‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ (2012-14) TV Series Review

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TV-Y7

23 min. per episode

Disney XD

Spider-Man, one of the greatest superheroes of all- time. Aside from his amazing powers, he can be funny, gripping, and tragic…when done right. Ultimate Spider-Man is a show that focuses on, obviously, Spider-Man as he “leads” a group of other teen-aged superheroes who are being trained by S.H.I.E.L.D. It features cameos from some of the greatest characters in the Marvel Universe.

The only thing I will give this show is that the animation style is decent. It moves pretty smoothly and it serves the action scenes well, which are also very good.

Side-Note: You have no idea how hard it was for me to compliment this show.

First of all, Spider-Man shouldn’t be the leader of any team. Especially not teenaged Spider-Man, which is the age the show focuses on. Sure, maybe as an adult I can see him taking command of a few stealth teams for The Avengers when he’s in his mid-twenties, but to have him lead a group of other young heroes when the show establishes what a hot-headed, brash, unthinking, impulsive, and, well, 16-year-old boy he is it doesn’t really give you much faith in Nick Fury’s decision to have him take control of the group. A nerdy nit-pick, yes, but this is my review and I can complain about whatever I want. 

Secondly, they get his style of humor wrong. Yes, I said before that the Wall Crawler is supposed to be funny, but not like this. The humor that is meant to be found in Spider-Man’s stories is witty and sarcastic. This show tends to rely more on the slap-stick and cut-aways. A lot. As in, every 45 seconds. Despite the fact I’m writing about a guy who wears tights and crawls on walls while shooting web from his wrists to defeat other ecstatically themed villains in fist fights, pratfalls surprisingly don’t work with this guy. I mean if this was a Deadpool TV show then I’d say let the banana peel and anvil gags commence, but it’s not. 

Spider-Man is the least likable character on the show. And not in the Sterling Archer from Archer or Frank from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia kind of way. They are meant to be disliked and it’s easy for them to get away with it to the viewer because they are surrounded by other characters that are just as incompetent and/or socially inept. But when your main character becomes the source of everyone else’s headaches while being the supposed leader of a superhero squad, it makes you want to grind your teeth to the point of needing severe dental work; the kind of dental work not even Warren Buffet can afford.

It’s also incredibly poorly paced. Because of the show’s constant cut-aways and constant need to visually explain things, none of the storylines get a chance to build all that much. Sure, once in a while there’s a good pay-off, but for the most part that simply isn’t the case. The best way I can explain it: picture yourself in your nice comfy bed, then you blink and you’re in Paris. Sure you appreciate it, but you want to know how you got there.

For over fifty years America’s favorite web-slinging crime fighter has not only been entertaining us on the pages of comic books, but on the big-screen, small-screen, and (strangely enough) Broadway. There have been many good interpretations of this great hero, but it seems like for every good movie that is made about him (Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, whichever you prefer) there seems to be a television show that is…well…not. If the show does ANYTHING right, they got J.K. Simmons to play J. Jonah Jameson, the same way he did in the first three movies. Oh, and Stan Lee makes a cameo here and there. Beyond that, any Spider-Man fan over the age of 10 will cringe when they see this show.

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Another Side-Note:

So apparently my favorite comic book anti-hero, Deadpool, guest-starred in an episode of this show, which of course I trashed… let’s see how that went:

Five minutes into the episode it is proven that the show’s format would have served Deadpool infinitely better (with all his fourth-wall breaking humor) if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a Disney Channel show where they completely butcher each and every single character on it. There was a trailer for this episode on Youtube and I have to agree with one comment that said, ‘Deadpool on a Disney channel is like watching censored porn.’

The changes to Deadpool would have been welcomed if the show had good writing, but he just wasn’t funny. The whole appeal of the character is that he annoys all the other superheroes, but in this… they love him. He’s supposed to be that guy who, when you see him at a party, your first thought is ‘Who invited him?’ In short, this is the second worst version of Deadpool, behind the Ryan Reynolds one of course. At least this one got his costume right. For a great interpretation of Deadpool, watch either Hulk vs. Wolverine or play the new Deadpool-centric video game

3/10

And now, an Ultimate Spider-Man Drinking Game

Take a Drink: Whenever they mention a superhero that’s not a regular on the show.

Take a Drink: Whenever Spider-Man and Nova get into a “who’s a better hero” argument.

Do a Shot: Whenever you see the weird “subconscious” Spider-Man