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[SPOILERS] The true "Big Bad" of "The Spectacular Spider-Man

Discussion in 'The Marvel Animation Forum' started by GregX, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    Be warned that this post contains spoilers for the rest of the second season. Spoilers for episodes that Disney XD won't be airing until October. If you haven't seen them, turn away now.

    A great theme of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" has been masks, and misdirection. It even comes down to the main villain of the series, and despite how things appear throughout the first season, it is not who many people had assumed it to be.

    In the world of "The Spectacular Spider-Man," the criminal underworld was mostly under a thumb of a mysterious figure known only as the Big Man. His will was carried out by his emissary, Hammerhead. But, in reality, he was the businessman, L. Thompson Lincoln... known to a select few as Tombstone.

    But what was the Big Man's goal? To maintain his status quo. He wasn't out to change anything. He had no goals beyond holding his territory, staying out of prison, and making a profit. But, as the series went on, his status quo was shattered by two men in masks. One being our series' hero. The other being our series' main villain.

    If Tombstone was trying to maintain his status quo, Norman Osborn wanted to change the shape of the underworld forever. When Spider-Man first appeared on the scene, he began to disrupt the Big Man's operations. So, Tombstone hired Norman Osborn to create supervillains to distract the webslinger. That was the beginning of the Big Man's downfall.

    The business relationship began when Norman Osborn tipped off the Big Man about a TriCorp shipment. This led to the Enforcer, Montana, becoming the supervillain known as the Shocker. Afterward, Osborn and his scientist, Dr. Otto Octavius created the Sandman, followed by the Rhino. In the end, did these supervillains amount to what the Big Man hoped to achieve with them? Considering that Spidey still fought crime, the answer is no. The Big Man wasted a lot of money.

    Unknown to the Big Man, he had allied himself with a power hungry shark. Weeks after being attacked by the Vulture, Norman Osborn began inhaling Globulin Green, as well as creating a new identity for himself. Osborn did not like being that vulnerable, and no one would threaten him again, or stop him from expanding his power base.

    If Tombstone didn't profit from the creation of supervillains, Norman Osborn did. He was paid handsomely to create them, and then the city itself paid him handsomely to imprison them. Throughout this, Osborn was getting his taste of the underworld, and he liked it. It was profitable, so like the good corporate shark that he was, he decided to absorb it into his holdings. But, industrialist and OsCorp CEO, Norman Osborn, couldn't be seen trying to kill a major crime lord and take over his empire. That's where the mask came in.

    And just as Spidey's mission to expose L. Thompson Lincoln as the Big Man began, so to did Norman Osborn suit up as the Green Goblin and began striking at the Big Man's empire. Not only did he attack the Big Man's empire from without, he attacked it from within as well.

    His first real chink in the Big Man's armor took place when he kidnapped Hammerhead. What he found there was someone truly loyal to and trusting of his boss. Hammerhead wouldn't betray Tombstone to the Goblin. So the Goblin went a step further and, lying, told Tombstone that Hammerhead kept a jump drive with incriminating evidence on him as insurance. The drive didn't exist, but Tombstone believed it did. Hammerhead was obviously hurt, offended, and for the first time, even scared that Tombstone was so willing to believe the Goblin. And that, right there, was when the absolute trust these two gangsters had in each other was shattered.

    With the Goblin laying low, Osborn attacked the Big Man's empire from within. He saw the impending release of Silvermane coming, and the rise of Dr. Octopus. An arms race was ready to take place. So, Osborn used his personal assistant, Donald Menken, to auction off specs to create an army of Rhinos. Of course, Osborn had no intention of giving any of them those specs. He just took a simmering situation in the underworld, and brought it to a boil.

    From then on, with Tombstone's empire under attack from Silvermane's impending release, as well as Dr. Octopus's new empire of supervillains (two of whom, Tombstone paid to create), the Big Man became even more hands on. He no longer fully trusted Hammerhead. Hammerhead no longer trusted Tombstone, and who knew this? Norman Osborn.

    Osborn carefully manipulated Hammerhead into thinking he deserved to be the next Big Man. As such, Hammerhead betrayed his boss, first by preventing the New Enforcers from escaping the Federal Reserve, both preventing the Tombstone from receiving a handsome profit, as well as taking three of his most powerful soldiers out of the equation. Finally, he lured Tombstone, Dr. Octopus, and the recently released Silvermane to a summit at Lincoln Center. But the hand of the Goblin was at work to make sure these three destroyed each other.

