Spider-Man, Spider-Man, has more series than we can stand! Just kidding. The best thing about the famous web-slinger is that we never, ever get tired of him. His story is timeless and irreplaceable; his character is beloved and idolized above many others because of his relatable struggles.
That’s why the story has been retold so many times and still hasn’t gotten old. So out of all the reboots that have been done, which ones are the best? There are too many to count, so let’s just narrow it down to the cartoons. Here are the top 10 Spider-Man cartoon series, ranked.
11 Spider-Man, The New Animated Series
OK, so this wasn’t the worst of the worst Spider-Man cartoon series in terms of story and characterization. So why is it at number ten? Because let’s be honest: the visuals sucked. The animation was an innovation, a gamble, and boldness is to be admired...but not the results.
The clunky, 3D animation was reminiscent of old 90s video games, a la Tomb Raider and Crash Bandicoot; or even that strange Toonami show REBOOT. It was just an eyesore after a while and detracted from the otherwise great story-telling and awesome voice-acting cast. It’s a shame the visuals weren’t up to it.
9 Spider-Man Unlimited
This show gets a bad rap, with good reason, but it definitely could have been worse… we think. Basically, Spider-Man was ripped from his own franchise and dropped into the middle of some weird, surreal science-fiction story where humanoid animals oppressed humans. Sounds pretty interesting, actually.
But, with a mediocre voice cast that didn’t resonate with the audience, and an inconsistent at best, confusing at worst, story-line, it’s a surprise that the show was able to run for as long as it did. At the very least it was the most unique Spider-Man story to be seen as of yet.
8 Spider-Man (1981)
The Spider-Man cartoon series that everyone forgets about. 1981's short-lived cartoon lasted only one season and isn't discussed by many Spidey fans. While it isn't bad per say, there's just very little worth discussing about it.
Even for the time, the animation is a bit hum-dum with a basic style. One thing that seperates this from other Spidey toons was the inclusion of villains outside Spidey's usual rogues gallery like The Wizard and Doctor Doom. While this isn't a bad series, it's not a great one either.
7 Marvel’s Spider-Man
This was technically a reboot of Ultimate Spider-Man, having been planned as a follow-up and released a year after the latter’s end. Marvel’s Spider-Man is very good because it balances the old and new elements very well.
Without sacrificing what makes the Spider-Man story great, some of the well-known parts of his story are pushed to the background. We know Uncle Ben dies and says “the line;” there’s no reason to see it rehashed. This series also focuses a little more on the technology aspect of Peter Parker’s crime-fighting and has a charming, doodle-like art quality.
6 Spider-Man (1967)
The origin of the most famous memes! It’s hard to explain this version of the cartoon without sounding like a crazy person. The animation is absolutely ridiculous, the stories are contrived and the dialogue is so cheesy it could make the Three Stooges cringe. But for the time it was advanced, and there is an undeniable charm to the 60s series.
It’s also hilarious to watch because it’s so outdated. Watching the choppy scene changes and the inconsistent animation puts one in a giggly mood, like watching a bad reality TV show. What can we say: our generation likes trash.
5 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was, for lack of a better word, amazing. It’s in this series that fans get to see the greatest snarker of all time at his prime. Teaming up with IceMan and Firestar, most of the show is a roast session between fights. What other series can say that?
It’s hard to say what was better: the snark between the college-age teammates, or the full-on snark aimed at opponents and bad guys. Either way, this series, and its janky animation will have any fan in stitches inside of ten minutes.
4 Ultimate Spider-Man
Ultimate Spider-Man is one of those shows you either love or hate. The coolest thing about this incarnation of the show is how inclusive it is of the rest of the Marvel Universe.
So many other characters have made an appearance and even played a major role, like Agent Coulson, Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Iron Fist and even Blade. Some people didn’t care for Peter Parker’s characterization in this one, but his silliness and sense of humor resonates with many Gen Z and younger millennials. His monologues were hilarious too.
3 The Spectacular Spider-Man
Spectacular Spider-Man was the pinnacle of Spider-Man cartoons for the Gen Z crowd, which is kind of surprising because it had more romance than a telenovela.
One of the highlights is the awesome and in-depth characterization of Gwen Stacy, who we all can agree was dealt a pretty crappy hand so Peter could end up with MJ. Another highlight is the villains! Oh man, the villains; each was chosen wisely from Spider-Man’s lore, and given the kind of heart that made the retellings interesting. It’s difficult to tell the same story over and over, but this one perfectly balances a respect for the source material but modernizing it in a way to make it relevant for current viewers.
2 Spider-Man (1994)
Ah, right in the nostalgia. The 1994 Spider-Man series is iconic, to say the least. It was mature for a cartoon, action-packed, funny without being silly, and had a long fulfilling run on daytime television. The stories were engaging and the romance between Peter and MJ always had fans on the edge of their seats. This was one of the trinity of 90s superhero cartoons with Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series also in that discussion.
It was this series that most Millennials grew up on, having reruns fed to them on weekdays, long after its syndication ended. We can still hear the electronic guitar-infused version of the Spider-Man theme playing out in our minds. Good times, good times. Couldn’t wait for it to come on after school. And now with Disney Plus coming, we hope that this show ends up on the platform.