Talking Spider-Man With
Everybody’s favorite web-slinger returns in new MTV series debuting July 11
“They showed me what the character looked like,” says singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb of her “Mary Jane Watson” voice role in MTV’s innovative Spider-Man animated series, which debuts July 11. “But I didn’t really know how the show was going to look until we had started recording,” she continues, “It’s really cool-looking, a sort of three-dimensional style.” “Cool looking” would be one way to describe MTV’s Spider-Man; spectacular would be another fitting description. Overlapping ultra-stylish backgrounds (dubbed “CG Neon Noire”) with an animation process that nears 3-D, this new version of the webslinger’s adventures borders on a graphic novel come to life. However, it’s not just the animation that sets the series apart from its cartoon predecessors. From a hotel room in NYC — where she was involved in secretive music-recording sessions — the Grammy-nominated singer elaborated, “I really liked the project because, though it’s an animated series, the characters seemed to have a lot of depth to them — which you don’t always see in animation. I thought the character of Mary Jane was cool, too… she’s very outspoken, she’s vulnerable but not wimpy or anything — she’s just going through some things in her life.
“And she’s very, very curvy…definitely modeled exactly after me,” Loeb added, tongue firmly in cheek. Riding the wave of the Spider-Man feature film’s popularity (and perhaps setting up the next installment), the partnership of MTV, Sony and Marvel Comics didn’t have any trouble finding top-notch voice talent. Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D., Starship Troopers) plays Spider-man/Peter Parker, and Parker’s best friend, Harry Osborn, is voiced by Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills, 90210). However, the icing on the cake is the roster of guest stars, which include Virginia Madsen, Star Trek: TNG‘s Michael Dorn, Rob Zombie, Keith Carradine, and Eve. Naturally, the guests are usually cast as bad guys (or girls), to great effect. In one in stallment, super-sexy Gina Gershon voices Shikata, an sword-wielding asian hitwoman. “I’ve seen [that episode], and her voice worked really well,” Loeb says. “That’s the other thing that I think is great about Spider-man; I know that lately there’s been a lot of casting of celebrities to play certain characters in movies, but I feel that they’ve done a great job casting this show — it’s not just ‘names,’ they got people who have cool-sounding voices.”
The “Sword of Shikata” episode is a prime example of MTV’s Spider-man‘s departure from Saturday morning fare. In it, Peter Parker/Spider-Man utters a mild curse or two, and, more interestingly, there is bloodshed. Spidey’s costume and skin are shredded, a few goons lose their lives, and one gunman loses not only his pistol, but his trigger finger as well. Altogether, the show’s plot (pretty much picking up where the film left off), its visuals, and its lean-and-mean attitude will capture both casual viewers’ and comic-book fans’ attentions in a big way.
The utterly charming singer admits to almost zero exposure to the Spider-man comics. “I went to an all-girls’ school, we didn’t read comics,” she quips, adding that “I didn’t need to do a lot of research for the show; Mary Jane’s character pretty much speaks for itself.” After recording was completed — and after countless questions from the media — Loeb has become more versed in Spider-Man lore, and is particularly interested in the comic’s various artistic approaches over its 40-year history. Voice-over work on MTV’s Spider-Man is just the tip of the iceberg in Loeb’s multi-media mini-empire. She’ll soon start recording her next album, tentatively due out in January; meanwhile, a cooking show that pairs her with boyfriend Dweezil Zappa (Loeb refers to it as a “modern ‘Home EC’ with a lot of cooking and traveling”) will begin production for the Food channel. And, of course, she remains a semi-spokesperson for Sanrio’s “Hello Kitty” line. However, the singer’s hectic schedule wouldn’t prevent her from returning as Mary Jane if the show is picked up for another season — though she is tight-lipped about this season’s storylines.. When asked if the Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson/Harry Osborn triangle will develop as it has onscreen (and on page, with epic results), Loeb just whispered, “You’ll have to watch.”