Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spider-Man re-re-booting

Yesterday, Marvel announced the name of the next actor to play Spider-Man. Looks like it's gonna be Tom Holland, and while I don't know much about him, the rumors were true that they were going for a younger actor to play the character than they did the last two times. From my understanding, they're looking to keep in high school for a bit longer than the last two versions, so getting a younger guy is good for that. (I looked him up - he was born in 1996, so he's under 20.

Considering that Spider-Man is probably my favorite comic book character, I have some thoughts about this. I'll start off with the bad, since I have much more good to say about it.

Another reboot? - I know that most die-hard fans know exactly why things are going this way. And for that reason, many of us are probably ready to look past it and get over it. However, for the average movie goer or for the fans who don't pay as much attention, the refrain of "Another reboot?" is going to be the reaction whenever this new Spider-Man is talked about. That's going to be a mark against it, although it doesn't personally bother me.

For those who don't know, this is the reason why, put as simply as possible:

1. Before Marvel had their own movie studio, Sony had the rights to do Spider-Man movies. (It's even more complicated than this, but that's a good starting point.)  
2. After Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire passed on making a fourth Spider-Man movie, Sony needed to either make a new movie with a new creative team or the rights would revert back to Marvel, which by this time had a movie studio. 
3. Sony went with director Mark Webb and Andrew Garfield. For me, their biggest mistake was in rebooting it. They must have figured that rebooting Batman and James Bond worked so well, so why not reboot Spider-Man even though the character didn't have nearly as long of a film history? As far as I'm concerned, they could have just put a new actor in the webs and continued to tell stories and the audience would have been just fine with it. They've been fine with that in the past. 
4. Even though rebooting was probably a mistake, part of what vindicated The Amazing Spider-Man was that the first film was actually pretty good. In some ways, it improved on the previous origin story. Or maybe it just seemed good because the third Spider-Man film stunk on wheels. Either way, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't live up to the promise of the previous installment, and Sony realized that they were in trouble. 
5. Marvel, with its successes (all of the various Avengers movies and Guardians of the Galaxy) has some serious pull, and while Sony didn't want to give up the cash cow that is Spider-Man, they agreed to a special deal allowing the character to be part of the greater Marvel cinematic universe. Perhaps they could have just kept going with Andrew Garfield, who did a fine job, but that franchise had created a mess, and getting a fresh start seems to be the way to go.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe might be getting a bit crowded. - One of the problems with the last Avengers movie is that there was a lot of characters in there. Hopefully adding another major character won't add to that problem.

Okay, that's really all the bad I have to say about it. Here's what's good:

Reboot? Yes. Origin? No. - Everything I've read indicates that they are NOT going to be doing another origin story. That's good. We don't need to see it again this soon. They can simply flash back to it like they did The Hulk's origin when they rebooted that franchise. (That was a smart decision to reboot, by the way.)

Gradual introduction - Looks like he's going to be making his first appearance not in his own film but in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. I hear that it's not going to be a big role, and fans of the original comic book series will probably be disappointed if they're expecting the characters role to be the same in the movie. Still, it's good to see him be a part of it all, and this way the audience can get to know and like him before giving him his own film.

They got a young guy - It's not like Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever (or worse: Never Say Never Again) but Maguire and Garfield started off a bit older than they should have been to play this part. Part of the character's original appeal is his youth.

Marvel has more say - Sony has been able to produce a few good films with the character, but Marvel's track record is better. I'm expecting them to look to the comic books for inspiration when it comes to new storylines, and hopefully his solo films will borrow from some popular stories (like Kraven's Last Hunt) instead of just doing another formulaic villain du jour.

Looks like some bad ideas are being abandoned. - Sony was trying to turn the Web Head into a franchise after seeing Marvel Studios's success. The problem is that there really isn't enough there to do that. Still, they were going to try with films based on The Black Cat, Venom, and The Sinister Six. I can maybe see something good being done with the first idea, but a Sinister Six movie? Really? Yeah, 'cause that's what people want to see - a movie with all of a hero's villains but without the hero. (And yes, I know that Suicide Squad is based on a similar idea. However, that one has some history with the comics and the concept doesn't depend on anybody knowing anything more than it's a bunch of bad guys who have to do something good.)

So, this Spider-Man fan feels like things are looking up for his favorite Wall Crawler. Hopefully Marvel will continue its track record, and maybe we'll see them do something fresh and interesting while still being true to his comic book origins.

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