May 2, 2012

‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ joins Disney XD

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Television at 10:32 pm by dinaheng

Super heroes are every child’s favorite role model. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)

One of the most endearing — and enduring — super heroes is now flying high on Disney XD’s new animated series “Ultimate Spider-Man” from Marvel Animation.

In this series, 16-year-old Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell) is juggling the life of a teenager at Midtown High School with best friends, Mary-Jane Watson and Harry Osborn, who are clueless to his alter-ego identity of Spider-Man.

When Nick Fury (Chi McBride), head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) recruits him to join an elite group of four other teenage super heroes, Parker discovers how much he has to learn about discipline and honing his skills as an action hero.

“Usually, when we see Spider-Man, he’s a bit older,” says Joe Quesada, chief creative officer for Marvel. “This show chronicles his life as a teenager. He may have to deal with a chemistry test, as well as any test Nick Fury may give him. This is the first time we also see him in situations where he’s part of a team.”

The team, in this case, includes Nova (Sam Alexander), White Tiger (Ava Ayala), Power Man (Luke Cage) and Iron Fist (Danny Rand). Together, they battle to defeat evil villains in the Marvel Universe.

“It’s the kind of show that can be aimed at the family,” Quesada says. “Kids 6 to 8, in particular, will have a blast with it.”

Super heroes in the Marvel Universe were created in the early 1940s when the popularity of comic books was at its height. In the 1960s, Stan Lee modernized the idea of super heroes in collaboration with several artists, creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many other characters. (Stan Lee, by the way, plays Stan the Janitor on the show.)

“There’s always been an ebb and flow with the popularity of super heroes,” Quesada says. “Right now, comics are popular in all mediums. Hollywood’s looking at our source material as great fodder for movies. The Marvel movies are part of the Disney family. They appeal to a mainly male audience, and Disney was looking for a foothold in this boys-male arena. We have a long list of female super heroes, too.

He says that super heroes embody an ideal of the best in humanity, but the appeal of these characters lie in the fact that when they fail, they dust themselves off and try again.

“Spider-Man is not all powerful,” Quesada says. “He’s very human. Stan Lee looked at their alter-egos The person inside the costume is what’s most important. There are many lessons you can learn from Peter Parker and Spider-Man — never give up, even when things are dark; there are ways to solve problems, and with great power comes great responsibility.”

New episodes of “Ultimate Spider-Man” air Sundays at 11 a.m., ET/PT on Marvel Universe on Disney XD.

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