During the era of Cadence Industries Corporation, Marvel Comics began to produce animated shows in 1977, joining forces with DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. In 1981, David H. DePatie sold DFE to Marvel Comics and DFE became "Marvel Productions, Ltd." as Marvel's animation division. In 1983, Marvel Productions joined forces with Sunbow Entertainment, who ended their venture in 1987. In 1986, Cadence Industries was liquidated and sold Marvel Entertainment Group to New World Pictures, both of which later became part of New World Entertainment. In 1993, Marvel Productions was renamed to New World Animation/Family Filmworks. However, in 1994, New World and Marvel formed Marvel Films and Marvel Films Animation. In 1996, New World was sold to News Corporation; after the sale was completed in 1997, New World was folded into Fox. However, its Family Filmworks division (which included New World Animation and Marvel Films Animation) was folded into Fox Children's Productions, which merged with Saban Entertainment to form Fox Family Worldwide, effectively ending what was previously Marvel Productions. In October 2001, the Walt Disney Company purchased Fox Family Worldwide, along with Saban, renaming them as "ABC Family Worldwide Inc." and "BVS Entertainment" respectively. Today, Disney owns the libraries of Marvel Productions, with a few exceptions. Ironically, in August 2009, Disney announced its plans to acquire Marvel Entertainment, an acquisition which would be completed on December 31, reuniting Marvel with the Marvel Productions library.
1st Logo (September 9, 1978-September 19, 1981)
Nicknames: "The Spider-Man Emblem", "The Spider-Man Logo"
Logo: On a blue or light blue background, there is text that reads:
P r e s e n t a t i o n
At the top left is a white circle containing a blue circle in the center. Inside of it features Spider-Man's head inside the blue circle. The circle is surrounded by a text that says "MARVEL COMICS ANIMATION" in a different position (a la Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television or Sunbow Productions). The closing variant is on a navy blue background having only Spider-Man's head in a white circle and the text above in center position.
Music/Sounds: The opening variant is usually silent, but on the closing variant, the closing theme of the show was used.
Availability: Rare for the opening variant, extremely rare for the closing variant. Seen on Marvel shows during the era. The opening variant was also seen on television broadcasts of the 1967-1970 Spider-Man cartoon, several season one episodes of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and may also appear on The Fantastic Four and The Marvel Super Heroes episodes of the same era. On Netflix, the opening logo is preserved, but the closing logo is plastered by the 2009 Marvel Animation logo.
Editor's Note: None.
2nd Logo (February 14, 1981-Late 1987)
Logo: On a blue background, several large sets of thin lines rotate in different directions. Over the lines, a "star" traces out a stylized "MP", with another "M" cut out of the "M" part of the logo. When the logo is fully traced and the lines are in position (with horizontal lines for the "M" part and vertical lines for the "P"), the logo flashes as all lines fade out, and the "M" cut out turns white while the rest turns yellow. After the logo shrinks to the top-left corner, MARVEL PRODUCTIONS LTD." (in Bauhaus 93) is "wiped in" by a star. Another star forms the byline "A CADENCE COMPANY" in the same fashion below the logo.
- There is also a completely different "short" version in which some white grids rapidly converge together to form the logo at the top of the screen with the usual text forming below (the byline is closer to the company name this time). The "O" shines with a "ping".
- The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat has a rare still variant of the logo with a DePatie-Freleng byline. the logo's BG is much lighter than the normal logo.
- Sunbow-Marvel Combo Variant: See Sunbow Entertainment for description. A bylineless version of the logo on this variant also exists.
- On the short-lived cartoon series Meatballs and Spaghetti, the Intermedia logo is seen above the Marvel Productions logo. The Marvel logo has a shining light effect directly behind it.
- Another short-lived cartoon series, Pandamonium, has the InterMedia logo below the Marvel Productions logo. The "MP" shines the same way as in the Meatballs and Spaghetti variant.
- In The Pink Panther in: Pink at First Sight, the logo lacks the "MP" altogether, and simply says "A MARVEL PRODUCTION" in the same font as the logo. On the bottom is a DePatie-Freleng and United Artists byline. The normal logo's music is intact.
- On the test pilot of the cartoon Defenders of the Earth, the still logo and byline are seen in white with "PRODUCED BY" above it.
- On the Little People VHS tape 3 Favorite Tales, the logo has a darker blue BG, is still and has the byline "A NEW WORLD COMPANY". This variant is a prototype of the next logo.
- Still variants exist with the logo superimposed into the background. A mid-'80s airing of an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends had this with the Cadence byline in a white rectangle.
FX/SFX: The "star" effects and drawing in of the logo, and the rotating lines, which may remind one of Avco Embassy's logo.
Music/Sounds: A very dramatic fanfare composed by Rob Walsh. The end theme of the show may finish over it, especially the short and still variants.
