Recently it was announced that Spider-Man would be appearing in an upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie! What was once thought impossible by everyone suddenly became the imminent future! Fanboys and girls rejoiced in the news that the prodigal son would be coming home thanks to some dealings between Marvel and Sony. But is it really a good thing?
Spider-Man has long been one of Marvel’s tent pole characters. He has been popular for years in comics and television and is recognizable the world over. But recently, his popularity on the silver screen seems to be waning. Amazing Spider-Man 2 was not nearly as financially successful as Sony had hoped it would be, and the critics were even less kind than the box office returns. And rightfully so, the film was a train wreck.
But the thought that has been bothering me since the news broke is: should Marvel be utilizing Spider-Man in their films at all?
Don’t get me wrong, I think that Marvel will do a better job with Spider-Man than Sony has done, but why should they want to? They’ve been doing really well without Spider-Man and other big heroes like the X-Men and Fantastic Four, so why even bother making deals with Sony?
For one thing, if Marvel gets to use Spider-Man, then they will have to make some substantial changes to the character in order to differentiate him from the incarnations that have come before. Audiences have already proven that they are growing bored with Spider-Man as he is right now, and they also proved that they weren’t very thrilled about the incarnation that he had before this one, so if Marvel is to use Spider-Man, then they will have to make him unique to their universe to stand apart from the ones that came before. If they make him too similar to the Spider-Man that came before, then what’s to get excited about?
Another thing is that utilizing Spider-Man might be a little bit of a crutch. Because they did not have the movie rights to their biggest characters, Marvel was forced to bring out their B-team and make movies using them. This was extremely successful and they turned their weakness into a strength. We were unfamiliar with Tony Stark, Captain America, and Thor and this made their stories unique and interesting. Spider-Man, however, we’ve already seen several times. We know his story, we know his character, his arc holds no surprises for us these days (unless, as I said before, they make some major changes). But because he is popular, he will continue to be paraded out for us to consume over and over again, even when his films have become stale. People will still come to see Spider-Man, though, so shoving him into film is a no-brainer, right? Except for the fact that his films have been doing worse and worse, both financially and creatively.
Though, I can’t blame Marvel for wanting to get their characters back. Even if Spider-Man is being overexposed, if there’s some money to be made off of him, Marvel can’t be faulted for wanting to get a piece of it. It’s the same with Fantastic Four and X-Men. If anyone’s going to run these characters into the ground, it might as well be Marvel. They don’t want to wait around until the characters are downright unpopular to get the film rights back, they want to use the characters now, when they are at least a little popular still. But I think that Spider-Man on film, at least for the time being, might be a lost cause. He’s had quite a few films already and audiences are probably just ready for a break from the wall-crawler.
If anyone can make Spider-Man on film interesting and compelling, however, I know that it will be Marvel. Sony has shown that they don’t know what to do with the character but Marvel isn’t in the habit of making garbage movies with their properties. They have more invested in their characters succeeding than Sony does, so the next version of Spider-Man that we see will definitely be better than any that we’ve seen before. But even so, I think that maybe the character of Spider-Man would be better served by giving him a little time off. I mean, his girlfriend did just die, maybe let him take a little vacation? I bet he’d appreciate it.