Find Out What’s In Store For Peter Parker in The New Animated ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’
Cort Lane lets us in on all the secrets of 'Marvel’s Spider-Man' on Disney XD!
During the Marvel Animation panel at D23 Expo in Anaheim, Senior Vice President, Animation & Family Entertainment, Cort Lane and Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada announced the premiere date for “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” on Disney XD – Saturday, August 19.
In the new series, we’ll see Peter Parker (voiced by Robbie Daymond) learning the responsibility that comes along with being a new, super powered hero in New York City, just as he’s being accepted into Horizon High, a high school for brilliant young scientific minds. He struggles with the duality of his social life at school and hiding his secret identity from everyone including his best friend Harry Osborn (voiced by Max Mittleman) who attends the competing Osborn Academy for geniuses.
Marvel.com spoke with Cort Lane about where this new series takes Peter emotionally and how it may or may not fit into the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” universe.
Marvel.com: Tell us a little bit about this fresh new take on Spider-Man for Disney XD.
Cort Lane: Well there’s something very fresh about it and something very old school as well. This is Peter Parker as a teenager, literally just as he’s gotten his spider-powers. On one hand there’s something very classic about the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko stories that we’re capturing here, something extraordinary happens to him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. He wants to get good grades, he’s trying to make friends, he’s dealing with very relatable teen stuff.
What’s fresh and new about it are a couple of things, the animation style is unlike anything we’ve ever done before, it’s a little more cartoony, very expressive. The other thing that’s really fresh about it is the setting and the things that he’s dealing with. Peter Parker is a scientific genius, so we wanted to create an environment where he could create all kinds of amazing tech. So he goes to Horizon High, which is based on Horizon Labs from the comic books. We really looked at that run in the comic books but with a teenager as the lead. The science of it all, the technology that he creates and he deals with, is really cool and futuristic, but relevant.
Marvel.com: What’s the difference between Horizon High and Osborn Academy?
Cort Lane: There’s really three schools in the series, he starts out at Midtown High but he has to make the choice to leave Midtown to go to Horizon High, which is this amazing school for scientific geniuses. But whenever you get around science of that order, there are people who will use it less ethically. And that’s a running theme through the storyline.
Marvel.com: Sort of making sure Harry doesn’t deviate…
Cort Lane: Yes! And Harry does a bit and other characters do deviate a lot from proper ethical use of their abilities—which speaks to Peter Parker’s manta— “With great power, comes great responsibility,” because their intelligence is a power in and of itself for a lot of characters. How they use that for good—or not—or for selfish reasons, is an ongoing theme throughout the season. At Osborn Academy, those ethics aren’t there because it comes from the top and Norman Osborn forms this academy and sort of drags Harry into that academy to be the star but not everybody at Osborn Academy is bad and not everyone at Horizon is good.
So you see the interplay between the three schools, you see characters cross over and interact with each other, and the characters at Midtown will still be part of the story as well.
Marvel.com So will there be other friends that are familiar to us that Peter interacts with in the series?
Cort Lane: Yes. When he goes to Horizon High, he takes a spot in the school that Harry is kicked out of. There he gets to know Gwen Stacy, Anya Corazon, and Miles Morales. Throughout the season, his friendship with Harry is really tight. They speak in shorthand with each other—they know each other so well—but it becomes very strained. Fortunately he has these new friendships. At Midtown, there’s Flash Thompson, Randy Robertson, and Liz Allen.
Marvel: In addition to the social aspects, what are some of the other challenges that Peter will face in addition to coming into being his own with his powers?
Cort Lane: One of the very simple things is, when you’re creating science stuff —tech for classes as assignments—and you have a need to use it as Spider-Man, it means you can’t turn it in for homework. The Spider-Man story is so often about sacrifice, yes he wins the battle with the villain but he has to give up something.
We have an early episode where he creates this great tracker system and he uses it to track Black Cat but because he does that, he misses turning it in for Doc Ock’s class and he gets an F. That’s hard to take, he spends all day trying to stop this villain and show how smart he is with this amazing thing he created, and in the end you get nothing. And that’s a Peter Parker story, and we make sure to tell a lot of those stories.
Marvel.com: It’s so lighthearted and fun but typically for a teenager, emotionally life is up and down.
Cort Lane: Right. So often when Spider-Man wins, Peter loses, or the reverse. It’s hard but I think heroism means so much more when you make those sacrifices.
Marvel: It was just announced that Patton Oswalt will be doing the voice of Uncle Ben, can you tell me a little bit more about the rest of the voice cast?
Cort Lane: Robbie Daymond plays Spider-Man for us. When you cast Spider-Man you cast the net very wide, so we listened to a ton of auditions. Robbie is really good, he’s also young and enthusiastic and loves the character.
Quite by accident the actor who we cast as Harry (who I think is the second most important role in the show) —Max Mittleman—they’re pretty much best friends. They hang out together all the time outside the show, they go to cons together and everything. That rapport that they have, it comes across in the booth.
Another one that we’re particularly excited about is Nadji Jeter as Miles Morales. Miles is a little younger, a little irresponsible, and he’s a little more hip than Peter. So him playing off of Robbie is really fun in the booth.
I also want to point out that we cast Fred Tatasciore as Max, the principal and founder of Horizon High. He’s a wonderful mentor figure which helps balance out the loss of Uncle Ben. Fred—even though he plays Hulk for us and he can do those really deep, scary, intense voices—is incredibly charming and warm, but he can also be tough on Peter. He’s just this wonderful mentor character and having Fred play him is such a treat for us.
Marvel: So, people are going to always ask but how does this show—or does it at all— fit in with the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” universe?
Cort Lane: They always ask that but there was no intentional copying of the film at all because frankly when we were developing this show we didn’t have much information of what was going on with the film. The animation cycle is very slow, we started developing this show three years ago.
I will say that Marvel as a company understood the direction that Peter Parker needed to go, which was a sort of back to basics approach of a relatable teenager, because that’s where he started in the comics. So that’s what we did as well.
Fortunately there’s a lot of synergy. He’s a teenager, he’s dealing with very relatable teen stuff, it’s about friendships and new friendships, and things that you have to give up to be a hero. It’s about high school life and those milestone moments, and ironically Vulture is the villain.
Marvel.com: That wasn’t planned?
Cort Lane: That was not planned! Vulture was his first villain in the comics and we were inspired that way, and it seems that the film folks were inspired that way too.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” will debut with a one-hour premiere on Saturday, August 9th (7:00-8:00 AM EDT), on Disney XD, and on the Disney XD App and VOD (12:01 AM EDT)
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