Intermission: Spider-Man 3x3

Heh.

Heh heh.

HeheheheheheheHEHEHEHEHEH!!!

Ahem.

You already know the tune, Might as well sing along…

Spider-Bro, Spider-Bro
No more movies with Spider-Bro!
Twilight hair,
Mumbly mouth,
Give my best to Brandon Routh!
Goodbye, worst version of Spider-Man!

Reboot sucked, Sequel worse!
Failed so hard might have been cursed.
Didn’t buy
His or her
Inconsistent characters.
So sad, The Forgettable Spider-Man!

Scripts so bad were a sin
Even wrecked Uncle Ben!
Stupid magical blood
What the hell was with that!?

Spider-Douche, Spider-Douche
Smirking sk8-punk Spider-Douche
Arad’s ox,
Justly gored.
Marvel’s gain but our reward

Hooray, Spidey’s been rescued from hacks!
Next get Fantastic Four back!
New day for Spider-Man!!!

So, anyway…

Spider-Man MCU!

Just about five years ago, I told you that Sony unceremoniously firing Sam Raimi and canceling Spider-Man 4 was a terrible idea that would end in disaster.

Two and a half years later, I was proven rightThe Amazing Spider-Man was an unmitigated piece of sh*t.

Last April, they did a sequel that was so bad everybody else started coming around to where I’d been since 2010.

Since then, it’s been my perverse duty to report on the fallout from all this. The hacked emails revealing Sony was already trying to get out of this by handing off to Marvel. The likelihood that Andrew Garfield was already toast as the lead character. Increasingly wild rumors of face-saving “Hail Mary” projects. Sony’s Japanese masters likely forcing them to bow to Marvel’s wishes. It’s all quite fascinating: Two hugely powerful companies effectively scrapping over a pair of red longjohns like NFL teams over a free agent.

And now… vindication. It’s over. Marvel Comics’ flagship superhero is finally going to join the Cinematic Universe where he belongs.

In case you were wondering: Yes, I imagine I will be insufferable about this for a good long while.

The details, of course, are still emerging. The press release at Marvel’s site talks about a “new Spider-Man” debuting in the MCU before a new series kicks off at Sony, which is why it’s no surprise that Andrew Garfield is all-but officially gone as Peter Parker. I can get behind that. Garfield is a good actor, and its conceivable that he might’ve been a good Spider-Man with the right screenplay, but everything about the character was wrong conceptually and the actual writing/directing sealed his fate: His Spider-Man is the worst live-action incarnation to ever appear, and he’s tainted irrevocably because of it – it’d be like George Clooney headlining Batman Begins.

Predictably, a lot of people are already calling for this to be as good a moment as any to just not bother with Peter Parker and go with Miles Morales, the Black/Latino star of Ultimate Spider-Man. I could get behind that, but it’s almost certainly not going to happen. Marvel’s default cinematic brand (for the most part) is “ripped from the comics,” and I doubt they’ll forego the opportunity to drive fans into a frenzy with the most Lee/Ditko/Romita-“accurate” Spidey ever at least to start with. Especially since doing so let’s them save “And now, Miles Morales!” as a big newsmaker when they decide to recast a few sequels from now.

A lot of this is also bound up in Hollywood deal-making doublespeak: The announcement trumpets that Sony will “retain creative control” of solo Spider-Man movies going forward (with Marvel free to have the character turn up in cameos and co-star roles), but nobody actually believes that’s truly the case. Sony is the only one making a substantial gain here – Marvel already owns the more financially lucrative parts of Spider-Man (merchandising and TV rights) and while they’d certainly like to have yet another hit movie franchise they’ve by now proven that they can turn characters nobody has heard of into gargantuan moneymakers all on their own.

spider-man no more

Their (Marvel’s) short-term, immediate gain here is control of a few news cycles, another guaranteed “pop” at the next SDCC when the new Spider-Man joins The Avengers etc onstage and a known-quantity whose co-star/cameo stature can help sell an iffy project of their own: If it were to “leak,” for example, that at one point in Ant-Man the characters would be onhand in a science lab where a random teenager gets bit by an irradiated spider, and then that same kid turns up in a post-credits scene seemingly developing spider-powers? Suddenly, no one will be worried about Ant-Man’s opening weekend numbers. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was to end Season 2 on a stinger of Director Coulson calling for a trip to New York because “I want to know who THIS is.” and holding up a Daily Bugle Spider-Man headline? ABC wouldn’t be able to greenlight a Season 3 fast enough.

