J. Jonah Jameson In Animation: A Retrospective

Stu

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To celebrate the release of the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home we will be taking a look back at some of the characters featured in the film here on this forum. I would ask you post absoloutely no spoilers about the new film here, but discussion about the animated shows is always encouraged. Images appear courtesy of DC Animated's Spider-Man site. Enjoy!
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Introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #1 following the character’s return from his origin story in Amazing Fantasy #15, J. Jonah Jameson has been a popular, celebrated and fairly constant supporting character since his inception. Unlike most superheroes at the time, Spider-Man was never adored by the public at large due to the constant smear campaign from Jameson and his powerful editorials from The Daily Bugle (newspapers were a much bigger deal in the 60s than they are now, for obvious reasons). One of the constant problems young Peter Parker faced was the financial burden of being the breadwinner of his house following the passing of his Uncle Ben, and Jameson’s efforts to tarnish Spider-Man’s reputation causing him to struggle to earn a living with his new found powers. To combat this, our boy was forced to take pictures of his crime fighting encounters and sell them to Jameson for a living as Peter Parker, under the agreement that Jameson never ask Parker how he manages to get ahold of said pictures and that he remain uncredited for his photos. Essentially, Peter Parker unwilling created his own Only Fans account, long before the internet was even a thing!

Over the years, Jonah has grown from Peter’s boss to a richly developed supporting character and has become wildly popular because of his wit, sheer stubbornness and likeability despite being a constant throne in Spidey’s side.



Jameson was apparently based upon a slightly exaggeration of co-creator Stan Lee himself, with ‘The Man’ citing he always wanted to play Jameson himself should the character ever make it to film. With Jameson soon to return to the big screen following the absolute doozy of a cliff hanger from the excellent Spider-Man: Far From Home, I thought now would be tremendous timing to look back on his previous animated appearances.

Jameson would make his debut in the very first episode of 67 Spider-Man, in which he is featured as one of the main characters throughout the first season. The show essentially all but revolves around Jameson, fearless publisher of The Daily Bugle and his ongoing vendetta against Spider-Man, who unbeknownst to him is actually under his employ as Peter works as a freelance photographer. For what can only be suggested as budgetary reasons, the entire Daily Bugle offices appear to consist of only Jameson, his long suffering secretary (and Parker romantic interest) Betty Brant and Parker himself. The show usually consists of Jameson sending Parker to take pictures of something, Jameson blaming Spider-Man for whatever villain appears this week and Spidey capturing the crook, usually to rub Jameson’s nose in it.

The show essentially revolves around this office, as the rest of Parker’s supporting characters from the Amazing Spider-Man comic book, such as Liz Allen, Flash Thompson and Mary Jane Watson don’t appear (in the first season), and Peter’s school is rarely mentioned (he is referred to/spoken down to as a teenager in the show) and Aunt May makes a mere handful of appearances throughout the show, this is very much a show about the offices of The Daily Bugle. This is by no means a bad thing as it must be said, this version of Jonah is a faithful adaptation of the comics and is very humorous and to be fair, followed the comics of the time fairly closely. The show is not afraid to camp it up, and Jameson’s incredibly two-dimensional, irrational hatred of Spider-Man is never short of a laugh. Most of the plots do revolve around Jameson, who is all but the unofficial Mayor of the town as any ransom demands go to him rather than any of the City’s authorities. Even Electro decides to rob Jameson’s safe rather than anything on Wall Street, seeking greater financial reward for his crimes.



Many of the villains from the comic books at the time appear, including Dr. Octopus, The Green Goblin and The Rhino, and Jameson is directly involved in the episodes featuring Mysterio, who seeks financial reward for capturing Spider-Man for Jameson, The Scorpion, who is created due to funding from Jameson and even Henry Smythe (no first name for Spencer at the time) who creates a robot capable of tracking and defeating Spider-Man, and naturally Smythe takes his invention to Jameson, who he knows will pay any price to have Spider-Man captured by his own hand, so he may take the eventual credit.

The show is more of a comedy than a straight up action show, as most cartoons at the time were, there was no place for violence in the 60s in a children’s cartoon. The show clearly didn’t have much of a budget, with the show featuring a very small cast of actors and often repeating animation over and over with the models themselves basic but still very nice to look at. There is a lot to be said for simplified, colourful designs with nice backgrounds. It’s worth adding that this cheaply produced, 50+ year old cartoon is still a lot nicer to look at than the recent Marvel’s Spider-Man cartoon. The repeated animation cycles are also inserted in a far more clever manner than the 1990’s Spider-Man show, which became comically bad towards the middle of it’s run (more on that show later.) 67 Spider-Man is amplified by an utterly amazing jazzy score alongside it’s absolute banger of a theme tune, which is far more famous than the show itself. The show wasn’t afraid to go completely ridiculous, but there are genuinely a lot of laughs to be found in how two dimensional it all is. If you seek deeply developed, nuanced characters, you’re barking up the wrong tree, but the characters are entertaining and witty enough in the two dimensions they are portrayed in. It must be said there’s a charm to how cheap the show is, and the crew clearly worked within strict limitations. This was standard in the industry at the time, and things have improved over the decades, but worrying, poorly designed and animated shows are on the rise.



Jameson is voiced by Paul Kligman who is utterly exceptional in the role. Fully throwing himself into the role, Kligman is not shy with his ludicrous lines, or cries of anguish whenever he is outsmarted by Spider-Man, and delivers his razor sharp putdowns to Parker with expert precision. While the rest of the villains clearly ham it up, Kligman is clearly the casting highlight, along with the late, great Paul Soles himself, who voices the timid teen Peter Parker and wisecracking superhero Spidey as almost two separate characters. The three leads really do anchor the show, and the cast play their part massively. While there is no shortage of terrific translations of J Jonah, it must be said that this is clearly a strong contender as one of the best, Jonah will make you laugh in every single episode he’s featured in for the show’s first season.

While he is featured in every episode of the opening season, highlights for those looking to seek out Jameson related episodes must include The Menace of Mysterio, which sees our fish bowled fiend frame Spider-Man and seek the reward for his capture from Jameson, including a hilarious scene in which he offers half now, half after he’s defeated Spider-Man and literally rips the ‘preposterous’ sum of cash he offered in half rather than giving him half the bills.

Never Step on A Scorpion is also a fairly faithful adaptation of Amazing Spider-Man #20 which most would consider criminalises Jameson, but the authorities seem to glance over this as they did in the comic books, but it serves as a reminder not to think too deeply when it comes to the show, its intended to make you laugh, not think too hard. There is a great finale in which Jameson proves himself to be cowardly enough to hid behind Spider-Man while a supervillain of his own creation tries to kill him.



Sadly, the production company behind the first season of 67 Spider-Man, Grantray Lawrence Animation apparently burnt to the ground causing the company to go bankrupt, which meant the remaining episodes were shipped out to Ralph Bashki to finish the full episode order from ABC, and Bashki clearly held this first season, or even sadly, Spider-Man himself in much regard. Jameson’s presence was clearly diminished by Bashski’s vision of Spider-Man, which usually consisted of Spider-Man fighting green skinned menaces with no real origin or motivation, not his famous comic book foes. I have theorised that most of the villains had green skin because green paint was cheaper to create than flesh coloured tones. Bashki himself comments;

“What I tried to do with those guys and my animators was to make it more realistic. I should also point out that my distaste for comic book publishers and editors rose vehemently at that point. Marvel Comics could care less what the guys on the coast were doing and they could care less what I was doing. In other words, they didn’t give a sh-t what I did with the show as long as they got their weekly stipend from ABC.

