|This article is written from the Real World perspective|
|Spider-Man Unlimited (TV Series)|
|Beginning date||October 2, 1999|
|End date||March 31, 2001|
|Number of Episodes||13|
Robert Gregory Browne
Eric S. Rollman
|Original Channel||Fox Kids|
|Previous Series||Silver Surfer|
|Next Series||The Avengers: United They Stand|
Spider-Man Unlimited is the loosely connected sequel series to Spider-Man and part of the Marvel Animated Universe. The series aired thirteen episodes starting October 2nd, 1999 and ending March 31st, 2001. It is the fifth series to focus on Spider-Man after Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and Spider-Man.
The series was created as part of a contracting issue between Marvel Entertainment and Fox Kids in order to continue airing episodes of Spider-Man. When Sony Pictures Entertainment got the film and animation rights for the character, the series faced significant development issues. While fulfilling the contractual obligations, the series went on to become one of the most criticized and poorly received Marvel animated series.
It has the distinction of being the last Marvel series started in the 20th Century to air. While The Avengers: United They Stand premiered after Unlimited, delays in airing caused this series to finish airing after.
Producer Will Meugniot explained that the show was created because both Marvel Entertainment and Fox Kids needed another Spider-Man series to fulfill contractual obligations. If Fox produced another season of a Spider-Man show they could continue airing episodes of Spider-Man for an undisclosed amount of time.
The initial goal was to make an extremely low budget adaptation of the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the show began production with that in mind. The idea was to have Saban Entertainment crudely animate thirteen of the first twenty-six classic comics, a technique known today as Motion Comics and similar to the old The Marvel Super Heroes series. This would have provided the additional season as cheaply as possible.
However, Marvel and Sony Pictures Entertainment made a deal for a live-action film, which included their own series to use the same source as the film. As such, the show was unable to use the early comics or even the classic costume. This series would be able to use Spider-Man/Peter Parker but none of his supporting characters or stories. The producers toyed with Spider-Man 2099 for about a week but realized that Batman Beyond had more or less appropriated that property's territory.
Still needing a series while Marvel had some characters that needed to be animated, Marvel gave them a list of what they wanted in the series. Elements included on Marvel's "shopping list" include Counter-Earth, the Knights of Wundagore, John Jameson, Deathlok, Venom, and others. Michael Reaves and Meugniot came up with the show's story and the Counter-Earth setting to accommodate Marvel's needs.
Meugniot's initial pitch for this concept was that Spider-Man would arrive on Counter-Earth and look for a way to get home. However, he would find that Uncle Ben had not been killed on this world and the local Spider-Man would not have resisted becoming Venom. Meugniot came up with it over a "long" weekend on February 17th, 1999. He felt this helped to reinforce the Spider-Man legend. Everyone on staff liked this pitch and went into production. However, someone at Marvel freaked out upon hearing this as the producers interpreted the bad reaction to the Clone Saga that there was two Peter Parkers.
The series was then in production without any core story.
Avi Arad banked a lot of the series. He had hoped for several miniseries based on Spider-Man and even had one planned called Spider-Man 2001.
John Jameson, son of J. Jonah Jameson, leaves on a one-man space mission to Counter-Earth. However, both Venom and Carnage board the ship. Contact is lost with Jameson and Spider-Man is blamed by the media and the public. Eventually he is believed to be dead and Peter Parker then travels to Counter-Earth with a whole new suit. Upon arriving Peter finds the High Evolutionary, a human tired of humanity, and bestials, hybrids of humans and animals, are the dominant species. Jameson has teamed up with a revolutionary group of humans who are tired of being second class citizens. Jameson refuses to return to Earth until the High Evolutionary is overthrown. Until Jameson's cause is won Peter must try his best to blend into the society along with defeating bestial versions of Spider-Man's rogue gallery along with Venom and Carnage.
While not originally meant as a sequel to Spider-Man, the series did contain several continuity references. Most notably, the premiere episode "Worlds Apart, Part One" used the earlier show's theme song to introduce Spider-Man.
The most obvious example of issues between the series is the origin of Carnage. In Spider-Man Baron Mordo and Dormammu return the Venom Symbiote and the Carnage spawn to Earth. When Eddie Brock rebonds with the Venom symbiote fellow prisoner Cletus Kasady is given the Carnage spawn. In Spider-Man Unlimited Spider-Man didn't separate the symbiote and Brock and Venom was held by S.H.I.E.L.D. along with Kasady, who was later given the Carnage symbiote. There is no mention of Mordo or Dormammu. The symbiotes' powers also seem to be radically changed. They are able to radically alter their body composition, shape, and altering their body's format. Spider-Man notes this in the first episode but there is no explanation.
Also of note, in Spider-Man Mary Jane Watson, Venom, and Carnage are lost in other dimensions yet there is no mention of these events or their resolutions. The series starts off with Peter Parker and Mary Jane together, implying though not directly stating that Madame Web reunited the two, he revealed his identity, and at least began dating again.
The series lasted thirteen episodes and, like Silver Surfer, ended on a cliffhanger. Coincidentally, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series similarly lasted thirteen episodes and also ended on a cliffhanger.
From December 1999 to April 2000, Marvel Comics published five issues of Spider-Man Unlimited based on the series, unrelated to the series of the same name from 1993. The first two issues directly translated the first three episodes of the series. The subsequent issues followed new stories that were based on Counter-Earth stories from the original comics. In the third issue, he encounters Brute, the Counter-Earth version of Reed Richards and learns that a similar experiment to the one that created the Fantastic Four changed this world's Reed, left Ben Grimm unaffected, killed Johnny Storm, and left Sue Richards in a coma. In issue four, he has Green Goblin help him leave Manhattan where he finds a place known as Harmony where humans and Bestials living together in harmony. However, it's actually a police state that he barely escapes from thanks to Gwen Stacy. In the fifth and final issue, there is a serial killer who is killing people by digging out the subdermal chip when he encounters a version of Wolverine. He and Wolverine fight the Chameleon. Peter then discovers that Wolverine is Naoko's husband and Shane's father.
