We're just a few days away from Spider-Man: Homecoming and the buzz is pretty much what we've been expecting: This looks to be the best Spider-Man movie yet. However, by keeping Spidey's solo outings on the big screen, there's also a pretty big missed opportunity. No matter how good Spider-Man: Homecoming is, the best way to capture the web-slinger is in a TV series.
Heroes like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor lean more towards the epic storylines, as do teams like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, but the street-level heroes like Spidey are different. When you only have a movie every two or three years, it limits the ability to really exploit the web slinger's potential The #SpiderMan comics at their core have always been more about Peter Parker's trials and tribulations with balancing his personal life with his superheroics.
The Supporting Cast Is Key
One of the keys to Spider-Man's longevity has been Peter's relationships with other characters — from Aunt May, to the staff of the Daily Bugle, to his friends and classmates. You're talking almost a dozen characters, and that's before you get into the villains. In a movie, you're very limited with the amount of characters who can be put front and center. Most of these supporting characters who are vital influences in Peter's life in the comics get shuffled into the background.
Flash Thompson is one who immediately comes to mind. Anyone who's read the comics will tell you that Flash played a very big role in Peter's life, both as a bully and later as a friend. However, you'd never know that from watching either the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy or Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man films.
Another is Joe "Robbie" Robertson, editor-in-chief at The Daily Bugle. He's always been the level-headed boss at the paper, a counterweight to J. Jonah Jameson. He gets minutes of screen time in the Raimi trilogy and no one from the Bugle (other than Jameson in the form of text messages) even appears in Webb's films.
In a TV series, we would have the opportunity to see these relationships grow and develop. The death of Captain Stacy would have so much more weight if we spent an entire season watching his relationship with both Peter and Spider-Man develop, as opposed to thrown in at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man. Or, imagine if we saw Harry's slow transformation into the Green Goblin over the course of several seasons instead of over the course of two films (or even one).
Villains Are Better Suited For TV
If you were to rank the rogues galleries of all the various superheroes and teams, Batman's would end up at the top of the list. However, a close second would be Spider-Man's. While some villains are capable of carrying a movie on their own — like the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus — the same can't really be said of the others. You'll never be able to get a full movie out of the likes of the Shocker, Scorpion, or the Rhino, but you know where they would be perfect? In a "monster-of-the-week" episode of a Spider-Man TV series.
Some villains require more than a single movie for their stories to really be fully told. One of the key aspects of the Green Goblin is Norman Osborn's slow descent into madness. In a two-hour movie, you have to rush through all that; ditto with the mystery of the Hobgoblin's true identity. The iconic "Kraven's Last Hunt" story arc could only really be told after Kraven already has a history with Spider-Man. Without that history, the story doesn't really work.
The lives of Spider-Man and Peter Parker often overlap, with many villains coming straight out of Peter's life. In order to tell those stories properly, some slow development is necessary. You can't tell the Jackal's story convincingly without first establishing Miles Warren and his obsession with Gwen Stacy. The faster you have to rush through that, the harder it will be to convince the audience.
What About The Budget?
The main concern with bringing Spider-Man to the small screen is the effects. According to IMDb, Spider-Man: Homecoming has an estimated budget of $175 million. There's no way a TV series could afford that. So, how could a Spider-Man TV series possibly be done in a way that's affordable? By taking a look at the shows that are already doing it.
Whatever you may think of the quality of writing on the CW's superhero shows, the fact is they are able to pull off some pretty impressive visuals despite being on broadcast TV.
You might not be able to get the same level of web-slinging on a Spidey TV show, and the chances of big-name actors like Robert Downey, Jr. or Chris Evans guest-starring are pretty slim. It's also unlikely you'll get any visual spectacles like the ferry splitting apart in Spider-Man: Homecoming or the giant Sandman in Spider-Man 3. But don't write off TV so quickly. After all, the CW was able to have both Gorilla Grodd and King Shark on The Flash and they both looked amazing. As technology advances, it becomes easier and easier to do more impressive things on TV than in the past, and for less money.
What do you think?