New on the Tube: Ultimate Spider-Man

Ultimate Spider-Man AdvNew on the Tube is a series devoted to reviewing relatively new television shows and determining how they may (or may not) appeal to their intended audiences, where the shows are going, and what can be done to make them better.



Show Premise: 

Peter Parker continues to sling across the skyscrapers of NYC, protecting its citizens while taking care of his day-to-day life.  Young and brash, Parker is seen as a superhero that needs training by Nick Fury, Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Not sure what to make of his newfound benefactor, Parker deals with the introduction of 4 other superheroes into his life and the increasing realization that someone’s out to get him.  He’s not just a web slinger; he’s Ultimate Spider-Man.  The show airs on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) on Disney XD.






Previously on Ultimate Spider-Man: Covering episodes #1 - #4

Enter Spider-Man, doing his normal Spider-Man thing and fighting villains in the middle of NYC.  Though a bit clumsy about it, Spidey takes down his target but earns the ire of Nick Fury, who claims that the teen needs training in order to be a better superhero.  Spidey blows Nick off, but after fighting the “Frightful Four” (though there are only three of them) in his own school, Parker believes that, perhaps, he should reconsider Nick’s offer.

After doing some light training onboard the helicarrier, Spidey meets some of the other members of S.H.I.E.L.D. such as resident scientific genius Kurt Connors and right-hand Agent Phil Coulson.  During an attempt to try out some new tech, Spider-Man blows a hole in the side of the carrier and has to be saved by other young superheroes—Iron Fist, Power Man, White Tiger, and Nova.  Feeling as though he’s being boxed in, Spidey tells Nick that he’s not going to be part of a team and leaves the carrier, only to end up fighting the “Frightful Four” once again.  The others come to his aid, and although they seem to want to help, they have a hard time working together.  Eventually, they succeed and Spider-Man agrees to train with them, but on his terms. Nick doesn’t entirely agree, and the four of them “transfer” to Midtown High as students, fully aware of Spider-Man’s true identity and personal life.

While the five teen heroes train together, they still have a big problem working together as a team and are chastised by Nick quite a bit.  Feeling the need to prove themselves, they look up the most wanted villain in the S.H.I.E.L.D. database and set out to subdue him: Dr. Doom.  Finding it surprisingly easy, the five capture Doom and bring him before Nick only to discover that they’ve been played as a Matryoshka-type DoomBot starts opening up with the intention of taking out the helicarrier.  The “team” starts to finally work together in order to stop the threat, but in the end earn the ire of Dr. Doom.

Not long after, one of Doc Ock’s robots manages to snag a portion of Spider-Man’s DNA for analysis.  Within a few hours, the sample is analyzed and isolated to its aggressive componets, making it suitable for Osborn’s purposes; however, the sample escapes and tracks Spider-Man down, but first takes control of various others before Spider-Man finally allows himself to be taken over.  It’s not until the prospect of hurting Harry does Peter wrest control away from the “Venom” sample, using his S.H.I.E.L.D.-provided electro-whips to shock the sample into oblivion…or so he thinks.

Main Characters

Peter Parker (Spider-Man): Using witty banter to offset his nervousness in battle, Parker is the quintessential flawed but striving-to-be-better hero.  He initially rejects the idea of working with others, but ultimately relents when Nick personally asks him to as a favor.

Nick Fury (Super Spy): Not one to pull any punches, Nick knows exactly what’s going on in Peter’s life.  He’s used to getting his way and relies significantly on his S.H.I.E.L.D. backups for help.

Mary Jane Watson (Parker’s Best Friend)
: Living next to each other all their lives, Mary Jane (MJ) is Peter’s closest friend and obvious choice for a love interest.

Harry Osborn (Parker’s Other Best Friend)
: Usually seen as nothing more than a walking money bag, Harry sees Peter and MJ as true friends who aren’t interested in his wealth.  He has an estranged relationship with his father.

Norman Osborn (Corporate Guru)
: Obsessed with finding ways to utilize Spider-Man’s unique abilities for his own personal interests and unaware of exactly who Spider-Man is, Osborn has a strong suspicion it is someone at his son’s school.

Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus)
: He is the primary scientist and secret right-hand man of Norman Osborn, though not much of him is actually seen.  He keeps to the shadows and provides Osborn with information and tactical support.

Sam Alexander (Nova): Part of an intergalactic corps of protectors, Sam is able to control his movements as a human rocket.  He often bumps heads with Parker and lets his emotions make decisions for him, making him the straight-on fighter of the “team.”

Ava Ayala (White Tiger)
: Following in the footsteps of her brother and trained in Ninjutsu, Ava is more of a thinker than a straight on fighter.  Usually keeping calm in combat, Ava is the thinker of the “team.”

Luke Cage (Power Man)
: With indestructable skin and super-strength, Luke is a power-house and ready to pound on someone if they get out of line.  A little brash and trying to act cool, Luke is the strong-arm of the “team.”

Danny Rand (Iron Fist)
: Imbued with the power of the Iron Fist, Danny considers himself a pacifist and resorts to violence only as a last resort.  Sometimes out of touch with reality (in terms of the teen world), he is the
spiritual center of the “team.”

May Parker (Parker’s Aunt)
: Peter’s aunt, May Parker works and takes care of her nephew following the death of her husband Ben.  Considered to be a “hip” aunt, May can kick Peter’s butt at video games, undertakes a lot of out-of-the-house activities, and actually talks to Peter.

What Works

The light-hearted humor of the show makes it so even casual followers of Spider-Man can join in without having to know too much about the background of the character or even the previous episodes.  There are some really funny moments within the series, some of them acting just like how the Marvel characters in their associated comics would and some not, which is quite different than the other Disney XD Marvel series, The Avengers.  There are also a lot of cameos and ongoing interactions from various superheroes and villains, as well as a recurring cameo voiced by none other than Stan “The Man” Lee.

What Doesn’t

It is just a little too silly for its own good.  Despite the fact that the light-hearted humor works for it, there are no significant plot developments or twists associated with what I would expect with Spider-Man in general, and Ultimate Spider-Man specifically.  I was really excited to watch this when I first heard about it, especially after learning that Man of Action was involved (I enjoy their work with Ben 10), but have to say that I’m very disappointed in the series thus far.  The idea to make Parker a teen again is all fine and dandy by me, given that’s what he was in the Ultimate comics, but to make all the other superheroes teens was just a little too much; I felt as though I was watching X-Men: Evolution again.

The Future

It seems as though the tone for the series has already been set, and though I doubt they’ll listen, I hope that the creative team will try to include more plot-oriented storylines with interconnectivity (perhaps even with overlapping with The Avengers at some point).  I want to see less of the spiffy gadgets that S.H.I.E.L.D. has, since that never seems to have been Spider-Man’s way before, and I want to see Parker taking on Doc Ock eventually instead of just his minions.  But, aside from the leaked information that Wolverine will appear in a future episode, what else is there really to look forward to at this point?




Last modified on Thursday, 27 December 2018 17:30

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