The show was vastly overshadowed by the anime Pokémon, which began airing at the same time and garnered far higher ratings. The series had been doing well on its own, pulling in mid-to-high 3.0 ratings, airing against Pokemon. Despite only airing three episodes, the series was put on a two-month hiatus following "Where Evil Nests", where one month later it was announced that the series was being cancelled.
Rick Ungar, who had then recently been named president of the newly formed Marvel Character Group making him responsible for Marvel's television animation projects, stated that Fox needed to devote more time to shows that could compete with Pokemon.
Fox Kids had been in fourth place the previous year behind Kids' WB, Nickelodeon, and ABC but had managed to move back up to third. Fox kept shuffling the shows around the times, putting The Avengers: United They Stand in this show's slot, with the programming changing from week to week with only Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, Digimon, and Beast Machines: Transformers maintaining their timelots. Without a steady timeslot, audiences had a difficult time watching it week-to-week.
Between Marvel's bankruptcy problems, the comparatively low ratings, and the fact that it fulfilled the thirteen-episode contract need the series was not picked up for further episodes. Although the first season ended on a cliffhanger and several scripts were written for a second, no more came from the series.
Fans of Spider-Man and of the Spider-Man comics in general were disappointed. They felt that the show tried to be closer to the comic books but became bogged down with being on an alien planet. On a positive note, many noted that the visuals were very appealing.
Rotten Tomatoes ranked the series among its top one-hundred superhero series with this series at seventy-three above Big Hero 6 at one-hundred Spider-Woman at eighty-nine, Iron Man: Armored Adventures at eighty-six, Ultimate Spider-Man at eighty-three and below The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes at sixty-nine, The Super Hero Squad Show at sixty-eight, X-Men: Evolution at sixty-six, Fantastic Four at sixty-four, Avengers Assemble at fifty-eight, Guardians of the Galaxy at fifty-five, The Marvel Super Heroes at fifty-one, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends at forty-eight, The Spectacular Spider-Man at forty-six, Spider-Man at forty, Spider-Man at nineteen, and X-Men at five.
The suit from the series was included in the 2000 Spider-Man video game. It's special ability allowed players to become invisible.
During the major comic book event Spider-Verse, an alternate version of this series was included. In one issue, the main villain Morlun goes to a world similar to this series' Counter-Earth and snaps the neck of an alternate version of Spider-Man wearing the same costume seen here. However, it is stated that it is not the world seen in this show. The storyarc did crossover with Spider-Man, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and Ultimate Spider-Man. The story also had a tie-in video game titled Spider-Man Unlimited though it refers to the game being an unlimited running game.
The series never received a full home video release on VHS, DVD, or Blu-ray due to various rights issues and low demand. It will be included as part of The Walt Disney Company's streaming service Disney+.
- Spider-Man Not So Unlimited at Masked Mayhem
- Comic Legends: Was Spider-Man Unlimited Originally Spider-Man 2099? at Comic Book Resources
- Comic Book Legends Revealed #589 at Comic Book Resources
- Comic Book Legends Revealed #512 at Comic Book Resources
- Avengers In, Spider-Man Out--For Good? at Archive.org
- 100 Best Superhero TV Shows of All Time at Rotten Tomatoes
- Here’s The Complete List of Movies & TV Shows Coming to Disney+ on Launch Day at /Film
|Main Heroes||John Jameson • Naoko Yamada-Jones • Shane Yamada-Jones • Spider-Man|
|Other Heroes||Daniel Bromley • Git Hoskins • Green Goblin • Karen O'Malley • Nick Fury • Vulture • X-51|
|Villains||Borowski • Carnage • Electro • Firedrrake • Gabriel Bromley • High Evolutionary • The Hunter • Lady Ursula • Lady Vermin • Lord Tyger • Sir Ram • Venom •|
|Others||Bestial • J. Jonah Jameson • Mary Jane Watson • Meugniot|
|Hero Teams||Human Resistance|
|Villain Teams||Synoptic • Knights of Wundagore • Machine Men|
|Locations||Counter-Earth • Earth • Naoko Yamada-Jones' Clinic • Sir Ram's Secret Underground Laboratory|
|Main Crew||Avi Arad • Eric S. Rollman • Ian Nickus • Jeremy Sweet • Kussa Mahchi • Matthew Edelman • Patrick Archibald • Ron Kenan • Shuki Levy • Will Meugniot|
|Companies||Dong Yang Animation • Fox Kids • Koko Enterprise • Marvel Studios • Saban Entertainment|
|Related Works||Spider-Man Unlimited (Comic)|
|Spider-Man Unlimited Episodes|
|"Worlds Apart, Part One" • "Worlds Apart, Part Two" • "Where Evil Nests" • "Deadly Choices" • "Steel Cold Heart" • "Enter the Hunter!" • "Cry Vulture" • "Ill Met by Moonlight" • "Sustenance" • "Matters of the Heart" • "One is the Loneliest Number" • "Sins of the Fathers" • "Destiny Unleashed, Part One"|
|Marvel Animated Universe|
|X-Men • Iron Man • Fantastic Four • Spider-Man • The Incredible Hulk • Silver Surfer • Spider-Man Unlimited • The Avengers: United They Stand|