In another of those “melt-down-the-Internet” moments, Marvel Studios and Sony announced Monday night that they’d come to an agreement that would allow Spider-Man to begin making appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with a guest appearance in an already-scheduled MCU film, followed by a new solo Spidey film shepherded by Marvel Studios, already scheduled for July 2017.
This is without question a good thing. Even the worst thing about it, that it pushes some exciting films like CAPTAIN MARVEL and BLACK PANTHER back a few months, I can live with in exchange for seeing Spidey share the screen with Captain America or Iron Man, and especially for a new Spider-Man film that I can really enjoy, something that hasn’t happened since 2004.
That being said, how should Marvel Studios move forward in incorporating Spidey to their universe? Well, everyone’s got opinions, and I’m no different. Here’s what I think.
NO MORE ORIGINS
We’ve seen it. Been there, done that, seen the Broadway show, rode the theme-park ride, bought the T-shirt. The last thing we need is to see poor Uncle Ben (as portrayed by yet another biggish Hollywood name with gravitas) take a bullet yet again. Handle it the way it was done in THE INCREDIBLE HULK (for my money the most underrated Marvel Studios film): if you really think we need the origin, give it to us in flash cuts over the opening title sequence. A quick reminder, show us the spider bite and sad Peter Parker at Uncle Ben’s grave, boom, get to the story.
LET SPIDEY BE SPIDEY
Don’t overplay the webslinger when you guest him in other movies. Sure, a decade of Bendis’ AVENGERS has acclimated current fans to the notion of Spider-Man hanging out at the Avengers’ kitchen table with his mask off eating cereal, but that’s not how the character works best. In other people’s comics, Spidey always seemed like an outsider, this weird guy hanging from the ceiling or sticking to a wall in the background, somebody who’d be joking around to cover up how insecure and out of place he felt in the company of people he considered “real” heroes. I don’t ever want to see him with his mask off in someone else’s movie.
IF IT AIN’T BROKE…
Don’t overthink the costume. The only redeeming feature of the last Spidey movie was the costume, which was just about the best version of the classic Ditko suit to ever appear on screen. That one’s just fine, stick with it.
IT’S CALLED A “SECRET IDENTITY” FOR A REASON
I know the notion of secret identities doesn’t really exist in the MCU, but for Spider-Man it’s integral. So much of Spider-man’s motivation is anchored in guilt over the death of his uncle and his desire to protect his loved ones, his need to hide his identity is a huge part of what makes him who he is. And yes, I know that a big part of Civil War involved Spidey revealing his identity to the world, but that was such a critical error to the way the Spider-Man comics worked, it required the world’s dumbest story (see: “ONE MORE DAY”) to wave the magic wand and make it all go away. Don’t cripple your new Spidey license right out the gate.
REFRESH THE ROGUES
When it comes to the new solo Spidey film, all-new villains are a must. Look, I love Norman Osborn, and you could make the argument that the Green Goblin has never been done properly in film, but it’s just too much Goblin, too much Osborn. You still have plenty of great Spider-Man villains that have never been touched, so go with folks like Mysterio, Kraven, Vulture or Scorpion before you even think about coming back around to the Goblin or Doc Ock again. (Or my personal favorites, Stegron and the Jackal.)
Bring back J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. No one else can do it better, so why even try?