But Sony? Sony is getting the ONE thing that every movie studio in the world would kill for: An official endorsement from Marvel that audiences who want to keep up to date with the Marvel Cinematic Universe need to go see one of their (Sony’s) movies, too. This is the unobtanium of Hollywood right now, so don’t expect anything to happen on these new post-Amazing Spider-Man features without Marvel having said yes to it. (It’s even being speculated on the business front that this is in itself a halfway measure – a staging ground for either Marvel eventually acquiring Spidey outright or Disney purchasing Sony Pictures.)

A missing question in a lot of this is whether or not mainstream audiences actually care. The sheer ubiquity of the Marvel-ization of the Hollywood blockbuster (and the internet-age easy-access to information that in part made it possible) has certainly changed the game in terms of how much casual moviegoers care about “connective tissue” – millions more people are aware of (and nominally-invested in) Guardians of The Galaxy and Iron Man taking place in the same universe by virtue of “That one big purple guy” having turned up in The Avengers than ever new or cared about the gently-suggested “shared universe” of some Quentin Tarantino films or even the self-reference obsessed Kevin Smith features – but does that investment extend to Intellectual Property rights-disputes?

Amazing Spider-Man 2

Make no mistake, Spider-Man meeting Thor and Captain America onscreen is the definition of a saleable spectacle in superhero blockbusters, particularly kids for whom the Marvel movies will now look one step closer to resembling a varied toy chest or their Disney Infinity lineups (or The Lego Movie.) But is it a spectacle appreciably different from, say, Batman showing up? Or Godzilla? Or Mr. Spock? Or any other known-quantity character of similar stature? The lifer Marvel/comic-book devotees who fuel the between-movie fandom hype machine (and make up a plurality of the blogger-base reporting on the same) are invested in seeing missing-pieces like Peter Parker, Reed Richards and Mutants fitted back into the Marvel Universe; but can a wider audience for whom acknowledgment of their being a Marvel Universe begins with Samuel L. Jackson surprising Robert Downey Jr. in his living room be expected to care the same way? While The Internet is celebrating a “homecoming,” are Joe and Jane Popcorn asking WHY it’s supposed to be a big deal (or even “good news”) that a superhero whose last two movies were, to put it mildly, terrible now gets to join (or at least hang out with) The Avengers?

It’s all so “iffy” that, as glad as I am (and if the song up top didn’t cue you in, I am euphoric) that I won’t have to see my favorite superhero further sullied by Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s moronic magic-blood/predestination/cool-athletic-model-handsome-high-schooler-is-treated-like-a-dorky-nerd-for-some-reason-but-only-sometimes screenwriting, Garfield’s mush-mouthed mumbling and whatever the hell Dane Dehaan thought he was doing as Harry Osborn… I’m still more “interested” than “excited.”

I want to know which Marvel movie he’ll show up first in – Captain America 3: Civil War like they were hoping/planning? Or will Marvel (who famously shot The Avengers’ now-iconic “Shawarma Scene” during a few hours when the necessary actors all happened to be in the same city and inserted it into the post-credits a week after the film had already premiered and released in Europe) cast the role in time for “Mr. Stark! Peter Parker, Daily Bugle. Can we get a shot with the helmet open?” to be a post-production insert for Avengers: Age of Ultron?

But beyond that? Even with this new arrangement all but guaranteed to yield a better Spider-Man movie than I’ve gotten in a while (again, it won’t exactly be difficult) I’m going to need to hear directors, actors and scenarios before I start getting my hopes all the way up – after all, in eleven years almost no superhero movie made has managed to do better than this moment – but I’ll at least never have to sit through this nonsense again.

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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