Warning: I don't usually feel the need to warn people about the use of strong language, but since I am reviewing a "kid's" show for once, I guess I'll warn you. I'm going to swear . . . a lot.
I never gave "Ultimate Spider-Man" a fair shot.
I don't really pay too much attention to cartoon shows that debut nowadays on American television. I'd seen one or two episodes of the MTV Spider-Man and a handful of episodes of the Spectacular Spider-Man.
I loved seeing Spider-Man in any form, but the MTV Spider-Man didn't wow me and the Spectacular Spider-Man was just too difficult to watch (didn't have DVR or even cable at the time to be honest).
I noticed Ultimate Spider-Man on Netflix a while ago, but kept waiting to try it out in hopes of watching it from the beginning instead of strictly Season 3. Recently, it's been coming up here and there as I try to find more Spidey and as more Marvel properties are bandied about for future TV and movie properties. (Spoiler Alert: Turns out, the reason why all these other properties show up on it is because Ultimate Spider-Man is the whore of Marvel.)
With the latest Spider-Man incarnation in the MCU coming up, I've been going back and re-reading/watching the Spider-Man media I have access to, and I figure that I personally don't really need to be caught up to a Spider-Man show to jump in at any point, so I jumped in.
This show is garbage.
Utter and complete trash. This is the kinda' show you let your kids watch if you want your kids to be stupider for having seen the show.
Not only is this show utterly without any sort of artistic merit, but it is rarely funny and doesn't even have that great of action (even though it is almost entirely action with jokes thrown in; in other words, the show is sold entirely on the strength of its action and jokes and it has neither).
I really wanted to last long enough to see the Miles Morales crossover and how that was handled, but it shits over the character of Spider-Man so much that I had to give it up. I stopped at Episode 9.
To recap: this is not worth watching, will cause more damage to whoever watches it than it will benefit, and it doesn't have good action or good comedy.
Moving on: the art is middling. It's nothing fantastic, and it's not horrendous. The characters are generally recognizable for who they are supposed to represent, but they also make some rather strange choices with the character design of characters like Doc Ock and the Vulture.
You may say that I'm too much of a Spidey fan to appreciate this show, but I haven't even touched on their handling of Spidey. This show sucks this bad entirely on its own completely separate from Spidey and the Marvel universe. It's the kind of cartoon show that made me want to become a writer in the first place because people shouldn't write shit this terrible for children to consume. There are good shows out there that are kid-friendly without being patronizing gutter slime you force-feed to children in lieu of parenting. Look at what Pixar does. Their movies are not "kid movies", but they are kid friendly. There are programs on air RIGHT NOW that parents can watch with their children. It doesn't have to be crap.
I would have been annoyed by this show's existence if I was 5. Having seen the entirety of the incredible success of the Spider-Man franchise over the course of the last 14 years and growing up on the 90s animated series, I see this show as an unimaginable dump heap of unwashed ideas that stank of being uninspired, unworthy, and being the quintessence of why children shouldn't watch television, or for that matter, any sane and rational human being. For that matter, you shouldn't leave this show on with your dog when you leave for work. Your dog would be justified in attacking you and you should be the one put down for forcing it to sit through the show with no opposable thumbs to change the channel.
You're making children dumb! This is fucking trash! What the fuck is the thought process behind ANY of this show?
Now then, let's talk about how they handle Spidey as a character.
First of all, you don't see our Spidey at all. There's no introspective. There's no retrospective. THERE'S NO GUILT OR RESPONSIBILITY. There's no doing your best and getting shit on no matter what. The ole' triple J still has it in for the webhead, but he is more of a caricature of himself than he's ever been. In 9 episodes, we encountered MJ once and I saw him out of costume I think twice. And this is a high school Spider-Man with a secret identity.
The fact that Spectacular Spider-Man (which I have since seen and now own copies of) got CANCELLED for this abomination makes me question reality. Does life have any meaning if obvious garbage is going to be in its FOURTH season when the best iteration of Spider-Man to have ever graced the screen was cancelled after only two? What the fuck is the thought process behind this series?
"Well, Spectacular Spider-Man was just so good we knew we couldn't do anything as good as that, so we decided to just have some crackpot that only superficially sorta' looks like Spider-Man and doesn't act anything like Spider-Man be the thrust of the show."
