Marvel's Spider-Man is just weeks away from swinging onto television. The upcoming animated series, which stars a new voice cast and set of characters, will offer a much different take on Peter Parker than Disney XD's previous Spidey show Ultimate Spider-Man. Marvel’s Cort Lane (Senior Vice-President, Animation & Family Entertainment), Head of Marvel Animation Eric Radomski, Supervising Producer Marsha Griffin, Story Editor Kevin Shinick, Supervising Director Phil Pignotti and stars Robbie Daymond (Spider-Man), Fred Tatasciore (Max Modell) and Melanie Minichino (Spider-Girl) stopped by San Diego on Sunday to offer Comic-Con International attendees some insight into the upcoming series.
"Spider-Man is very near and dear to my heart," Shinick shared. "Spider-Man is everywhere this year... We also wanted to go back to what I love about the series, the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko of it all... It's a series for you, and it's a series for all your parents, because we really wanted this to be relatable."
"We've taken Peter Parker and we've made him authentic to a 16-year-old in high school," he added. "He has problems 16-years-old have... It all comes down to story and relationships. That's what the series about. It's about Spider-Man and it's about Peter Parker."
At this point, a young Spider-Man cosplayer was invited on stage with the Marvel's Spider-Man team. The young boy chose to sit in Shinick's lap, where he remained until the special screening of the first two episodes.
"We had an opportunity... to rethink the way our shows will look," Rodolfski explained. "We redesigned the characters so that they're a little more stylized... Everything has been streamlined and stylized for a new generation of Spidey fans."
"We've gone through an entire 26-episode season," he continued. "We've got a very consistent 26 episodes... because of the stylization and obviously great art direction... we pulled off a really solid series... It's going to influence the look of our shows going forward."
"We work closely with Kevin and the writers... to create sets... we can believe, we can get into," Pignotti said.
"In the beginning, he's just learning how to be Spider-Man," Daymond revealed. "He progresses and matures."
At this point, the young Spider-Man cosplayer whispered in Shinick's ear. Shinick then invited the boy to tell the audience what he had said. "He's the perfect Spider-Man," the boy said, and he went on to praise Daymond to the audience.
Meddacino then weighed in on her character Anya Corazon, who becomes Spider-Girl in the comics. "I think she's like a secret weapon, because she's crazy smart," she shared. "She's obsessed with science... She gives [Peter] a lot of flak [for being late]."
"She's sarcastic and funny and really confident," she explained, adding that Anya acts like "one of the guys" over the course of the series.
"She is destined to become a spider hero of her own," Lane revealed, announcing that that will be one of Anya's story arcs which plays out in the series.
Peter's affinity for science will also play a big role in the series. "Science for us was a huge in for this series, which separates it from the other series as well. Peter is at a new school for genius science students called Horizon High," Shinick said.
At Horizon High, Peter will encounter one of his role models: Max Modell. "Max plays a really interesting role in the show. Peter is still hurting from the loss of Uncle Ben... we see him in flashbacks on the show," Lane explained. "He begins to look to Max as a mentor, which he's so desperately in need of."
"Max is a genius. He's working worldwide with things," Tatasciore said of his character. "He's a big deal, and he's the smartest guy in the room and he wouldn't let you know that... He cares about his students. Science is everything to him, but Peter is almost like a son."
According to Tatasciore, Max "wants to seem [Peter] grow. He also "doesn't have a big capacity for understanding evil." "He's a good-hearted guy in a world where Peter has so much opposition," Tatasciore said. "It's really nice that he has an ally that's sort of watching over him."
"I just want to say we have made it sort of our mission that none of the women are sidekicks, that we spoke to both genders authentically and that it's a show that's going to appeal to both men and women," Griffin shared. "That's been one of our main focuses as female executives, that female characters never take a back seat to the male characters."
Lane then cued the first two episodes to run. The paragraphs below are going to delve into the content of these episodes, so beware of spoilers.
The first episode opens only two weeks after Peter got his spider powers. As such, he debuts in his homemade suit, which looks very similar to his sweat-suit in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The episode moves quickly to set Peter up by playing up his unfamiliarity with his powers, then moving into a flashback where Uncle Ben gives Peter the "with great power" speech. Following that, Peter takes out a couple thugs with a display of his powers -- from spider-sense to super strength -- only to encounter none other than the Vulture. As he moves through the city during his fight with Vulture, the episode continues its world-building with an appearance by a Daily Bugle truck. Throughout the action, Peter drops quips, sounding much like his comic book counterpart.
Per that Parker luck, Peter is late for school at Midtown High, where Max Modell is giving a presentation about his elite science school Horizon High. A few of his students tag along, including Harry Osborne and Anya Corazon, and Max shows off some of their developing tech. Unfortunately, Peter's teacher Professor Smythe tampers with it, causing it to malfunction. As both Spider-Man and himself, Peter applies his technological savvy to stop the machine before disaster strikes. Impressed, Max offers Peter a spot at Horizon High.
The second episodes picks up with more action and quips, then introduces a handful of other popular Spider-Man characters, including Otto Octavius and Miles Morales. Scorpion appears as a villain. The episode continues world-building with a reference to Tony Stark and his alter ego Iron Man. Thanks to Horizon High's resources, Peter is able to create the classic Spider-Man outfit. As he explores his new school, he discovers that Harry has been making pumpkin bomb-like weapons, which suggests a possible villainous turn.
According to the official series synopsis,
In the new series, Marvel’s Spider-Man, we will see a fresh take on Spider-Man, as Peter Parker is learning the responsibility that comes along with being a new, super-powered hero in New York City, just as he’s being accepted into Horizon High, a high school for brilliant young scientific minds. He struggles with the duality of his social life at school and hiding his secret identity from everyone including his best friend Harry Osborn, who attends the competing Osborn Academy for geniuses. As Peter embraces his alter-ego and takes on super villains such as Vulture, Lizard, Doctor Octopus and Sandman, he watches his hero lifestyle come between his personal relationships and struggles to keep Harry from landing on the wrong side of the law.
Marvel’s Spider-Man will debut with a one-hour episode at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 on Disney XD, and will be available on the Disney XD App and VOD that same day. The voice cast is headlined by veteran voice actor Robbie Daymond as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Justice League: Action‘s Max Mittelman as Harry Osborn and The Last of Us‘ Nadji Jeter as Miles Morales.