Fan Theories: The MTV Spider-Man Question

Posted: December 4, 2014 in Comic Book Breakdowns
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Anyone still remember the MTV show Spider-Man: The New Animated Series? Back in 2003, after the Sam Raimi film was a huge success for Sony, the creators of the MTV show (who were originally going with an adaptation of the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book series) decided to tailor their show to fall within the Raimi continuity. The problem, however, is that after the show ended, Raimi kept making Spider-Man sequels, both of which seemingly screw up The New Animated Series‘ place in the timeline, especially given the show’s ending. Or do they? After re-watching the show, it turns out no they don’t; The New Animated Series could still be taken as canon in the Raimiverse, and here’s why.

The psychic twins from the final episode. Image taken from comicvine.com

One of the biggest problems with the timeline is that, in the MTV show, Peter Parker (SPOILERS) quits being Spider-Man after defeating twins with psychic powers, thanks to a large amount of psychological trauma they inflicted on the webslinger (part of which involved him thinking Mary Jane was dead and tricking him into severely injuring his other love interest, Indy). Obviously, we see in Spider-Man 2 that Peter is still Spider-Man while in college, leaving the canonicity of the last scene of the show in question. But, remember that Peter is a junior in college during the events of Spider-Man 2 (the sequel takes place two years after the events of the first film, in which the character is graduating from high school). The show, meanwhile, is set just a year after the first film, or in other words, during Peter’s freshman year of college. In the episode “Law of the Jungle”, Peter remarks how “the anniversary of [Harry’s] dad’s death” is occurring during the first night of the episode. Also, The New Animated Series was supposed to continue with a season 2, featuring villains like Mysterio and Vulture, before MTV pulled the plug, which means Peter was supposed to come out of retirement eventually and become Spider-Man again. Even without the second season, there’s still plenty of time between the show and the film for Peter to work through his grief and continued being Spider-Man some time before the second film starts (which also puts the “Spider-Man losing his powers” plot point from the film in a whole new light, since one could argue that he’s still dealing, subconsciously, with his grief and anger from the show).

The Lizard in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Image taken from comicbookmovie.com

You might also remember that Dr. Curt Connors, the same character that transforms into the Lizard in the show, is noticeably still employed at a university in the films, and is alive since his (SPOILERS) seeming death in the show. But remember that no one knew Connors turned into the Lizard in the show, save for Peter, so he could’ve cured himself and gone back to work eventually (although at a different school, as discussed further below). As for the fall, we never explicitly hear someone say that the character died on screen, and remember that his Lizard Formula is a regenerative serum. A fall from a great height, especially for a super villain who can regenerate parts of his body, isn’t much. This would also be a better explanation for why Peter took the Venom symbiote to Connors in Spider-Man 3 rather than a different scientist, since Connors in the film remarks, “I’m a physicist, not a biologist” (possibly saying that just to distance himself as much as possible from his Lizard days). Also notice during the scene that Connors doesn’t really seem to be disturbed by the alien life form on his desk, nor does he really question the fact that Peter has it, since by this point he’s used to dealing with strange things after his Lizard transformation and fight with Spider-Man. In the first film, Peter mentions how “Dr. Connors fired me” as an assistant, presenting a small problem with the episode “Law of the Jungle”, where he’s still working with Connors while in college. It’s still possible that Connors would call on Peter from time to time to help with experiments, especially if Peter made himself available in an effort to get his job back.

The last big problem with the continuity of the show is that the characters are going to Empire State University, like in the comic books, rather than Columbia University, like in the films. This one is a little trickier to explain away, but the big key here is trauma. Like I said above, Peter is dealing with a lot emotionally by the time The New Animated Series finishes. It’s not hard to believe that he would want to transfer to another school after almost killing someone to get away from it all and start fresh. This would also help him keep tabs on the Lizard, especially since Connors is now shown to be teaching at Columbia. Mary Jane, meanwhile, could have stayed at ESU and finished her degree, later moving on to getting her own place while trying to make it as an actress.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know!

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