The real Spider-man has a giant robot

Spider-man

Spider-man 3 is opening this weekend and even though I haven’t seen it, I already know what it’s missing: a giant robot. 30 years ago, Japan got it right.

The way I’ve heard the story, a couple of Japanese producers wanted to transplant the original story onto Japan. Peter Parker would be a Japanese student in Toyko – a city perfect for web-slinging – and that would be that. The show’s sponsors had a different idea. “Kids are really into giant robots,” they said. “Give him a giant robot.”

I can only assume the producers said a silent WTF, but decided to keep their jobs. Thus they re-imagined the Spider-man origin story along these lines:

There’s this dude from space who’s dressed like a knight from the future who battles a Dr. Doom type nasty guy and flies around in a huge transforming robot – Marveller in ship mode, Leopardon in robot mode (an awesome dye-cast toy version, which I own, has just been released). He crash-lands on earth and spends hundreds of years in a cave. Eventually, the Dr. Doom guy comes to earth and kills a famous scientist. The scientist’s son finds the original dude in the cave, who’s now dying. Cave dude passes on his powers to the son, along with the keys to the giant robot, to continue the battle against the Dr. Doom guy. For some reason his powers, once transferred to the son, turn him into Spider-man. It involves injecting a serum and a huge electronic bracelet. Oh, and the robot comes with a wicked race car that also flies. Sweet.

I’ve only watched two episodes and they both follow a similar formula, culminating in Spider-man fighting a monster that grows to enormous size, at which point Spider-man summons his giant robot to kick the monster’s ass.

And despite how ridiculous this series is, the live-action Spider-man stuff is much more realistic than the US version that was produced around the same time. Spidey’s wall crawling looks pretty real, as does his web-slinging, and he fights like a karate expert.

The series has been released on DVD in Japan but with no English subtitles. Thankfully, there’s a fan subtitled version on YouTube – so loosely translated that it’s perfect to watch when wasted.

Here’s hoping that Sam Raimi gets good and sloshed and watches this before he starts Spider-man 4.

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