The Disney+ original docuseries, Marvel 616, is now streaming. Episode 1 is a 50-minute documentary detailing the history of Toei’s Spider-Man (1978).
Disney+, the Walt Disney Company’s streaming service for all things Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, premiered its new original docuseries, Marvel 616, yesterday.
Episode 1, titled “Japanese Spider-Man,” tells the story of how Toei’s 1978 tokusatsu series, Spider-Man, was created and left an effect on future tokusatsu shows and entertainment as a whole. This news comes just after the Kamen Rider-inspired Arachnid Rider suit was announced to be featured in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered.
The below trailer shows a small piece of the 50-minute documentary which starts with an explanation from Gene Pelc, a Marvel representative from 1976-1985, of how he fostered a relationship between Marvel and Toei. Pelc’s role was also aiding in producing the show.
In the documentary, he tells the story of how he named Spider-Man’s car the Spider Machine GP7 while drinking at a bar with his co-workers. He begins by explaining that Toei is known for producing Kamen Rider. Clips from Showa era Kamen Rider shows are featured.
Other guests include Spider-Man suit actor, Hirofumi Koga, who tells of his daring, dangerous stunts in the Spider-Man costume like the time he climbed Tokyo Tower with no rope for the opening sequence. Stunt coordinator Osamu Kaneda helps explain how many of the stunts were pulled off by cleverly hiding ropes.
Rika Miura (lead heroine Hitomi Sakuma) also discusses the powerful statement her character’s strength made for women, and Shinji Todo (Takuya Yamashiro/Spider-Man) talks about what it was like launching his acting career with this role. In addition, documented in the episode is Todo’s reaction to learning for the first time that original Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was a big fan of the show.
As the documentary moves past talking about production of the television show, Spider-Man mechanical engineer and toy designer Katsushi Murakami talks about what it was like designing Spider-Man’s space ship and robot, Marveller and Leopardon, and how Leopardon forever changed the direction of Super Sentai by convincing Toei to add robots to each season. Additionally, Pelc goes on to explain how the success of Leopardon even led to his working with Stan Lee on robot comics like Shogun Warriors and The Transformers which became a launching-off point for much of the Transformers mythos fans know today.
Not detailed in the documentary, but of significant note, is the fact that this Toei version of Spider-Man would go on to be featured in official Marvel canon during the Spider-Verse story in Marvel’s comics. Additionally, Takuya Yamashiro’s Spider-Man has been heavily hinted to be included in the sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
Below is the official description of Marvel 616.
“Marvel’s 616 explores Marvel’s rich legacy of pioneering characters, creators and storytelling to reflect the world outside your window. Each documentary, helmed by a unique filmmaker, showcases the intersections of storytelling, pop culture, and fandom within the Marvel Universe. Episodes in this anthology series will cover topics including Marvel’s world-spanning artists, the trailblazing women of Marvel Comics, discovering the “forgotten” characters of Marvel, and much more.”
Marvel 616 season 1 is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. The full story of Toei’s Spider-Man can be seen in episode 1, “Japanese Spider-Man.”