Imagine if you will my situation the other morning; I awoke feeling refreshed after a comfortable night’s sleep without any intense need to get up. I decided to check Facebook in the meantime, I saw one of my friends had posted a story about Spider-Man returning to Marvel studios.
“Ah another fool drawn into empty promises” I thought cynically to myself, having heard this story often in the past. Ignoring this, I instead checked my wall where I saw my cousin post a similar story.
This is when I started to get suspicious, a newfound hope growing inside of me,
“It can’t be…” I thought, growing ever more anxious as I checked my newsfeed. But it was.
I was bombarded with stories that informed me, yes, it happened, a deal had been struck, Spidey could finally start appearing in good movies again!
I didn’t know what to do, I leapt out of bed, excitement in the air, everything felt right again. Who cared that it was results day, who cared that I was late for the bus, who cared that the earth will one day suffer in the massive heat death of the universe (which is always on its way).
Running out into the street I was met with the glorious cheers of the world around me;
“Good morning mail man!” I called “Good morning Mrs. Bickenshire! Good morning, Tom, Paul and Joyce”. This intense joy continued as millions more Spider-Man fans poured out into the streets, usually impossible given the small population of my town, but nothing is impossible on this, the greatest day in the history of mankind!
All of us congregated in the streets, holding hands and singing songs, as our joy spread across the world, putting an end to all fighting and hostilities. This paled in comparison to the grand moment, as Kevin Feige himself descended from the heavens, bringing us the full details of this miraculous deal. I couldn’t hear him however, I’m sorry to report. I was so swept up in the moment, his words bringing so many tears to my eyes that I simply broke down and cried, much like many others in that intense crowd. It was a glorious moment, one I will surely tell my grandchildren about.
So umm… yeah, I’m pretty excited by this Spider-Man news.
Before we get too excited (though I’m afraid it’s already too late for that.. sorry) let’s break down what this deal actually implies. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a case of Sony selling the rights back to Marvel, instead, both companies are sharing the characters and their universes, allowing Spider-Man to appear in the Avengers movies (oh man that feels great to type) while similarly, MCU characters can appear in future Spider-Man movies, with Sony continuing to finance, own and have final creative decision over the future solo Spider-Man movies, with the first of these set to hit July 28th 2017, with a new Spider-Man appearing first in a MCU film. This new film will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, with current producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach being moved to executive producer status with reportedly “no creative say”. Also out are current Spider-Man Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb as the studio wants to go in a new direction with a “much younger” Spider-Man. Despite this, Sony seem intent on moving ahead with their planned Sinister Six, Venom and unspecified female lead spin-off movies.
With the facts laid out, now we can talk about how I feel about these new developments. If the intro didn’t already spell it out, I’m pretty damn excited. I’ve been a huge fan of Spider-Man for years (clichéd I know, but also true!). I remember very vividly seeing Sam Rami’s Spider-Man in 2002, my first ever exposure to the character and superhero movies in general (I wonder if some of our older readers feel weird about this fact) and have a very strong memory of getting some Spider-Man toys for my birthday that year. Eventually, my first comic would even be Astonishing Spider-Man #140, purchased for me by my dad, so it should be clear that, like many of you, Spider-Man is a character close to my heart and is crucial to my introduction to comics.
This is why it’s thrilling for me to think about the possibility to see Spider-Man swinging alongside the Avengers in the upcoming MCU movies, so much so that I feel I’ll slip into some sort of coma due to overexcitement. Aside from my overwhelming excitement, there are a few logistical issues and things worth discussing that I feel are worth tackling.
First off, there is the important question of when this new Spider-Man will actually show up and whether or not we’ll have to sit through another origin story. Let’s start with the origin story question, as that’s pretty easy: NO!
Not only are Marvel Studios planning to move away from origin stories, but given how we only just got another origin story in 2012 (which was even then deemed unnecessary) yet another origin just five years later is sure to make the audience sick of the character and could possibly even destroy interest due to fatigue. I could easily see a similar situation to 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, with the origin being told using flashbacks in the opening. I found this a very effective way to cut straight to the action while simultaneously informing the audience that this is a new take on the character. Something even more similar has already been done anyway, take a look at the Spectacular Spider-Man opening, I know a live action version of this before a Spider-Man movie would get me in the mood for some web-swinging action:
Now many people may be concerned about the general public being able to differentiate between Garfield’s Spider-Man and this new version especially now that it’ll exist within the MCU. This ties in nicely with the question of where to fit Spidey into the movies. As stated, the character is set to appear first in an MCU movie before getting another shot at solo movies. This I feel will help the casual audience understand that there is a new Spider-Man and that he’ll feature in the Avengers series, getting them ready for the new solo movies. This sounds like a good plan to me and now merely leaves the question of which movie he should appear in first?
Given the timeline of when all this happens, we can narrow down these to three movies:
Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, or Doctor Strange.
Out of those three, the most likely seems to be Civil War; not only did Spider-Man play a prominent role in the comic, but it has also been heavily rumoured a whole bunch of phase 3 characters will make there, including a confirmed appearance of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to fit him in there somewhere in there. What makes this seems less obvious to me though is the fact that Marvel suggest this adaptation won’t follow the plot of the original comic that closely, plus a straight adaptation would definitely not work as an introductory story for Spider-Man given how much context is needed for the pivotal unmasking scene. That’s not to say he couldn’t fit in the movie however, part of the fallout of the movie could be a generation of younger heroes (like Peter) taking up masks and protecting their identities; sounds like a good set-up for a Spider-Man movie to me.
