A look at the evolution of Spider-Man

The web-slinging superhero has been scaling the tallest buildings for more than five decades

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Powered by automated translation

Spider-Man is back in cinemas this week, some 55 years after the superhero debuted in Marvel Comics. We take a look at some of his highlights over the past five decades.

1962 – Spider-Man bursts into the public consciousness with his first appearance in Marvel's Amazing Fantasies issue 15. The comic was to be the last of the series, but Stan Lee's new hero - a break from tradition as a teenager who wasn't a sidekick and had a wealth of real life problems to manage along with his everyday super-hero chores - was such a success that he was swiftly commissioned for his own comic, The Amazing Spider-Man, which was to launch the following year.

1967 – The comic's success spawns Spider-Man's first on screen appearance in ABC's low budget cartoon Spider-Man, the first of many incarnations for the web-slinging warrior. Animator Ralph Bakshi ran the show, but it was the seminal theme tune, rather than the animation, that it was remembered for: "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does everything that a spider can …"

1977 – Nicholas Hammond donned the spidey suit for the hero's first live action adventures, on the CBS TV channel. The show was predictably corny – it came from the same network as the contemporary Wonder Woman and Hulk series, but ratings were respectable. Nonetheless, CBS cancelled it after just two series, reportedly to avoid being labelled 'the superhero network'. Some of the episodes did find a new life, however, re-edited and spun off as feature films in a number of foreign markets, beginning with 1977's Spider-Man.


1985 – The first Spider-Man movie didn't happen as planned. Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper was signed up to direct a $25 million (Dh100 m) big screen adaptation of the story but the project drags on until Hooper leaves to shoot a Texas Chainsaw sequel and the rights expire five years later. To be fair, having seen Hooper's post Chainsaw output, we probably didn't miss much.

2002 – A mere 17 years after a Spider-Man movie was first planned, Sony finally release one. Tobey Maguire was the big screen debutante in the familiar suit, and both he and director Sam Raimi returned for two sequels. The movie raked in $2.5 billion at the box office, making it second only to Batman in terms of superhero box office draw.

2004 – Marvel experiments with an international version of its popular property with Spider-Man: India. The reimagining of the comic features not Peter Parker, but Pavitr Prabhakar, whose powers came from a mysterious yogi rather than a radioactive spider. The experiment wasn't a huge success, though the four issues were released outside India as a paperback the following year.

2010 – Spider-Man comes to Broadway with the musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, with music from U2's Bono and The Edge. The show will be remembered more for its production troubles than its music, however – injuries to cast and crew, delays and technical problems plagued the production, which would become the most expensive Broadway production in history - it had a four-year run.

2012 – The era of the reboot was well under way by 2012, and Andrew Garfield pulls on the mask for the latest incarnation of the adventurous arachnoid in The Amazing Spider-Man. The all-star cast included Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary, and the movie became the highest grossing reboot of all time, spawning a 2014 sequel imaginatively titled The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

2016 – Following years of legal wrangles between Sony and Disney/Marvel, Spider-Man finally makes his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a cameo in Captain America: Civil War. It's safe to assume that, with Marvel on fire at the box office, this won't be the last we'll see of the lycra-loving loner.

2017 – The era of the reboot is alive and strong as Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr, and co step up to taken the mantle. We’ll see how it turns out.