The 90s Spider-Man cartoon (which keeps getting called Spider-Man: The Animated Series despite me never seeing it called that–are they confusing it with Fox’s Batman?) is probably my favorite not-comics interpretation of the character and it’s cast. It was able to update Spidey’s origin without changing it (no lab-produced superspider, but a new way to make the radioactive spider origin work by introducing “neogenics”), had some great acting, and built off of classic Spider-Man stories in a new way. It’s not perfect but it is really darn good and faithful to the character’s history.
However, it was canceled prematurely. Between Saban wanting to do it cheaper and Sony’s rights to the movies (plus a huge falling out between Ari Avid and Margaret Loesch (which SF Debris claims was deliberate because Saban talked him into their plan to go on the cheap), the show ended up being replaced by Spider-Man Unlimited, a show I did like but it left a few loose ends. That’s because John Semper, Jr. showrunner for the series, had another season planned, but this was not to be. After seeing the aforementioned SF Debris review of the final episode I was inspired to look up a summary of Semper’s plans for the sixth season and found it rather quickly on the fan wiki for the cartoon. (There’s a fan wiki for almost everything.) So I though it might be fun to examine what was planned through the propositions for season six.
Of course the big one is the huge plot thread left dangling, what happened to Mary Jane Watson? For those of you who didn’t see the show, MJ fell into a gateway to another dimension thanks to a device called the Time Dilation Accelerator, which was responsible for creating the show’s version of the Spot. It’s a long story but it involved the Green Goblin and MJ taking on Gwen’s fate, only falling between dimensions instead of having a snapped neck. A swerve was thrown our way with a clone who had Hydro-Man’s powers (we’ll come back to that) but the show ended with MJ still lost. Apparently season six would start out with actually finding Mary Jane rather than just on Spider-Man and Madame Web heading off to find her and the audience left to assume it all went according to plan. Semper had other ideas though.
Madame Web would have taken Spider-Man to 19th century London where he would have found Mary Jane who had amnesia. While in 19th century London, Spider-Man would have fought Carnage who was revealed to be Jack the Ripper.
Look, can we stop with the Jack The Ripper thing already? Somehow a version of Carnage is now the killer? You do realize he was a real-life murder who killed a lot of prostitutes, right? And was never caught? And yet so many different science fiction stories have blamed it on aliens or had him travel through time or some other such nonsense. Can we be done with this real world killer being a space alien? Please? It seems disrespectful to his victims. Semper release the full treatment of this episode as a crowdfunding reward on another project, so we do know more about what was intended in this episode, titled “Peter Finds Mary Jane“, if you’re curious. I might go over it someday if I think of it, but I want to focus on all the revelations in this post.
I will note that the treatment must have been altered if the article is accurate because it mentions Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen (I still prefer the name Ghost Spider myself), and an original character named “Lady Spider“, a version of May Parker. It’s also a lot more violent than they would have gotten away with on Saturday morning and I don’t think they could have pulled off prostitutes in this show. However, there is also a dramatic reading of the prologue of the episode.
That is Christopher Daniel Barnes (Spider-Man), Sara Ballantine (Mary Jane), and Joan Lee (Madame Web, and yes she’s also Stan Lee’s wife) taking on the roles they played on the series.
So what else was planned? Mysterio would somehow get the Accelerator and try to bring Dormammu to the show’s dimension, leading to a crossover with Ghost Rider. There’s a kind of shared universe of the Marvel shows from around this time, but not as tightly bound as the DC Animated Universe. Outside of the X-Men crossover it was mostly shared voice actors, though a second Iron Man appearance and the Fantastic Four appearance did not have the same actors if memory serves. The designs were similar, with the exception being the Hulk on his own show versus his Marvel Action Universe appearances (plus the addition of Lou Ferigno as Hulk’s voice), but I don’t know if it was really Saban’s intention to have a joint continuity. At any rate Ghost Rider had shown up both on Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk.
Another idea Semper suggested was a tribute to the 80s NBC series Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends as both Iceman and Firestar would join him in a team-up, maybe even getting Frank Welker and Kathy Garver respectively to reprise their roles. I don’t know about that last part, since Dan Gilvezan would obviously not return as Spidey. Other characters not seen in this show before would have been the Puma, the Beetle, Jack O’Lantern, and the overdue debut of Betty Brant, but having a more age-appropriate Betty trying to come between Peter and Mary Jane just sounds like a bad idea at that point. All of Peter’s other love interests had found love elsewhere, so I would have liked to have seen if they could have shown the comic writers how to make that relationship work in the stories instead of trying to find ways to get her out of the way. The article also mentions the Hulk might have shown up, and with the movie rights that kept him from appearing before, the Sandman could make his debut. (Hydro-Man was basically called in as a replacement, given an obsession with Mary Jane, that led to the watery clone of her.)
Other returning characters besides Mysterio and Dormamuu would have been the Green Goblin and Richard Fisk, revealing Wilson’s son would have been the Rose, the man responsible for killing Jameson’s wife, which is the reason this reality’s version of JJ hates men in masks and the origin of his distrust of Spider-Man. How many of these ideas were changed or thought up after the fact I can’t say. As mentioned, the “Peter Finds Mary Jane” episode alludes to characters that didn’t yet exist in the comics. Miles replaced Peter in the Ultimate Universe before being brought into 616 proper (the dimension of the main Marvel comics universe) while Spider-Gwen is even more recent. However all of these seem like they would have been good ideas.
I’m sorry the show didn’t get another season because of the Mary Jane wrap-up; my head cannon was that she actually ended up in the DCAU, allowing my brain to create a crossover with Spider-Man and Superman even though Batman was the one who shared a spot in the Fox Kids lineup. It would be a nice tribute to the first ever company crossover, and would have been Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by decades in giving us that in animated form. That was probably never planned but what is up there had potential to be a good season. Too bad they all screwed up, and I liked Spider-Man Unlimited.