Homecoming Has Nothing on This Japanese Version of Spider-Man From the '70s
If you’re quite done with your unsolicited Facebook think piece about why Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is better than Andrew Garfield’s and Tobey Maguire’s, take a break and have a look at a very unique cinematic iteration of the wall-crawler that preceded them all: TOEI Company’s Supaidaman:
Now, don’t you wish you just shared that instead of taking 30 minutes out of your day to argue with a Stonefield stan on Twitter? What you just watched is the intro of a Japanese television series and movie from the late 1970s that’s (very) loosely based on Marvel Comics’ iconic superhero. And when we say loose, we mean nearly everything but the costume is entirely different.
In TOEI’s version of Spider-Man, a young motorcycle racer named Takuya Yamashiro witnesses the crash-landing of a spaceship named The Marveller, from the planet Spider. His father, a space archaeologist, is killed while investigating the landing site, so Takuya decides to visit the Marveller himself. There, he discovers Garia, the last surviving warrior of the planet Spider, who injects Takuya with his own blood, thereby giving him spider-like powers with which to continue the fight against Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia also gives Takuya bracelets that can shoot webs and summon the Marveller, which transforms into a giant battle mech named Leopardon. No Uncle Ben, no Aunt May, and certainly no fat Filipino friend.
That this TV series was produced at all seems to prove that Marvel has always had issues with its licensing agreements, but today, it all seems to have been settled. The TOEI series is acknowledged on Marvel’s official website, where it’s described as “Not the Spiderman most fans are used to,” but “fun, frantic and phenomenal” nevertheless. Stan Lee himself spoke positively about the Japanese adaptation of his brainchild in an interview for the DVD Box Set, saying he “liked the way they did it in a Japanese style” and was “impressed with the action, because none of them were done with computer graphics.”
Supaidaman had spider senses, web shooters, and a giant battle robot named Leopardon, whom he could summon at will.
Suddenly, Andrew Garfield’s skateboard doesn’t seem like such a big issue when you consider the other ways that filmmakers have taken the character and ran in a different direction. But no matter how bizarre Supaidaman is, you have to admit—it still looks like something worth spending a weekend afternoon on, if only for the laughs and the nostalgia.