To me, it was utterly amazing in those days to get anything realistic. It was all such crap and Spider-Man to me was real. Marvel Comics, Simon and Kirby and Ditko were great. I broke my heart to do the show, which is why I was so angry at Marvel Comics because if they had been even a little helpful, the show would have been so much better.”


Quite how green skilled, alien menaces where more realistic than Spider-Man’s previously introduced foes is anyone guess. Also, Bashki clearly wasted much of the shows production on backgrounds, which look to have been painted by someone who was clearly off their face on drugs. The show never reached the quality of season one again. I remember purchasing the DVD back in 2002 and I couldn’t make it to the end of the set, seasons two and three had little to no redeeming value to me and the lack of Jameson was one of the big reasons. Bashki clearly tried to fix something that wasn’t really broke, and sadly, made a complete mess of a once entertaining show.



Oddly, 67 Spider-Man is absent from Disney+ for unknown reasons. To my knowledge, no one else is streaming it, but this and The Incredible Hulk from 1982 are missing on all versions of the streamer (the American version of D+ has much more than here in the UK, for reasons which also elude me.) To cash in on Spider-Man 2, 67 remastered and released the show on DVD in 2004, and even aired the show internationally, so I finally got to see the majority of the show beyond the few episodes I’d bought decades ago on tape, and the episodes released as bonus features in the 1994’s Spider-Man show, which bafflingly, has never been released on DVD/Blu Ray in region 1, where it would’ve sold untold units.

As for Jonah in the first season of 67 Spider-Man? It’s about as perfect as one could’ve expected at the time.

Next: The 80's.
 

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As the OG! and set purely in the Ditko era, I think the 60's show was a good start for Jameson in terms of capturing his classic personality and that old school dynamic with Peter and Betty, as well as mining it for plenty of comedy. Paul Kligman captured the character well :).
 

Stu

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As the OG! and set purely in the Ditko era, I think the 60's show was a good start for Jameson in terms of capturing his classic personality and that old school dynamic with Peter and Betty, as well as mining it for plenty of comedy. Paul Kligman captured the character well :).
I agree. For the standards of the time, I thought they nailed Jameson and as a premesis, the three leads worked wonderfully.

Klingman is also an absoloute hoot as Jonah.
 

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Following the conclusion of the 67 Spider-Man show, Jameson would continue on as Parker’s employer in the comic books. A somewhat tamer, not massively accurate to the comic version of Jonah would also appear in the live action Spider-Man show of the 70s but given the time of the shows premiere and the budget, creating a faithful comic book prime time superhero show was probably the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Spider-Man was the only costumed character on the show, fans would have to wait decades for live action versions of his colourful rogues gallery to appear on screen. The show is largely forgotten and even Stan Lee, who rarely has anything negative to say about adaptations of his characters, despised it. I myself haven’t seen the show since I was a child but I remember them being lousy and no real fun was to be found. There isn’t a massive audience clamoring for a DVD/Blu ray release and no one seems to be bidding for any streaming rights… if they even knew who to purchase them from. This is one Spider-Man show I imagine will stay forgotten… probably for the best. It’s legacy, unfortunately, is how lousy it is.

Seeking a more mainstream audience, Marvel themselves financed a new Spider-Man animated series in the early 80s. The idea at the time was to produce new Spider-Man episodes to freshen up the syndication package for the 67 show so the show has the same basic premises. College student Peter Parker fighting crime as Spider-Man while taking photos of his escapades as Spider-Man to sell to J Jonah Jameson and his double life as Spider-Man constantly interfering with his attempts to date Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant, despite Brant being long removed from Peter’s love life at the time in the comic books. For obvious reasons Gwen Stacey never appeared, but perhaps more surprising is the complete lack of Mary Jane Watson. There were no love triangles to be found, and most of the episodes see Parker fumble and fail at his attempts to get the girl, usually because Spider-Man has gotten in his way. Brant has no romantic feelings towards Spider-Man, so there is no love triangle to speak of. She just assumes Peter is a bit of a jerk most of the time and Parker is powerless to correct here, lest he reveal his secret identity.



Despite this show intending to be a continuation of the 67 show, they are fairly different in tone. This is more of an action show (or as much as one could be in the early 80s, when BS+P had no intention of letting anything slightly on the air, and syndicated shows such as this one has no interest in rocking that boat) whereas the 67 was clearly more of a comedy which camped it up for laughs. Jonah isn’t anywhere near as funny here as a result and the show suffers for it in comparison. There is a lot of 1980s cheese here, but that is to be expected, the animation industry was booming at the time and that was the mandated audience. One of the major differences here is that the shows rarely have a happy ending. Beyond Spidey sending the villain of the week off to jail, he never gets the girl, the slap on the back from Jonah or even a happy swing off into the sunset while a catch theme plays in the background, he returns the next week to find a new villain, the same irate boss and the same girl he can’t catch a break with. Indeed, Parker never really appears to be having much fun in life, whereas the 67 show usually ended up with the villain in jail and Spidey finding amusement at once again getting the better of his disgruntled employer.

With the show moving it’s casting to America, new voices were sought for the continuation (whether or not the original 67 cast were even considered is not known.) William Woodson plays Jonah here and does a fine job. He has the correct amount of authority, can play the bumbling buffoon well and even portrays a coward comically well enough. I’ve no complaints here… the same could not be said for the general consensus about Spider-Man himself sadly. Ted Schwartz sadly doesn’t have enough wit in him to pull of Spidey’s quips… while this version of Spidey is nowhere near as funny or heroic as the 67 Spidey, his main problem is he lacks Paul Soles fantastic ability to take the sheer piss out of his opponents, his version of Spider-Man is a little too miserable for an the 1980’s animation market. They were right to recast him in the spin off/sister show Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, as Dan Gilvezan is undeniably much, much better as both Parker and Spidey here.

Along with the new cast, the standard of animation had increased by the time the new show premiered. This is ultimately for the best, as the art direction from the show was clearly based on the artwork of the legendary John Romita Sr, who is arguably still the greatest of all time when it comes to Spider-Man pencillers. The books at the time were very much following his lead and would do until Todd McFarlane completely revamped Spidey’s visuals in the 90s. The show looks great for this, and the Spidey model is a thing of beauty. Jameson himself is very reminiscent of Romitas work in the 60s in his dapper green suit. Visually, the show works wonderfully for me and is probably the highlight of the show. It’s also worth adding that his trademark cigar is included here… we probably won’t ever see that again in animation as Disney have banned their Marvel characters from smoking.



As with the 67 show, Jameson features in every episode, alongside Ms Brant and a new wrinkle in Peter’s expanding supporting cast is Aunt May, who is something of an overbearing Mother to Peter here. A new irritant in Parker’s life is the inclusion of smug new original character Mortimer, Jonah’s nephew who also hates Spider-Man and is a rival for Parker’s job at the Bugle. Jonah naturally adores the bumbling nephew despite his constant failures… the character is something akin to Eddie Brock in the earlier episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series but he is definitely a product of the 80s… I am not surprised to see he never appeared anywhere else other than this show. He was incredibly two dimensional, but that was the point of his character.

