So What Does the New Sony/Marvel Spider-Man Deal Mean?
On Monday, the internet exploded when it was revealed (some might say finally) that a deal has been agreed between Sony and Marvel Studios to share The Amazing Spider-Man in upcoming movies. You can read the specifics of the deal here, but essentially Marvel Studios will have a creative input into new movies but Sony will still finance, distribute and have final creative control. Spidey’s first step into the MCU will be in Captain America: Civil War, with a solo film coming out in 2017. Apparently there will still be a Sinister Six movie and even maybe the female-led spinoff, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
This is great news right?! Well, I’m not saying no, but let’s unpack it a little.
Firstly, my opinion. Ultimately (no pun intended) I think Marvel Studios having more control over the direction of Spider-Man’s cinematic future is a great thing. My favorite Spider-Man movie so far is 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Which not only means that there have been 3 movies and 1 reboot since then that have failed to spark the same fire in me that the comic books do (in fact they’ve actively angered/disappointed me), but that the best movie to star arguably my favorite superhero is a movie that is in itself incredibly flawed.
I don’t like what Sony have done with the franchise. I thought their casting choices were for the most part brilliant (Andrew Garfield and Emma stone have genuine chemistry; he’s a great, albeit older, more mature feeling Peter Parker) and J K Simmons’ J Jonah Jameson is frankly inspired. Almost everything else though? Yuck. The characterization of Peter Parker in the new movies is terrible; the guy’s a jerk. He practically throws away his promise to Captain Stacey, doesn’t seem to care for Aunt May at all and there’s just no weight to his experiences, which make the tragedies (sigh. No Spoilers) lackluster. Meanwhile Marvel Studios, while themselves not perfect, have produced some of the best superhero movies ever made, two of which were in the last 12 months, so yeah having them at least have an input into new films moving forward is a positive step.
What does this mean for the franchise? Well, with Andrew Garfield no longer returning that means yet another reboot, no matter how you dress it up. Cinema-goers will see a third actor take on the role in less than 10 years, so however much this move will be good for the character in the long run, you can’t help but feel that fans might have reboot fatigue. Will we see another origin story? Will we have to see Uncle Ben die a third time?
Spidey’s intro will be in Civil war, which is already a crowded movie (Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Black Panther and now Spidey), so it’s doubtful they’d tackle any sort of origin there; if they’re doing it at all it’ll be in the solo movie. I can’t see them rehashing it all again though, but maybe they would if it was a different kid under the mask. More on that later.
While we’re talking schedules though, four of Marvel’s current slate of movies have been pushed back to accommodate this deal. Bleeding Cool thinks, and I tend to agree, that this doesn’t really send the best message. Thor 3, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans have all been moved back which, despite the excitement I’ll no doubt feel when I see Spidey swing past the Avengers, makes me feel a little sad. The cynic in me feels that this sends a message about the priority they’re putting on Spider-Man over and above the characters they’ve already lined up. As Bleeding Cool state – ‘If Marvel Studios had control of the Spider-Man film franchise, there may well not have been a Guardians Of The Galaxy’. This could be a bit of a stretch, but now that they have Spider-Man, how important will their secondary or tertiary characters be? It’s even more disconcerting when you think that a prominent superhero of color (Black Panther) and a prominent female superhero (Captain Marvel), two groups sorely under-represented in Comic Book movies and the medium in general, are getting bumped back for another white kid. Or are they?
It’s already been speculated that Sony and Marvel are seeking a younger Spider-Man for the new movies (a brilliant move by the way. Spider-Man has always been a young character but previous films have glossed over his high school life. Plus having a young Spider-man play off against the more seasoned Avengers would be a great contrast), throw in the fact that this will be the third reboot in under a decade and it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that, with Marvel on board, Sony tries something different.
Obviously I’m talking about Miles Morales.
I would genuinely welcome this. It would boost the much needed diversity we talked about, as well as solve the whole ‘origin fatigue’ problem. The average movie fan won’t see Miles coming, and if the studios play their cards right, people will be clamoring for his origin when they see Morales, a kid of Hispanic descent, unmasked in Cap 3 (that’s if they follow the Civil War story from the comics). Some people are already running through casting choices, but others feel that it’s almost a definite that it’ll be Parker under the mask. Me? I think it’s more likely it’ll be Peter Parker, but I’d love to be surprised.
What this all boils down to is what’s best for the character and also what he will bring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A superhero with a secret identity is surprisingly scarce in Marvel’s movies, so introducing that element might be the catalyst that sparks a Civil War… Plus, let’s not forget that this is not just a deal for Spider-Man, but for the entire Spider-Man universe. This means the second greatest Super Villain line-up in comics all thrown into the Marvel sandbox. Spider-Woman in Jessica Jones? Yes Please. The Daily Bugle (with J K Simmons obviously) running reports on those ‘damn Inhumans’? Why not. Hell, Flash Thompson: Agent Venom in Guardians of the Galaxy is even vaguely possible now.
There’s a lot we still don’t know, but it’s an exciting time. While ultimately this is just a compromise and not the #SpideyHomeComing most were hoping for, I think it’s the best that fans could hope for under the circumstances. As far as I’m concerned, this is just one more chance for them to finally get a Spider-Man movie right.