I’d like to say I always dreamed this day would happen, but honestly, I kinda thought it never would. And yet, here we are, with Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new set of films. Never say never, huh?
Hey everyone, this is Henry, the host of Cape Crisis on the Laser Time podcast network, and if there’s one thing I’ve endlessly whined about, it’s that recent Spider-Man movies sucked, and that Peter Parker desperately needs to appear in the Avengers film world. In the same whiny breath, I’d also cynically say that’d never happen because Sony has an iron grip on the Spider-Man movie rights and doesn’t want to share a billion dollar franchise. That’s why I’m very happy to be wrong at this very moment, because Spider-Hyphen-Man will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe very soon.
As the press release says, a “new Spider-Man” will premiere in an MCU film, then on July 28, 2017, Spidey will appear in a brand new solo film co-produced by Sony and Marvel Studios. The big changes are a lot to unpack. First, it means that Spider-Man could appear in the MCU as early as Avengers: Age of Ultron – though Sony leaks earlier indicated the wallcrawler would be a central figure in Captain America: Civil War. Second, it means there may well be an all new person playing Spider-Man – Andrew Garfield was only signed on for one more Amazing film, plus this news seems to end the whole Sinister Six and Venom movie plans. And third, Marvel has delayed four of its Phase 3 films to make room for Spider-Man, moving every non-Avengers MCU film about six months later – Thor: Ragnarok is now November 3, 2017, Black Panther comes July 6, 2018, bumping Captain Marvel to November 2, 2018, which in turn pushed the Inhumans film to July 12, 2019. (Jesus, that’s a LOT of MCU, isn’t it?) Marvel believes in this Spidey film enough to change up billions worth of planned films.
Honestly, this was way overdue. Sony’s Spider-Man films were pioneers of the comic adaptation, but the company’s approach to solo hero films seemed quite limiting when compared to the intricate, ongoing adventures that the Avengers were having. Fiscally, each Spider-Man film made less than the last, and critically speaking, the last truly good one was Spider-Man 2. 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 had some glorious moments of webbed action, but many, many more moments of complicated, inconsistent garbage that didn’t need to be there. The film tried to build a universe with no purpose, leading to something it wasn’t quite sure about. And after the writers quit and Amazing 3 got delayed, it looked like Sony had even less of a clue of what to do with Spider-Man.
As a Spider-Man fan, it was frustrating, but I’d somewhat resigned myself to it. Marvel signed away the Spider-Man rights long ago, and even if the movies floundered, I figured Sony would never let go such a lucrative franchise. (Incidentally, knowing the business side of the geeky entertainment you love usually makes things less fun.) I was part of an army of geeks who were certain Marvel Studios would do a better job with Spider-Man, if for no other reason than Peter Parker would be invigorated by hanging out with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. But I accepted another decade of junk like this:
AND YET, here we are, with Sony and Marvel working together to make nerdy dreams a reality, and maybe, just maybe make a blockbuster Spider-Man film that’s as spectacular as the character deserves. The “new Spider-Man” in the press release conjures a different actor and a reboot for the franchise, which, yes, just got rebooted 3 years ago. Hopefully it’ll be a softish relaunch that omits another hour of origin (I can’t stand to watch Uncle Ben die again). Just drop Spidey into the world of The Avengers, have him use his Spider Sense, and pretend that the Garfield-verse never, ever happened.
I wonder if we’ll ever know what was the deciding factor in making this deal. The increasingly shrinking box office receipts of Spidey movies? Those leaked Sony emails that let the public know this collaboration was even a possible? The fact that, outside of the PlayStation 4’s reveneue, Sony is in desperate need of the kind of cash Marvel films make? Was Marvel’s pitch just that good? We’ll likely never know, but the answers are nearly as intriguing as the many possibilities this opens up.
Now, Marvel Studios could go REALLY crazy and have the new Spider-Man be Miles Morales, maybe even cast Donald Glover in the ultimate role. It’s a situation I’d honestly love to see, because I really like Morales, and adore Donald Glover. For another thing, when a few people in my Facebook feed would blow-up over “BLACK SPIDER-MAN,” I’d know whose opinion to dismiss from then on. Still, I personally don’t see Miles appearing on film any time soon, as it’s sadly quite rare to see a person of color in the lead of virtually any tentpole film, and now that Marvel has Peter Parker back, I can’t see them switching to Miles immediately.
So, if it’s Peter Parker hanging in the MCU, that’s the best comic book news I’ve heard in a long time. Seeing the Avengers occupy the same shared universe is a thrill – I about lost my mind when I first saw Thor and Hulk fight in Whedon’s first super-assembly. Seeing those two established characters interact was the same childlike thrill I got seeing Spider-Man and Iron Man fight crime together in Marvel Team-Up. It was the thrill of a shared universe plastered over the big screen, and adding Spider-Man’s Manhattan to it makes it that much bigger, compounding the hype I feel at this very moment.
I’ve pretty consistently bought the Amazing Spider-Man comics since 1993, but for as great as his solo adventures were, I always saw him as the glue that tied together the whole Marvel Universe. Captain America may have come first, but it was Spider-Man who seemed at the center of Marvel for me, appearing in just about every single book at one time or another. Spider-Man showing up in issue #2 of any new series was code for “hey, this fresh face is cool, because Spider-Man hangs out with him.” The interconnected web of the MCU wasn’t necessarily feel incomplete before, but now that Spider-Man is involved, it feels like a massive piece of the puzzle has been filled in for fans. Now, if we could just get the X-Men and Fantastic Four to join in…
P.S. – I’m definitely going to talk even more about this on the next episode of Cape Crisis, so share your thoughts in the comments so we can read the best ones in an upcoming show. Until then, here are some Spider-Man/Avengers suggestions to read in the meantime…
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