    In the end, Tombstone was exposed and placed under Federal surveillance, Dr. Octopus was defeated and returned to Ravencroft, and Silvermane was sent back to prison. Hammerhead had achieved nothing and with Tombstone promising severe consequences for his betrayal, the door was open. Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin had absorbed Tombstone's empire into his own. The old status quo was dead. There was a new Big Man of Crime.

    Of course, the Green Goblin was later defeated, leaving a power vacuum to be filled. But, he had succeeded in permanently destroying the old status quo. Not only that, but if you pay attention to the series, how much of what happened was either directly or indirectly influenced by Osborn? Without Osborn stealing his magnetic air transport system, Adrian Toomes would not have become the Vulture. Without Osborn tipping off Hammerhead, there'd be no Shocker? Osborn created Sandman and the Rhino. When he saw that Octavius was a liability, he attempted to assassinate him and accidentally unleashed Dr. Octopus on the world. And who was that "captain of industry" that hired Black Cat to steal the symbiote, anyway?

    But, it wasn't just destroying the Big Man's empire and creating supervillains that made Norman Osborn our main villain. He also had more of an affect on Peter Parker's world than any other villain. From being a heavy handed and abusive father to Peter Parker's best friend to destroying the life of Mark Allan and through extension, Peter's girlfriend, Liz Allan and Mary Jane Watson as well. Gwen Stacy as well, as Harry, thanks to his father's influence manipulated her into maintaining a relationship with him after both she and Peter agreed to finally be together.

    As in the comic books, the shadow of the Green Goblin covers both Spider-Man and Peter Parker's worlds. Of course, season two ended with Osborn temporarily exiting the stage. But, a villain like that won't stay down long. It is inevitable that he will return, and with Weisman and his team following the spirit of the comic books, he will inflict even more pain and suffering.
     
  2. AlgeaX

    AlgeaX Oh, hello?

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    I agree with everything here wholeheartedly. That said, I think Tombstone's too much of a cagey devil to stay down forever. He's been dealt a severe blow but not a fatal one. With the Feds watching him, he's going to have to be extra careful, but I imagine Mr. Lincon still has enough clout in the underworld to make Spidey's job that much harder. Plus with Norman out of tthe way it's only a matter of time before Tombstone attempts to reclaim his empire.
     
  3. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    No denying that, but I don't think he's going to be the top dog anymore. I suspect there to be a continuing gang war for control of the criminal underworld. What we saw in season two was just the beginning.
     
  4. Nygma

    Nygma Active Member

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    Personally I don't think there's a true big bad to the entire series in general. Maybe up till this point its been Norman Osborn. But I don't think its going to be him for a good long time. I think the big bad of the series is who ever is the most dangerous to Spidey at the time.

    My theory on the villains so far is that Greg Weisman is probably going to have one of Spidey's big villains be the one to close out each season on. On this show those villains are Tombstone, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, & Hobgoblin (soon to be) IMO.

    Two of those villains have already been used, Green Goblin & Venom. So that leaves Tombstone, Doc Ock, and Hobgoblin.

    Personally I find the theme of the show to be whatever life throws Peter Parker and Spider-Man's way.
     
  5. Nygma

    Nygma Active Member

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    I also want to throw out there that the big man's motivations could change multiple times in this series depending on what they reveal about him, and the developments that take place that involve him. Maybe he has bigger desires than what we've seen, we don't know as of right now.
    But that goes for all the villains out there.
     
  6. Gokou Ruri

    Gokou Ruri Wielder of the dark arts.

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    Pretty much. During the first season, the show made it seem like Big Man would be a main villain; and I was interested that a superhero show would actually have a lot and a main villain, when most of them were just villain-of-the-week tussles. Then the second season premier and Tombstone plotline was completely dropped up until his minor role in Gangland, where he's treated as just another throwaway villain. Other villains were the focus now (most of them rehashed from the first) and the episodes were a lot more standalone. Neither Big Man or Goblin had a hand in most of them outside the final arc, it was mostly just Doc Ock's own schemes and Venom's own schemes. If you compare it to the first season, Venom interacted and want to work for Big Man, and Doctor Octopus was also involved in the villain-making process. It felt a lot tighter and more closely knit than in the second season.

