Peter Parker’s status as one of the most iconic superheroes of the western canon has meant that, as he web-slinged his way out of the comics medium and into alternate formats, many writers, actors, and voice artists have leant their interpretation as to who Spider-Man is. But now, one of the first to do so outside comics has sadly passed away.
Over the weekend it emerged that Paul Soles, the Canadian voice actor who brought Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life in the iconic 1967 animated series, had passed away at the age of 90. An early hallmark of Canadian Radio and TV at CBC-TV and eventually the master of a career that played out across TV, Film, theatre, and radio, Soles is perhaps best remembered as a voice actor.
Beyond his turn as Spider-Man — who he played for three seasons, and reprised once more for the Spider-Woman animated series — Soles played Hermey the Elf in the classic Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but his Marvel Legacy didn’t end with the webslinger.
Soles voiced Rick Jones and the Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner in The Marvel Super Heroes, the actual first TV series to be based on the publisher’s cast of characters, a legacy he would briefly reprise in a cameo role in Louis Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk as pizzeria owner Stanley Lieber, named after Marvel icon Stan Lee.
We may remember Soles’ Spider-Man in alternate ways these days — a memetic legacy that perhaps, in some ways, reconstitutes his Spidey into something far beyond what Soles could’ve imagined of the role as performed all those years ago. But without it, a vital part of Spider-Man’s legacy beyond the page would never have got the start it did.