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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ultimate Spider-Man follows Spider-Man (and his alter-ego, Peter Parker) as a rookie crime fighter who joins forces with a team of other teen heroes to more effectively battle villains. This incarnation of the legendary webbed hero's story offers high-flying action, colorful heroes and villains, and snarky humor that kids will love, plus some positive messages about teamwork, accepting change, and fitting in with a new group of peers. As with all superhero cartoons, clashes between good and evil do turn violent, but the cartoonish style of the exchanges and the lack of injuries lessen the impact on kids.
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What's the story?
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN picks up the story of 16-year-old Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell) one year after the death of his uncle and his transformation into the infamous wall-crawling hero. When he's approached by Nick Fury (Chi McBride), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., about joining his crime-fighting team, Peter agrees for the benefit of some formal training. At S.H.I.E.L.D., he meets Nova (Logan Miller), White Tiger (Caitlyn Taylor Love), Power Man (Ogie Banks), and Iron Fist (Greg Cipes), all slightly more experienced heroes who assume their own alter-egos to join Peter at Midtown High School and keep their fingers on the pulse of the town. Though Peter's not an immediate fit into his new team, he and his new comrades must find a way to work together to thwart the villains who target them, including Norman Osborn (Steven Weber) and Doctor Octopus (Tom Kenny).
Is it any good?
This action-adventure cartoon adds a fresh chapter to the familiar story of the beloved teen hero, using Marvel Comcis legend Nick Fury as a mentor figure for the cocky amateur Spider-Man. Bringing Peter into the fold of the S.H.I.E.L.D. training program isn't an easy process, and the young apprentice has a lot to learn about accepting criticism and being part of a team. And all of this goes down while he's working to keep his identity a secret and trying to survive the pitfalls of high school, which means there's no shortage of action or humor.
Naturally, violence is the biggest concern in Ultimate Spider-Man, but the fact that the players are masked villains and wall-scaling heroes takes the edge off the fighting. There's no blood, minimal weapon use, and few injuries. What will stick with kids are the lessons Peter learns about growing up and taking on responsibility under the guidance of his mentor and with the help of his new friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroes in Ultimate Spider-Man. Do you have any personal heroes? What makes them special to you? How do you try to imitate their behavior? Would it change your opinion of them if you saw them doing something wrong?
Kids: How do Ultimate Spider-Man's characters make good use of their individual skills? Does working together make them stronger than they are when they're alone? What special talents do Peter's non-hero friends and family have? How do they influence him in a positive way?
Peter keeps a big secret from his friends and family. How does it affect him to stay silent about his identity? Do you think he would improve his relationships if he told them the truth? What kinds of secrets are too important to keep from your parents?
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