    The main problem I have with the Green Goblin, outside of the convoluted explanation in the rushed finale, is that the writing comes off as a little sloppy. They purposely planted evidence for both Harry and Norman to be the Goblin; which is fine if there's a few red herrings to throw people off, but a lot of the evidence doesn't add up. For example, Norman mentions he improvised when he saw Harry was home and dressed him up in the suit, but that would not explain why he faked his limp if he had no prior knowledge of Harry being home to frame him. Not to mention the countless times they have Harry actually possess a goblin-esque visage and talk like him a few times, and all of his contrived absences when the Goblin was around (like in Opening Night). To me, it comes off as they purposly planted evidence for both characters so they could have room to change their minds later on if need be. Not to mention we don't really see Norman as the Goblin until the last 3 minutes of the last episode, it's hard for me to even care about him that much considering how different they are. I liked Norman Osborn more than the Green Goblin, in the end, who felt kind of... well.. like more campy Joker parody.
     
  7. young101

    young101 Member

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    Correct me if i'm mistaken, but I believe on askgreg, it was revealed that the public knows who the green goblin is after the funeral. Just something to think about.
     
  8. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    I've been reading your posts on this show, and I wonder if you and I were watching the same TV show.

    What would the point be of having a mystery if they spilled the beans from the get-go? Some people figured it out, some didn't. But Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin are the same person, and always were.

    It was never going to be Harry, it was always going to be Norman.

    First of all, Harry wasn't "conveniently absent" in "Opening Night". His father kidnapped him, since he knew that Spidey "knew" that "Harry was the Goblin." And Harry didn't "conveniently escape" either.

    How were his absences contrived? And what absences? He lurked around feeding his drug addiction, that's what drug addicts do. He never really went anywhere.

    And as for why Norman Osborn faked the limp? Spidey just saw him limp. He got back home first, he may have planned to use the fact that he wasn't actually limping as his alibi when lo and behold, thanks to serendipity, he found an even better alibi.

    Word of God time...






     
  9. Mistah K88

    Mistah K88 Member

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    For the fake limp, Spider-Man blurted out to Goblin that he was Norman. Norman knew he had to beat Spider-Man home, because that would be the first place Spidey would go to for investigation. Norman's alibi was simply, "Goblin's injured, Norman's not." However, finding Harry on the floor was pure luck on Norman's part and he figured framing Harry would be a MUCH better alibi than just not being injured.

    In Catalysts Harry was still at the school lurking. In Uncertainty Principle, Harry was passed out on the floor in his home from an overdose of Gobulin Green. Norman kidnapped Harry in Opening Night, to keep Spider-Man thinking that Goblin was Harry and only let Harry "escape" in Final Curtain after all of his traps were in place.

    I don't recall Harry talking like Goblin at all... He only talked like an angry version of himself. All of Goblin's actions would not have made any sense if Gobby were Harry. Gobby went after the Big Man to become the new Big Man... Green Goblin had made that point clear in "what he had planned to accomplish" in Catalysts. I don't think overthrowing Daddy's old boss to become his new one would be the best way to please him.

    As for Goblin's personality, it's supposed to be a complete difference from Norman. Goblins are tricksters in nature and it is a reflection of Spider-Man who is somewhat of a trickster himself. Green Goblin takes the trickster angle to a negative extreme. I don't recall him doing anything as manic as the Joker does aside from witty talking.
     
    #9 Mistah K88, Aug 9, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2009
  10. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    "We all wear masks, Spider-Man. But which one is real? The one that hides your face or the one that is your face?"
     
  11. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord
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    Which wouldn't require much on Norman's part. Spider-Man has to swing through many building to get to the Osborn home while the Goblin has the benefit of just going straight home on his glider.
     
  12. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    Not to mention, the only place around New York City where factories like that are located are in Elizabeth, New Jersey, right across the Hudson River. Goblin can just fly across the river... Spidey either needs to swing north and cross the George Washington Bridge, or get through the Lincoln Tunnel.
     
  13. AlgeaX

    AlgeaX Oh, hello?

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    Not really, most superhero cartoons (or at least the ones based on comic books) tend to have a central archnemisis, Batman has the Joker, X-Men have Magneto, Iron Man has the Mandarin ect.

    Um no, Tombstone was never treated as a throwaway villain in season 2, nor was he underutilised. He was a driving force behind the scenes in First Steps, and he was a major player in the Gangwar story arc which drew heavily from the Master Planner arc and set the stage for the Green Goblin's return.

