Spiderman announcement leaves fans fearing reboot fatigue

Spider-Man crawling up building - Photo credit beingmyself
Spider-Man crawling up building - Photo credit beingmyself
Spider-Man crawling up a building – Photo credit beingmyself (Flickr)

When it comes to universal adoration, few superheroes come close to touching the spandex pants of Spider-Man. The web-slinging crime fighter has built up a loyal following since his first comic book in 1962 and continues to increase his fan base with every passing generation.

This fan base is set to grow further after Marvel thrashed out a deal with Sony to bring their boy home. Well, every Saturday. Under Sony surveillance. It’s a touch complicated.

Back in the 1990’s Marvel sold off the film rights to some of its biggest assets on one particularly short-sighted payday. 20th Century Fox gobbled up the X-Men universe, squeezing the Fantastic Four in at dessert, while Spider-Man found himself entangled in the web of Sony.

Since Marvel pulled its socks up and built an incredible Cinematic Universe which is commonly referred to as the MCU, they griped at the fact that their biggest assets were out of touching distance. Fans did too.

Characters like Thor and Iron Man were elevated to new heights by the MCU. Even critics could largely look beyond how formulaic each offering was by commending it for being, simply, fun.

Spider-Man has had several cinematic outings over the years, which disappointed after the release of Tobey Maguire’s third movie as Peter Parker. A godawful mess of a film, Spider-Man 3 included several cringe-worthy scenes where our protagonist danced to show off his newfound arrogance.

Sony tried to reboot the franchise by slapping Amazing on the title and getting Andrew Garfield to play the poor fool who was bitten by a radioactive spider. This Spider-Man bore more of a resemblance to the wise-cracking hero that comic book fans would recognise.

But Garfield didn’t feel like Spider-Man. For one, it’s hard to root for the underdog that he’s supposed to epitomise when he’s tall, handsome and confident. Add to this infuriating brooding, habitual mumbling and an uninteresting plot about finding out the identities of his dead parents and you’ve got another critically-panned disappointment.

As underwhelming as the films have been so far, it is a franchise that has taken in $4 billion worldwide. Get this right and Marvel will unlock an unprecedented vault of riches.

Spider-Man’s American box-office takings compared to other Marvel characters – Graph credit Box Office Mojo

However, as the press release states, ‘Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films’. Sony will still make solo efforts but Marvel will include him in their group activities, like the Avengers.

Another detail that has been magnified is the insinuation that Garfield has handed in his Spider-Man badge and web shooters. “This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” said Sony Pictures president Doug Belgrad.

Sections of fans wept for the departing Garfield while others popped champagne corks in his absence but all grumbled in unison at the prospect of a second reboot.

There is no demand for another origin story. Marvel head Kevin Feige will hopefully listen to murmurs of discontent and give the people what they want. To an extent.

There’s a growing campaign for this Spider-Man movie to take a brave step in diversifying the comic book genre. It’s a genre dominated by white men with women and other ethnic groups being sorely misrepresented.

Cue nominations for the little-known Miles Morales, a black-Hispanic character who becomes Spider-Man in an alternative set of Marvel comics.

A popular modern character among comic book nerds, Morales dons the ‘great responsibilities’ in the Ultimate series when Peter Parker is killed by the Green Goblin.

To learn about Morales, watch the video below.

It is suspected that Feige will want to incorporate Peter Parker into the Marvel universe. Although fans tire of seeing Parker on screen, Marvel have spun a cinematic story out for him and will relish the opportunity to right the wrongs that Sony has committed over the last decade or so.

The third Captain America movie, Civil War, would be the perfect opportunity to introduce Spider-Man as a fully developed character.

Not only does he play a significant role in the comic book plot – superheroes give up their secret identities as part of a hero registration programme – but this would be an opportunity to skip past an origin story or to summarise in brief how Spider-Man came to be.

Problems arise from the fact that secret identities don’t quite exist in the MCU. New York City was destroyed in the first Avengers movie so Bruce Banner and Tony Stark hardly cared about being inconspicuous as they went about saving the world.

That plot will have to be adjusted but the magical screenwriters at Marvel will manage to find a slot for Spider-Man, even in a beloved post-credits sting.

These stings help the MCU weave stories together and maintain continuity. A deal with Marvel could give an actor as many as ten films in as many years. This means that whoever they sign on as Spider-Man can expect a grand commitment.

Given that Miles Morales can only become a superhero after Peter Parker’s death, it’s unlikely that Marvel will start off with the schoolboy as their hero. Besides, it doesn’t have the same classic appeal to put Morales in with the Avengers as it would with Parker.

It would be better for Marvel to establish Morales after they’ve given Parker the run he deserves. Age will eventually play a part in having Parker replaced as Spider-Man.

It has already been said that Robert Downey Jr. might always be Tony Stark but he won’t always be Iron Man. A new hero will eventually wear that suit of armour and the same goes for Spider-Man.

That’s when Morales will be brought in – for a second wave of Avenger films with a newly-established group of primary characters. Marvel has already shown it has the nous to succeed with lesser-known characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy.

This doesn’t mean that Peter Parker can’t be black or Hispanic but the eventual passing of the guard to Morales wouldn’t have the same appeal, impact or freshness if he was. Fans don’t particularly care who plays Spider-Man once they don’t have to suffer another origin story.