The show features a standard villain of the week affair, with the majority of the big comic book names of the time appearing, along with a few original villains, most of whom were pretty uninteresting, it must be said. The show sadly lacked any appearances from The Scorpion, who would’ve added an interesting twist to the Spidey/Jameson feud, but it also must be said that this version of Jonah is far less of a criminal than the 67 Spider-Man version, who, in a more logical world, should have probably been jailed for the number of supervillian origins he played a hand in. Out of all of the villains, only The Kingpin would appear more than once, this was much of a villain of the week show as one could image. No repeat appearances and no villain team ups were to be found – I imagine using The Sinister Six never even crossed the creative teams minds.

The whole purpose of this syndicated show was its intention to get Spider-Man onto network television, which it somehow managed to do at exactly the same time, with a few network mandated alterations, of course. The network wanted Spider-Man as part of a team, hence the inclusion of Iceman and a new, original character in Firestar. Upon pitching the show, the network agreed to greenlight Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends on the condition that the trio have a dog. When a property as big as Spider-Man is greenlight on the inclusion of a not remotely funny comedic dog, it tells you everything you need to know about television executives in the 1980s. I often chuckle at this mandate, and even got a laugh as Ms Lions was recently included in the Firestar Marvel Legends action figure I own.

The show is almost identical to the other 80s show as it featured the same character models and John Romita Sr influence but this is more about the Spider-Friends themselves, fighting crime as a trio in their friendzone infused love triangle, Peter’s job at The Daily Bugle is barely featured. Betty Brant does not appear at all, and Jameson himself only features in three of the episodes. For reasons unexplained, season two only features three episodes, with each being dedicated to each lead characters origins. The animation in each of these episodes from Toei animation is exceptionally beautiful for the standard of any time. Toei also animated the lush Pryde of The X-Men, which can be compared to most temporary animation and arguably win. Toei always did incredible work by anyone’s judgement.

Jameson would make his debut in The Origin of Iceman, which actually sees Jameson offer a reward for the capture of Spider-Man and Iceman attempt to apprehend Spidey to prove he’s not just a mutant freak. Humorously, Spidey advises Iceman that Jameson’s reward won’t be of any merit, and proves it when Iceman takes a captured Spidey to his office and Jameson reveals the reward is one month’s free subscription to The Daily Bugle and an autographed photograph of it’s esteemed publisher. He makes a brief cameo in Spider-Man: Unmasked in a nightmare sequence which Peter dreams Sandman will reveal his identity which Jameson publishes in The Bugle, leading to his arrest and then promptly fires Parker. Finally, Jameson appears in the flashback episode The Origin of The Spider-Friends, which came from old school fan letters, requesting how the team managed to obtain their massive super computers they barely use as three skint college students could nay afford such impressive, expensive devices. Writer Donald F Glut, a self confessed fan of the comic books actually wrote a plausible explanation that the machines were gifted to them by none other than Tony Stark as a reward for saving him from The Beetle. This episode also naturally, tells the story of how the trio came together, origin episodes were a rarity in this era, as most episodes were never intended to be shown in any order so there was little point in starting at the start of the heroes escapades.



Jameson is not a massive part of the show and his inclusion in each episode is usually reduced to a cameo. Thankfully, William Woodson returns to voice Jonah in these three episodes, a welcome return for your author, but it is clear, even with the 1980s cartoon settings that the creative team were indeed Spidey/Marvel fans, especially when one considers just how many guest stars the show has and features the majority of the Spidey villains available at the time. (This episode alone features a cameo from Iron Man himself along with Tony Stark). The show is as close as we’ll probably get to a Marvel Team Up show, but none of this feels as a blatantly manufactured as they were in say, Ultimate Spider-Man or Marvel’s Spider-Man. The show was a clear love letter to the Marvel universe, but also managed to become one of the big shows of the era. Disney missed out by not releasing it during the height of DVD days, it would’ve sold massive units, especially considering how big nostalgia shows and Spider-Man were at the time. Thankfully, the show is available on Disney + (minus a single episode deemed too controversial to include due to it’s main villain being a Nazi). There’s a lot of fun to be had with the Spider-Friends if you remember who it was made for and when it was made… it’s certainly much more entertaining than the more recent Spider-Man cartoons…

Next: Spider-Man: The Animated Series
 

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Kind of off topic for a Jameson retrospective, but I always just assumed Dan Gilvezan voiced Spidey in both the 80's show instead of just Amazing Friends. Small wonder :p.
 

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I was always amused that this version of Jameson was a massive Dr. Doom fanboy.
I could imagine Jonah with a Make Latveria Great Again hat if the show were set in more modern times!
Kind of off topic for a Jameson retrospective, but I always just assumed Dan Gilvezan voiced Spidey in both the 80's show instead of just Amazing Friends. Small wonder :p.
I believe it was Amazing Friends producer Dennis Marks who felt Schwartz didn't fit as Spidey. I feel he was justified in his recasting, personally.
 

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With Batman in 1989 serving as catalyst for just how popular superheroes could be in pop culture, Warner Bros. quickly greenlighted a sequel. Not so surprisingly given Warner’s terrible record with producing DC films that aren’t Batman or Superman, no other live action DC movies were put into development, but they did begin production on an animated Batman television show, which we would soon come to fondly recognise as Batman: The Animated Series.

Marvel, at the time, “couldn’t get arrested in Hollywood” in the words of John Semper. Not one of the major movie studios cared enough to take a stab at any of their superhero properties, which eventually resulted in Marvel selling them to smaller studios in hopes of getting some kind of cash flow in. Cheap, low budget adaptations of Howard The Duck, The Punisher and Captain America crashed and burned, but there was one promising prospect, with Hollywood big shot James Cameron announced he was looking to write and direct a live action Spider-Man movie but the rights to Spider-Man were a complicated mess (some things do not change, it seems.)

Production began on this in the early 1990s, with various smaller studios claiming they owned the rights to a live action Spider-Man movie. Thankfully, Marvel maintained Spider-Man’s animation rights and having seen the success of both Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men, decided it was time for Spidey to return to the small screen with Fox Kids more than happy to greenlight the show, given their success with the aforementioned shows, and Fox Kids President Margaet Loesch spending most of the 80s trying to get networks to commission Marvel superhero cartoons.



Thankfully, given Loesch’s passion for the character, the show was allowed to be a Spider-Man show, without some whacky gimmick adding onto it (more on those later). Avi Arad, with his background coming from Toy manufacturing and more importantly as the owner of Toy Biz, which had the rights to make the various action figures from the show, knew that he had a potential monster hit on his hands when Marvel desperately needed it.

The show sees Peter Parker as an ESU Science student, who works as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle, whose publisher is indeed our boy J Jonah Jameson, who is also President and CEO of J3 Communications, which essentially allows him to write and televise his vendetta against Spider-Man. The show takes place an undetermined amount of time after Parker became Spider-Man, so we don’t get a traditional origin/first meeting view with most of Parker’s supporting characters, here, by the time we see the opening episode, Parker is already working at the paper. The lack of starting with the origin/Peter not being in high school at the time of the show apparently came from the higher ups, with the idea that the then upcoming Cameron movie would show Spidey’s origin and his high school years.

