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Night of the Lizard is the very first episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. This episode introduces Spider-Man, the Lizard and several other supporting characters that would appear throughout the series.

Plot

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As Spider-Man stares into the city he shots his web and swings off. Meanwhile, in the subway tunnel two subway maintenance workers are attacked by a giant humanoid lizard. One subway worker manages to get free but the other is captured. The subway worker that escaped still believes that the creature is after him so he drives away like a maniac. Spider-Man spots him from above and begins to web swing after him. As Spider-Man lands on top of the van he orders the driver to stop. This distracts the subway worker and he almost crashes but manages to swerve out of the way just in time. However, the van heads for the river. At the last moment Spider-Man saves them before the van goes into the water. The subway worker then begins to talk hysterically about a creature with red eyes which Spider-Man brushes off as nothing.

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Later that day at the Daily Bugle, editor Joseph Robertson gives Peter Parker an assignment to get a photo of the Lizard. Peter asks who this is and J. Jonah Jameson walks in and tells him that if he ever got here on time he would know what was going on. At that moment a reporter for the Daily Bugle named Eddie Brock walks in and says that if this wasn't serious he would have gotten the assignment. Jameson then hands Peter a photo of the subway worker that went missing and Eddie Brock told him that he has a list of scientist that work with reptiles. As Peter learns that one of the names on the list is Dr. Curt Connors he says that he is one of his teachers and that he is an expert in recombinante DNA in retirement Genix. Jameson then gives the job interviewing Curt Connors to Peter. Peter then mentions that he believes that this is just a hoax but he accepts the job after Jameson tells him that the first person to get a picture of the Lizard gets one thousand dollars.

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Later that night Peter returns home excited about what he could buy if he got the thousand dollars. However, he learns that his Aunt May is in financial trouble and decides that if he gets the money he will give it to her. Peter as Spider-Man then crawls into the sewer to search for the Lizard. At first Spider-Man believes that the Lizard is just an urban legend but finds a giant lizard footprint and takes a picture of it. A few minutes later Peter takes the photo to Empire State University  to show it to Dr. Curt Connors. On his way to his lab Peter is stopped by another ESU student named Debra Whitman. As they walk into the building Eddie Brock who is investigating hears them and hides. Peter then hears a noise coming from the lab and his spider sense goes off. All the lights in the building then go off. As they enter Curt Connors laboratory, Dr. Connors warns them to stay away. Debra runs up to try and help him but discovers that it is not Curt Connors but instead it is the Lizard. Debra then screams for Peter's help and the Lizard jumps out of the window. Peter attempts to go after it but Debra begs him not to leave her alone.

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Kurt Connors and Peter Parker

Peter then thinks back to an experiment he helped Dr. Curt Connors with. During the experiment Peter took blood from a lizard and injected it into a mouse that was missing one leg. Dr. Connors then exposed the mouse to radiation from a device called the Neogenic Recombinator and the mouse regrew his leg. Then as Dr. Connors touches his shoulder with the lost arm he says that they will be able to do the same thing for humans. Peter is then shown in his Spider-Man costume and wonders why anybody would want to kidnap Dr. Connors. He then swings away through the city as Spider-Man.

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The early stages of Kurt Connors transformation into the Lizard

In another part of the city the Lizard is shown crawling out of the sewer and up to the Connors house. Inside the house Kurt's wife and son, Connors Margaret and Billy, are in the kitchen cooking. As Margaret looks around she sees someone and shouts stay away. However, it is just Spider-Man who tells Margaret that he is just looking for Kurt. Margaret then tells Spider-Man that she won't let Spider-Man hurt him, much to Spider-Man's confusion. Outside the Connors home Eddie Brock is being attacked by the Lizard. However, Brock runs away before the Lizard can harm him. Spider-Man then goes outside and takes a photo of the Lizard but accidentally drops the camera in a water puddle. As Spider-Man swings around the Lizard picks up Billy's tricycle and throws it at him. However, Spider-Man is able to dodge the attack. Spider-Man then attempts to shoot a web at Lizard but the Lizard is able to catch it and throws Spider-Man into Billy's tree house. Margaret and Billy then come outside and Billy calls the Lizard daddy. The Lizard then vanishes. Spider-Man the walks up to Margaret and asks if he heard Billy right and Margaret replies that the Lizard is Curt. She goes on to tell Spider-Man that Curt exposed himself to radiation from the Neogenic Recombinator after injecting himself with lizard DNA. It worked in regrowing his arm but also turned him into a man sized lizard. Spider-Man then hears Eddie Brock run away and he chases after him and catches him in his web. Spider-Man then tells Brock that he won't let him ruin Connors life. At that moment Spider-Man's spider sense goes off and he web swings back to the Connors house and asks Billy where his mother was and Billy replies that his father came back and took her into the sewer.

