Even before our computer-generated era of special effects, the public appetite to see a superhero leap off of the page and on to the screen was very strong. Following a 1977 TV film, Stan Lee’s Spider-Man became the star of a CBS TV series, The Amazing Spider-Man.
The series was shot in Los Angeles, which gave CBS some difficulties in emulating Spider-Man’s New York, with its high-rise buildings Spidey swings from with his webs. In fact, CBS took publicity shots in New York, including in front of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Nicholas Hammond, an Australian, was the out-of-suit lead, Peter Parker. Hammond’s previous acting claim to fame had been as Friedrich von Trapp in The Sound of Music.
Stan Lee, Spider-Man’s creator, then in his mid 50s, was actively involved in the production, but the show also made several key departures from the established Spider-Man comic universe.
Spider-Man’s love interest Mary Jane was replaced by reporter Julie Masters. And, perhaps in deference to the budget, Spidey’s villains were no longer psychedelic creations like Doctor Octopus, but corrupt officials and narcissistic leaders.
When Peter Parker donned there Spider-Man costume, Hammond was replaced by stuntman Fred Waugh. Waugh’s work also included capturing Spider-Man’s viewpoint, using a head-mounted camera.
By the time the show was cancelled in 1979, superhero shows had begun to proliferate across the small screen, opening the way to today’s deluge of superhero movies.