Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Thoughts on Spider-Man Joining The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Well, it finally happened. Late Monday night it was announced that Spider-Man will now be part of Marvel Studios' shared universe. Marvel and Sony (who have produced the previous five Spider-Man films and retained the film rights to the character for over a decade) reached a deal in which Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film in 2016 and then get his own solo film in 2017. And as part of this deal Sony will still finance and have creative control over the films.

First off, I feel Spider-Man being in the MCU would've been better a situation if  it had been a clean break. With Sony still having a major role in making these films there's a huge chance Marvel's plans could get muddled. Still, this is a game-changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I've long believed it was odd that a shared universe based around Marvel characters didn't include Spider-Man- being Marvel's most iconic character. It's almost equivalent to not having Batman in a shared DC cinematic universe. I understand why Spider-Man couldn't appear in a Marvel movie- rights issues and all- but it still felt like something was missing. So I'm glad that the MCU- while already fleshed out- now feels a little more complete. That, and the prospect of Spider-Man interacting with the other established characters is pretty exciting. Sharing zingers with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, sharing his experiences with Chris Evans' Steve Rogers- it'll be fun to see.   

I had mixed feelings on the Amazing Spider-Man films- directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield. I wanted to love those films but I think the backlash against the original Sam Raimi films starring Tobey Maguire soured me on that franchise even before the first film came out. Ideally we can finally get pass the bile spewing towards Raimi's films now that we're one more step removed from his trilogy. 

I initially liked elements of the first Amazing Spider-Man but in retrospect I don't feel the film really works. It has major  structure and thematic issues as well as too much studio manhandling. These same problems plagued its sequel as well. While I think Marc Webb is a competent director I don't believe he ever had much creative control over these films- contrary to the claims made by some fans that Webb has a distinct vision for this franchise. At the same time it's unfortunate that plot threads left hanging at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will likely never be resolved.  Also, is it possible to get Felicity Jones in the MCU as well? If you remember she played Felicia (Hardy) in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It was only a small role but the film was clearly setting her up to be Black Cat in a later film. She's a lovely actress and I was looking forward to seeing her take on that role.

It's believed that Spider-Man may show up in Captain America: Civil War, since Spider-Man was a major character in that storyline. Though I don't think Peter Parker can reveal his identity to the world in the character's first MCU appearance. Peter revealing he was Spider-Man was impactful because the character had so much history in the comics leading up to the reveal.  However, it's not a bad place to bring Spider-Man. I assume this Peter Parker will have only been Spider-Man for a short period. He's still learning the ropes- or the webs- and he'll be caught between two giant figures- Tony Stark/Iron Man and Steve Rogers/Captain America. He'll have to decide who he wants to side with- or maybe he'll choose further independence rather than any political ideology. Then again, his role in the film may only be a cameo of sorts.

I know many people want Miles Morales to be Spider-Man in the MCU. Miles became Spider-Man after Peter Parker's death in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. I haven't read any of the comics in which Miles appears but many fans love him. Personally- whether they bring in Miles Morales or someone else- I feel Peter should be always be the first Spider-Man.  I understand the need for diversity in these kind of films- something Miles would bring, being Black Hispanic. Still, there's no reason Peter couldn't be African American. That way we can have the original Spider-Man while also having a major hero be non-Caucasian.

As major a deal as this is, it's still hard for me not to feel a tad cynical. This will be the second time Spider-Man has been rebooted and the third cinematic incarnation of the character in only 15. While it's good to keep things fresh- can you imagine going on Spider-Man 6 with Maguire still in the role?- we need a Spider-Man series that can continue beyond 2 installments.  Ideally this deal between Marvel and Sony will help Spider-Man thrive on screen again.  

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