Jameson would make his debut in the premiere episode Night of The Lizard and plays an integral part of the same, with him essentially challenging both Peter Parker and Eddie Brock to obtain a photograph of the mysterious Lizard character roaming the sewers. The idea was to update Jonah as the President of his own news network for the modern times, as television was a much bigger deal in the 90s than it was in the 60s, but having Jonah still be Publisher of a New York paper allowed Parker to still have his job as a photographer. Parker keeps his traditional employment, and Jonah can rant about Spider-Man on television and in his papers, and still be an influence in New York. This was a wise update in my eyes, necessary for the 90s.

Jameson would feature very heavily in the first season, which had the tightest scripts and didn’t suffer with the pacing/editing issues of later seasons. It’s worth adding that this season is utterly gorgeous to look at, with TMS doing lush animation here. Even with the tight censorship that was inflicted on the show, it was staged well enough, animated superbly and directed creatively enough to help mask all of these issues… this would not be the case in later seasons, but season one of Spider-Man: The Animated Series stands up as one of the best superhero shows of any era.



Jameson’s character model looks as one would expect it to, but slightly dressed up from the comic books, as he is of course, now a television presenter. The true highlight of this version of the character comes from its casting, as Jameson is portrayed by the late, great Ed Asner. Utterly superb in every situation, Asner has the wit, (occasional) empathy and most importantly, the fire and rage that Jonah needed. He gets great lines throughout the shows 65 episode run as Asner never failed to deliver them. Asner also had tremendous chemistry with Rodney Saulsberry’s Robbie Robertson and the lead in Chris Barne’s Parker/Spider-Man. His traditional secretary Betty Brant is missing from the series but Glory Grant appears on a handful of occasions throughout the series. Asner had a long, treasured career in Hollywood and was widely recognised as one of the legitimate all time greats of the big and small screen. While I am naturally biased, I personally like this role as his finest voiceover work, but he was also critically appalled for his work as Hudson on Gargoyles, Ronald Daggot on Batman: The Animated Series, and curiously, but undoubtedly darkly delightful as Granny Goodness in the DCAU shows Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited. Asner was a true class act for entire generations of viewers and will be terribly missed. He truly was one of the greats… not enough can be said for how class an act Ed Asner was.

Back to Jonah, in a more interesting twist than his comic book counterpart, Jameson actually has a reason for hating Spider-Man beyond the once referenced jealousy. He funds the experiment that turns Mac Gargan into the Scorpion, hoping to create a superhero who could defeat Spider-Man. Naturally this goes belly up and when Scorpion begins tearing apart the city to find radiation to reverse his mutation, he reveals to Robbie that years ago, he was blackmailed by a crime boss to drop a crime story. The boss refused and sent a masked assassin to kill his wife, Julia. Since then, he has harbored a deep hatred for those who wear masks and think themselves above the law. I appreciated this touch, I thought it added a deeper layer to Jameson’s character not found in other versions.



Later episodes in this season see Jameson and Spider-Man tied together with a bomb (which is sadly underutilised) for their part in the apparent murder of Spencer Smythe, as his son Alistair hatches a revenge scheme against those he feels responsible for his Father’s death. The Spider Slayers storyline did a tremendous job of introducing and developing multiple characters with Jameson being a key figure in it all. It’s he who hires Parker to act as the photographer for the Charity ball he is hosting, which Felicia Hardy and her Mother are sponsoring (look for an amusing line in which Jonah feels his very soul being crushed as he introduces Parker as his ‘very best’ photographer). The episode also sees Brock attempt to unmask Spider-Man on National TV to repay a debt Norman Osborn owes to Wilson Fisk, friends of Jonah who would go onto become big time Spidey villains. Jameson gets one of the shows funniest lines in Part One, after Brock has unmasked a cosplaying Flash Thompson on Jameson’s network and nearly got him killed by a Spider Slayer

“The other networks are laughing at me Brock, even Fox! Can you imagine the humiliation?!”

Bigger things occur in the superlative The Alien Costume storyline, which sees Spider-Man framed for stealing Promethean X and when his son is injured in the shuttle crash, he offers a $1 Million reward for Spider-Man’s capture. I was further impressed with the added wrinkle that when his star reporter Eddie Brock reveals he withheld The Rhino’s involvement in the theft, he immediately dismisses him, not letting his hated for Spider-Man get in the way of his duties as a reporter;

“I can’t have someone who works for me, colouring the truth and leaving out facts! It’s against everything I stand for! You’re history Brock! Outta here! Fired!”

This in turn adds fuel to the Venom fire… this show certainly knew how to craft a long running storyline. Jameson is then forced to turn to Spider-Man for aid, when The Shocker reveals he has kidnapped Jameson’s son and demands a trade: John for the Promethean X. This storyline was so well done, probably the best the show ever reached. The audience was anticipating the animated introduction of Venom, and it couldn’t have been better done here. It was a vast improvement over the original comic book storyline, and served as the main inspiration for the Spider-Man 3 movie storyline. The writers of this show cannot be blamed for how badly Avi Arad ballsed that one up, it should be said.



After featuring heavily in the first season, his role was less significant in the later seasons. These seasons would utilize long term storylines, some over a course of many seasons and a plethora of guest stars introduced. In season two and three alone, we meet The X-Men, Blade, The Punisher, Dr Strange, Iron Man, War Machine and Daredevil as well as being introduced to new and recurring villains, supporting characters like Jameson, Robbie and Aunt May were featured far less frequently, usually because there was simply that much going on, and the episodes themselves, presumably in an attempt to save on the animation budget, featured an abnormal amount of flashbacks to previous episodes. The ‘Previously on Spider-Man’ recaps were shown before the episodes and then repeated in the episodes themselves… someone clearly let the train go too far off the tracks when it came to editing these episodes.

Jonah is shown as having a hard exterior but has decency in himself. This is proven on a few occasions throughout the show, including paying Parker’s legal fees when he is wrongly accused of treason (allowing for a very cool Daredevil guest spot) and investigating first hand the circumstance of Robbie Robertson being framed in the season four opener, Guilty, as Jonah simply refused to believe that his colleague would be involved in criminal activity under his nose and even starts a fist fight with Spider-Man when he believes the webhead has framed him.

Given the previous (intentional) two dimensional two dimensional portrayals in Spider-Man animation, it was great to see a fully developed character and actual development added to his hatred of Spider-Man. Highlighted again by exceptional casting, this is one of the better versions of Jonah out there and his inclusion adds much to the show.

While parts of this show have not aged well; the animation in the later seasons are usually an eye sore and the editing reaches an amateurish level that shouldn’t be featured on a show this big, and it gets a bit far away from a Spider-Man show on occasion, but this version of Jameson is to be commended. A big win for the show.



For the sake of completeness, it’s worth adding that Jameson also appeared in the pilot episode of Spider-Man Unlimited, to see the launch of the Rocket to Counter Earth piloted by his son John. Following an unrealistic fight scene on the side of the space shuttle, Jonah blames Spidey for his interference, causing them to lose communication with John and presumes him dead. He offers a $10 million reward for Spidey’s capture causing Peter to give up being Spider-Man, with the world believing he died in a fire. In a rather neat note, it’s revealed that Jameson pulled some strings to get Parker a job on the team that build the second rocket that was sent to rescue the now alive John. Spider-Man and Peter announce they are hijacking the rocket and it’s off to Counter Earth we go, sadly, my interest, and most of the audiences, stayed on Earth… no one seemed remotely interested in the adventure of Spider-Man on Counter-Earth and new episodes ceased airing very quickly after this premiere. The creative team had far too many handcuffs tied to them to make a decent show here… it was practically dead before it arrived, even Arad decided a new toyline based on this show wouldn’t be profitable. By the time this show aired, they were still making and shifting massive units for Spider-Man: The Animated Series merchandise, which was cancelled because Arad fell out with Fox Kids head Margaret Loesch, they had no need to waste money on figures they knew no one would buy.

