Superheroes are used to drama — saving the world from cosmic-level threats and mistakenly fighting allies before teaming up to defeat the real villain are job requirements. But trust is important, so viewers of the most-recent episodes of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six on Disney XD are surely still coming to grips with the stunning turn of events that will change the series going forward.
For those who haven’t seen the two-part episode, Peter Parker’s world is shattered when his teammate, Ben Reilly, a.k.a. Scarlet Spider, is revealed as a mole for Doctor Octopus’ Sinister Six, which is really the Sinister Seven. The following episode sees the Scarlet Spider reverse course and sacrifice his life to stop Ock and his team, leaving Peter devastated by both the betrayal and the loss.
That revelation came out of initial talks for the season, says Stephen Wacker, VP of current series at Marvel Animation Studios.
“I’ve personally had a love of the character because I worked on his comic on the publishing side,” says Wacker, referring to the hit 1990s mega-storyline The Clone Saga that introduced the Scarlet Spider and Ben Reilly as a clone of Peter Parker that for a time was thought to have been the real deal. “We really were just looing for a big mystery and we wanted it to have an impact on Peter,” he says.
“As much as we all liked the Scarlet Spider on the page, he came to live in the booth when Scott Porter came in to do the voice,” says Wacker. “He and Drake (Bell, who voices Spider-Man/Peter Parker) worked really well together. They did almost feel like brothers from another mother and the voice acting really brought it to life.”
The storyline will play out through the rest of the current season, which is the fourth for this version of Ultimate Spider-Man.
With the Marvel team working collaboratively — Marvel holds frequent content summits where each arm of the company from publishing and animation through TV and feature films, reveal their plans and trade ideas — the story has been in the works a while, says Cort Lane, Marvel’s senior VP of animation and family entertainment.
Marvel Animation’s slate includes the Guardians of the Galaxy series, which has been picked up for a second season; and Avengers Assemble: Ultron Revolution, the currently airing third season of that series. Additional projects in development include more features, shorts and three to four ongoing series, he says.