Supaidāman (Spider-Man) (1978)

What was once considered just a passing joke by Spider-Man fans has managed to gather some cult acclaim over the years, and has even been embraced by Marvel (yes, it’s canon, now) and Stan Lee himself. “Supaidāman” is the Japanese incarnation of Spider Man that bears almost no resemblance to the character we know from the US. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible though, as the 1978 action science fiction series is quite entertaining and has a lot of innovative ideas we’d see in future Super Sentai series. Sure it’s cheesy and goofy in some way, (including the opening theme song) but there’s a lot to like if you can divorce yourself from the Marvel Spider-Man and think of this character as something from another universe.

In “Supaidāman” we meet speed freak and motorcycle racer Takuya, a young man who is in love with the sport of racing as he lives in a family of nothing but scientists. With a warship crashing to Earth from space called the “Marveller,” Takuya is called by the ships mysterious pilot and is summoned by the shadow of spiders that he begins to see everywhere. As his father and sister begin investigating the mysterious ship, Takuya ends up in a cave where he meets Garia, the ill fated pilot who landed from the Planet “Spider.” After barely surviving a skirmish with the evil Professor Monster’s army, Takuya is revived with Garia’s magical blood.

As Professor Monster and his evil Iron Cross Army begin looking for the ship and Garia on Earth, Takuya is granted the powers of the Spiderman, and carries on the fight against Professor Monster. With his super agility and wall crawling abilities, he battles the army with his spider web abilities, and his giant robot named Leopardon which he battles giant monsters with. Overall, “Supaidāman” has about the same speed you’d expect from a fantasy series from the seventies, as the direction matches the energy of Takuya’s adventures. There are a ton of scenes where the director cuts to a close of up a character and zooms out quickly, allowing for a dizzying albeit brisk energy. Spiderman also looks really good with his costume, also known as the Spider Protector.

The show does a good job compensating for lack of CGI with some great plays on perspective, creating the illusion Takuya is crawling on walls and ceilings. This more than compensates for the scenes where a giant monster smashes an obvious miniature of Spiderman on a string. “Supaidāman” is a lot of fun and provides some colorful villains and some neat gadgets and vehicles. You have to admit, Spiderman’s flying car “The Spider-Machine GP-7” looks great in action. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Wow!