For all it’s faults, Spider-Man: The Animated Series remains a favourite for your writer. I love it more than I probably should, but I also think it’s a big reason why Spider-Man became so popular in the 90s. For an entire generation of Spidey fans, this was our Spider-Man.

Next: Spidey goes Hollywood
 

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My first introduction into Jameson was in the 90's show and it really helped define how I viewed this character, as this crotchety old guy with integrity who irrationally hates Spider-Man but loves and appreciates those closest to him and is a decent man deep down. Him going "Jigsaw Jonah" to save Robbie was always one of my favorite episodes :).

Also that time he actually bought into Peter's excuse that Spider-Man is working for the Russians to justify paying for Peter going to Russia :p.
 

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The 60s Jameson was pretty fun. He was over the top for the most part but still fit in well with the tone of the show and his scenes didn't really feel forced or anything.

The 80s Jameson was pretty good, too. Still had some amusing scenes and was a nice enough addition to the show, but somehow just wasn't as memorable as on the earlier series.

The 90s Jameson was one of the best. This show at least tried to explore his character though he still had some classic JJJ moments with Peter and Spidey. Ed Asner was also a great voice and it made the character more entertaining.
 

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With the long, complicated legal battle now resolved, Columbia Pictures finally held the full film rights to Spider-Man and his associated characters. The superhero movie had died a horrible death with 1997’s Batman and Robin, but Marvel and New Line found success in the Wesley Snipes vehicle Blade (brought to Avi Arad’s forefront by his inclusion in Spider-Man: The Animated Series) and X-Men in 2000, when producer Lauren Donner-Schuler saw the success of the X-Men cartoon on Fox and convinced them to option the live action movie rights. Film technology had finally reached levels where the special FX could physically recreate Spider-Man’s incredible power set on film without looking cheap or laughable and horror director Sam Raimi successfully pitched for the job as director.

Citing a live long fandom of the character and a CV which showed he was able to create incredibly inventive films with a less than modest budget, Raimi’s pitch involved a character that was blessed/cursed with his newfound abilities. Ignoring the majority of the James Cameron script mentioned in the previous post, Raimi replaced the not quite Electro and Sandman substitutes with The Green Goblin and Dr Octopus, before wisely realising that three superpowered origins was one too many, favouring to include The Green Goblin because of dynamic relation that was that was, of course, his best friends Father, which Raimi saw great drama in.



While Raimi was busy in Hollywood creating a big screen sensation, your writer was here in beautiful Yorkshire England, not believing a word of it. For years, we’d heard big screen versions of the various Marvel superheroes were coming, only for nothing to ever materialise… a big screen Marvel movie seemed like a pipe dream in the 1990s. With the internet seen as a slow loading privilege in those dial up days, I personally didn’t know a Spider-Man movie was actually being filmed until I saw news on TV that a trailer for the movie had been released. My brother and I then downloaded the what would come to be known as the World Trade Centre trailer on Quicktime. It took most of the day (and to be honest, afternoon and evening too on dial up internet… if you don’t know, consider yourself blessed!) but it was so cool to see a live action Spider-Man. Not a Nicholas Hammond disaster, or a Michael Keaton style restricting rubber suited statue, a beautiful comic book accurate suit which actually swung from buildings, actual live action webslinging. The movie didn’t even show Tobey Maguire’s face or reveal even the slightest glimpse of the story, but I knew I’d be seeing a Spider-Man movie worth seeing the following summer.

I eventually got online and rekindled my love for Spider-Man which had been sadly diminishing following the cancellation of Spider-Man: The Animated Series and the comics becoming a chore to read. Silly as it sounds, I remember being thrilled we were getting a Spider-Man Playstation game in 2000 also – for the time, it was an absolute banger of a game.

Back to the film, I read that Mary Jane would be the love interest, got a look at the terrible Power Rangers costume for Williem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and that we would see a lot of Peter’s supporting characters appear in the film – Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, Aunt May, Uncle Ben and more importantly for this piece, J Jonah Jameson himself. While younger readers of this piece may feel this sounds absurd, a comic accurate superhero film wasn’t the done thing in those days. Superman had arrived, reached terrific heights and plummeted to embarrassing lows before I was born, Batman, while not massively faithful to the comic book character had struck a chord with audiences in 1989 and released sequels that seem to get less and less favourable reviews until it crashed to previously unthought of lows in 1997 when the studio was more interested in releasing a toy commercial than a movie with Batman and Robin. X-Men tried to be as faithful to the books as it could, but director Bryan Singer was not remotely interested in translating the excellent visuals of X-Men to the big screen, instead going for rather uninspired black leather suits for the heroes and sadly, drab visualisations for the majority of the villains. It must be said that the visual FX of The X-Men movies were never their strong point, from the lacklustre CGI to the mediocre designs… they never quite reached the highs they should’ve with those X-Men films.



JK Simmons was cast as Jameson here, with Raimi requesting that he wear a wig and prosthetic teeth to fully capture the comic book characters essence. Raimi had worked with Simmons in his previous movies and liked that Simmons created his own backstory for each character he played in The Gift and For Love of The Game and knew he wanted him as Jameson, but with bigger, more bankable names to consider, he was required to screen test for the studio. Eventually securing the role, Simmons is arguably the casting triumph of a trilogy filled with picture perfect casting.

Audiences raved over Simmons over the top performances, relishing his one liners and unmitigated hatred of Spider-Man and intolerance for Peter, despite frequently needing him for his Spider-Man photos for The Daily Bugle. Thankfully Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant and Koffman (Raimi’s long suffering brother) also appear to add to the comedic relief of the original Spider-Man trilogy. He shows integrity by signalling for Parker to leave when The Green Goblin attacks his office, swearing that he has no idea who sells him these Spider-Man photos, as they arrive in the mail. It must be said that everything from Simmons wardrobe, to his delivery to the lines themselves are pitch perfect. He has fantastic chemistry with Maguire and he is a true standout in an utterly excellent movie. He gets the laughs in every single scene he is in throughout the entire trilogy, even the less revered Spider-Man 3, including the movies best lines

Robbie: You know we’re going to have print a retraction now?

Jameson: We haven’t printed a retraction in 20 years!



