the bully that stuffs Parker into lockers. While this version of Thompson still plays the classic bully role, he’s willing to give Parker a reality check without using his fists.

There’s an ongoing joke among fans that Spider-Man fans don’t like to see Spider-Man happy and it’s relatively true. A huge part of the character is that he struggles to balance his life as Parker and his life as Spider-Man. Keeping his secret superhero identity is extremely important and he often has to suffer with the consequences of his actions. Even if his actions are justified by his secret heroics, the people around him can’t know that.

The villains in the series are also spectacular. Spider-Man has a huge gallery of iconic enemies and the way this show introduces every villain is flawless. In nearly every episode, a character will be introduced as a henchman or in the background. Then in the next episode, viewers see that same character become the main villain. The formula works because there is a sense of familiarity with the character before they become the main antagonist.

The series doesn’t just have the classic one villain every episode formula that many other animated series have. There is the occasional one-off character, but for the most part everything takes place in a season-wide storyline, which includes Green Goblin and Tombstone as the main antagonists.

Green Goblin is easily the most famous and recognizable Spider-Man villain, but Tombstone is not. He takes on a crime boss role, which is not typically the archetyperole he plays. However, he plays it perfectly and it creates such a new and exciting story.

Everyone who worked on the show clearly understood the character of Spider-Man and the voice cast brings these characters to life. Josh Keaton is the voice of Spider-Man and he is not just an actor looking for a paycheck, but a huge fan of the character, which elevated his performance because he knows how the character should be portrayed. Keaton still makes the occasional video on social media talking in the iconic Spider-Man voice.

Some of the best voice actors in the world got to work on this series including Clancy Brown, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio and more. Every single person in this show is giving their absolute best performance and it boosts the enjoyment of the series very much.

Unfortunately, “The Spectacular Spider-Man” was canceled after just two seasons. The story they were building was incredibly special and the season two finale was clearly setting up something much bigger that fans thought they would never get to see. However, with his upcoming appearance in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” there is now a glimmer of hope.