Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios (Parent Company: Disney) have made an unprecedented deal to bring Spider-man into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe, keep up slapnuts!) with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and my personal favorite Peggy Carter (like I’m the only one looking forward to Thanos versus Peggy in Avengers 4). Before you start beating off in anticipation of Peter Parker cracking wise while staring at Black Widow’s cleavage, realize what this means. Spider-Man failed… again.
Okay, I’m going to say it, I’m going to admit what I was afraid to admit back in 2002 when I first walked out of that movie theater: Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man was mediocre at best. If that movie was one of Peter’s many girlfriends it would be Betty Brant, serviceable yet bland. Spider-Man 2 was great… in a mid-2000s pre-Dark Knight world when any comic book movie that had moments of drama meant it was great. Sony had a billion dollar franchise, a great lead actor who the fans loved, and they f*cking missed the mark like Daredevil trying to stick his well lubed Billy Club in Elektra. Spider-Man 3 sucked, and if you catch a rerun on FX, try sitting through it. Watching that shit’s more painful than Alicia Master trying to give Ben Grimm a blow job. Amazing Spider-Man, the reboot that looked to capture the same magic as the Marvel Films. Instead of Pepper Potts and Tony Stark, we had Peter and Gwen going back and forth with witty dialogue. That part worked… what didn’t work were the corny jokes, cartoony VFX, a muddled back-story about 007 parents that no one gave a damn about, and corny villains with such brilliant plans as… wait for it: Turning everyone into Lizards!!!! Turning the lights out in the city!!! These storylines were better suited for episodes of that Disney XD Spider crap than a big budget film. !
I remember saying (spoiler alert) at the end of the movie when a certain character cracked a certain skull against a certain ground—WHY THE FUCK DO I CARE ABOUT THIS SPIDER-MAN NOW THAT GWEN STACY IS DEAD!? I wasn’t the only one who thought this as a secret letter from a Marvel Studios exec to Sony was leaked stating the same thing: You are destroying the only hook fans have to continue to see this current interpretation: Emma Stone. So, once again, Spider-Man failed and while I should be excited that the Marvel Brain Trust will now guiding this character, like having unprotected sex with Rogue, I can't help but get a bad feeling about something I should be enjoying.
Superman is the greatest super-hero of all time, he’s the prototype. But in terms of story he’s horrible. Superman needs to be thrown in with a bunch of rich characters for him to not suck. That’s DC’s problem with Superman. Spider-Man is the opposite. He’s witty, acrobatic, idealistic, cocky yet self-deprecating. His world is filled with an Uncle that keeps F’ing dying, a semi-retarded Aunt who either knows her nephew is secretly Spider-Man or a meth addict, and a revolving door of hot women who he can’t tell his secret to. Those are the basics of Spider-Man. However, those things only make up about 25 issues of the character. Peter gets bitten, loses his uncle, has to hide his real life from his Aunt, wants the girl but can’t have the girl. WE GET IT! Now what? The problem with Spider-Man that Marvel has to solve is who is Spider-man beyond the origin story? All three of Raimi’s movies covered the same bullshit, “Become Spider-man, live with being Spider-man.” The Amazing-Spider-Man films covered the same bullshit, “Become Spider-man, live with being Spider-man.” Is there an echo in here?
I grew up a fan of Spider-Man, but by the time I got immersed into those comics he was out of high school and wasn’t struggling with money or –with great power comes blah blah blah. Peter Parker was the most brilliant mind outside of Reed Richards, yet he was teaching High School science. His wife Mary Jane had become a famous actress, making Peter a kept Husband, but feeling like less of a man because his wife paid all the bills. He was no longer J. Jonah Jamison’s whipping boy, he was a freelance photographer who was respected by some but still just “that guy who takes Spider-man pictures”. His relationship with Aunt May had evolved to the point where they were often at odds over her love life. The memory of Gwen Stacy was more constant that the death of Uncle Ben. His villains had gone from Hydro Man goofy to Cletus frickn’ Kassidy! What really made Spider-Man circa 1990s-Early 2000s, work was that he was an outsider in the Marvel Universe. Unlike Batman who chooses not to hang around with his Justice League friends. Spider-man wanted to be in the club, but was never accepted by the Avengers. Spidey was a weirdo who few people outside of Captain America trusted. In terms of the big dogs, he was always the butt of the joke when around guys like Wolverine and Punisher. Spider-man was such an outcast that the only characters that looked up to him were the New Warriors. The New Fucking Warriors!
In the comics Spider-Man became a complex character dealing with much more than, “I got bit by a spider and I don’t want my girlfriends to die like my Uncle.” I was hopeful the day Sony announced the reboot with Marvel because maybe we would finally get to see an older Spider-man who is kind of the fifth wheel to the Avengers. That hero who should be loved like Iron Man but is given Moon Knight respect. But Sony quickly pointed out that Spider-Man would go back to high school and have to deal with the drama of hiding a secret identity. I’ve seen Kick-Ass. I’ve watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don’t need another by the books high-school dual identity story. Yes, the MCU is void of younger heroes, and 17 year old Peter Parker hanging with 30-40 year old Avengers can be interesting… but Spider-man has to exist on his own in his own movie, not just as a Team-Up for Tony Stark jokes about puberty and red-heads.
I hope Marvel can make Spider-Man matter, but I think true Spidey fans deserve a look into the life of the Peter Parker that’s beyond the teenage angst of being a rookie hero. I’m optimistic, skeptical, but most importantly curious—which is the entire point because no matter what I bitch and moan about, Sony as assured that I will once again pay to see a Spider-Man movie. Genius!
Until they stop killing Uncle Ben, make mine Marvel.