By Jason Lethert (originallypublished December 2001)1999: Counter Goblin
In1999, Fox premiered Spider-Man: Unlimited, a brand new take on thecharacter, and a marked contrast from any previous incarnation - comic oranimated. This show stranded Spidey in CounterEarth, a parallel Earth from thecomic books (though this was quite different from the comic version). ThisCounterEarth was run by the despotic High Evolutionary and his geneticmutations, which lorded over the "regular" humans. Here, Peter Parkerworked for a website, and Spidey helped the John Jameson-led resistance againstthe High Evolutionary.
As you could imagine, fanreaction was quite mixed. Most were repelled by the abrupt change in their oncerecognizable hero. Adding to the ire of the purists was the fact that Spideywore a techno-suit of nano-robots, which fit on him much like the alien costume- but with tons of gadgets and abilities. These types of radical changes fromthe core of Spider-Man were rejected by many fanboy circles. But the show wasNOT a failure.
In fact, after a late startin the fall of 1999, Spider-Man: Unlimited opened to good ratings.For three episodes, the show was sailing along to success, despite the negativereaction from the hardcore fans. But ultimately, S-M:U was avictim of timing. In the end of the 90s, America was just entering the Pokemoncraze, and Fox ditched it's entire lineup for Pokemon clones -primarily, Digimon.
And so ended the experiment.As a result, many simply dismiss the show as a Batman Beyondripoff, even though Spider-Man: Unlimited was in development before BB becamepublic. Fox eventually brought the series back last winter, and aired the 13completed episodes until summer. But the show couldn't overcome the lack ofpublicity momentum from the year long hiatus.
The show exists as aninteresting curio. The comic book industry is fond of alternate universestorylines, but Spider-Man: Unlimited goes down as one of the mostunique and bizarre. Some of the alternate takes on Marvel characters wereprovocative, such as portraying Machine Man as an escaped Sentinel.
One of the most popularsupporting characters on the show was the Green Goblin, which is quite theparadox of his comic persona.
In S-M:U, theGoblin has no connection to Norman Osborn. He is a Latino man, more Goblin-esque(mutated with wings and thusly, no need for a jetglider), as well as his generalappearance. And in keeping with the general visual themes of the show, theGoblin was laden with technology and equipment. However, the biggest change wasthat the CounterEarth Goblin was a vigilante, fighting against the HighEveloutionary and collaborators.
After the obligatory initialshowdown, the Goblin became an ally of Spidey, and guest starred in severalepisodes. The series even delved into the Goblin's past, exploring the wife andson he left behind when the Goblin persona took over his life. An interestingaddition to the Goblin mythos, but the best is yet to come.Goblin for a new millennium
The Spider-Manmovie is certainly going to give us another altered interpretation of thecharacter as well. No doubt the debate over costume/character changes willcontinue to keep internet servers busy up to the release of the film. But manyhigh profile industry types have come out in support. At the San Diego ComiConlast summer, Peter David took issue with the nay-sayers: "People complainabout the Goblin and Spider-Man's organic web shooters? Screw you! Be happy hiscostume is red and blue! And the Green Goblin does not need a funny purple hatto be cool."
Sam Raimi's crew seem to havea cocky assuredness that if people will just give their new take on the Goblin achance, the fans will love it. And the most recent round of publicity shotsreleased were met enthusiastically by most. But the biggest boost to theGoblin's buzz was the exclusive teaser footage of the Goblin in action - withjet-glider in all it's glory.
The clip showed footage of agondola full of people looking out the window as the goblin hovers past them,looking for Spider-Man (who is not in the clip). The goblin and his glider werecomplete CGI, but very realistic. The Goblin also shows off his jet-glider'sarsenal, firing rockets at an unknown target. The clip was coupled with anequally exciting clip of Spidey webswinging into his apartment window.
In light of the latestfootage, it appears the positive buzz on the Goblin clearly outweighs thenegative. From the get-go, Raimi's team made it clear that faithfulness to thesource material was paramount, and that message seems to be getting through tothe fans - despite, some of the liberties the film is taking. The general senseis, people trust Raimi. "I talked to Sam once, years before he was doingthe Spider-Man movie, and I wanted to talk about his movies, butall he'd talk about was my run on Spider-Man comics," saidcomic writer Marv Wolfman at the ComiCon.
No doubt, there's plenty moreof the Green Goblin to be revealed before the movie comes out. The officialtrailer may not come out for months. Yet, there seems to be a growing feeling ofinevitability regarding the film. Many feel this could finally be the perfectsuper hero adaptation - the action of the Matrix with the heart of Superman. Andthat means that despite the cosmetic changes, the Green Goblin is going to makehis mark in the realm of action movie villains.Epilogue
It is unknown whether thestoryline for the Spider-Man movie sets up or even allows for theGoblin to appear in the likely sequel. But that's not the last we'll see of theGoblin in multi-media.
Folkscan check out a holographic battle between Spidey and the Goblin while riding arollercoaster through their fight on the Spider-Man ride at the Marvel Islandsof adventure in Florida. [Editor's Note: We've learned that it is actuallythe Hobgoblin who appears in Universal's Spider-Man attraction, and not theGreen Goblin. Thanks to Spyder Man for the info]. Further, a new Spider-Mancartoon is in development, as has been reported on this website. The seriesreportedly will be based on the Ultimate Spider-Man line of books, and there's agood chance Norman Osborn and his alter-ego will be back in TV animation.
The line of Ultimate comicswas created in part as a showcase for creators to do stories not mired incontinuity. Thusly, we may see yet another wild take on the Goblin, or a moretraditional approach. Either way, GG has proved for decades a formidablevillain.
The Green Goblin is thegreatest villain from the greatest era of Spider-Man comic books. And thismythic match-up has elevated the Goblin to a part of pop culture. After all, ahero is always measured by his nemesis. GG is on the verge of becoming an iconof evil. Across the world, people who don't even read comics know Lex Luthor,Joker, and Magneto. Soon, the Green Goblin will have his day.