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Spider-Man Unlimited (TV Series)

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This article is written from the Real World perspective Stan Lee
Spider-Man Unlimited (TV Series)
Spider-Man Unlimited
Beginning date October 2, 1999
End date March 31, 2001
Number of Episodes 13 (Episodes)
Writers Larry Brody
Robert Gregory Browne
Brynne Chandler
Michael Reaves
Producers Avi Arad
Matthew Edelman
Will Meugniot
Eric S. Rollman
Original Channel Fox Kids
Previous Series Silver Surfer
Next Series The Avengers: United They Stand

Spider-Man Unlimited is the sequel series to Spider-Man and is loosely connected to the Marvel Animated Universe. The series aired thirteen episodes starting October 2nd, 1999 and ending March 31st, 2001. It is the fifth series to focus on Spider-Man after Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and Spider-Man.

The series was created as part of a contracting issue between Marvel Entertainment and Fox Kids in order to continue airing episodes of Spider-Man. When Sony Pictures Entertainment got the film and animation rights for the character, the series faced significant development issues. While fulfilling the contractual obligations, the series went on to become one of the most criticized and poorly received Marvel animated series.

Background

Producer Will Meugniot explained that the show was created because both Marvel Entertainment and Fox Kids needed another Spider-Man series to fulfill contractual obligations. If Fox produced another season of a Spider-Man show they could continue airing episodes for an undisclosed amount of time.

The initial goal was to make an extremely low budget adaptation of the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the show began production with that in mind. The idea was to have Saban Entertainment simply crudely animate thirteen of the first twenty-six classic comics, known today as Motion Comics, and similar to the old The Marvel Super Heroes series. This would have provided the additional season as cheaply as possible.[1]

However, Marvel and Sony Pictures Entertainment made a deal for a live-action film, which included their own series to use the same source as the film. As such, the show was unable to use the early comics or even the classic costume. This series would be able to use Spider-Man/Peter Parker but none of his supporting characters or stories.[2] The producers toyed with Spider-Man 2099 for about a week but realized that Batman Beyond had more or less appropriated that property's territory.

Sony's series became Spider-Man: The New Animated Series.[3]

Still needing a series while Marvel had some characters that needed to be animated, Marvel gave them a list of what they wanted in the series. Michael Reaves and Meugniot came up with the show's story and the Counter-Earth setting to accommodate Marvel's needs. Elements included on Marvel's "shopping list" include Counter-Earth, the Knights of Wundagore, John Jameson, Deathlok, Venom, and others.

Meugniot's initial pitch for this concept was that Spider-Man would arrive on Counter-Earth and look for a way to get home. However, he would find that Uncle Ben had not been killed on this world and the local Spider-Man would not have resisted becoming Venom. Meugniot came up with it over a "long" weekend on February 17th, 1999. He felt this helped to reinforce the Spider-Man legend. Everyone on staff liked this pitch and went into production. However, someone at Marvel freaked out upon hearing this as they interpreted the bad reaction to the Clone Saga that there were to Peter Parkers.

The series was then in production without any core story.

The show could not have been a direct continuation of Spider-Man so that Fox could continue airing the previous show's episodes.[4]

Story

John Jameson, son of J. Jonah Jameson, leaves on a one-man space mission to Counter-Earth. However, both Venom and Carnage board the ship. Contact is lost with Jameson and Spider-Man is blamed by the media and the public. Eventually he is believed to be dead and Peter Parker then travels to Counter-Earth with a whole new suit. Upon arriving Peter finds the High Evolutionary, a human tired of humanity, and bestials, hybrids of humans and animals, who are the dominant species. Jameson has teamed up with a revolutionary group of humans who are tired of being second class citizens. Jameson refuses to return to Earth until the High Evolutionary is overthrown. Until Jameson's cause is won Peter must try his best to blend into the society along with defeating bestial versions of Spider-Man's rogue gallery along with Venom and Carnage.

Continuity

While not originally meant as a sequel to Spider-Man, the series did contain several continuity references. Most notably, the premiere episode "Worlds Apart, Part One" used the earlier show's theme song to introduce Spider-Man.

The most obvious example is the origin of Carnage. In Spider-Man Baron Mordo and Dormammu return the Venom Symbiote and the Carnage spawn to Earth. When Eddie Brock rebonds with the Venom symbiote fellow prisoner Cletus Kasady is given the Carnage spawn. In Spider-Man Unlimited Spider-Man didn't separate the symbiote and Brock and Venom was held by S.H.I.E.L.D. along with Kasady, who was later given the Carnage symbiote. There is no mention of Mordo or Dormammu. The symbiotes' powers also seem to be radically changed. They are able to radically alter their body composition, shape, and altering their body's format. Spider-Man notes this in the first episode but there is no explanation.

Also of note, in Spider-Man Mary Jane Watson, Venom, and Carnage are lost in other dimensions yet there is no mention of these events or their resolutions.

The series starts off with Peter Parker and Mary Jane together, implying though not directly stating that Madame Web reunited the two, he revealed his identity, and at least began dating at least.

Cast

Actor Role(s)
Rino Romano Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Green Goblin/Hector Jones
Michael Donovan Carnage
Brian Drummond Venom/Eddie Brock
Christopher Gaze Daniel Bromley
Ron Halder Sir Ram
Jennifer Hale Lady Vermin
Mary Jane Watson
Kimberly Hawthorne Karen O'Malley
Rhys Huber Shane Yamada-Jones
Scott McNeil Vulture
Akiko Morison Naoko Yamada-Jones
Richard Newman High Evolutionary
J. Jonah Jameson
John Payne II John Jameson
Tasha Simms Lady Ursa
David Sobolov Lord Tyger
Dale Wilson Machine Men
Electro
X-51
Jim Byrnes Fire Drake
Garry Chalk Meugniot
Paul Dobson The Hunter
Mark Gibbon Nick Fury

Jennifer Hale previously voiced Spider-Man's love interest Black Cat/Felica Hardy.

Mr. Meugniot was originally going to be spelled Mineo. It was changed to be named after writer-producer Will Meugniot.

Episodes

The series lasted thirteen episodes and, like Silver Surfer, ended on a cliffhanger. Coincidentally, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series similarly lasted thirteen episodes and also ended on a cliffhanger.

Comics

From December 1999 to April 2000, Marvel Comics published five issues of Spider-Man Unlimited based on the series, unrelated to the series of the same name from 1993. The first two issues directly translated the first three episodes of the series. The subsequent issues followed new stories that were based on Counter-Earth stories from the original comics. In the third issue, he encounters Brute, the Counter-Earth version of Reed Richards and learns that a similar experiment to the one that created the Fantastic Four changed this world's Reed, left Ben Grimm unaffected, killed Johnny Storm, and left Sue Richards in a coma. In issue four, he has Green Goblin help him leave Manhattan where he finds a place known as Harmony where humans and Bestials living together in harmony. However, it's actually a police state that he barely escapes from thanks to Gwen Stacy. In the fifth and final issue, there is a serial killer who is killing people when he digs out the subdermal chip when he encounters a version of Wolverine. He and Wolverine fight the Chameleon. Peter then discovers that Wolverine is Naoko's husband and Shane's father.

Reception

Fans of Spider-Man and of the Spider-Man comics in general were disappointed. They felt that the show tried to be closer to the comic books but became bogged down with being on an alien planet. On a positive note, many noted that the visuals were very appealing.

The show was vastly overshadowed by the anime Pokémon, which began airing at the same time and garnered far higher ratings. Although the season one ended on a cliffhanger and several scripts were written for a second, the series was not picked up for further episodes. Likely it was not picked up fore more seasons in a combination of fulfilling the contract as well as Marvel's bankruptcy problems during the time.

During the major comic book event Spider-Verse, an alternate version of this series was included. In one issue, the main villain Morlun goes to a world similar to this series' Counter-Earth and snaps the neck of an alternate version of Spider-Man wearing the same costume seen here. However, it is stated that it is not the world seen in this show. The storyarc did crossover with Spider-Man, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and Ultimate Spider-Man. It also had a tie-in video game titled Spider-Man Unlimited though it refers to the game being an unlimited running game.

References

  1. Spider-Man Not So Unlimited at Masked Mayhem
  2. Comic Legends: Was Spider-Man Unlimited Originally Spider-Man 2099? at Comic Book Resources
  3. Comic Book Legends Revealed #589 at Comic Book Resources
  4. Comic Book Legends Revealed #512 at Comic Book Resources

External Links


Spider-Man series
Pre-MAU Spider-ManSpider-WomanSpider-ManSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends
MAU Spider-ManSpider-Man Unlimited
Post-MAU Spider-Man: The New Animated SeriesThe Spectacular Spider-ManUltimate Spider-Man

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