There is no disputing it, the original Spider-Man was a beast of a game changer, the effects of which are still being felt across cinema to this day. It seemed to smash new records daily after its release and was revered at the time as being one of the best blockbusters ever. This wasn’t a modest success like Blade or X-Men, this showed that a superhero movie could be a full superhero movie, costumes, names and all and be a massive success. Almost overnight, every single studio wanted a Marvel franchise to call their own and in the next few years, we got live action movies for Daredevil, Hulk, Elektra, The Fantastic Four, The Punisher and Ghost Rider, most of which came nowhere close to the quality of Spider-Man. At the time Marvel executive Avi Arad seemed far more concerned with volume and quantity over quality. With the exception of Spider-Man and The X-Men, most of the movies he produced never managed a successful sequel, if they even got that far as a franchise. With the exception of Raimi, Arad clearly lacked the talent to select the correct directors for the Marvel franchises… the likes of Tim Story, Mark Steven Johnson and Ang Lee were simply terrible choices for their respective characters. Marvel wouldn’t become the name it became in Hollywood if Arad had stuck around, and most of the interviews he’s given about Marvel’s success without him shows him to be a bitter old dog still trying to prove he has fight in the game. His recent movies, including The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and two Venom movies, proved to me he shouldn’t be let anywhere near Marvel franchises… the man is far past his best.

In keeping this post somewhat on topic, following the release of the original Spider-Man, Sony commissioned Spider-Man: The New Animated Series which would eventually air on MTV. There was massive troubles behind the scenes on this one, with Sony, Marvel and MTV unable to agree on what the actual show was to be. One of MTVs mandates was that no old people were to appear, believe it or not. This excluded Aunt May from appearing in the show, and there were no origin flashbacks for Uncle Ben either. The one ‘old’ character from the comics who did manage to appear was of course, J Jonah Jameson. As the show would act as a sequel to the first movie, he is the Publisher of The Daily Bugle and Peter sells his photos of Spider-Man to be published in the paper. He appears in a handful of episodes, but is only a minor presence in the show. While selling photos for cheap to Jameson, Parker also films video footage of Spidey to Empire 1, a rival news network.



I am a fan of the show, I was about the right age when the show premiered and I was well in the mood for as much Spider-Man as I could get at the time. The show focuses on the various triangles between the three lead characters, Spider-Man, Harry and MJ. The romance between Peter and MJ carries on from the Graveyard scene in the first movie, Harry still hates Spider-Man for killing his Dad, and Peter is still struggling with keeping the secrets of his duality from them both. The show received mixed reviews from audiences at the time. MTV airing the episodes in the incorrect order didn’t help but it was very much intended to be a formulaic episode affair, and almost every episode features MJ as a damsel in distress and trying to find a coherent narrative for the Peter/MJ relationship wasn’t possible, especially when Indy was needlessly thrown into the mix. The show couldn’t have Peter and MJ get together, because the world waited with baited breath to see where their relationship was going to go in Spider-Man 2… Raimi knew this, hence why the excellent teaser trailer wasted no time in teasing us with just enough.

Jameson is that infrequent in the show he might as well not be there, to be blunt about it. He comes across as a tamer version of JK Simmons, Keith Carradine is sadly a pale imitation of Jonah and doesn’t have enough venom in his voice to pull it off. It’s all a bit weak sauce on the Jonah side of things sadly. Koffman, Robbie and Betty don’t appear either, so there’s no one for him to play off other than Peter. As a show on it’s own, it’s very watchable. There is chemistry between the three leads, the animation when Spider-Man is on screen is very exciting, it had utterly glorious fight scenes and excellent music. As a continuation of the Spider-Man movie? It’s too far removed from Raimi’s world. I believe the best example I can give you is visual… can you imagine Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker wearing this?



Peter was mandated to look cool by MTV, which was the anthesis of Maguire’s Spidey… the two are nothing remotely alike.

Still, it was a short run and there were glimpses of a great show in there, for me. I would much sooner watch this over the newer Spider-Man shows, with only 13 episodes and the various restrictions/demands in place, it never quite got passed it’s growing pains. A great shame, as I found there was a lot to love about the show.

Next: Spectacular, Spectacular Spider-Man!
 

Frontier

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JK Simmons is such a definitive live-action Jonah that even the MCU/Sony gave up trying :p.

I do remember Jonah being in the MTV cartoon, but not much else. As an adult animated Spider-Man cartoon that couldn't use "big names" I thought it was an interesting approach, and NPH was a good Spidey. I'm kind of curious what it would've been like had it developed.
 

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Sony commissioned another new Spider-Man animated show for release between Spider-Man 3 and the then planned Spider-Man 4. As Sony’s prime franchise, the idea of going dark between sequels was a no go, especially as Spider-Man 4 didn’t have a definite release date at the time, as the whole cast and crew were contracted for 3 films… Spider-Man 4 would’ve cost even more than Spider-Man 3 long before a single frame had been filmed and Spider-Man 3 had one of the biggest budgets ever. In fairness to Sony, who have a reputation for bungling up their Spidey franchise of late, it would appear they accepted pitches from writers and had no demands to tie them to the Raimi movies, which meant we could get a comics accurate Spidey show. Lessons were learned from the MTV show to not tie it down to the movies and let it be it’s own separate piece.

The show was eventually sold to Kids WB! who had made various Spider-Man style shows and in their later years, had basically turned most of their shows into teenage affairs, aimed strictly at the younger demographics. I had watched them turn X-Men into a Dawson’s Creek meets superhero show then cut out the romance aspects of it, and more recently, turned Batman into a toy commercial with The Batman, a show which ranged from utterly terrible to excellent, often on an episode by episode basis. Thankfully Greg Wesiman was hired as the show’s Story Editor and Supervising Producer. Weisman had a reputation for high quality animated shows (I have sadly still yet to get around to binging Gargoyles, I must confess) but those who saw the show told me it was in good hands, and I felt Weisman wrote most of the best episodes of The Batman. Before the show started Weisman and the other supervising producer Victor Cook said everything that I was hoping to hear – the theme of the show would be about the education of Peter Parker and would feature the major villains from the comic books, not mainly original foes like the previous MTV show. It would also be the first Spider-Man show to feature him in High School at the very beginning of his career. They announced it wouldn’t start with the spider bite, which I was personally thankful of, as I’ve seen this origin over and over again.



With the show starting in the early days of Spidey’s crime fighting escapades, we actually get to see Parker’s first meeting with J Jonah Jameson in the opening episode Survival of The Fittest. With Ben gone, the Parker’s were short on cash for the bills, Peter sneaks into The Daily Bugle with to pitch to Jameson that what the Bugle needs to sell papers is photos of Spider-Man in action. Jonah has security throw Parker out of the building before immediately telling Robbie they NEED photos of Spidey in action, as this will sell papers! This began a small arc in the opening three episodes of Peter attempting, and failing, to get photos of Spidey in action before finally snapping his smackdown with The Lizard… sadly for Peter the timing couldn’t be worse as Margaret Connors believes Peter abandoned their attempts to work on the cure for said reptilian rouge when of course, in reality, he had to go save Connors as Spider-Man, not Peter. Classic Spider-Man/Parker secret identity dilemma drama here, which is sorely missed in the newer Spider-Man shows, as this kind of drama was rarely presented in Ultimate, and pretty much all of his pals know he is Spider-Man in the latest show. Getting punished for doing the right thing? Typical Parker luck here, at its finest.



While he was dismissed from his internship, the Lizard photos got his foot in the door at The Bugle after he is told by Jameson to have another set of Spidey pics at his desk by deadline. Jameson here is much more over the top in both his movement and voice and every scene seems to be dialed up to 11. It goes against the tone of the rest of show, but it fits in perfectly. It must be said most of this is down to actor Daran Noris who delivers his lines absolutely perfectly (this show did simply not do miscasting). Noris reprises his role from the 2000 Neversoft game and manages to avoid simply aping JK Simmons, which cannot have been easy to do, Simmons was already utterly adored by the populous by the time the show aired. Market Forces sees Parker try and sell more pics to help out his Aunt, and give him an excuse to see Jonah’s secretary Miss Brant.

