When The Amazing Spider-Man swung onto CBS forty years ago, it became the network’s most-watched show for the entire year. However, problems with the show’s budget and demographics resulted in the series only having thirteen episodes, which were aired sporadically between 1977 and 1979. Still, many fans were dazzled by the show’s special effects and incarnation of the popular character. Nevertheless, the show has one prominent detractor: Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee, who said that he hated the show because it failed to properly adapt the aspects of the characters that made the comic so popular.
“The Spider-Man TV series, I was very unhappy with because very often, people will take a novel, let’s say, and bring it to the screen… and they will leave out the one element, the one quality that made the novel a bestseller,” Lee said in an old interview rediscovered by The Hollywood Reporter. “With Spider-Man, I felt the people who did the live-action series left out the very elements that made the comic book popular.”
“They left out the humor. They left out the human interest and personality and playing up characterizations and personal problems,” Lee said.
Lee did praise the TV series for its visual effects, which were impressive for its time. “On a technical level, I think they did a good job,” he said. “The scenes of him climbing on the wall — in those days, they didn’t have the wherewithal that they have today, and they did a very good job with that. But, to me, it was just a one-dimensional show, so I was disappointed in it. And it didn’t do well. It didn’t last very long.”
The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Nicholas Hammond as the titular wall-crawler, was the first live-action TV series starring a Marvel character. It was not, however, the first live-action appearance of Spider-Man. The character starred in some short, comedic skits called “Spidey Super Stories” for PBS’ The Electric Company between 1974 and 1977. The Amazing Spider-Man also debuted only a few short months before the popular and longer-lasting The Incredible Hulk.
The wall-crawler’s next outing will swing into theaters on July 7 with director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.
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