Salutations fellow webheads. As you may have heard, good news has swung in from on high.
After all the leaked emails and speculatory talks, it has finally been confirmed: Marvel Studios and Sony will be partnering to re-envision our favourite webhead, this time alongside the rest of the Marvel phase cinematic universe. The plan is to introduce a new Spider-Man in the next Captain America: Civil War film in 2016 and then subsequently a solo film; to be released in July 2017, calling for new cast, script, director and crew.
The result of this new partnership is something comic book and movie fans will be anticipating hotly for the next several years. I for one, am excited. Marvel have been hitting success after success in their phase universe movies that began with the Avengers, and it holds to reason that Spider-Man lovers may finally receive the 'true to character', integrated Spider-Man franchise we have been clamoring for.
What kind of Spider-Man/Peter Parker can we expect from the new franchise?
Spider-Man is a character beloved by many, one that has received no short amount of attention in media with cartoons, films, games and more, being developed off the comic book sensation. And yet, he has never quite broken entirely successfully into the film industry. With Marvel on board, there have been talks of a "new direction" that will focus on Spider-Man's dual identity and high school life, a stance, that I believe, could provide the much needed base the character needs. Although producers Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige, who have been involved with Spider-Man since the first Sam Raimi films, will be retaining their production roles for the new film, I am still optimistic. In order to be a success, studios need to remember and capitalise on the reasons Spider-Man is such an enduring character.
Spider-Man's popularity, especially among younger readers, stems from his vulnerability and position in the superhero universe; just a high school kid suddenly granted great powers and forced to learn the ropes essentially alone, readers are able to instantly relate to his story. At his core, Spider-Man/Peter Parker is driven by the values: "With great power, comes great responsibility". He maintains an unbending optimism that people are inherently good, always deserving a second chance. He refuses to kill, or tread the line of judge and jury. It is this moral compass that frames so many of his endeavors, where in the face of despicable evil, he is tested time and time again. Spider-Man has experienced some of the most poignant tragedies of a young character in any popular comic book series and yet has always maintained this core morality. He is often regarded as a beacon of childish moral naivety in the Marvel universe. Aside from this, his humour and lightness in the face of such perilous adversity is also beloved. You can't have Spider-Man without his signature quipping. It was one of the main complaints with Raimi's films after all.
The combination of these traits is what forged Spider-Man into the hearts of all his readers. It is for these reasons that, in a plot such as Civil War, his character provides such powerful scenes. I believe Marvel would have struggled to bring that same impact with Black Panther. In his new solo film, I hope they provide a story that encompasses all of these traits because, should one be missing, his character will feel stunted. In the same way that Captain America is a man conflicted with duty to his country and his moral code or Iron Man is the egotistical, narcissistic yet ultimately good man who aspires to change the world for the better, Spider-Man is a character guided so virulently by his morality, that it is the basis for his heroic progress.
The question now arises, who would be trusted next with the tale of Peter Parker? Who could bring a high school orientated Spider-Man to life most effectively? I have considered a short list of potential directors, who I think hold some merits:
Coming off of his recent successes with the Kingsman: Secret Service and X-Men First Class , Matthew Vaughn is my personal favourite choice for a Spider-Man film. No stranger to edgy and high school humour with the likes of Layer Cake and Kick Ass, Vaughn has proven very capable of working with young upcoming actors and creating a fun and vibrant universe, whilst also delving into the darker areas of human interaction. He has achieved a successful balance between action, comedy and storytelling which would be very at home with a high school Spider-Man. There also appear to be no ties currently with future projects other than post production Fantastic Four, so if Marvel are on the ball, they could well snap him up.
In the superhero spotlight, Bryan Singer is probably most well known for his work on the X-Men films (the good ones) X-Men, X-Men 2, Days of Future Past and the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. Funnily enough, Singer turned down the X-Men films several times, believing comics were unintelligible (at least before reading a few and watching the animated series, thereby changing his mind). Despite his merits as a superhero film director, I feel Singer prefers dark and dystopian settings, with brooding characters, rather than the fun, lighthearted humour balance that would be needed for a Spider-Man film. It is true, he has worked successfully with young actors in the early X-Men films, but has never truly represented a high school type setting. In this regard, he may not be the best fit for the role, but nonetheless is still up for consideration.
