Spider-Man (1981 TV series)

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Developed by Stan Lee
Starring Ted Schwartz
Linda Gary
Mona Marshall
William Woodson
Composer(s) Johnny Douglas
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 26
Executive producer(s) David H. DePatie
Lee Gunther
Producer(s) Arthur Vitello
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Marvel Productions
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Original network Syndication
Original release September 12, 1981 – March 30, 1982
Preceded by Spider-Man
Followed by Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
External links

Spider-Man is an American animated TV series based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.[1]


Production background

The series was created to launch Marvel Productions, successor of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, who had previously produced the 1978 New Fantastic Four and 1979 Spider-Woman animated series (where Spider-Man made two appearances). Marvel Productions would later co-produce with Sunbow Productions various animated series based on Hasbro toyline properties.


The series featured Peter Parker having to balance his alter ego crimefighting with his responsibilities as a university student, a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle and caring for his elderly Aunt May Parker. The series was not as popular with fans as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, another animated series that aired on NBC around the same time, but Spider-Man still provided viewers with plenty of comic book villains, including Chameleon, Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, The Kingpin, The Lizard, Sandman, Silvermane, Vulture, Mysterio, Magneto, Red Skull, Kraven the Hunter, Wizard, Sub-Mariner, Black Cat, Medusa, and the Green Goblin. One other major difference was an overall arc, where Dr. Doom attempts to conquer Earth, while a group of rebels try to free Latveria from his rule with the help of Spider-Man.

Character designs

The character design for Peter Parker (as well as other supporting characters including Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson) was also quite faithful to the comic books of the period and hearkened back to the illustrations by John Romita Sr. of the young hero in Spider-Man’s newspaper strip adventures from the 1970s. Due to network constraints and demands from parents, characters such as Spider-Man were not allowed to make a fist to strike an opponent, but the show’s creators managed to conceal these issues with a focus on action and relatively fluid animation.

Much like the Spider-Man newspaper strip of the late 1970s, Peter Parker’s character design did away with the 1960s crew cut for a more modern hairstyle during this time, which the character continued to be portrayed with through the 1980s and early 1990s.

Likewise; Parker abandoned the conservative suit and tie of the 1960s comics and previous animated series in favor of dark blue straight-legged linen pants; Paired with a hip turquoise/light blue jacket over a yellow turtleneck (although he infrequently wore a button down shirt in the series and put on a tie for the President’s arrival at the New York City airport in “Dr. Doom, Master of the World”). Stan Lee once remarked that John Romita Sr. often drew Parker with a turtleneck instead of a collared shirt since he felt it would better hide his Spider-Man costume, which was always worn under his street clothes.

Peter’s mask was connected to his costume at the back of the neck, almost like a hood, which he would pull over his head when he changed into Spider-Man.

In relation to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was originally believed to be something of a sequel to this solo Spider-Man animated series, although this has since been disputed since both series were originally first aired at the same time on September 12, 1981. The two series are connected in the latter's third-season episode “Origin of the Spider-Friends.” Although not as well known as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, it does remain faithful to the character's origin. The animation style of both incarnations and incidental music soundtrack are completely identical, although the voice actors are different.

One seeming inconsistency is Norman Osborn (The Green Goblin). In this series, he is portrayed similarly in the comics; Wearing a costume and having a split personality. In Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends it seems to be portrayed as having a serious medical condition as a result of a lab accident and physically transforming into the Goblin. However, at the end of Triumph of the Green Goblin, he is shown falling with his disguise in shreds after colliding with electric wires and tells Spider-Man he'll go back to the clinic he left to be cured, which can be interpreted as both having a treatment for his Goblin transformation or therapy for his split personality.

In the episode "The Prison Plot" of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, there is a flashback sequence that depicts a scene from this series' "When Magneto Speaks...People Listen", which hints the two shows are, in fact, connected.

Reruns and DVD release

All 26 episodes have been released on DVD in the UK by Clear Vision, over 4 DVD volumes. To avoid confusion with other Spider-Man DVD titles, Clear Vision released the show on DVD under the name Spider-Man 5000.

As was the case with Amazing Friends, the series was later re-aired in the late 1980s as part of the 90-minute Marvel Action Universe, a syndicated series that was used as a platform for old and new Marvel-produced animated fare (the newer programming featured RoboCop: The Animated Series, Dino-Riders and on occasion, “X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men”, which was intended to serve as a pilot for a potential X-Men animated series).

The rights to all Marvel shows were with Disney, before Marvel acquired them back in 2008. Currently there are no plans for a DVD release in the US or other places in the world. In Canada, Morningstar Entertainment has released the episode The Vulture Has Landed on DVD in the set entitled Spider-Man Vs. The Vulture. The set also contains The Vulture's Prey and The Dark Terrors, both from the 1967 Spider-Man TV series. Morningstar has also released Canon of Doom (on the Fantastic Four VS. Doctor Doom set, included in the Villains Showdown Gift Set that also includes Spider-Man Vs. The Vulture), although the episode is the Bonus episode on the disc. Arsenic And Aunt May was also released in the Heroes box set. All the Morningstar DVD's were mastered from VHS/Betamax copies that were released by Prism Video in 1985 as part of their Marvel Video Library series.

