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How the ’90s SPIDER-MAN Cartoon Adapted Marvel’s SECRET WARS

Avengers: Secret Wars is coming in a few years, landing in Phase 6 of the MCU and capping off Marvel Studios’ Multiverse Saga. How loyal this Avengers movie will remain to the original 1984 event comic, or its 2015 reinvention of Secret Wars, is still a mystery. But the MCU version of Secret Wars won’t be the first time Marvel has adapted the seminal comics. Back in the ’90s, Spider-Man: The Animated Series did its own (fairly loose) adaptation. For a whole generation of kids, this was “their” Secret Wars.

The producers of Spider-Man: The Animated Series stuck to some key elements of the comic but took some wild swings too. Now, the folks at Comics Alliance have created a video detailing the 3-part Spider-Man: TAS version of Secret Wars. And this rendition of Secret Wars may give us a hint as to how the MCU might condense such a sprawling story into a relatively brief runtime. You can check out the full video above.

The Spider-Man version of Secret Wars kept certain core parts from the original 1984 comic, such as the omnipotent Beyonder, and his superhero vs. supervillain planet, Battleworld. But the roster of heroes was much smaller on TV. The creators kept it to Spidey, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, and the X-Men’s Storm. Almost all the villains in this rendition of Secret Wars were Spidey villains as well. In fact, Lizard took over the role Magneto played in the comic event, acting as the “bad guy on the good guy’s team.” Luckily, Doctor Doom was still the main baddie. Just as in the comics.

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The 1997 Spider-Man: TAS version made things even more Spidey-centric than that, though. In a team with Reed Richards, Iron Man, Captain America, and a literal goddess like Storm, they made Peter Parker the leader of the heroes. And they added Black Cat, who was nowhere to be found in the original comics. Also not in the original comics, but appearing in the cartoon, were Blade and Morbius. It’s hard to say whether the MCU’s Secret Wars will take anything from this rendition.

These three episodes led to the final two, which were actually a very early iteration of the Spider-Verse, all decades before the comics. In 2017, the animated series Avengers: Assemble also did its own version of Secret Wars, far more tied to Loki and Asgard. It was ok but lacked the charm of the ’90s Spidey version. That one was truly a wild adaptation of Secret Wars but a reminder that with the right storytellers, one could pull it off. Even on weekday afternoon television.

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