Naturally, Jameson is used to comedic relief most of the time and he serves this role well. His dialogue is snappy, loud and to the point (usually calculated in precise seconds). The earlier episodes don’t show him harboring a massive hatred towards Spider-Man, he cites that people love seeing their heroes fail as it makes them feel better about themselves and sells more papers. In an inspired twist, Jameson learns to loathe Spidey because a costumed fool is taking away attention from real heroes, like his son, Astronaut John Jameson. Despite the show being about the education of Peter Parker, it’s Jonah who learns a lesson in The Uncertainty Princple as he mocks Parker and refuses his photos, as the story of the day to him is John, not costumed clowns. Parker sells these photos to The Globe, which crush The Bugle at the newsstands. With the people now having spoken, he signs ‘that traitor’ Parker to an exclusive Bugle contract and uses the paper to slander Spider-Man at every available opportunity. We do see a more caring side of Jonah later on in the season when they learn his Aunt May has been hospitalised as he calls Parker himself to tell him the bad news rather than delegate to an employee. While Jonah is incredible easy to box in as a two-dimensional character, he is shown to be affectionate, loving and proud towards his son who he truly considers a hero. Towards the end of the shows run, we also meet his wife, who clearly does not suffer Jonah’s foolishness, in a hilarious twist, she clearly wears the pants in their relationship.



He is very much a supporting character and doesn’t get the spotlight he does in prior Spider-Man shows, as naturally, the show was only 26 episodes long and for such a cruelly short run, a lot and I meant a LOT of characters are introduced and developed well – Aunt May, Peter’s high school classmates, The Daily Bugle staff, The Big Man and his cronies and more traditional supervillains. Also worth adding for such a large number of characters utilised, the show was not a villain of the week affair, the only character to feature once was The Lizard and even this doesn’t really count as Curt Connors played a fairly large part once he was cured. The show utilized it’s supporting cast superbly, especially in the likes of Identity Crisis in which most of the cast are interviewed by Ned Lee to see if they believe Peter Parker is actually Spider-Man, which was either great for a laugh, or made one worry for Peter’s secret. Do we think Norman was telling the truth with his delayed “…no”? Martha and Curt Connors humored reaction also made one ponder…

Jameson’s main spotlight would come in season two with Growing Pains, which sees John Jameson infected with alien spores which increase his strength, mass and anger. Curt Connors creates a containment suit to help John contain his metamorphosis and with Venom committing robberies ‘disguised’ as Spider-Man, Jonah convinces John that Spider-Man must be stopped and John is the one to do it, with a nod to Amazing Spider-Man #42 he dubs him Colonel Jupiter. With John instatutionalised at the episodes conclusion, Jonah now has every more reason to hate Spidey, which he shows in Opening Night, perhaps the shows best episode when he struggles to root for Spider-Man despite him being the only chance of successfully escaping The Vault, a prison full of superpowered criminals. The show expertly weaved multiple storylines throughout each episode from the premiere so it never felt episodic, even the fairly uneventful episodes had something in there which would come to a bigger story a few episodes down the line.



It’s still my favourite Marvel animated show all these years later, because the writing holds up and the visuals behind them are in synch with each other, one does not let the other down. It’s the show that feels most like the classic Spider-Man I love. Sadly, it had a short run due to licensing agreements between Disney and Sony, with Sony killing the show to give Disney the animation rights to Spider-Man back, so they could continue to make live action Spider-Man movies. This felt like a double whammy at the time… the agreement cancelled my favourite Spider-Man show and brought me The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, which, for the life me, I could not enjoy. Avi Arad was back in the fold, overseeing what was essentially an inferior remake of the original Spider-Man movie, with his first Amazing Spider-Man, and then trying to put the proverbial 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It was one failure too many for Sony boss Amy Pascal, who essentially removed Arad’s involvement from Spider-Man himself and agreed to let Marvel Studios have creative control over the character and integrate him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Spectacular Spider-Man is still missed terribly. With the Loeb reign of terror now over we may hopefully get a Spider-Man show of this quality again soon, but it will have mighty, mighty big shoes to fill.
 

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I think Spec had a really good (and frankly probably the last really good) take on Jonah in animation. He had a lot of energy, humor, and rage that you would expect from Jonah along with integrity and humanity to make you care about him. And over the time his hatred of Spider-Man becomes more and more believable because of circumstances.

Darran Norris played the role with gusto and managed to make the role standout without directly imitating JK Simmons.

I'm kind of curious if Spec Jonah would've been responsible for Scorpion and the Spider-Slayers like he was in the comics (although Gargan seems like he was employed by Osborn).

Spec was also probably the last cartoon to really make the Bugle a significant cornerstone of a Spider-Man cartoon (at least for more than 6 episodes).
 

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Asner's Jonah was simply Lou Grant, Asner's live-action signature role, taken to the nth power. Since JK Simmons is also shilling for Farmers Insurance these days, it'd be a neat little joke to have a Farmers policy on Jonah's desk in a future film.
 

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Spectacular Jonah was pretty spectacular. It felt like an updated and slightly more serious take on the 60s animated version of Jonah to me. They kind of had the same energy. I also appreciated how the show used his son, without resorting to the Man-Wolf persona as other cartoons, and went for something more unique and dramatic.
 

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Spectacular Jonah was pretty spectacular. It felt like an updated and slightly more serious take on the 60s animated version of Jonah to me. They kind of had the same energy. I also appreciated how the show used his son, without resorting to the Man-Wolf persona as other cartoons, and went for something more unique and dramatic.
It's kind of interesting how Colonel Jupiter sounds so goofy on-paper but then it turns extremely tragic...
 

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One thing you may have noticed throughout this retrospective is that every show covered so far as been all about Spider-Man. Despite being (or more likely, because of) Marvel's most popular character, a 'guest starring Spider-Man' was a strict no no for most of his animation shelflife prior to Disney buying Marvel. The sole instance to the rule was two appearances in the Spider-Woman animated show of the 1970s, but even with arguably the Golden Age of crossovers in the various 1990s animated Marvel shows, Spider-Man never ventured into other shows, the likes of The X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk and numerous others always appeared in the respective Spider-Man cartoons.

Until Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. With Disney gaining Spider-Man's animation rights, it finally meant that Spidey could meet The Avengers, and this time, some of his supporting cast came with him.



For those not in the know, Earth's Mightiest Heroes was a true banger of a show, which didn't need to mooch off the Marvel Cinematic Universe to maintain it's popularity. Produced in the early days of the MCU, the show was a sheer joy to watch with it's vast amount of characters and how it absoloutely nailed their characterisation. Action packed, witty, colourful, joyous to look at, Earth's Mightiest Heroes was one of Marvel Animation's all time triumphs, especially in it's first season. Despite having a large, evolving roster, the show wasn't afraid to utilise guest stars to expand it's lore, and finally, in Along Came A Spider, Spider-Man was introduced.

