Japan has plenty of fictional heroes, and it’s pretty rare that an American character will be big enough to earn their own adaptation there. The Amazing Spider-Man is one of those rare big heroes.
Back in the 70s, Japan made their own live-action superhero TV show all about the friendly neighborhood arachnid. In the Japanese version, he was also known as Supaidaman, a young moto-cross racer who was injected with the blood of an alien from a planet called Spider (subtle, right?). This alien blood gives him all the classic spidey powers we’re used to now.
They made 41 episodes and their own movie based on this version of the web-slinging hero. The show was full of cheesy 70’s style and every Japanese cliché in the book. Did I mention that, in addition to all those superpowers, he also got to use a giant mecha-style robot named Leopardon? I’m sure the Japanese writers looked at Spider-Man and realized all he was missing was a giant robot. Currently, this show only exists on the internet from the episodes and clips they saved online.
Superhero TV might be all the rage right now, but back then Marvel kind of wanted to pretend the Japanese version of Spider-Man didn’t exist. He was finally accepted into the official spider-family though, back in 2015. There was a giant crossover Marvel did called Spider-Verse that required all the various versions of Spider-Man to join forces against a common enemy. The Japanese Supaidaman and his trusty Leopardon were right there alongside the classic American version.
This project was the closest Japan’s Spidey ever came to breaking into the mainstream. Although, with the new Spider-Man: Homecoming coming out in just a couple weeks I think it might be time to dust off the Leopardon and Supaidaman for some Japanese marketing. The Asian market for superhero movies is always a big factor when it comes to selling these films internationally. I mean in the new movie he does kind of have his own mecha-buddy in Iron Man.
Why wait for Marvel to make all those potential sequels when Japan could make their own lower budget versions? American companies have shown that they are willing to allow foreign adaptations of their properties as long as it coincides with their big movie releases. Now is a great time to bring back the Japanese Spider-Man for a whole new generation.
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