There are not many superheroes who have been as beloved, but as maligned, as Spider-Man has been in the last few years. Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man trilogy boasted one of the best superhero movies ever made in Spider-Man 2, then hit one of the low points in Spider-Man's history with Emo Peter Parker, thanks to studio meddling. Sony continued to mishandle our friendly webhead, rebooting the series far too quickly with a mess of a storyline, again due to an inability to truly understand how to tell Spidey's story. Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, credits to the role, exited on sour notes.
But now Spider-Man is back home in the hands of Marvel, and with the third big screen iteration of him in less than a decade hitting theaters in next year's [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), then getting his own spin-off movie, it's clear that the same old, same old is absolutely not an option.
So Marvel announced they were going to skew young with casting for the newest version of Peter Parker's story - way young. With Maguire's version of Peter Parker growing up in a hurry, and Garfield's character spending a little more time as a teenager but already looking ahead to college, the decision was made to truly explore Spider-Man's formative high school years in a way we've never seen on the big screen before.
Like each of Marvel's films, the new Spider-Man reboot will be a different genre than the other films to create a unique movie unto itself. For the third reboot, Marvel is borrowing heavily from the tone and feel of John Hughes' films of the 80s - the quintessential high school movies, some might say.
Enter writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who just finished writing and directing the reboot of Hughes' Vacation. In speaking with Deadline, the writers revealed that when it comes to telling Spidey's high school story, they truly get it and get why he's resonated with so many teenagers for so many decades:
We definitely were attracted to approaching it from the standpoint of a real kid, a high school geek who, just because he gets super powers he doesn’t really want, doesn’t become a superhero right away.
That's the beauty of Spider-Man, that he's so relatable. He makes mistakes and it sometimes takes him a while to figure it out. He's not an adult. He's not a super soldier. He's not born into his powers. He's just a kid. Goldstein concedes that it will be the same in the new reboot:
It’s a long journey. You don’t want him to become someone capable of saving the world by second act. There is a wish fulfillment opportunity here in that few superheroes are given powers like this, and then has to navigate how to use them in a responsible way. Peter Parker is a geek, like us, and one of the very few superheroes who would actually read comic books. Stan Lee has said he wrote it that way, with wish fulfillment in mind, where most superheroes are very handsome adults, with superpowers. This is a real kid we’re talking about.
With the casting of baby-faced actor Tom Holland in the role, and Marvel announcing their plans for "Spidey #1," a new, in-continuity comic book series featuring a high school aged Peter Parker, Marvel is working hard to return him to his original roots as a regular teenager that other, real teenagers can identify with. It's easy to forget, with older actors playing Peter Parker in recent versions and the comics also featuring an adult Peter Parker all grown up, that he really was just a kid, practically a baby, when he took up the mantle.
But what do you think? Will this be the definitive Spider-Man movie franchise for a new generation? Or are they making a mistake to center the story around a Spider-Man who is younger than any we've ever seen? Let me hear it in the comments.
Captain America: Civil War arrives in theaters on May 6, 2016. The solo Spider-Man movie is set to be released on July 28, 2017.