    As for the focus on Otto and Eddie? Keep in mind this is a Spider-Man show. Ock and Venom along with the Green Goblin are considered to be Spidey's A-list villains, it's only right that they get plenty of time in the spotlight.

    Indeed it was, which helped streamline things when the show was still establishing itself, but now with that accomplised it's good to see the plot branch out more. Plus I could have done without the Venom/Tombstone scene, Eddie hardly needs any more motivation to kill Peter.

    And even if I were to accept the thesis that Tombstone should have been the Big Bad for the series, that doesn't mean he should be shoehorned into every story line or treated as the ultimate source of all evil in the Marvel Universe. He's a crime boss not the Dark Lord Morgoth.

    I imagine Norman's initial gambit was to just walk out limpless and hope Spidey would buy it long enough to find a more permanent solution. Even if that solution was just confusing Spidey long enough to slit his throat with a hidden razor-bat.

    Keep in mind Norman probably wasn't expecting Spidey to deduce the truth so soon, so he had to come up with something on the fly.

    I prefer to interperate that as foreshadowing. ;)

    Doubtful Greg tends to think in the long term, I remember when the show first came out and he gave interviews about what villains he had slated for season three!

    I like Antiyonder's interpretation; just as the mask of Spider-Man liberates Pete from the shackels of an awkward nerd to become the confidant fast-talking quipmaster, so the mask of the Goblin allows Norman to shed his persona of an all work no play captain of industry to become to the gleefully sadistic sociopath he truely is.
     
    #13 AlgeaX, Aug 9, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2009
  14. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord
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    It is pretty credible too since the majority of the audience thought the Goblin had a limp rather than faking. Even when GregX gave his theory, I figured that his limp was gone due to the healing factor rather than faking it.

    Actually, Madgoblin made the comment, but thanks for the ego boost anyway.:sweat:
     
  15. Gokou Ruri

    Gokou Ruri Wielder of the dark arts.

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    I think ultimately it just could have been handled a bit better. If they really wanted that to be the focus, then it should have been in the foreground more rather than in just the last arc when it's Goblin's turn to have his own arc. Also possibly because they're just what we've already seen before. I mean, even the whole 'Is Harry the Goblin or Norman?' was done in the 90s series. It was probably done in the comics to at one point. Which one you prefer is all opinion, of course, but I felt the mystery came off as secondary to other things on the show, and otherwise pointless in the end.

    I don't think they ever showed him escaping, but I could be wrong.

    I suppose, but it comes off as a bit contrived and probably could have been handled better.

    I think relying too much on outside confirmation brings a show down, and it should be handled within the show itself; provided we're trusting everything they say to begin with. It's especially odd if they purposely draw Harry's face to resemble the Goblin's and then brush it off as us 'interpreting' it wrong, which I don't think counts if they purposely give you no other way to interpret it.

    He comes off as very much like the Joker, from his body mannerisms/disguises, his goofy persona, his rhyming and silly dialog, and other things. I suppose it would be easier to swallow if we were given more than a few minutes of Norman as the Goblin for them to develop it. A lot of my complaints probably could have been remedied if the finale didn't try to shove everything in the last five minutes.

    That's not really what I meant, I mean an actual centralized storyline, where everything is a driving force towards towards an established goal. Batman may have an archnemesis in the Joker, but it's fairly standard comic book storytelling where it plays out a weekly battle between G.I. Joe and Commander Cobra.. There's never really going to be an end to it, as opposed to say, Final Fantasy 6 where Kefka's the main guy they're trying to beat, and everything they do it towards that until they kill him. To me, the first season gave that feeling with the Big Man being the central figure Spider-Man was facing.

    Compared to the first season where he dipped into just about everything, Tombstone had a very little role in the second. He didn't even appear aside from the gang war episode, and Spider-Man took him down quite effortlessly and he was brushed to the side afterwards. If that episode happened at the beginning of the season, then it could at least follow up from his huge involvement of the first season, but after watching Doc Ock and Venom do unrelated plotlines, all I was asking was 'So, what's the Big Man doing during all this? Did Spider-Man forget about him? Is he on vacation?'

    He doesn't have to be. A show can set up a main villain and a main plotline and develop that without it being some world-threatening event. Considering Spider-Man fights crime, it seems appropriate he go after the head honcho.

