By now it’s common knowledge that Sony has made a deal with Marvel Entertainment to allow the Spider-Man character to be apart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This came hot off the heels the Sony hack and the leak that Sony had no idea what to do with Spider-Man. There was no overall vision or greater direction. There were even suggestions of an Aunt May film. This was fine when no one knew about it but once it was leaked public outcry ensured and Sony were forced to do something to salvage their reputation. Namely, co-chairman Amy Pascal stepping down and the leasing of Spider-Man back to Marvel.
Good news, but there is one major downside; Sony’s Spider-Man franchise will be recast and rebooted for the second time in only four years. It’s disappointing to lose Andrew Garfield, who is a fine actor regardless of your opinions of the Amazing Spider-Man series, and audiences are less than enthused about witnessing an origin story for the third time. But these are small prices to pay to see Spider-Man in the Marvel universe and play his part in Captain America: Civil War.
It’s no secret that I actually enjoyed the Amazing Spider-Man films. The films are not as bad as the detractors make them out to be. Emma Stone’s chemistry with Garfield makes the relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker leaps and bounds more believable than Tobey Maguire’s awkward courting of Kristen Dunst’s M.J. Sam Raimi actually seems to struggle with the romance elements, relying on love triangles to create most of the conflict. Furthermore, Amazing Spider-Man 2’s use of multiple villains is basic layering. How likely is it that only one villain is going to have a problem with Spidey at any given time? It’s time management of villains is at least better than that of Spider-Man 3.
The biggest problem with the Amazing Spider-Man series is that the films came so soon after the previous trilogy was cut short. It was facing an uphill battle from the very beginning. It really would have benefited from an over-arching story, and no, I don’t mean the Parker parent investigation. Exploring the relationship with Gwen Stacy created a nice contrast to the original trilogy and portraying the iconic Death of Gwen Stacy on film was a great idea. Had Sony been smart though, they would have built towards the the Clone Saga, which would have allowed them to bring back Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy for a third film and possibly even replace Peter Parker with Ben Reilly if they felt Garfield was becoming stale. The plots of both films were about biogenetic research so a third film about cloning wouldn’t even have been that much of a leap.
Sony were not that smart, however, and when faced with their lack of plans for future Spider-Man films, they made the deal with Marvel. Personally, I feel that this deal benefits Marvel much more than Sony. Marvel get to do Civil War the way it was meant to be done and the combined fans of The Avengers and Spider-Man will both come to see the crossover. A crossover, it should be noted, that takes place squarely amongst Marvel’s third phase, on Marvel’s ground where Marvel has final say. Meanwhile, Sony get the expertise of Kevin Feige but all casting, directing and creative choices are still in the hands of Amy Pascal and Sony. If you didn’t like the Amazing Spider-Man series then there’s really no reason to be excited by this deal. All of the same people behind that series are behind this new reboot.
But, as I stated, I liked the Amazing films so I am, at least, interested to see how Sony tries engage audiences for a third time. Rumour is that they’re looking at a younger Parker, so we’ll be back in high school. Does that mean more Gwen Stacy or another attempt at Mary Jane? If I had to guess, I’d say Sony will go back to Mary Jane, given that she never made an appearance in the Amazing series. In terms of plot, Green Goblin has technically been done in both the original trilogy and the Amazing series, so they’ll likely give him a break. Doctor Octopus or Venom could certainly make reappearances. There are a number of smaller villains who could appear but for the initial film in the reboot, Sony will likely want to go big.
There is some news though. Sinister Six director, Drew Goddard, also known for his work on Cabin in the Woods and Cloverfield has been signed on to direct the 2017 Spider-Man reboot, rumoured to be called Spectacular Spider-Man after the comic book series of the same name. Goddard is a good choice. He can direct big set pieces and he can write both funny and intense dialogue. How well he can write romance remains to be seen though but this is definitely a positive choice.
Beyond that, there still isn’t much information to go on. Word is that Sony might be looking at Dylan O’Brien or Logan Lerman for the role of Peter Parker. Contradictory rumours also state that Sony want to go younger, and sign the actor on to a long deal. If Sony do go younger the actor will probably be an unknown, which would fall within the Marvel pattern of casting the least expected choice and turning them into massive stars. For what it’s worth, Logan Lerman would be my pick. He has the range needed for the role. No word on what Sony are looking for in the co-stars, but I still think Leslie Rose would make a fantastic M.J.
The creative potential for this deal is enormous. At the very least, it is an interesting injection into the superhero genre, just when the Marvel Cinematic Universe might have been getting tired. At most, it could be the boost that the Spider-Man franchise needed. Either way, the audience wins.