Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Perhaps the most elaborate of all the animated TV versions of the Marvel Comics icon Spider-Man, this one was co-produced by Brian Michael Bendis, the writer of the highly regarded comic book Ultimate Spider-Man. Former Doogie Howser, M.D. star Neil Patrick Harris provided the voice for youthful photojournalist Peter Parker (aka the wall-crawling Spider-Man). Originally created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963, the venerable comic-book property was herein updated to the early 21st century, and its content was heavily influenced by the live-action 2002 Spider-Man feature -- and also by the earlier cartoon daily Batman: The Animated Adventures, insofar as the use of celebrity voices for the villains was concerned. Animated in a style described by its producers as "CG Neon Noir," the series assumed that the viewers were familiar with the Spider-Man legend, thus the standard backstory (Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he suffered pangs of guilt for inadvertently causing the death of his uncle, etc.) was dispensed with, the better to plunge right into the action. Spider-Man: The Animated Series premiered with back-to-back episodes over the MTV network on July 11, 2003.