Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while). This week, how did the Spider-Man movie lead to Spider-Man Unlimited being created? Did John Byrne originally intend to transform the Vision back into the original Human Torch? And how did Mike Grell being late give us the Rocketeer?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Sony doing a Spider-Man film led to the creation of Spider-Man Unlimited.
STATUS: Basically True
Early last year, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about Spider-Man Unlimited and how it was specifically created as part of a deal between Marvel and Fox where they had to create a Spider-Man cartoon that was unlike the Spider-Man comic book series (that legend was about whether it was intended to be a sequel series to the original 1990s Spider-Man series). Reader Matt G. (who also was the one who wrote to me about the Russian on the Sopranos, which led to this week's TV Legends Revealed) wrote in about that column to ask, in effect, why was it that Marvel could not do a normal Spider-Man TV show on Fox when they had just finished a popular Spider-Man show...on Fox?
As it turns out, it was due to the Spider-Man movie that came out in 2002. Sony closed the deal on the film in 1999, and part of that deal involved a deal for a tie-in cartoon series, and the cartoon series was, naturally enough, to draw from the same source material as the film, which was the basic Spider-Man comic book stories.
You might ask, then, then why did Fox even want to continue doing a Spider-Man series if they couldn't actually use Spider-Man in their series?
It was because of a contract they had with Marvel where if they put out another season of Spider-Man cartoons, it would lock in their rights to keep airing the previous Spider-Man series on Fox Kids for X amount of time (I don't know the exact length of time). This was a valuable piece of property to Fox to include as part of their "Fox Kids" brand, so they definitely wanted to keep them. Typically, the producers of cartoons try to make as little episodes as possible to sell the series. So when Fox had to make MORE, their original idea was to just have Saban (the production company that made the cartoon for Fox) cheaply convert classic issues of Amazing Spider-Man to film, almost like the old school 1960s Marvel cartoons. Put as little money into it as possible.
The great Will Meugniot started designing said series...
But then the Sony deal closed, and Fox had to make Saban scrap those plans, as those rights were now firmly with Sony, not Fox. So this, then, led to the idea that eventually became Spider-Man Unlimited...
Meugniot recently shared his entire original treatment for Spider-Man Unlimited at his website here (him doing that is what inspired me to use Matt's suggestion this week).
The cartoon Sony ended up doing in 2003, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, wasn decent enough, but it wasn't great...
and it wasn't like it was a long-running series (I believe it was just one season), so I would have loved to have seen what Meugniot could have done with the classic Spider-Man stories. As he noted in the above piece, the plan was to pick 13 of the best stories from the first 26 issues of Amazing Spider-Man. There were a lot of great stories to pick from.
Anyhow, that's the answer, Matt! Thanks for the question and thanks to the awesome Will Meugniot for all that interesting information!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
Did the U.S. Military Buy A Hundred Thousand Viewmasters During World War II?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
On the next page, was John Byrne going to turn the Vision back into the Human Torch?