Green Goblin In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

Before we get into the rather lengthy and somewhat confusing introduction of The Green Goblin, let’s begin at the beginning. This series was usually very faithful to the original comics it spawned from, as several episodes from the first season were simply adaptations of the old Stan Lee/Steve Dikto stories. One of it’s more original ideas was to use The Hobgoblin first, rather than The Green Goblin. Apparently the original plan used by John Semper’s predecessor was to have Norman Osborn become The Hobgoblin. Stan Lee nixed the idea – he wanted The Green Goblin. When Semper came on board, he agreed, The Green Goblin was the only way to go. Unfortunately, Toy Biz had already began production on The Hobgoblin action figure – meaning Toy Biz potentially stood to lose a hell of a lot of money because they thought no kid would buy a figure of a villain that wasn’t in the show.

Looking back, it seems odd that Alien Spider Slayer had a figure despite never making it into the show, and Carnage and Smythe were in the first waves, despite Carnage not debuting until season 3 some two years later, and Smythe being based on his comic book design, not his animation model. So, under orders from Avi Arad, The Hobgoblin was used before The Green Goblin to a disgruntled Mr. Semper’s agreement. Speaking to this very site, he had this to say about the entire debacle;

“My least favorite two episodes would have to be the Hobgoblin two-parter. My fired predecessor’s only lasting contribution to the series was his decision to use the Hobgoblin instead of the Green Goblin. So, based on that early decision, Avi had ramped up an expensive toy line revolving around the Hobgoblin. By the time I arrived on the series, I was stuck with having to roll that character out first, (because of the impending toy line) which is just plain wrong. I kind of patched it up in the series by making Norman Osborne create the weapons for the Hobgoblin first before deciding to use them for himself as the Green Goblin, which I thought was a good fix. But that first Hobgoblin two-parter is just a waste of time designed just to sell toys. I hated it when we had to write it, I hated it when it aired and I still hate it. The Hobgoblin is boring.”

So with no Green Goblin just yet, we’re surprisingly introduced to Norman Osborn in the show’s second episode. Under pressure from The Kingpin to kill Spider-Man, Norman hires Spencer Smythe to create and produce a series of Spider-Slayers because he’s been interfering with several of The Kingpin’s operations. The episode in question also introduces us to Harry Osborn who finally makes his animation debut.

If you’ve glanced over my Spider-Man: The Animated Series site, you’ll be aware that I don’t have much time for young Osborn. Bad casting, an awful design and his annoying tendency to be as irritating as he possibly can made him often unbearable to watch. Pre-Goblin Norman, on the other hand, was absolutely fantastic. Depicted as a ruthless businessman clearly cracking under the pressure of it all, he decides that the best way to end it all is to finish off The Kingpin.

And thus we have Hobgoblin. Despite Semper’s opinion, I thought this show’s version of The Hobgoblin was utterly fantastic. As in, the best villain the show ever did, save for maybe The Kingpin. An ambitious, occasionally arrogant money grabber who had plans to become the new Kingpin, he played everyone against everyone else and came out on top! One can’t praise his voice actor Mark Hamill enough. Despite watching him do voiceovers for nearly 15 years and seeing him in a wide variety of roles, there isn’t one occasion when he’s disappointed. I think these two episodes feature some of his finest work ever, which again, is impressive when you think about it.

Visually, Hobgoblin wasn’t too bad. I admit I do missed the cool shadowing effect they used on his mask in the comics, with the bright red eyes against the pitch black face and I do wonder why his main body is yellow and the inlay of his cape is purple, but I look at it like this – it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse. I find it fascinating to look back on, especially Spider-Man’s first real meeting with Norman. He clearly didn’t care much for him even in the beginning, and from the looks of things, it took him a while to warm to Harry.

With the majority of season two being taken up by The Neogenic Nightmare storyline, it would’ve be foolish to try and squeeze The Green Goblin in there somewhere. We did get another appearance from Hobgoblin, but Goblin wise, the main plot point would go to Harry and his new girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson.

Peter never had much luck romance wise in this show (which is how it should be damn it! Married to a supermodel my ass!) but his relationship with MJ in this show was pretty tedious to begin with. I never really felt for this show’s version of Peter like I probably should’ve. I even think the MTV show had a better Peter, despite having virtually none of his supporting cast. I blame it on his Nicholas Hammond design.

By the time season three came calling, even the most patient of Spider-Fans must’ve been growing tired of waiting for The Green Goblin to make his debut.

And as they say, good things come to those who wait.