John Semper has written a Spider-Man movie. No, it's not the long-awaited, live-action film from director James Cameron. Semper, the story editor on FOX's highly rated "Spider-Man" animated series, has written a five-part story arc for the show called "Six Forgotten Warriors," which he said is his stab at a Spidey movie script.
"Never in a million years would they let me write a Spider-Man feature, so I said, 'Gee, let's see. If you take a feature and break it down to half-hours, that's about five. Hmm...I think I'll write a five-parter,'" Semper said, laughing. "It's my take on what a Spider-Man feature should have been."
The episodes are self-contained and written in a top-to-bottom feature style, instead of five episodes strung together. The story teams Spider-Man with Captain America and other longtime heroes, including Miss America and The Whizzer.
"It's really cool. I've always wanted to do something like Watchmen," Semper said.
"It's Spider-Man interacting with six World War II heroes. They did something back then that has ramifications in the present, so the story bounces back and forth between World War II and the present. And Spider-Man has to find them and round them all up again to get to the bottom of the mystery."
Semper researched many of the old Timely Comics to come up with the best characters to use, going through microfiche copies and tracking down old books. Captain America was always one of his favorite characters: "When it comes time to do him in animation, I hope I get [the job]," he said.
The story was part of what was planned for the fifth season of "Spider-Man," but FOX has been pushing up episodes, and it's quite likely all 65 produced episodes at Marvel Films will have been broadcast by the end of the 1997-98 season, the series' fourth.
Episodes originally planned for the fourth season of "Spider-Man" -- some of which will air during this season, the show's third -- fall under the umbrella of "Partners in Danger."
"We basically did a season of Spider-Man and the Black Cat," Semper said. "Everybody was always asking me, 'When are you going to do the Black Cat?' and I had always intended to. We bring back all of the previous villains, but there's a new twist because Spider-Man is fighting alongside the Black Cat. We get more mileage out of all the favorite villains.
Spidey will not know that Felicia Hardy is the Black Cat, and Semper said there is an "interesting" backstory to how she'll get her powers. Look for appearances by Morbius, Kraven, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Scorpion, and the Prowler. The "Partners in Danger" arc ends with The Punisher returning and the reappearance of Mary Jane.
Episodes originally planned for a fifth season include the "Six Forgotten Warriors" story arc, an episode returning Hydro-Man, and then "Secret Wars," which leads into "Spider-Wars." "Secrets Wars," of course, is based on the 1980s Marvel crossover, but Semper said he's made it more "Spidey-centric." The Beyonder turns out to be the danger for which Madame Web has been preparing Spidey.
" 'Secret Wars' is a real turning point for Spider-Man -- one entire theme I've been chasing since the 14th episode comes to a head," Semper said. "The only thing we weren't able to do for 'Secret Wars' is brinig the X-Men back as a group, because it became cost-prohibitive. We did an early episode with the X-Men, and all I heard about was how expensive and difficult it was."
The X-Men's Storm will be appearing in "Secret Wars," though, along with the Fantastic Four and Captain America (but not the Avengers). Original plans for the Hulk to appear were scrapped because of the Hulk's series on UPN, and the Lizard was brought in to make the event more central to Spider-Man. And since Venom was already introduced on the sreies, the symbiote costume will not be an aspect of television's "Secret Wars."
Ironically, Semper was not a fan of the Secret Wars comic. "I hated the comic book. It just meandered," he said.
Semper's "Secret Wars" will last three episodes, leading to the final story arc. But what is "Spider-Wars," also the theme of an upcoming toy line from Toy Biz, about? Semper was coy.
"There is an episode called, 'I Really, Really Hate Clones,' and I think that says it all right there," he said, laughing. "It's a very personal title, too."
So, clones will be popping up on the animated series, and rumors abound about a Peter/Mary Jane wedding, but Semper wouldn't reveal any more.
"Everyone should keep watching because every time you think you've nailed Spider-Man and know what we're going to do, we do something radically different," he said. "And that's probably what I'm the proudest of. You can never predict what's next."
Semper has basically been off "Spider-Man," which was produced at Marvel Films, since August. With Marvel's ever-tightening relationship with FOX and Saban Entertainment, it's doubtful any more episodes of "Spider-Man" will be made through Marvel Films.
"The show is a hit. It consistently gets better ratings than 'Batman' ever got, but they seem content to let it end at [episode] 65," Semper said. "I don't honestly know why. I hope if they do more, they will call me."
This page is a part of DRG4's Marvel Cartoon Pages:
Featuring Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and the Silver Surfer.