By Jason Lethert (originallypublished December, 2001)
Spider-Man'scartoon adventures in the early 1980s came to an abrupt end. The network versionran for two 12 episode seasons, but was only given a half order for it's thirdseason. Despite good ratings, changes in management at NBC and a revamp of theNBC Saturday morning line-up resulted in cancellation of the series. The networkand syndicated shows only put out a combined 50 episodes - short of the magicnumber for syndication. And with Spidey off the air, the Goblin was out ofHollywood as well - for almost a decade.
However, a few times whenHollywood came calling for Spider-Man, the Goblin was left behind. In twolesser-known productions, Spider-Man was presented sans Goblin - and sometimeswith no super villains at all! In the early 70s, Spider-Man wasmade into a series of short live-action featurette. They were ultra low-budgetkiddy-skits done for the PBS series The Electric Company - butthey were done with an enthusiastic charm (trivia note - Morgan Freeman, an ElectricCompany regular guest-starred as Dracula in one episode). Alas, none ofSpidey's rogues gallery appeared in these shorts.
And of course, there was theinfamous prime-time network live-action Spider-Man in the late 70sstarring twenty-something Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker. Again, the show hada spark when Spidey was onscreen, but was overshadowed by the F/X limitations of70s network television. However, the show's most grievous error was in rejectingthe character's comic book heritage. Shockingly, not one of the 15 hours oftelevision produced included a villain from the comic books. The only charactersfrom Peter's world that made the cut were Jameson and Aunt May.1992 - Alive At Last!
But, if Hollywood wasignoring the Goblin, fandom was not. And in the early 90s, one particularlydriven fanboy dared the unthinkable - a homemade movie adapting the "Deathof Gwen Stacy" story from the comics. Finally, the Goblin was going live.Before 1992, Dan Poole was just an average guy in Baltimore with a camcorder anda few hundred bucks burning a hole in his pocket. But with determination andingenuity, he used his passion for Spider-Man to fashion a Spidey film that anyhardcore fan would need for his collection.
Mostof Poole's film is betrayed by the poor production values, but when it shines,it's pure Spidey fun. The Green Goblin's Last Stand had wildstunts and pyrotechnics, and at times excellent camera work and editing. Beingcenter to the story, great care was taken in the creation of the goblin. Thelook was classic green skin and purple tunic, complete with a satchel full ofweaponry.
In Poole's film, the Goblinis afforded almost all of his traditional weapons and equipment. Pyrotechnicswere used for the Goblin's gauntlet energy discharge, as well as for the classicpumpkin bombs. One scene depicts a battered Spider-Man under the Goblin'sbarrage of weapons, his mask burned off and his face seared from flame. Yes, theGoblin was represented quite well in the action department. Poole even found away for limited use of the Goblin's jet-glider.
The storyline closely matchedthat of the comics, with local Baltimore actor Jimi Kinstle as NormanOsborn/Green Goblin. While Kinstle's performance could be diplomaticallydescribed as uneven, his Goblin persona was actually pretty good, if a bitscreechy. The Goblin mask (created by Poole's buddy Eric Supensky) was asomewhat clunky prostetic, with the eyes and mouth cut out to let Kinstle emote,and very effective in certain shots As in the comics, Norman's son Harry alsofigured into the film.
The climactic battle isaction packed - full of explosions and crazy stunts in high-flying Spidey style.And the final scene of the Goblin's death is gruesome and well done. Poole'sfilm eventually was found out by the internet press (for previous Comics2Filmcoverage please see The DanPoole Interview and TheGreen Goblin's Last Shot), and Poole became somewhat of a celebrity amongthe fans. Poole circulated some publicity copies of the film, and soon it wasturning up pirated and sold on eBay and at comic book conventions, and adocumentary on the film followed. Many consider it the best live actionSpider-Man (and Goblin) adaptation to date - until fans are satiated next may,anyway. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.1994 - Definitive Goblin
In the early 90s, thestill-fledgling Fox network was looking for any advantage against the big threenetworks. Part of that strategy was to take bold action in children'sprogramming, which resulted in critical and ratings smash-hits with Batman:The Animated Series, and The X-Men. By the mid-90s, Batmanwas getting ready to jump to the WB network (being produced by Warners), and theFox network was looking for a new hit. Meanwhile, when it came to movieadaptations, Marvel Comics had been D.C.'s whipping boy, but Marvel was about totake a huge lead in TV animation when they solved Fox's problem with Spider-Man:The Animated Series.
Spider-Man: TAS,another critical and ratings smash for Fox, is also hands-down the bestadaptation of the wall crawler that Hollywood produced before the millennium.Unlike The X-Men cartoon, this one got the big-budget treatmentfrom day one. The animation was top-notch, there was plenty of action, and thecharacterizations spot-on, with plenty of big name guest stars providing voices.The show was also a faithful story adaptation, drawing from classic stories andimplementing them into season-long arcs.
Unfortunately for the GreenGoblin, the earlier trend of under-representation would continue. By now, notonly was the Goblin long dead, the Hobgoblin had risen to take his place and wasa chief Spidey villain for years. Thusly when the first season kicked off, itwas the Hobgoblin (voiced by Mark Hamill) that got a two-part episode, not GG.In fact, the series reversed the comic continuity - in the cartoon, theHobgoblin comes first, and later it is the Green Goblin who adopts hispredecessor's weapons and equipment.
But when the Green Goblinfinally turned up about two-thirds into S-M:TAS's 65 episode run,it was a flawless rendition. The series had early on established a solid comicbook version of Norman Osborn, both visually and through veteran cartoon voiceactor Neil Ross. And when Ross was finally able to cut loose with the Goblinpersona (and some good writing), we finally see GG in all his splendor. Asmentioned above, the animation was excellent, and GG had all his weapons andequipment (though, the 10 ft. wide "super-jet-glider" that made abrief appearance was stretching credibility a bit).
Spider-Man: TAShad finally given fans the perfect Green Goblin. GG even upstaged the Hobgoblinas a better translation, and more effective villain. The potential of thecharacter from panels on pages had at last been fulfilled in animation. But theanimated story doesn't end there. After S-M:TAS ran it's course,Fox and Marvel decided to take a bold move - and change everything you knewabout Spider-Man!Check out part3 where you'll find: