By now I’m sure that you have all heard the news that Sony & Marvel have agreed to share the character of Spider-Man in their respective cinematic universes. I’m sure you have also read many, better, articles regarding people’s initial reaction to this and what it means for the future of the character. But, if you’re up for one more, then I would like to also weigh in on the subject and talk about what this means for Sony, Marvel, the Spidey-verse, poor Andrew Garfield and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For Sony and Marvel, this seems like an amicable solution to something that has been rumoured for a long time now. Sony gets to keep Spider-Man more or less in house, and one of their most profitable franchises stays put. For Marvel, they finally get a piece of the Spider-pie, and they also seem to have some creative say in the way Spider-Man is handled on screen. The idea seems beneficial to both, especially at first glance, but one wonders what will happen if they begin to disagree on how the smart talking wall crawler should be handled.
Sony, for better or worse, and mostly worse, have so far treated Spider-Man as the proverbial cash cow. In 13 years we have seen five films made, two actors fill the role and one reboot. It’s a slightly odd way to treat one of your most reliable characters, and harks back to the mid 1990’s when each Batman film got worse and worse until they finally had to stop making them for eight years. Sam Raimi’s first two efforts were classic golden age tales of Spider-Man, they were streamlined and focused, and most of all they were fun.
Then came Spider-Man 3, and it is here where Sony apparently started to dig their heels in and more or less forced Sam Raimi into making a film in their vision and not his. Too many villains spoilt the broth, and Spider-Man 3 was an uninspiring finish to an otherwise noteworthy series. Sony then removed Raimi from the director’s chair on the planned Spider-Man 4, and instead went with Marc Webb, who would direct The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Neither quite had the desired effect, but they did portray a more modern take on the character, and the new series’ sequel showed a willingness to expand the universe into new territory.
Marvel on the other hand, have never had a character quite as big as Spider-Man on their roster. That’s not to say the likes of Iron Man and Captain America are second rate characters in any way, but it is only now that they are household names. Now, Marvel is the leading distributor in superhero films, and are known not only for being savvy with their money, but they are also very clear with directors on how each project should go. You only have to look at the recent Ant-Man and the departure of Edgar Wright for proof of this.
It may take a lot of discussions and a fair few meetings between the two studios, before any sort of decision is made on things such as plot, director, actors and most importantly of all how they will integrate Spider-Man into their respective film universes. It would seem that The Amazing Spider-Man series is all but dead, while films such as Black Panther and Captain Marvel are now taking a step back to allow Spider-Man another solo film in 2017. It seems a little worrying in that regard, and maybe even a little rushed on both parties’ behalf’s.
The initial press release stated that Spider-Man will first cameo in an unconfirmed Marvel film, likely Captain America: Civil War, which will be followed by his own film, which is currently a mere two years away. This is a brave move by Marvel. Especially when you consider how forward thinking the studio is, it seems a little rash to be throwing a new character into their thriving universe, especially at the expense of the likes of Thor, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, three films that will no doubt have a huge impact on the MCU.
As for the character himself, it would seem that most fans are against the idea of seeing yet another origin story and are hoping for something that portrays an already established Spider-Man swinging around New York. From their various press releases and interviews, it would seem that Marvel agree for the most part and previous films’ timelines will all be scrapped in favour of new stories with a fresh take on Spider-Man.
How these stories will fit into Marvel’s already established universe, while at the same time starting a fresh for Sony remains to be seen. It will also be interesting to see whether Peter Parker remains a high school student in the new films, or whether we will see a slightly older version of the character. At the same time, how will Spider-Man’s arrival effect the rest of the MCU? Where was he when aliens invaded New York or when the Hulk was trashing down town? Questions will need answering, and Marvel & Sony will have a tough time getting all the answers in to one cameo appearance and a new solo film.
While most, if not all, of the talk has centred around the character and how he will fit into the grander scheme of things, it would be disingenuous not to give a mention to Andrew Garfield. While The Amazing Spider-Man & The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were far from great, one thing they did have going for them was the casting of Garfield. Although he was perhaps too handsome for Peter Parker, his portrayal of Spider-Man could not have been better. His wiry frame provided the perfect look, while his nervous charm and quick wit, when needed, bore all the characteristics needed to bring the character to life.
With that, it would seem that both studios have a far more difficult task on their hands than first imagined. Questions will need answering, actors and directors will need replacing and the difficult task of fitting one of the world’s most relatable superheroes into a new world will begin. Sony & Marvel do indeed have their work cut out here, and will need to get a lot of things right first time round. No pressure then.