One of the saddest realities that we have to accept is that Spider-Man will never be in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.
He’ll never get to join the Avengers. He’ll never be able to become Tony Stark’s protege or idolize Captain America. If we ever have a Marvel Civil War movie Spider-Man will be very obviously absent. I can’t blame Marvel for selling off the rights to Spider-Man back in the day. How were they supposed to know what their company would become? How were they supposed to know what the Marvel movies would do or that Disney would buy them out and ultimately foot the bill a cinematic universe that would become an incredible cross-platform series of storytelling?
I’d like to rip them for their shortsightedness but if they hadn’t we never would have had Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man series. And that probably would have been pretty sad. As much as the third one sucked, they did sort of define superhero films for a while.
It’s just hard to accept sometimes that Spider-Man – and to a lesser extent the X-Men and related characters – can never team up with RDJ’s Tony Stark or Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. We’re going to miss out on so many dynamic relationships and opportunities for quirky, witty fun.
Luckily, Disney is looking out for us and doing their best to make up for this sad truth.
I am talking, of course, about Ultimate Spider-Man.
Currently in it’s second season, it was announced at Comic Con this year that the show had been renewed for a third season. You can watch the first season of the show on Netflix right now and watch the tail end of the second as it airs. I started off with the first season because it was easy and convenient. And I really, really liked it. I mean, how could I not? The whole series is basically about giving us the sort of Marvel Cinematic Universe connections we would never get to have on the big screen.
In the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, we get a new sort of Spider-Man story.
It’s not just Peter Parker against the world. He teams up with SHIELD and suddenly finds himself as part of a much bigger superhero world. We’re all so familiar with the story of a teenager Peter trying to save NYC all on his own that, honestly, this new take on the story is actually really refreshing. Plus we get to see all our favorite SHIELD characters. Nick Fury is the whole operation’s fearless leader. And Agent Phil Coulson is alive and well and serving as Peter’s principle in order to keep an eye on him.
Well, on him and on the other members of Peter’s team of teenage superheroes.
Not only is this Peter Parker working with SHIELD, he’s also assigned a team of other young heroes to work with. These include younger versions of Nova, Luke Cage (going by Power Man), Iron Fist, and White Tiger (as Ava Ayala in this series). The team dynamic is great and in a lot of ways it curbs my need for a Young Avengers or New Warriors. I just figure it’d be nice to see a group of teenage superheroes struggling to figure out their powers and how they work together. This basically gives me everything I need. From rivalries to petty insults and all kinds of team building moments, the comraderie is great and I just really enjoy the way the characters play off one another.
Even though this Peter Parker works for SHIELD and has his own superhero team, we still get a healthy dose of classic Spider-Man story arcs and plot points. Don’t think that they’ll leave out Norman Osborn or Venom because they definitely do not. They play through all of that with Norman and Harry showing up a few times per season. Harry gets turned into Venom by his dad. Norman runs around as the Green Goblin causing problems and what not. Even with all this new stuff seeming to overwhelm the classic Spider-Man stories they still manage to fit them in and make them work.
They do, however, sometimes tend to change things to work in this new animated cinematic-based universe.
Take for example, Doctor Connors.
In this show, he’s not working as some random scientist. He’s a SHIELD scientist who has two arms and everyting. Well, until some shit goes down on the helicarrier and it crashes and he loses one of them. But yeah. That’s a whole long story. He still becomes the Lizard and he still does it to try and regrow his arm. He’s still Peter’s mentor. At the same time, though, he’s also a SHIELD agent. When the Lizard forces him to go rogue they take responsibility for him.
I just have a lot of Ultimate Spider-Man SHIELD feels in general. They are just great.
It’s not just SHIELD that the Ultimate Spider-Man features or crosses over with either. Characters from all over the Marvel universe get tied into the series. Most frequently, it’s the Hulk and Iron Man. Spider-Man and the Hulk have this thing going where he’s desperately trying to help Hulk get control of himself and become the hero he knows he can be. And then Iron Man is just popping up left and right and generally Peter does something to screw with his tech. I mean, it happens.
Other characters pop in and out, too. There’s an episode where he’s paired up with Hawkeye, a couple featuring Thor and Loki (including one where Peter gets turned into Spider Ham and another where they all get turned into chibi versions of themselves), and one where Spider-Man and Nova team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. That last one is probably because they are desperately trying to get people to familiarize themselves with the Guardians before the film comes out next year.
Plenty of other character cameos come into play, too.
And the great thing about the Ultimate Spider-Man series, though, is that they aren’t just limited to the usual Marvel characters we see in the cinematic universe.
See, Spider-Man isn’t the only character who gets left out of the greater MCU. There are other characters, too, that we won’t ever see in the Marvel movies. The Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, the X-Men, Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider and any and all villains or supporting characters are included in that number. But again, Marvel owns the television rights for them, too. Which means while the films can’t really do anything with them Ultimate Spider-Man can. And they do!
So far in the series we’ve seen a lot of Doctor Doom, the Juggernaut on occasion, Deadpool, and the Thing. I think Wolverine showed up, too, at some point. We’ve probably seen a few others, too, and considering I just marathoned this you’d think I would remember all of them. But no.
Anyway, I really cannot express just how much I love this show.
It’s so much fun. It’s not nearly as heavy as some of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes stories have been at times. It’s just all campy, ridiculousness. You’ve got to love it. The characters are endearing, the dialogue is hilarious, and the relationships are great.
Besides, like I said, it brings Spider-Man into a word that is effectively the Marvel Cinematric Universe.
You really can’t go wrong with that.
And it’s also the only way you’re going to get to see all of Marvel’s properties come together in one place.
Well, unless you read the comics.
For people who prefer to watch their superheroes, though, Ultimate Spider-Man is worth watching if only to see how Disney would have handled classic X-Men, Fantastic Four, and – obviously – Spider-Man characters that are currently out of their reach.
If you’re looking for some fun, definitely check out the series. It’s not just for little kids though if you’ve got kids it’s a fantastic way to spend some time together geeking out. Ultimate Spider-Man is full of laughs, full of nods to the cinematic universe that so many of us are familiar with now, and clearly full of fun epiosdes and stories that don’t require your utmost attention.
You can watch thirty minutes of this series now and again and be just fine.
Granted, you might miss out on some of the multi-episode arcs – like the stuff with Venom and Doctor Connors to give a couple examples – but even then you don’t really need to watch everything. I mean, it is a show geared towards kids first and foremost. But, like I said, don’t let that discourage you from watching it.
Comic book fans will appreciate it, too. There are a lot of nods to things that only comic readers will recognize right off the bat. For example, Spider-Man’s ‘Iron Spider’ suit built for him by Tony Stark in the days leading up to Civil War.
Look, people. I’m just saying that this show got a renewed for a third season for a reason. It’s fantastic. It’s fun.
No one can ever convince me differently.
I just love it. I’ll wager you will, too. Watch the first season here on Netflix and see for yourself.