Marvel are no stranger to hiring directors that have not been involved with superhero films before. A relatively unknown director, Wes Ball had his true debut with the film adaptation of Maze Runner in 2014. Despite the novel's shortcomings, the directing itself was well executed. The former visual effects adviser knows how to craft a sometimes terrifying crowd-pleaser. His animated short, Ruin, which I very much enjoyed and hope to see more of, was a fantastic little Sci-Fi piece. He's young, has worked with an almost entirely young cast of upcoming actors in Maze Runner and also brought Dylan O'Brien, a fan contender for the role of Peter, successfully into a film role. If Marvel approached him, I feel reasonably assured he would do a decent job, although like Singer, he has focused mainly on dystopian settings. It will be interesting to see if he can create a good high school dynamic.
If you are looking for someone who handles humour, lighthearted fun, action and suspense, all with apparent ease, look no further than Brad Bird. Most noted for his animated films such as, the Incredibles; one of cinema's most anticipated and long sought after sequels along with the likes of Iron Giant, Monsters University, Brave and Ratatouille, he could well bring some great direction to a Spider-Man film. My only worry would be a lack of experience working with young actors, but since he has covered so many Pixar movies, this may well not be an issue. As for his action direction, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, was probably one of the best of the series, a fast paced action packed flick, that in one of its best scenes had Tom Cruise wall crawling up the side of a Dubai skyscraper. Do I see parallels already?
Chronicle was the unexpected hit superhero film that wasn't really about superheroes. Focusing more on the real results of a group of teenagers suddenly given great powers, Chronicle dealt with the everyday struggles of high school students craving acceptance from their peers and a place in society. Sound familiar? From Chronicle, Trank obviously understands the dynamic of dual identity and emotional turmoil that a character like Spider-Man would need. Using the first person camera perspective of Andrew (Dane DeHaan), he both emphasised and heightened the perception of social awkwardness and isolation. What worked in Chronicle, however would obviously not do the same for Spider-Man, but I think we can be assured he would recognise this, as he is currently directing the new Fantastic Four reboot, minus the first person camera.
I do have two niggling worries though, were Trank to take up the project. Firstly, he tends to be very dark. Chronicle was ultimately a very moody and twisted film, that although worked fantastically in the setting, would be a little at odds with a Spider-Man film. Fantastic Four also appears to have a more moody tone than its predecessor, straying quite far from the comic book origins, but we will have to wait and see for that idea.
Secondly, I am not a fan of shaky camera shots. One of my biggest gripes with some of Hollywood's big films like the Bourne series, has been shaky camera action sequences. There is nothing worse in my opinion, than being given twenty different shots of a fight mid punch, tackle or otherwise, that in the end obscures the entire scene. To assess whether this will be the case, again we will have to wait and see more of the Fantastic Four reboot.
Joss Whedon and James Gunn
Both directors have been part of the Marvel smash hits, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, it is unlikely either will have the time to work on a Spider-Man project.
Joss Whedon, in an interview with International Business Times, discussing future Marvel films such as Avengers Infinity War said: "I couldn't imagine doing this again,"
"It's enormously hard, and it will be, by then, a good five years since I created anything that was completely my own. So it's very doubtful that I would take on the two-part Infinity War movie that would eat up the next four years of my life. I obviously still want to be a part of the Marvel Universe - I love these guys - but it ain't easy. This year has been more like running three shows than any year of my life. It is bonkers,"
In his place it is likely James Gunn will take up the role of the Avengers Infinity War saga, thereby leaving no time for a Spider-Man reboot.
Although I am excited for a new 'true to character', Marvel film universe take on Spider-Man, I am a bit wary of another reboot in such a short space of time. Pushing the timeline back on Marvel's other films such as Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther will put a lot of pressure on a new Spider-Man film to be casted, scripted and filmed to a high quality; something sorely needed if it hopes to be successful. My other worry is the pressure studios will be putting on the director and writers, to try and jam in all the necessary references to the wider Marvel film universe. This could result in a overly weighed down film that doesn't really focus on Spider-Man in his own right, much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was bloated with villains and set ups for later films.
These are of course just some of my personal thoughts. I'd be really interested to find out what you all had to say. Fill in my poll or leave a comment below saying your choice of director, even some concerns you might have. If not, tweet me at @Corona3andro.