Jameson only appears in the one episode, but he does exactly what is required of him. Having spent years spreading propaganda and ruining Spider-Man's reputation, he attempts to do the same to Captain America following the Skrull Invasion and The Skrulls attempting to use the people's trusting of Cap to otherthrow the Earth before the real Cap returned and The Avengers stopped them. Stark, attempting to attack the problem head on, confronts Jonah and Jameson, businessman that he is, offers a trade. Cap tells The Bugle his story, or they print an expose confirming Captain America as a traitor. Naturally, being an action show, the episode isn't just a sitdown between Cap and Jonah and The Serpent Society get involved. It was very cool seeing Spidey crossover with The Avengers, even if sadly, Drake Bell recorded over Josh Keaton's lines in an inexplicable attempt by Jeph Loeb to try and keep continuity between shows which make no sense whatsoever if you try and keep them in the same universe.



Story editor Chris Yost confirmed that this version of Spidey/Jonah was to be from The Spectacular Spider-Man following that show's final episode, and Josh Keaton, Daran Noris and Grey DeLise to reprised their roles, before the rerecording took place. It must be said that JK Simmons is simply tremendous as Jonah, but the real kicker here was missing out on hearing Keaton's excellent Spider-Man portrayal for yet another over the top Drake Bell dub.

Which brings us to Ultimate Spider-Man… the longest running Spider-Man show, perhaps as one of the strongest reminders that life isn’t massively fair sometimes. With Sony trading the animation rights to Spider-Man back to Disney as part of their agreement to maintain the live action rights (which resulted in some awful messes of films, it must be said) Marvel decided to create a brain trust of Marvel creative types for their new animated efforts and Ultimate Spider-Man was the first show to come of it. The marketing of the show seemed to be based upon who was helping run the show rather than anything else… it sadly came across as a chance to massage the egos of Marvel’s Publishing offices rather than creating hype for a show. In one such interview Jeph Loeb, now the head of Marvel Animation, suggested that the show would be aimed at the younger audience, the kids, and the show would primarily be aimed at them. I realise that this is pretty much part of the parcel that the show needs to cater mainly towards that demographic, but it’s no excuse to ignore the older audience or fans of the character. Previous animated shows had managed to cater to all audiences… Ultimate Spider-Man didn’t seem to even try with Loeb in charge, it was written as a juvenile comedy show that never seemed to be funny. For the first two seasons at least it must be said it was a chore to sit through, it was bland, two dimensional and most of the time, Spider-Man himself was an irritating fool. For all their talk of this show being the first with Marvel DNA (which, frankly, is sheer nonsense and shows ignorance towards the company's history), it must be said Spider-Man is nothing like any version of Spider-Man I've ever seen. The show rebrands Spider-Man as a self centered idiot... the exact antithesis of Spider-Man, to anyone who knows him. The show saw Spider-Man as a cash cow and nothing more.

The premises of the show was that Spider-Man was placed in charge of his own SHIELD Academy team in order to learn how to become a true superhero so he may eventually join The Avengers one day, when he comes of age. It’s not a bad premises for a show, however, the execution never really hit the mark as Spider-Man frequently failed his own team, came across as a self righteous jerk, a frequent idiot and not someone anyone with any competeance would allow to lead a team, nor join a team with the dangers The Avengers face. The sad truth is it was not well written until season three and even them, Spider-Man himself was an unlikeable lead, despite the stories getting better.

Man of Action were charged as the main writers for the first two seasons and sadly, there is nothing complimentary to write about them. The scripts weren’t funny, the characters were annoying and the plots were usually tired tropes. Visually, the show looked magnificent, with some beautiful character models, animation and backgrounds. One can only imagine who much better the show would’ve been with better writers and executives who knew what to do with the characters… it was a proven point that by this time, Joe Quesada had no idea what to do with Spider-Man and was riding on the coattails of the sudden increase in popularity of superheroes, thanks to the boom of superhero movies increasing their presence in pop culture. It also should be said that Jeph Loeb, in this point of his career had spent years writing utter drivel. These two did not belong anywhere near an executive position.

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Getting to the point, J Jonah Jameson is a presence in the show via a giant jumbotron in New York, spouting out anti-Spider-Man tirades. He doesn’t have any motivation justifying his hatred of Spider-Man and rarely adds anything to the episodes… sadly his lines aren’t funny enough to make the character come across as something anything other than annoying. While previous incarnations of Jonah have been two dimensional, the main difference here is that they were funny and/or helped further stories along… this show’s version of Jonah is simply annoying, which is irritates one further as they have utterly perfect casting as the managed a coop here, with JK Simmons reprising his role. The voice still certainly fits the character, but he has no lines worth reading and sadly, Jonah adds nothing to this show. His presence diminishes as the show goes on, presumably as it was getting harder to get Simmons to record as his career thankfully flourished after Spider-Man 3, he successfully avoided typecasting as is widely regarded as a terrific, ranged actor with wonderful comedic chops. He is rightfully celebrated as one of Hollywood's greats.

My apologies for the breifness of this post, but sadly, Jonah adds little to the show and what he does do isn’t worth seeing. He has no arc to dissect, every single one of his appearances is the exact same thing, another tiring Spider-Man rant which adds nothing to the episode, or even the show as a whole, as the public's opinion of Spider-Man is rarely shown and he works for the highest ranking authority in the show in SHIELD... Jonah's rants literally have no effect on the show.

This one can be chalked up as a massive, massive misfire. I'd love to tell you something good about the character, but with the exception of the casting, there's nothing to be found. When you consider the sheer coop gained here, it maks the blunder so, so much worse...
 

RoyalRubble

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Jonah on Avengers EMH didn't have much screen-time but he fit in well into the story and was a welcome addition.

Jonah on Ultimate was decent. The show had enough flaws throughout its run and Jonah never really having that much of an actual presence in Spidey's life was among them I think. They never really did much with the plot point of Mary Jane working at the Daily Bugle, either.
 

Frontier

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It was pretty neat that they were actually able to get JK Simmons to reprise Jonah in cartoon form (and in two cartoons) no less, but overall I can't say they made the best use of him that they could have :(.

I think his appearance in EMH was fine and on-point for the amount of screentime he had, and probably the most "classic" Spidey depiction in animation we'd get for some time what with Peter at the Bugle, Robbie, Betty, etc. Although much like the controversial recasting of Drake Bell for Josh Keaton, who was supposed to be Spidey in this, it seems like Darran Norris might've been tapped toe reprise Jonah as well alongside Grey Griffin (or DeLisle at the time) as Betty. Which is a shame, even if JK still does a great Jonah in vocal form. Also, Troy Baker playing a black man o_O.

Ultimate...I mean, on the one hand the premise of Jonah on jumbotrons across New York proclaiming his hate for Spider-Man is effective, but it does make him rather one-note when we never see him in the flesh or actually interacting with people, let alone Peter and Spider-Man. Probably the most depth he got was in the episode with John Jameson, which is the only time he interacted with Spider-Man (still through a TV screen) but that was only one episode and for basically five-minutes of screentime. And then the issue with getting a notable actor like JK Simmons reared its head as Jonah was completely phased out of later seasons.
 

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Man, animation Twitter has stooped on the new low where they bullied a girl to a suicide for liking a character they don't.

May she rest in peace.
Hello there Just looking for someone to talk about The N with

I wonder if Nickelodeon would later have rights to air Sonic the Hedgehog?

FOP marathon on NickPluto.. it's not off yet though.

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