The web swinging Spider-Man has been in several animated programs from the Grantray-Lawrence series by Ralph Bakshi to the 1980s’ cartoon that graduated to Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, the 90’s Spider-Man series as well as the relatively obscure Spider-Man Unlimited.
The most recent cartoon returned Peter Parker to his teenage roots and is the only successor to the Grantray-Lawrence cartoon in my opinion, but Spectacular Spider-Man ended after only two series. Scheduling conflicts and changes from WB to Disney XD made the program almost impossible to watch, which is a crime as it perfectly captured the teenage years of the wall crawler as well as developing his superhero world in a new way.
The latest cartoon version of Spider-Man is a joint effort from Brian Michael Bendis (who wrote Ultimate Spider-Man for years) and Paul Dini (one of the chief architects of the Batman Animated series). Numerous characters will be redesigned for the program including several popular villains, but also a few allies.
As revealed in a Q&A with Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada published Tuesday on Marvel.com, Spider-Man will be joined by a team of four S.H.I.E.L.D.-affiliated “likeminded heroes” on the show. Later in the day, the first was revealed: Iron Fist.
“The Ultimate Spider-Man version Iron Fist is definitely a Danny, and not a Daniel, Rand,” said Ultimate Spider-Man supervising producer (and veteran comic book artist) Duncan Rouleau in a Marvel.com article. “Danny embraces a go-with-the-flow attitude. Stepping out from the confines of K’un L’un into the madhouse of New York, Danny tends to look at everything with a wide-eyed sense of the new that offers a unique perspective vs. his more jaded fellow trainees.”
Another supervising producer, Cort Lane, stated in the piece that the show’s depiction of Iron Fist is influenced by the 2006-2009 Immortal Iron Fist series, specifically the run co-written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction.
As far as the other members of the team, Quesada gave these hints: “One has a youthfulness but internal maturity beyond his years; another is conscientious and an overachiever; the third has a tremendous earnestness and sense of responsibility; and the last is brash and boastful,” with Iron Fist presumably the “youthfulness but internal maturity.” Online reports have stated the four characters to be Iron Fist, Power Man, White Tiger and Nova.
Iron Fist has been seen in preview clips from the series as early as Comic-Con in San Diego last July. The voice actor for Ultimate Spider-Man’s Iron Fist is yet to be revealed.
Ultimate Spider-Man comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis also serves as a consulting producer on the show and has written Luke Cage extensively in the past, but says that the character was a part of the show before he was.
“It is fun to write him as a teenager, and I do sort of write him with the knowledge of the man he’s going to become,” Bendis said on Marvel.com. “This is the Luke that will eventually become Luke Cage.”
According to the article, the classic Luke Cage/Iron Fist dynamic will be in tact on the series, even with younger versions of the characters.
“If there’s anything not broken in comics, it’s the dynamic between Iron Fist and Power Man,” Bendis said. “They’re fantastic together. And that dynamic only gets more interesting with the connection of the other three teammates. No matter what happens on the team, these two are good.”
The latest of Spider-Man’s “Ultimate Friends” to be revealed is a female version of White Tiger, the same as the one recently introduced in the Avengers Academy comic book series.
Ava Ayala will be part of the main cast of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, joining Spidey, Iron Fist and two other yet-to-be-named characters. “We wanted a young female voice on the team and while she is new, White Tiger proved to be the perfect choice,” said show creative consultant Paul Dini in a Marvel.com article. “She’s tough and smart, and her cat-like reflexes allow her to match Spider-Man leap for leap in agility.”
Based on the description of White Tiger in the Marvel.com piece — Dini says “it’s important to her that she excels at everything she does, as she plans on leaving the team someday as a full super heroine in her own right” — it looks like she’s the “conscientious and an overachiever” character that Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada hinted at in a Q&A on Tuesday.
In the comics, Ava Ayala is the sister of original White Tiger, Hector Ayala, and though the Marvel.com article doesn’t specifically mention that character, Dini calls Ava “a legacy heroine and the newest in a family of heroes to use the White Tiger name.”