I feel the other two options could also work well as they could give a boost to potentially “risky” franchises. I’m hesitant to use the word “risky” given how Marvel have proven they can turn even Guardians of the Galaxy an overnight success, though I still don’t think it would hurt to have a little boost. I’d say of the two I’d rather see this happen in Ant-Man rather than Doctor Strange. I’m sure that seems pretty soon, though given how much of the movie has changed and had last minute additions, stapling Peter Parker in there somewhere isn’t out of the question, even if it were just Peter turning in a story at the Daily Bugle in the post-credit sequence or standing among a group of reporters, that’d surely light the world on fire while remaining cost effective. If this is too much, then I’m sure they could even include an easter egg of a Daily Bugle paper with photos credited to Peter (much like how J Jonah Jameson in the Amazing Spider-Man series).
When it comes to casting Peter himself the studios already seem to have the idea of a younger Spider-Man in mind, reportedly much younger than even 31 year old Andrew Garfield. Personally, I’m a little upset that Garfield won’t be continuing with this franchise. While the writing may have portrayed what many called a “twilight-esque” Peter Parker I feel Garfield had great potential, full of the trademark sarcasm and wit that really makes Spider-Man work. I always thought how great it would be to see banter between Downey Jr’s Stark and Garfield’s Spidey; alas, a man can dream.
Moving onto who could replace him then, it seems the studios already have a few ideas in mind. The two names being tossed around right now as potential candidates are Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) and Logan Lerman (from the Percy Jackson films). These two are both are only 23 years old, fitting in with the want for a younger, high-school aged Spider-Man. While I am not too familiar with the actors or their work, I am glad to see the attempts to make a teenage Spider-Man. I feel a younger Peter Parker works very well, especially for a similarly young audience as it helps them relate to the character, an important trait, and feel this is one of the things I actually liked about the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. I’ve always quite liked the soap-opera teenage drama of Spider-Man (especially in the aforementioned Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon) and feel that by starting with a young actor we can watch the character grow up on-screen before eventually having to be replaced (by Miles Morales perhaps?). So regardless of my upset at the lack of Garfield, I’m feeling rather positive about the new direction we seem to be heading in and can finally start being excited for Spider-Man again! However, I have a few concerns going forward that I feel we should also discuss.
As mentioned, Marvel Studios have not outright bought the Spider-Man rights back, Sony are maintaining creative control of the franchise with “final creative say” despite a change in producers . This is something I wouldn’t worry too much about given the struggles Sony have had with the franchise, more than likely they’ve said this to save face while leaving all the big decisions to Marvel. They have an amazing track record so most likely Sony want to just let them fix the franchise and then reap the rewards. What does make me wary however is Sony’s insistence that they’re going ahead with the planned Sinister Six, Venom and female-led spin-off movies. I just don’t see how this is in anyway a good or even necessary idea; look, I know Sony don’t want to admit that trying to turn Spider-Man into an interconnected franchise like Avengers was a terrible idea, but it’s what killed Amazing Spider-Man 2 and could potentially be problematic for this new reboot.
For starters, how does this even fit now? Surely these movies would have to be massively re-written and have complete re-introductions as the Garfield Spider-Man movies are no longer cannon. This then leads to having even MORE rushed introductions due to having to start with Green Goblin and the rest from scratch, again, and just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Secondly, the only reason Sony wanted to do these movies was so they could have access to a wider range of character to play with so they could compete superhero wise with Marvel and Fox, but now given they can use any of the MCU characters why do they even need these spin-offs? Right now their top priority should be to get a working version of Spider-Man together that can win back audiences and work well within the MCU. I admit I liked a lot of what Amazing Spider-Man did so a move back towards that structure, a focus on the character and his world, rather than launching as many spin-offs as possible, is the way to go here.
Lastly, I have a little off-topic thought about all this that may be an unexpected consequence; Fantastic Four is now without a doubt doomed. Fans were already dead set against this movie, and now they’ve seen the result of the Amazing Spider-Man series underperforming there’s no way they’ll give the Fantastic Four reboot a fair shot, a shame since after the first trailer I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. Really, while I’d like to see all these Marvel properties under the same umbrella, there’s only so much the one studio can do. At max they’re planning to put out three movies a year, so if they potentially had to juggle Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-men movies as well as their own slate you can bet we’d be seeing a lot less movies like Guardians of the Galaxy on the horizon. We’ve already seen Marvel push back the dates on four of their phase 3 films (Thor: Ragnerok, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans) to accommodate Spider-Man, so it’s not out of the question that they’d start side-lining some of their more obscure projects.
Despite some of the minor doubts and quibbles, this is still one of the most exciting pieces of news I’ve heard in years. Spidey looks to have a very bright future ahead of him after going through a very bad phase for the past three movies. I have no doubt that Marvel Studios will be able to really knock our socks off when Spider-Man joins the MCU and can interact with the Avengers. All I know for certain is that when I see all these heroes come together in Infinity War I will break down and weep… again.
Now, all we need to assure this success is to bring back J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson with only the following scene as explanation why:
Jonah: Parker!! I need pictures of… Huh..
Jonah: Weird, I just had déjà vu.
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