How Marvel Should Save Spider-Man

1/04/2015 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


A lot of information was revealed after Sony was hacked last month.  A lot of it was behind the scenes information coming from various emails between executives.  Considering we haven't seen similar releases from other companies, there's no way of knowing if Sony is a special case, or if all companies are that dysfunctional behind the black curtain.

Some of the most intriguing information revealed, though, was in regards to the Spider-Man franchise, for which Sony holds the rights.  Although Spider-Man is a Marvel character, he has never been allowed to participate in the rest of Marvel's shared movie universe, because Marvel sold the movie rights to Sony years ago, and Sony doesn't seem interested in playing nice.

Initially, this deal payed off quite well for Sony.  Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, and Sony's first run through in 2002 helped kick off the current generation of comic book movies.

In 2004, Spider-Man 2 improved on the formula, proving to many that a sequel can be better than the original.  I've even seen several recent debates stating that SM2 is the best comic book movie of all time ,but lets be honest, recent viewings suggest it doesn't hold up so well.

After Spider-Man 3 marked a franchise high in the box office, the franchise started to fall apart.  Sam Raimi got a little sloppy, there were too many characters, and emo Peter Parker helped bring an end to that era of Spider-Man.


But the brand still had value, and Sony thought there was still more money to be had, so it brought in Marc Webb to reboot the franchise less than a decade after the previous trilogy crashed and burned.  The initial outing looked fairly promising, despite a few flaws, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 blew a lot of that out the window, marking a franchise low in both the box office, and in fan reception  (lets have a moment of truth, here, though, it was still better than most of the Sam Raimi trilogy.  The bar has just been set higher).

Meanwhile, since the original trilogy (wow, after Star Wars and LOTR, those words are will be heard a lot from geeks), Marvel has gone and created it's own shared universe, mostly with the b-squad.  Spider-Man and the X-Men were some of the more popular Marvel characters, but they are divided between Sony and Fox, respectively, leaving Marvel with Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and others (such as Guardians of the Galaxy).

Marvel (very) successfully crossed several of their characters over into The Avengers, and now that's all anyone wants to see.  Avengers: Age of Ultron is now just around the corner, and it will be introducing Vision, Scarlet Witch, and quicksilver.  The cast of The Avengers is growing rapidly, and plans for Marvel Civil-War are already hatching, but none of that feels quite right without Spider-Man.

Some of the leaked emails from Sony have revealed that Marvel has been very interesting in regaining the rights to use Spider-Man, but the talks always break down, which presents a very unfortunate predicament.

Sony can't exactly continue making Spider-Man films.  Sony definitely plans to, but every step forward it takes will only worsen the brand, because the fans want to see Spider-Man alongside the rest of The Avengers, and that can't happen in his current form.  Marvel would be very hard pressed to retcon the existing Amazing Spider-Man universe into the Marvel cinematic universe, especially if Sony plans to continue moving forward, meaning the franchise will need to be rebooted...  Again...  Ughhhhhh.

Who's going to see another Spider-Man reboot?  Another Peter-Parker?  Uncle Ben dying?  Again?  Easy, the property will be rebooted, and Marvel won't cover his origins, it'll just stick him in.  But what version of Spider-Man is this?  Has he fought Green Goblin yet?  Will casual observers know how to differentiate him, aside from a casting change?

It's so messy.

The first step, though, is for Marvel to obtain the rights.  It doesn't sound like Sony is very interested in giving it up in its entirety, but Marvel knows how much value Robert Downey Jr. adds to movies he participates in, and it clearly doesn't mind paying him, so hopefully it has the same analyst look at Spider-Man and then drive the requisite fleet of dumptrucks full of money to Sony's doorstep.

Then, Marvel should reboot Spider-Man through TV.  Yes.

Marvel has made some major headway in TV after a rocky start to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Season 2 of AoS has been absolutely amazing, and Marvel will soon have several Netflix shows, starting with Daredevil.  Spider-Man should get one season on Netflix, with some crossovers on TV, and then show up in Marvel's cinematic Civil War, then continue on as full blown movies moving forward.

Spider-Man is unique to the other cinematic properties in the way that he's much smaller scale (at least in his early years).  A freshly bitten Spider-Man would be more well suited to have a run-in with Daredevil, or briefly encounter S.H.I.E.L.D. before he stands side by side with The Hulk.

Introducing a very small scale Spider-Man that deals mostly with New York petty crimes--such as the mugging that kills Uncle Ben--would make a phenomenal origins story single season Netflix arc.  The brand value also gives a major boost to the TV properties in which he makes an appearance.

Drew Goddard already left Marvel's Daredevil show to work on a Spider-Man movie for Sony, so it seems like there's already a lot of synergy there already.  Fans of the Spider-Man animated show from the 90s may also remember that there were several crossover episodes with Daredevil, and The Kingpin was one of the major villains, so there's a lot of room for Vincent Donofrio to reprise his role as well.

After he is well established through a season on Netflix, he can be very well situated as the little guy before he joins Avengers for Civil War.  It's also really meta when you think about it.


Also, it'd be way less expensive/risky to start out with a season on Netflix.  Because, who's really going to go pay to see Peter Parker get bitten again?

Unfortunately, it's fairly unlikely that Marvel will get the rights any time soon, and even less likely that this is the approach that will be taken if it did.  Sony is supposed to be holding a Spidey summit in in the next few weeks, so it seems as good a time as any to voice an opinion.  Who knows after reading the Sony emails, it doesn't sound that outrageous to expect one of them to Google "How to Save Spider-Man" and fall upon this article.

We can dream.

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