The series became available for instant streaming via Netflix during the summer of 2011. However, streaming rights were lost effective 8/31/2013.[2]


# Title Summary
1 Bubble, Bubble, Oil and Trouble Doctor Octopus commits various mysterious crimes in an effort to upgrade his mechanical arms and steal the world’s oil supply.
2 Dr. Doom, Master of the World Doctor Doom is mind-controlling world leaders so, at the upcoming United Nations meeting, they will declare him the master of the world.
3 Lizards, Lizards, Everywhere The Lizard is plotting to turn New York City into a swampland, filled with reptiles under his control.
4 Curiosity Killed the Spider-Man The Black Cat announces that she plans to steal the Maltese Mouse and challenges Spider-Man to try to stop her.
5 The Sandman Is Coming The Sandman steals a soil sample from Mars from NASA and goes on a crime spree.
6 When Magneto Speaks... People Listen Magneto uses a spacecraft to increase his powers and shut off the nation’s power supply.
7 The Pied Piper of New York Town Mysterio opens up a new disco nightclub in town that turns its patrons and anyone else that hears the disco music into his slaves, whom he uses to try to steal a nuclear missile.
8 The Doctor Prescribes Doom Doctor Doom returns to replace the world leaders with robots under his control so they will declare him ruler of the world.
9 Carnival of Crime The circus has come to town, and the Ringmaster uses a special gas to rob banks, while making people believe that Spider-Man is the thief.
10 Revenge of the Green Goblin Norman Osborn escapes from a mental institution on Halloween night, but when the train he is riding in crashes and blows up, he remembers that he is the Green Goblin and threatens to reveal to the world who Spider-Man really is, and seeks revenge on Jameson for publishing stories about his chemical plant being unsafe.
11 Triangle of Evil The Triangle of Evil led by Stuntman forces Spider-Man to survive deadly stunts.
12 The A-B-C’s of Doom Doctor Doom forms a criminal partnership with Goron to pose as humanitarians to gain control of a space craft.
13 The Sidewinder Strikes A rodeo show has come to the city, and the Sidewinder tries to steal the gold spurs.
14 The Hunter and the Hunted After being hired by J. Jonah Jameson to look for a mascot for the Daily Bugle, Kraven the Hunter comes to the city as a hero when he captures Zabu, the last surviving sabre-tooth tiger. Ka-Zar comes to the city to liberate his animal companion.
15 The Incredible Shrinking Spider-Man A janitor, feeling that his genius is ignored, dons the identity of the Gadgeteer to steal his employer’s new device that can shrink anything and uses it to shrink Spider-Man.
16 The Unfathomable Professor Gizmo Professor Gizmo seeks to reclaim sunken treasure and requires Spider-Man's help to do so.
17 Cannon of Doom Doctor Doom secretly uses a laser cannon to create a fault line on New York City and then promises to fix the problem, when in fact he plans to use his laser cannon to create more earthquakes.
18 The Capture of Captain America Captain America is kidnapped by the Red Skull, who plans to swap minds with him and take over the military. Spider-Man tries to save Captain America.
19 The Doom Report Freedom fighters from Latveria start an underground movement in New York City, while Doctor Doom orders the United Nations to make him ruler of the world or else he will use his weather control device to cause chaos.
20 The Web of Nephilia A mad scientist named Dr. Bradley Shaw transforms into a mutant spider when trying to gain Spider-Man's powers from his blood sample.
21 Countdown to Doom NASA sends a rocket into space, built by Doctor Doom, unaware that he has attached a device to it that will move the Earth out of orbit, sending it into a new ice age, in an effort to force the United Nations to declare him to be the master of the world.
22 Arsenic and Aunt May Spider-Man catches the relative of the burglar that killed Ben Parker, which leads the Chamelon to discover Spidey’s secret identity. He poses as Uncle Ben's spirit and tricks Aunt May into seeing a medium that will give her a necklace that will hypnotize her into trying to kill Spider-Man.
23 The Vulture Has Landed The Vulture has been kidnapping scientists in an effort to gain control of a NASA space probe. Peter goes to see his friend Harry in his apartment, but he's not home. Vulture mistakes Peter as Harry and kidnaps him.
24 Wrath of the Sub-Mariner Upon calling a truce with crime lords Silvermane, Hammerhead, and Caesar Cicero, the Kingpin shows them a powerful acid developed by Dr. Everett to unite the crime lords in a plot to pull off crimes. The subsequent chemical waste from the new chemical is illegally dumping into the water, causing sickness to Sub-Mariner’s cousin, Namorita. He takes her to the nearest doctor Dr. Donald Blake, then begins to wreak havok on the surface world.
25 The Return of the Kingpin The Kingpin is able to trick Spider-Man into committing a series of crimes.
26 Under the Wizard’s Spell The Wizard invites Medusa to New York City, where he forces her to steal an electronic device from a military base.

The episodes featuring Doctor Doom had an ongoing storyline about rebels in Latveria trying to topple Doom. Throughout these episodes Doom is able to trick people, especially Jameson, into thinking that he is a kind ruler and international humanitarian.


NOTE: Neil Ross and Linda Gary would reprise their roles for the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon. Ross returned to play both Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, while Gary reprised her role as Aunt May.



  1. "Spider-Man on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  2. "Marvel Shows Now Available on Netflix!". Marvel.com. 28 April 2011.

External links

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