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As Spider-Man enters the sewer he hears Margaret's voice and he follows the sound of it. Spider-Man then comes across the missing subway worker who is in a cage and Spider-Man frees him. The subway worker then mentions that the Lizard needed his help in building some kind of machine. At that moment Spider-Man hears Martha scream again and he follows the sound of her voice.

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Spider-Man catches up with the Lizard and Lizard tells Margaret that the reason he kidnapped her was because he needs her to operate the Neogenic Recombinator because his hands are too big to operate the controls. The Lizard goes on to say that he is going to use it to turn everyone in New York City into lizard creatures. Margaret attempts to convince Lizard that what he is doing is wrong and while she does that Spider-Man attacks him. Curt then totally loses control of his mind to the reptile side and becomes an unthinking monster. Margaret then picks up the Neogenic Recombinator and the Lizard accidentally his her with his tail and the Neogenic Recombinator flies across the room.

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The Neogenic Recombinator activated

As Spider-Man web swings across the room he grabs the Neogenic Recombinator and the Lizard tackles him and they both fall into the water below. During their battle Spider-Man is able to activate the Neogenic Recombinator which turns the Lizard back into a human. Spider-Man then grabs his camera and Spider-Man takes them back to their home.

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The next day Eddie Brock drags J. Jonah Jameson to Curt Connors house to show him the Lizard. Jameson has his doubts that Connors is the Lizard and Brock says that if he is wrong he will eat today's edition of the Daily Bugle. After Eddie rings the doorbell Kurt opens the door and greets Jameson. J. Jonah Jameson then hands Brock the newspaper and asks if he likes it cooked or raw.

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Back at Aunt May's house Peter hands Aunt May the money for her bills. Aunt May asks where he got the money and he answers that he got the money by selling an exclusive photo to the Daily Bugle. As Aunt May looks at Peter's photo of Spider-Man fighting the Lizard she says that he must have germs on him from going into the sewer. Aunt Man then goes to make Peter a bowl of hot soup. Sometime later Spider-Man swings through New York City and says that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are stuck together forever.

Cast

Actor
Role
Christopher Daniel Barnes Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Ed Asner J. Jonah Jameson
Linda Gary May Parker
Rodney Saulsberry Joseph Robertson
Liz Georges Debra Whitman
Hank Azaria Eddie Brock
Joseph Campanella Lizard / Curt Connors
Giselle Loren Margaret Connors
Toby Scott Ganger Billy Connors
Ken Chandler Sam

Cameos

Locations

Items

Trivia

  • John Semper Jr. originally wanted the first villain in Spider-Man: The Animated Series to be Venom. However, someone working for the TV network suggested to Semper that he build up slowly to Venom and "save the big guns for later in the season." Semper then chose to use the Lizard for the first villain.
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  • The past due notice that Peter Parker finds in Aunt May's house is signed by Lawrence Kim. Lawrence Kim was a background designer for Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • While Spider-Man is crawling in the sewer he mentions the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and the Hulk.
  • Spider-Man mentioning the Defenders also brings up an interesting continuity error within the series. In the comics the founding members of the Defenders are Doctor Strange, Hulk, and the Sub-Mariner. However, Spider-Man first meets Doctor Strange in his self titled episode [1] of season two where Spider-Man doesn't even known who Doctor Strange is. This can be explained away by saying that Doctor Strange is a hermit and kept out of the public eye like he did in the comics.
  • Fox Kids aired this episode about four months before the other season one episodes as a special sneak preview.
  • Syndicated versions of this episode omit the shot where Lizard accidentally slams his tail into his wife when turning.
  • This episode is loosely based on Amazing Spider-Man #6 (1963).
  • Two years before this episode aired the pilot episode of X-Men: The Animated Series used a similar title for the episode, Night of the Sentinels. It is unknown if the two episodes having similar names was intentional or a coincidence.
  • All of the storyboards for this episode were released to the public and later edited together and dubbed over by the music and voice recordings from the series. Check it out now.
  • This episode marks the first time that Curt Connors true comic book name is used outside of the comics. In the 1967 Spider-Man series his name was Curt Connors and in the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon the Lizard's human form of Curt Connors is never seen or mentioned.
  • When Spider-Man sarcastically asks the subway worker if the red eyes he saw belonged to pink elephants this could be a reference to the pink elephants from the Disney movie Dumbo.
  • The term "seeing pink elephants" is also a euphemism for drunken hallucination. Spider-Man probably thought that the reason the man was driving so recklessly was because he was drunk.
  • Another Disney reference is made when Curt Connors calls the ESU lab mouse he experiments on Mickey. This is an obvious reference to Walt Disney's most famous character Mickey Mouse.
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  • In this episode only Peter Parker's spider sense gives him green eyes.
  • Stan Lee was worried that Mary Jane was not in the pilot episode because he felt that Mary Jane had to be the only woman in Peter Parker's life in the series. However, John Semper Jr. felt that if Peter was not torn between two or more women then it wasn't the Peter Parker everyone had grown up with. As soon as Stan Lee saw how things were playing out in the series all his fears were put to rest, and according to John Semper, Stan Lee was behind him 100%.
  • This episode features the only time Peter Parker wears a baseball cap. It says ESU.
  • The door to Curt Connors' office has his name on it but his last name in incorrectly spelled Connors.
  • Joseph Campanella and Ed Asner previously appeared together in an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Episode review