Availability: Extremely rare. Most Marvel shows of this time (The Incredible Hulk, Dungeons and Dragons, the 1981 solo Spider-Man series, Defenders of the Earth) have been updated with either a newer Marvel logo and/or a Saban logo. However, you may still see this logo on some videos of Marvel shows of this time. It also turned up when Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was rerun on Disney XD (the logo is still present on the Disney+ prints). The still variant with the DFE byline is rare, and it was seen only on The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, the last Dr. Seuss/DFE animated special. The short version also appeared on the failed Solarman pilot, made in 1986 but released on video in 1989, then aired only once on Fox Kids in 1992. The still version with the New World byline only appeared on 3 Favorite Tales. The version without the "MP" was only seen on the Pink Panther special Pink at First Sight. The first episode of the 1981 solo Spider-Man series on Disney+ retains this logo and the ARP Films logo (as it appears to have been transferred from an aged film print); the rest of that series has the 3rd logo (and is taken from videotape masters).
Editor's Note: While the logo does reek of cheesiness for its visuals and overly dramatic fanfare, the animation is still quite nice for an early '80s logo.
3rd Logo (September 13, 1986-December 12, 1993)
Nicknames: "MP II", "CGI Spidey", "The Spider-Man Logo II", "Silver Spider-Man", "Scary Spidey"
Logo: In space, we pan out through a series of orange glowing CGI bars. As the bars rotate up towards us, they are revealed to be part of the "MP" logo, done in glorious 3D (and with the "M" cut-out, not filled in). In the background, Spider-Man (also in CGI) flies up from below, and the logo is "absorbed" into his body, turning him silver. The space background turns into a "time warp mode" into a silver-black gradient background, as the words "MARVEL PRODUCTIONS LTD." rise up from the bottom-right with a trail behind them. The "MP" logo returns to the screen, as the silver Spider-Man somersaults to the top of it and takes a prowler-like stance above it as the logo takes its place on the center of the screen (Spidey's eyes return shortly after). The text takes its place below the logo. The byline, "A NEW WORLD COMPANY" fades in when the everything is finished.
- The reason for the "MP" logo being absorbed and then mysteriously reappearing is to provide a place to cut the logo so that it is not as long. In most cases, however, the logo is shortened so that only the tail-end of the animation is seen.
- This logo was designed and animated by Gary Demos and John Whitney at Digital Productions (known for The Last Starfighter, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and Labyrinth). The concept of the chrome Spidey flying through space was bizarre, but that was the assignment.
- The logo was rendered on Cray X-MP/48 supercomputer and a DEC VAX-11/780 mainframe. The modeling was done on an Evans and Sutherland PS-300 terminal. The animation was done on an IMI 500 display monitor. The texturing and lighting was done on a Ramtek 9460 framebuffer. The logo was recorded to 35mm film on a III PFR-80 (The company Gary and John worked at before they founded DP).
- On some shows, the logo is bylineless.
- A still variant exists.
- On late '80s Henson co-produced shows, a copyright stamp for Jim Henson Productions fades in below.
- Sunbow-Marvel Combo Variant: See Sunbow Entertainment for description.
- On Robocop: The Animated Series, the logo fades into the New World International logo.
FX/SFX: The zooming and panning of the MP, as well as Spider-Man's actions.
Music/Sounds: It begins with a THX-like "chord" sound with some futuristic "whooshes", then a synth note that plays deeper toward the end. At other times, the ending theme plays over it.
- On the 1989 pilot Pryde of the X-Men, as well as later episodes of Robocop: The Animated Series, the music from the Metrolight Studios logo continues into this logo, as well as that of New World International.
- The 1990 educational video Spider-Man: Don't Hide Abuse features an extended version of the theme. Here, it begins with a "clang", followed by a "whoosh" as the "MP" is revealed. When the logo is "absorbed", a brief synthesized "whoosh" is heard. When the text appears, an ascending chime sounder is heard, before the theme culminates into the normal music (albeit with a shortened ending).
Availability: Uncommon, bordering on rare. The short version was seen on many shows, including the late 1980's Marvel Action Universe block (Dino Riders, RoboCop, and the Pryde of the X-Men pilot), the first season of Biker Mice from Mars (New World Animation took over from the second season onwards), the animated Blondie & Dagwood special (and its sequel, Second Wedding Workout), Rude Dog & The Dweebs, Spacecats, and the animated adaptation of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It was most notably seen on Henson co-produced shows like Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock (the animated version). The long version is very rare, and was used to plaster the original logos on later prints of pre-1986 Marvel shows such as Spider-Woman, the 1978 cartoon The New Fantastic Four, the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon and even the 1966 series The Marvel Super Heroes; it also appeared on early '90s video releases of Marvel material. The extended music variant was so far only found on the recently-found Spider-Man: Don't Hide Abuse, the first in a series of 4 educational Spider-Man VHS tapes that were distributed to schools, and since the remaining 3 remain lost, it is unknown if those videos have this variant as well.
Editor's Note: This logo had some of the most impressive computer animation for an '80s television logo, and it remains a popular one by logo enthusiasts.