    I suppose ultimately if the entire conversation wasn't shoehorned into the last minute of the finale it may have come off better with ample time to expand and explain things. Perhaps make the big reveal at the end of the second-to-last episode and then have the final episode pick up from there and cap it off.
     
  16. Ragebot

    Ragebot Active Member

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    Marn, I generally don't agree with very much you've said about season 2, but here I really think you do have a point. It's very rare when you see a red herring that comes across as subtle, and although I will admit that season one did a very good job at misdirection I do think it became overkill in season two. Especially in regards to "Opening Night" - I mean, come on, how coy was it to have Norman recite the very same lines of Shakespeare that Harry would've done himself had he shown up at the performance.

    I can forgive the Gobin's head being superimposed on Harry in "First Steps" since that was from Peter's POV, also I might be able to let slide that heavy-handed scene of Harry in is room taking out the Gobulin Green (in which it's later revealed that he destroyed) and having a silouette of the Goblin's head if we argue that is still from Harry's subjective POV.

    I think this is the one case where I must just shrug and admit that "It's just for kids." Thankfully, there are very few other moments like that in this series.
     
  17. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    Oh, I'm not relying on outside confirmation, believe me, I didn't need him to explain to me what was going on. I figured for the purposes of this debate, consider that People's exhibit B.

    And, I beg your pardon, but "provided we're trusting everything they say to begin with"? I've personally known Greg Weisman for nine years now. He doesn't jerk around and he doesn't lie to his fans and audience. If he says he planned it from Day One, then he planned it from Day One.

    And when did they draw Harry's face like the Goblin's? Through a vial of Globublin Green. I also interpreted that as foreshadowing. Same with his shadow.

    Weisman has said before that he is not at all shy about making his audience work either. They shouldn't have to spoon feed us everything.

    And what does that have to do with this series? Peter wears a red and blue costume and webslings in the 90s series too. Weisman and his team wanted a Goblin Mystery, like in Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita's comics.

    And as for the 90s series doing it? Maybe Weisman and his team don't know that. He's even said that he's seen two episodes:

    And he purposely chose not to go back and re-watch any previous cartoon series when he started, and said as much in interviews. Lee/Ditko/Romita and other comics were the sources he consulted.

    He kidnapped his son when Harry was on his way to play Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Norman is an educated and culturered man, he probably knew the play already anyway. In his sick mind, kidnapping Harry while he was on his way to play that part could have been what put him in the mood to recite those lines anyway.
     
    #17 GregX, Aug 10, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2009
  18. Gokou Ruri

    Gokou Ruri Wielder of the dark arts.

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    I forgot the play lines and had to rewatch it to refresh my memory, but yes that is odd; especially if he's saying it to himself. If he said it to Spider-Man then you could at least attempt to argue that Norman suspected Spider-Man of being Peter Parker from Ned Lee interviewing him so he tried to throw him off by using Peter possibly knowing Harry's lines, but that would still be a big stretch. Overall, I think they hammer stuff in just a bit too much (like how Glory and Hobie are dressed up exactly as Spider-Man and Green Goblin for the play) and could have done without the more-than-obvious red-herrings like that.

    Fair enough, it's just never a good idea to take what people say at face value, especially in the media industry when writers and others have stretched the truth before.

    Valid enough, I suppose, but then I don't think there's any room to say someone 'interpreted' it wrong then, when there's only one real interpretation of Harry looking and talking exactly like the Goblin.

    That's odd, since he used origin that the 90s series did for Venom. My main point was that it seemed fairly odd to try to make a mystery about it when most people already knew it was Norman, but if it was handled a bit better (without the in-your-face red-herrings, then I might have accepted it more)
     
  19. GregX

    GregX Active Member

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    When did he talk exactly like the Goblin? I just re-watched "The Uncertainty Principle" again, and that never happened. I heard an angry, petulant child with father issues at one point. But he never talked the Goblin. Not even close. Steve Blum's voice never came out of Harry's mouth, and James Arnold Taylor never did a Steve Blum's Goblin impression.
     
  20. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord
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    The comic book version has him getting the costume during the Secret Wars 12 parter. Even if guest heroes and villains weren't off limits, Doing a Secret Wars adaptation this early in the series wouldn't work.

    Using the 90s origin at least brings it down to Earth figuratively and literally.
     

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