The previously announced Ultimate Spider-Man animated series just received a firm release date, as well as a new position as the centerpiece of a brand-new programming block dedicated to Marvel Comics characters. The Sunday, April 1 debuting show will be part of of the Marvel Universe block on Disney XD, according to Gary Marsh, Disney Channels Worldwide's president and chief creative officer.

The creators behind the show, which uses the title of the now 12-year-old book comic from Marvel's new-reader friendly, millennial Ultimate imprint, include plenty of names familiar to comics readers.

It was developed in part by the Man of Action studio, which consists of comics creators Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle (and which was previously responsible for animated series Ben 10 and Generator Rex). Animation writer and producer turned comic book writer Paul Dini will also be involved, as will Marvel's editor-in-chief turned chief creative officer Joe Quesada and Brian Michael Bendis, the writer who been scripting Marvel's various Ultimate Spider-Man comics since the series first launched (and who previously worked on the short-lived 2003 computer-animated Spider-Man series).

According to Marvel and Disney, the show will focus on teenager Peter Parker's juggling the typical problems of high school and the atypical problems of being a neophyte superhero, and will feature Spidey becoming "the newest member of Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. organization," on a team with four other teenage superheroes (The trailer shown at last year's San Diego Comic-Con, which you can see here at The Beat, included a few glimpses of what looks like Iron Fist, the young female version of White Tiger and a yellow shirt-rocking Luke Cage, Power Man; villains Electro, Venom and Doctor Doom also put in appearances).

While the title may be borrowed from the comics, some of the voice talent was cast from Marvel movies. J.K. Simmons will be reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson from the trilogy of Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man movies, Clark Gregg will be voicing Agent Coulson, the character he's played in Thor and the Iron Man movies and, yes, Stan Lee will also voice a character, named Stan the Janitor.

Drake Bell, who ironically enough played the Peter Parker/Spider-Man-inspired role in 2008 genre parody Superhero Movie, will star as the real Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and Chi McBride will play the Ultimate Universe/Marvel movie version of Nick Fury.

Disney XD's Marvel Universe block will also include The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and, according to Disney, "exclusive Marvel content, including new animated short-form series, live-action interstitials." It will also "be home to Marvel's biggest superstars, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and more."

I'm not sure what "live-action interstitials" are (i had to look that word up), but I sure hope it means that Samuel L. Jackson in an eye-patch or J.K. Simmons in his Jameson wig and mustache introduce all the shows like Sgt. Slaughter used to do with G.I. Joe in my youth...

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