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Review by Stu from Marvel Animation Age

Plot episodes are often the most difficult episodes to produce, as there is a helluva lot of work to do. The characters and the world in which the characters live in must be introduced, and it has to entertain it's audience. No mean feat in a mere 22 minutes. In most fans eyes, it makes or breaks a series, as very few cartoons get better as they go along. So, having said that, you are unlikely to find a better pilot than this.

It introduces us to our hero, his supporting characters like Dr. Connors and Debra Whitman ("the little sister I never had, or wanted"), and parts of his life, such as the Bugle, and his relationship with all the cast at work. His dislike of Eddie Brock, his friendship with Robbie, and his irate boss J. Jonah Jameson. Thankfully, and the animation was spectacular, easily the best this series, or any of the other Marvel shows did. It made their first appearance one of the best looking which is always good to see.

The storyboarding team did themselves proud in this episode. I also thought the music was up to a much better standard. If the production values had kept up to this quality, this show would possibly be remembered in a Batman: The Animated Series light. It appears the production was much higher on the pilot when compared to all the other episodes. It had a darker feel to it, and it hides the restraints better, as even though Spider-Man wasn't allowed to punch, you never really got the feeling that anyone was lacking.

The pilot wasn't anything totally original, as most pilots aren't. It's an adaptation of the origin of the villain, the Lizard. It has the perfect Peter Parker complications, as Peter unknowingly helped turn his teacher into the creature. The villain had motive and a lot of character despite there being a lot to introduce in such little time, mainly because of his wife being dragged into it.

Many consider this episode the highlight of the entire series. Put in fewer words, it's the best introduction to the Amazing Spider-Man you could animate. 

Quotes

"New York City, if only everything down there was as peaceful as it looks from up here."

-Spider-Man

"What's this? Another satisfied graduate of the New York City cab driving academy?"

-Spider-Man after witnessing the run away van

"Red eyes, red eyes their after me."

"Uh-huh. And did they belong to little pink elephants?"

-Subway worker and Spider-Man

"This lizard thing is probably just an urban myth."

(Spider-Man finds a giant lizard footprint)

"Wait a minute. Looks like I was myth-taken."

-Spider-Man

"Oh no, Debra Whitman. The little sister I never had, or wanted."

-Peter Parker

"You were down right brave back there. It was quite a surprise."

"Why Ms. Whitman, is that a compliment. . . from you?"

"Don't push your luck."

-Debra Whitman & Peter Parker

"Wow! Your for real! Just hold that pose smiley."

-Spider-Man talking to the Lizard

"Good reflexes for a future handbag."

-Spider-Man to the Lizard

"When am I going to get the hang of being a superhero and photographer at the same time?"

-Spider-Man after dropping his camera in water

"Why can't I be one of those galaxy hunting superheroes? Why do I end up in the sewers? You don't find the Fantastic Four in a sewer. Or the Avengers. Never have I seen the Avengers in the sewer. . . or the Defenders. Well maybe the Hulk."

-Spider-Man

"You'll come back for me right?"

"Hey, I'm the hero remember?"

-The subway worker & Spider-Man

"I'm the first of a new race, a better race."

-Lizard

"Only gonna get one chance at this or I'm lizard food! Uh-oh, chow time!"

-Spider-Man

"Strange. So strange. A week ago this creature was a scientist, my teacher, my friend. He cared for people and wanted to help them just as I do. But now look at the both of us. Fighting each other. Fighting for our lives."

-Spider-Man

"I tell ya JJ the Lizard is Curt Connors. I would've had you out here earlier but Spider-Man webbed me."

"Dr. Connors is a respected scientist, Brock. And Peter Parker already brought me photos of the Lizard early this morning."

"But I'll show you the Lizard himself."

(Brock rings the doorbell)

"You better be right about this."

"If I'm wrong I'll eat today's issue of the Bugle."

(Curt opens the door and is a normal human.)

"J. Jonah Jameson, what brings you here this morning?"

(Jameson hands Brock the newspaper)

"Do you want it cooked or raw?"

-Eddie Brock, J. Jonah Jameson & Curt Connors

"Aunt May, she'd never understand. Spider-Man's already caught in his web, and for better or worse he and I are stuck together. . . forever."

-Spider-Man

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