After four seasons and 104 episodes Ultimate Spider-Man came to an end this past Saturday with the appropriately titled “Graduation Day” two-part finale. In an industry in which both live action and cartoon shows are canceled after one or two seasons it’s impressive that Ultimate Spider-Man lasted as long as it did. To mark this accomplishment I’ve decided to celebrate what Ultimate Spider-Man gave us as fans and thank the creators behind the TV show.
One Of Ultimate Spider-Man’s biggest accomplishments was how it became a shepherd for a look through the entire Marvel Universe. After figuring out what it wanted to be, a show about Spider-Man rather than Peter Parker, it allowed the show to explore every corner of the Marvel Universe that fans have come to love. This includes Spider-Man having adventures with Doctor Strange in the Dream Dimension and going into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. And the more the show got away from Spider-Man breaking the fourth wall, personally my biggest problem with the show, the show improved and became more fun to watch in later seasons.
Making the decision to focus on Spider-Man rather than Peter is where Ultimate Spider-Man separates itself from every other cartoon and movie that has starred the character, with the possible exception being Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. In shifting the focus away from Peter worrying about school and bills, the creators were able to see what happens if Peter invested most of his time in being Spider-Man. This in turn allowed the Peter to become one of the leaders of this Marvel Universe even without joining the Avengers.
This role as a developing leader allowed Ultimate Spider-Man to open up many more doors for lesser known heroes and villains we probably wouldn’t have gotten if it also focused on Peter’s personal life. Not only did Spider-Man lead an odd team of White Tiger, Nova, Iron Fist and Luke Cage but he also help create the New Warriors and Web Warriors. The latter two teams are teams that you would not think of getting major screen time on TV or in movies but Ultimate Spider-Man made happen.
Ultimate Spider-Man also had its fair share of fun stories during its run. Most of them came in the form of its multi-part episodes. The one that stands out the most is “The Spider-Verse” four-part story, which is notable for being the first appearance of Miles Morales voiced by Donald Glover. While the story was centered on the Green Goblin rather than Morlun, it did give us an opportunity to see the different versions of Spider-Man we have gotten over the years. While the follow-up, “Return of the Spider-Verse,” wasn’t as strong it did have another big introduction with Spider-Gwen’s first appearance outside of the comics.
Going along with the theme of comic book adaptions, Ultimate Spider-Man also featured an enjoyable version of the Contest of Champions crossover featuring all of the heroes introduced up to this point. Seeing Spider-Man team-up with all the different hero combinations was a lot of fun. It also was the first time it was shown that Aunt May already figured out that Peter was Spider-Man. This was a big change and showed that even in a show about Spider-Man there was room for development in Peter’s life and how his decision to focus on his superhero career affected his personal one.
Then there were episodes that highlighted the lesser known characters of the Marvel Universe that have a dedicated fanbase that ended up showing up. Characters like Amadeus Cho, Howling Commandos, Damage Control, Cloak and Dagger and many others ended up getting their own spotlight. It’s in these episodes that Ultimate Spider-Man was able show was a showcase for the entire Marvel Universe.
Now Ultimate Spider-Man was far from a perfect but the creators love for the characters was clear throughout the show’s run. And any show that features Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors is a win for all Marvel fans. For that and everything else Ultimate Spider-Man did to explore the entire Marvel Universe I thank everyone that worked on the show to make it happen.