Green Goblin In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

It was obvious from the moment the episode concluded that Turning Point was going to be difficult to top. Unfortunately, season four delved into mediocrity, with one of the main reasons being that there was no heavy hitters left in the rouge’s gallery. The two Goblins and the symbiotes had met their ending in the previous season, Doc Ock was now a lackey and Kingpin did bugger all for this season. Throwing The Black Cat into the mix sort of spiced things up a bit, but there was no real arc to the season here, and it showed. A lot of the episodes were standalone affairs, when at this point; the show was doing an exceptional job with the long running style of storytelling.

Regardless, one of these standalone stories saw a new Goblin enter the fold – young Harry. Still haunted by the loss of MJ and his Father, he eventually began connecting with The Green Goblin, who of course, was still trapped in limbo. I find this shows version of Harry to be especially weak – I think there was a hell of a lot more potential from the character other than being a spineless little wimp with a terrible design and voice (one need look no further than the movies to see the potential that Harry had) and his turn as The Green Goblin wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see. Whilst I think Harry stumbled in his early days as The Green Goblin, the last couple of years before he died were exceptionally well crafted – a story about a friendship turned into the most bitter of rivalries, despite the fact they both loved each other. The fact that Harry was a complete lunatic by the time he met his end only added to the fun.

Now, call me chauvinistic, but I don’t cry a lot. It’s just not in me; it’s not something I do. But there is one issue that still brings me close to tears each and every time I read it. The Spectacular Spider-Man #200 is without a doubt one of the finest comics I’ve ever read in my 20 years on this here planet and to this day, it’s still probably my favourite Green Goblin story ever. For those who don’t follow the comic lure, Spectacular Spider-Man #200 is the issue where Harry dies, after saving Mary Jane and his son Normie from a building he had rigged to explode. Afterwards, a drugged Peter approaches a dying Harry who had becomes poisoned by his ‘redefined’ Goblin formula, before finally passing away in the ambulance. The last page has basically no dialogue and features Spider-Man standing next to his fallen friend’s body whilst MJ simply looks at him in disgust as she carries Normie away.

The cartoon version of Harry didn’t come even remotely close to this. To say that the hero was fighting someone who is supposedly his best friend, there’s so very little drama in the episode.

Harry is clearly portrayed as someone who doesn’t want to become The Green Goblin, but does in order to find his Father again. The character would’ve been so much more interesting if he became The Goblin of his accordance, possibly in hopes of getting revenge on Spider-Man, who took the two people he loved the most away from him. Throw in The Punisher and the revelation that Norman was in fact the Goblin and you’ve got yourself what was a pretty good episode, but still disappointing at the same time. With Mary Jane returning after the big fight scene, we do actually end on a rather sweet optimistic note, as Spider-Man takes Harry to Ravencroft for help and he appears to have snapped out of it all, realising he needs help.

His next appearance fairs slightly better, as he is now in the asylum, when the news of Peter and MJ getting married overcomes in, and he welcomes The Green Goblin back into his mind. I remember being impressed with his breakout as he finally let The Goblin take over and be a real villain rather than a wimp pushed into the situation, but some awful delivery of dialogue that was poor to begin with quickly put me off the character. “These robots are exxxxceeeleennntt!” Ugh, don’t do that!

His defeat at the hands of Liz was a little out there, as whilst they were indeed married in the comics, the two had never actually been on screen together in the show, so her telling him she loves him was gained a “…the hell?” reaction from me. And this would be the last we’d see of Harry. It didn’t matter whether he was in costume or not, Harry was a disappointment.

We did get to see The Goblin one last time, however. In a rather cool twist, Norman and The Hobgoblin were partners in an alternate reality that our Spider-Man travelled to. They’re dealt with pretty quickly, but what the hell, it was cool seeing them again. Spider-Man had much bigger enemies to fight in that episode – himself. The next version of The Goblin is pretty forgettable, much like everything else in the show. Spider-Man Unlimited is a strange one, and it’s version of The Green Goblin. Most of the classic villains were apparently placed in some sort of embargo due to the upcoming Spider-Man movie and the ones that were allowed to slip through weren’t to be associated with the classic versions found in the comic. Hence why you get a Green Goblin in pretty much name only.

No Norman Osborn, no glider and shockingly enough he was a hero. To be honest, he wasn’t that bad a character by the show’s standards, but he had a highly annoying voice and … it’s just not The Green Goblin. He did discover that Peter and Spider-Man were one and the same, but none of the drama of Turning Point could be found. If you’ve not seen this show, don’t cry yourself to sleep. It’s not worth the time.

Thankfully, the show was put out its misery quite quickly and a lifelong dream finally came true on May 3rd, 2002. Spider-Man officially became a movie star, and went on to cement his name in history as the movie began shattering box office records, receiving glowing reviews and, according to a lot of people, giving people a hero to route for at a time when a lot of people needed it. And every great hero needs a great villain. And who else was chosen first? None other than The Green Goblin!

Veteran Willem Dafoe portrayed the billionaire gone bonkers, and, in my opinion, did it exceptionally well and despite a ridiculous costume, went onto to become an awesome adversary for Spidey’s first big screen adventure.

My favourite scene with The Goblin is the scene in which he attempts to make Spider-Man realise that being a hero is a waste of time, as people aren’t willing to accept heroes these days.

“This is why only fools are heroes, because you never know when some lunatic comes along with a sadistic choice – let die the woman you love, or suffer the little children. Make your choice Spider-Man, and see how a hero is rewarded”

Just as he did in the comics, The Goblin died when he was impaled by his own glider. They set up the sequels by having Harry discover Spider-Man standing next to Norman’s dead body, and began Harry’s decent into supervillain-ness.

With MTV Spider-Man taking place after the movie (when it felt like it) the characters were pretty much the same as they were when we left the theatres. Herein lies the main problem of the show – the characters never grew. They were set in stone before any of the episodes aired, in hopes of building up to the inevitable sequel. MTV screwing up the airdate order didn’t help, neither did their demands from the show (if you don’t want a superhero show on your network, don’t order a superhero for it, ass clowns). A lot of the villains were a strict no-no for the show, as they were being saved for future sequels. Norman Osborn was already dead in the show’s continuity, so he wasn’t an option either.

We did have Harry however. Oddly enough, we actually had a really cool version of Harry. Smart, witty and a decent voice – everything TAS’ Harry wasn’t. Oh, and he had an interesting character too. Despite how much Peter’s life was falling apart because of him being Spider-Man and MJ and Peter’s complicated romance often getting the better of them, neither of them seemed to notice Harry’s life was breaking down.

His hatred of Spider-Man carried on from the movie, as did his friendship with Peter. With only a single season to its name, I’m glad they didn’t try and push him into becoming The Green Goblin in this show. However, if it were to be done in a future season, I think it could’ve been utterly awesome. There was actual chemistry between Peter and Harry here, to see it all fall apart could’ve made for captivating television (I’m also imagining how cool The Green Goblin would’ve been in 3D)

Then, the show ended, just like that, on a cliffhanger no less. There were a few rumours of it coming back, but there’s been no hard evidence to support it and recently, an all-new Spider-Man Animated Series was announced to coincide with Spider-Man 3. There are several different directions they could take with Norman Osborn, The Green Goblin and Harry. Hopefully they won’t rush it, a nice long build up would be great to see once again.

Regardless, God willing, we’ll have another chapter to add to The Green Goblin’s animated legacy soon. And hopefully, we’ll all have something nice to say about it.

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