When it comes to superhero TV shows, the expectation used to be a new villain every week. That has certainly changed in recent years and Marvel's Spider-Man, set to premiere this weekend on Disney XD, plans to follow suit by eschewing the villain of the week format to focus more on Peter Parker. The shift from villain-centric stories will allow the series a chance to better track Peter's development as a hero and a student at Horizon High.
Before you think the show is going to forget about Spider-Man's incredible rogues' gallery, you needn't worry. As Marvel's Senior Vice President, Animation and Family Entertainment, Cort Lane told me during a recent interview, the series has plenty of familiar, fan-favorite bad guys lined up for Spider-Man to take on; they just won't be dictating the episode's story the way they have in previous series.
Lane discussed how the intention of Marvel's Spider-Man is to always drive the story back to a fundamental question of how the events of every episode affect Peter and how he's still learning to become Spider-Man. That means that there will be plenty happening for Peter over the course of each episode, but it won't all be tied to villains like the Vulture, Scorpion, or even Venom.
"We don't have a villain of the week kind of format. The stories interweave and villains come in and out and it moves quickly. But, at the same time, there's always a very grounded Peter Parker personal story in every episode. That's the story of the week. What does Peter learn, or how does he grow? So all the stuff around him can move as fast as we want it to as long as that Peter story is grounded.
No villains are off limits, but we do want to parse them out in a smart way and hold some back for later seasons, because we want there to be fresh stories to tell. It's always a Peter story, and the villains service that story. A lot of villains come back frequently. It's rare that we have a story with one villain because life is more complicated than that. And what's really going on with the villains is not so straightforward."
The shift away from using or introducing a new villain every week should help to keep the series feeling fresh and less repetitive, but it may also help to make Peter Parker and his supporting cast of Horizon High students more relatable to those tuning in. Ensuring that the show remains Peter's story and not simply a revolving door for some of Marvel's most notorious ne'er-do-wells certainly bodes well for the series.
On the other hand, it's also nice to know Marvel's Spider-Man has a plan for some of Spidey's greatest adversaries, and isn't planning to rush them all to the front lines in the first season. Now it becomes a question of which character the show plans to introduce early on and which ones will help keep the story fresh later on.
Marvel's Spider-Man premieres Saturday, August 19 on Disney XD.