Have I mentioned that 9 episodes in and we only saw MJ once? And no other love interests for the webhead. I'm sorry, but one of the most compelling things about Spidey IS the cost of being Spider-Man. The cost to Peter Parker of putting on the suit. The idea that he wants to be happy, but his guilt drives him to put Spidey ahead of the people he love because Spidey is the person that protects the people that he loves. That's *nowhere* in this show.
It's mindless drivel.
I'm offended by this show. Every episode filled me with growing dismay and disgust. This show's existence is offensive. What the fuck is this show! What parents are letting their children watch this show? Do you even parent? What is wrong with you? Read a book!
I've got to believe that the only reason it is popular in the slightest is because of the name recognition of Spider-Man. It has nothing else going for it. The action is forgettable. The humor is base and unfunny. Spider-Man is out of character throughout every scene. If you are a fan of Spider-Man, I urge you to forget that you ever heard of this program. It taints the character just by existing.
In 9 episodes I only heard one joke out of Spider-Man's mouth that sounded anything like a joke Spider-Man would make, and none of the non-jokes sounded anything like him. What the fuck is this show!!!
Oh my god. I'd rather watch Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 back-to-back with Amazing Spider-Man 2 than watch this show. It needs to not exist as fast as humanly possible.
They are ruining Spider-Man for an entire generation of kids.
And this is Marvel. Marvel Marvel. It's not some other studio working for Marvel or a studio licensing the property from Marvel. It's goddamn Marvel and it's disgusting. It's a travesty. The creators of this show should be ashamed of themselves.
I realize they are probably real people working hard jobs, but they should be ashamed. If they were pressured to do this by supervisors and they caved to earning a paycheck instead of artistic integrity, I can understand, but they need to live with that shame. They can feel proud that they are making a living for their families and having done what they needed to, but they need to be ashamed of the garbage they put out in the universe. It's fucking disgusting. You don't get to just rationalize it and put it away. Be like Spidey. Do what you need to do, but work towards making up for it. You let Uncle Ben die in making this show (and then Captain Stacy died during one of your fights, and then you killed Gwen through your own ineptitude), now do better for the rest of your lives.
I watched NINE episodes. NINE. There wasn't a single MOMENT of redemption in nearly four hours of material. HOW DOES THIS EXIST?! WILL SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHO LETS THEIR KIDS WATCH THIS?!
Go and find the 90s animated series. Go and watch the first season of Spectacular Spider-Man on repeat. Go watch Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 1 & 2 and Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man. If you need Spider-Man, go read fan-fiction of Spider-Man. Peter/Harry slash is better than this garbage. Hell, Peter/Norman slash is better than this.
(well, maybe not that far; seriously, Norman? I don't get it. I thought the Gwen/Norman slash garbage that "Sins Past" had was too far. Let's just ruin all of the characters, eh Marvel?
WAIT! IS THAT THE PLAN? Does Marvel want to ruin Spider-Man because Sony has the movie rights? BUT THEY MADE A DEAL! THEY'RE SHARING HIM NOW! LET THIS TRASH DIE)
This show is worse than Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It's worse than Teen Moms. It's. The. Worst. I've never been more horrified and appalled by a television program than I am by this goddamn show.
And I mean, I get it. I understand that I wouldn't feel this strongly if it wasn't Spider-Man. But it's goddamn Spider-Man! It's the most popular character in Marvel before all of these movies hit and it is many people's most favorite character in the line-up. In terms of moral character, there's him and Cap as the two best people and then there's this dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb show.
If it wasn't Spider-Man, it would be forgettable. But it is Spider-Man, and it's a goddamn travesty. It's a rape of the character of Peter Parker and Spider-Man and every season it exists, it is doing irreparable damage to his legacy and standing with new generations of Marvel fans.
What may be worse is that I want to see Spider-Girl, I want to see Spider-Man Noir, I want to see Spider-Man 2099. I don't want to see Miles Morales interact with this Spider-Man. Give me Spider-Man 616 meeting Miles any day. The thought that in a moment of weakness I may cave in and watch the Spider-Verse episodes of this garbage show, giving it more ratings and further supporting its existence is anathema to me. If I could delete it from Netflix so I will never be bored enough, never be drunk enough, never be missing Spider-Man enough that I will watch it again, I would without hesitation.