Monday, August 8, 2016

Inside Spider-Man Unlimited -- A Look At the Original Treatment

Just found my original outline for the first episode of Spider-Man Unlimited and decided to share it with you. Before reading it, a bit of SMU history is in order.
We started out to do a low budget, but dead on faithful, adaptation of the first two years of The Amazing Spider-Man comic book. (Note: For contractual reasons, Marvel and Fox needed there to be a show with Spider-Man in the title to keep the earlier Fox Kids series in play, but no one wanted to pay for the new cartoons -- thus the 'keep it cheap' mandate.)

We were prepping that literal adaptation when Marvel sold Sony the movie and animation rights to the 'real' Spider-Man. Suddenly, we had to do a Spider-Man show without use of the actual character since, despite the movie deal, there was still that need for something called Spider-Man to be on air in the fall. Eventually Marvel sent us a long shopping list of mismatched elements: Counter-Earth, The Knights of Wundagore, John Jameson, Deathlok, Venom -- and on and on.

(Peter Parker walks the streets of Counter-Earth in the premise's stinky coat)
The following story is what I put together over a long weekend, and everyone was cool with it -- UNTIL -- someone at Marvel back East got worried about the damage Clone Wars caused to the comic's sales. They thought people were unhappy that there were alternate versions of Peter Parker in that storyline, as opposed to the decade of continuity Clone Wars had thrown away.

(Some of SMU presentation art, drawn and colored by me)
The eventual reveal of this version of Spider-Man Unlimited was to be that on counter-Earth, Uncle Ben hadn't been murdered. And without that life-changing moment, the Counter-Earth Peter went on to becoming a less noble hero and was seduced to the dark side by Venom. Which to my way of thinking reinforces the Spider-Man legend rather than diminishing it.

So, here's the show as I'd first imagined it, based on that shopping list of stuff from Marvel:

(Some of my development art for the series)
Get More Mayhem!


  1. Thanks for this Will. It's always good to read the backstory to any production. As always marvel throws a dozen curveballs you guys managed to work around but still made things hard sell.

  2. Thanks, Victus -- I think that they really damaged this series by ripping out its emotional core over their misplaced Clone Wars concerns,but all in all it was an interesting ride.

  3. I loved this series. Interesting enough, here in Argentina, they never aired the season finale, I think it was never even dubbed. Never knew what happened, but when I looked it up years later I was shocked to see the biggest cliffhanger ever. Anyway, great to know a little more about one of my favourite shows

  4. Will, thanks for sharing this. It's a great read and insightful into the creative and production process.

  5. Did the idea to use Spider-Man 2099 for this series ever cross your mind?

  6. Actually, Spider-Man 2099 was seriously considered, but Batman Beyond was already in the works, and had covered that territory pretty well.