You’ve got to love Spider-Man. I mean, who doesn’t? He’s one of Marvel’s most enduring icons, standing for all that is good, and representing the little man in his fight against evil. We’re not talking about the orphan son of a millionaire here, Peter Parker is the every man. Any one of us could have filled his shoes had we been bitten by that famed radioactive spider. No privileged background or alien birthrights required.
Directed by prolific music video director Marc Webb, whose only other film credit was 2009′s 500 Days of Summer, the latest spin on the Spider-Man story with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ is currently in post production and will swing into cinemas in July of this year. It is promised to be the most faithful interpretation ever. Gone is tiny mouthed man child Toby Maguire, replaced by The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield an actor whose slight frame so perfectly fills the boots of the friendliest of all neighbourhood superheroes.
But how did a franchise reboot actually come about? And why did Marvel feel the need so soon after the Sam Raimi trilogy? We all know there was originally going to be a fourth installment in Raimi’s vision but that was dropped by Sony in favour of a total do-over. The answer, as usual in these things, is money. With Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Raimi taking up something like $50 million in salary requirements alone (their deals increased with every film), Sony were always prepping to reboot the series for younger actors who could come on minimal pay deals thinking that it is the characters fans are coming back for and not the actors portraying them. Whilst Sam Raimi had his Spider-Man 4 in development, Sony made sure screenwriter James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) was working on a reboot for them to pull the trigger.
Financially the most successful Spider-Man movie of all time, Raimi’s last movie Spider-Man 3 had all the potential to be the greatest comic book movie of all time. A well established back story for its hero, a plethora of villains to chose from and some of the most brilliant source material from which to draw inspiration. Instead it was an over saturated, self aware parody of itself that left many bored to tears. But what would have happened if Sam Raimi’s 3rd Spidey flick hadn’t been so poorly received by fans? Would The Amazing Spider-Man actually have been Spider-Man 4?
The answer is probably not… Raimi would have got to make the movie he had wanted to since 2004 by using The Vulture (John Malkovich was attached) and with the added spice of Anne Hathaway as The Vulturess (a mix of Black Cat and a new character… a casting that would have ruled out Hathaway for the Catwoman role in The Dark Knight Rises) but the idea was to reboot the franchise and Sony would have pulled the trigger eventually.
I guess we’ll never know for sure if any movie could have convinced Sony not to reboot when so much money in salaries were involved, but because we always like to day dream around here, here’s my take on the way Spidey part 3 should have gone down, thus prolonging the shelf life of the original franchise. Sony, I hope you’re taking notes as it may help you when you get to The Amazing Spider-Man 3.
1. LESS IS MORE
I’m not the first writer to gripe about too many villains spoiling the film but it remains a very good point none the less. The Dark Knight didn’t suck because they tied up the Scarecrow arc without taking away any of the Joker’s impact. Sandman is a great character, and in my opinion far more interesting than Venom, but the Spider-Man pay off always had to be the symbiote psycho from Prometheum X. Fleshing out his character and making him the sole villain of the piece would have made far more sense. Venom is too important to be an afterthought.
Oh and then there was the Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin II stuff. Way too much going on… and one of these three story acts should have been cut.
2. PETER PARKER IS NOT AN EMO
OK, so I realise the cocky and mildly conflicted Peter Parker, with his hair parted to the side, jiving down the street is supposed to be infected by Venom but it just makes the whole scene seem ridiculous and funny – and not in a good way. An infected Parker should be sketchy and erratic, more like someone on drugs. Venom is a dangerous and legitimate threat. Emo Parker – as he came to be known – did little to convey this and make somewhat of a joke of the series.
3. GIVE RAIMI THE BOOT
I love Sam Raimi. The Evil Dead movies are my all-time favourites, but Raimi admits there was no love lost when it came to the Venom character. In fact he talked down the inclusion of any symbiote villains throughout his time at the helm and we all know it was a character who was forced upon him. If he didn’t like the character then he shouldn’t have been making a movie about him and he should have had the sense to walk, or Sony should have pushed for him to be gone. Sony should have given someone with a little passion for the Venom character a chance instead and even if it cost them their cast, then they could have rebooted with new players on low pay salaries but kept the continuity going, something that is important to fans.
Remember the animated series from the 1990′s? The Venom saga was handled brilliantly and would have translated to the big screen perfectly and to much fanfare. I’m surprised Raimi didn’t just cast Bruce Campbell in the role and have done with it.
I’m sure some of you will disagree with what I’ve written but I stand by my assertion that Sam Raimi killed the Spider-Man franchise. A comedic, often camp spin on Spider-Man was never going to be able to compete with the stark realism of DC’s neo-Batman movies. Sure, it could have worked as a less dramatic alternative to Nolan’s nightmarish Gotham, but instead dragged the Spider-Man movies kicking and screaming into Batman and Robin territory. A series reboot is not only welcomed by me but is also required to reestablish Spidey’s place in the pecking order after what Raimi had done.
So while some of you may sit at your computers dismissing this piece, over analysing every detail of the new suit and complaining about “Yet another origin movie”, just remember why The Amazing Spider-Man is so important to the continued success of our favourite genre.
The Amazing Spider-Man is scheduled to be released in 3D on July 3rd, 2012. A sequel is already planned and we will get our first sneak peek at the film from February 6th.