Comic book movies are all over the place these days. What some people may not notice is that equally good comic book television shows, mostly animated shows, are also on the air. There are many different comic book characters getting their own television series but only one character has been entertaining us for decades, Spider-man.
There have actually been ten Spider-man television shows (sort of) over the years. Some are good, some are bad and some are just strange. But all of the Spider-man television shows have one thing in common: good theme songs.
The first Spider-man theme song belonging to the 1967 television series is the most well known and possibly still the best. Just about everybody knows the “Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can” lyrics. The lyrics from the theme song of the 1967 television series was actually written by Paul Francis Webster. Webster was nominated for for Best Song at the Academy Awards sixteen times and won three times.
The next time Spider-man was seen on television was during the television show called The Electric Company. Spider-man only had occasional shorts but before and after each short was a theme song that was nearly as good as the first. The lyrics are pretty simple but catchy. “Spider-man, where are you coming from? Spider-Man, nobody knows who you are!” The theme song from the Spider-man shorts on the Electric Company were composed by Gary William Friedman who also composed Tony nominated musicals.
The Amazing Spider-man that debuted in 1977 was the first live action full television series of Spider-man. The theme song for the 1977 live action Spider-man series did not have any lyrics but it had a very funky theme that was typical of the 1970’s It was sort of like a cheap Shaft knock-off but not too bad.
The second live action Spider-man debuted just one year later in 1978. The reason you probably don’t remember two Spider-man shows at once was because this show only aired in Japan. That’s right I’m talking about the Japanese tokusatsu series Supaidāman. The theme song is your typical Japanese sounding tune which many people may not like, but I dig it. The best part of the Supaidāman though is the intro. Why? Because in Japan even Spider-man has giant robots in it. That’s right Spider-man is doing his thing when suddenly a giant Voltron-like robot lands.
In 1981 there were two animated Spider-man television shows, Spider-man and Spider-man and his Amazing Friends. Spider-man is probably the better of the two because it at least starts off with a good opening but then gets pretty cheesy. Spider-man and his Amazing Friends is pretty cheesy from the beginning. Neither theme has any lyrics other than “Spider-man!” or “Spider-man…and his amazing friends!” So, not real original.
Spider-man disappeared from the small screen for a decade before finally coming back in 1994. The theme song from the 1994 Spider-man Animated Series is right up there with the first two Spider-man theme songs. The 1994 Spider-man Animated Series has a main guitar part that reminds you of the old Spider-man themes but then an electric guitar kicks in to remind you that this is a more modern and more exciting Spider-man. They lyrics are not spectacular but the “spider blood, spider blood, radioactive spider blood” spoken through a vocoder is pretty catchy. The theme song from the 1994 Spider-man animated series was written and performed by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.
The next animated Spider-man series was the Spider-man Unlimited series in 1999. Okay, so I may have stretched things a little bit when I said all Spider-man themes had cool music. This is a bad theme song as it sounds like a lame attempt at some kind of dance techno song. Maybe they didn’t even try though. After all being the theme song after the 1994 theme song is like being the shooting guard of the Chicago Bulls after Michael Jordan retired. Nothing would have been good enough.
In 2003 MTV aired the Spider-man: The NEW Animated Series and like all other cartoons called “The NEW” something, it sucked. Fortunately the theme song was alright. It was like the previous theme song in that it was kind of techno-ish, but a much better attempt. The theme song didn’t sound at all like Spider-man though, but not a bad song to have on the iPod.
The most recent Spider-man animated series is the very good 2008 series called Spectacular Spider-man. For the first time in ages we get a theme song with words! Like a verse, a chorus and everything. The music and lyrics are very good and the “Spectacular, Spectacular, Spider-man” chorus gets stuck in my head more than any other song these days. At least it’s a good song to have stuck in my head.
BONUS: Spider-man is not the only spider-character to have a theme song. In 1970 there was also a Spider-Woman animated series. At first the Spider-Woman theme song is not so great. It’s clear they were going for a super hero song but girled it up (you know sort of how the She-Ra theme was a very lame version of He-Man) but then the music lowers and a voice tells the origin story of Spider-Woman. I am a huge fan of this type of theme “song”. If a theme song covers the origin of the character then you can jump into any random episode and get the gist of the character. Thumbs up for the Spider-Woman theme song.
NOTE: Any of these themes can be found on YouTube. Just search for the the name of the animated series, the year of the series and “theme”, “theme song” or “intro.”