As mentioned last year, I’ve got some worries about the new Spidey movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Based on the clips we’ve gotten, my fears have not been assuaged in the least—in fact they’ve grown worse. For anyone who missed it, here’s a supercut of just about everything that’s been released to date:
There are a number of potential problems I’m seeing here.
None of the Spider-Man movies have been perfect, but one of the thing’s Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man movie got right was its treatment of Spider-Man’s costume. I’m not saying the costume looked better; I’m saying their treatment of it was better. My reasoning is pretty simple.
In that first film, when Pete first appears in his original, homemade costume to participate in that wrestling match with Randy “Macho Man” Savage (aka “Bonesaw”), it looks like a ski mask and sweat clothes, which garnered some healthy laughs from the audience. When his superhero career begins in earnest, of course, he suddenly appears in this stunning costume. Where did he get it? How did he make it? No one truly cared. We’re talking about a kid with super powers; someone who can run up walls and spin giant webs. Did anyone at the studio think the fantasy would be shattered because the costume looked too good to be “real”? Of course not.
Now this Homecoming iteration of the character has what could be the best costume ever. What makes it the best is that it’s the one that looks closest to the classic comics. (If they could just get rid of those pesky black stripes/lines at seemingly random intervals on the costume, it would be absolutely PERFECT.) But it looks so good that the creative minds behind the film feel they need to explain how Peter got it. This is a mistake. Plus it looks like they’re attaching all kinds of new bells and whistles to the costume, which, again, is a mistake, as it’s making him feel less and less like classic Spidey. (And wasn’t the whole point of the new costume design to make him look and feel more like classic Spidey in the first place?)
Too Much Iron Man
The movie is supposed to be a Spider-Man movie, not Marvel Team-Up. It’s certainly okay for Tony Stark/Iron Man to make an appearance here, but it feels as if it’s going to be too much. As Gail Simone observed:
This new Iron Man movie looks cool, but who is this “Spiderman” who is apparently in it?
— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) June 13, 2017
…Also keep in mind that even when he’s not on the screen, Stark is the one that made this new souped-up costume, which looks like it’s going to be a plot-point running through the entire film. So it feels like Stark/Iron Man is going to be all over this thing.
Putting aside the fact that you’re de-emphasizing Spidey in his own movie, you’re also diminishing the loner aspect of the Spider-Man character—a trait that is a fairly defining one for the classic Spider-Man.
Classic Spidey doesn’t join super teams. And while he certainly gets around the Marvel Universe and is more than happy to work with others (as his long stint in Marvel Team-Up demonstrated), he doesn’t let anyone get truly close to him. No one else in the Marvel Universe really knows him. This makes creative sense and commercial sense, as the webhead doesn’t need any outside characters to make his story better, nor does he need any outside characters to make bank. This is Spider-Man we’re talking about, folks; he’s kind of a big deal. Wanna get an idea of just how big? This big: Disney is not getting a penny of this film’s ticket sales. They were willing to forego this because they’re anticipating a relative windfall off the merchandising alone—and also for the sheer prestige of having their greatest character back as a part of their cinematic universe.
I think Stan Lee put it into perspective best in his Origins of Marvel Comics. After detailing the circumstances behind the creation of the Fantastic Four and the Hulk—the first two superhero properties in the then-fledgling Marvel Universe—he gets to that magic number three. In Lee’s own words:
My daughter is into numerology. She’d probably be the first to predict what happened next. Alter all, the first two Marvel “new-wave” productions were admitted blockbusters; that means the next one we came up with, being number three, would have to be far bigger than both of them—or else a total dud. Well, having read the first two spellbinding parts of this literary landmark, you know how I hate to boast. Suffice it to say that numero tres, The Amazing Spider-Man, wasn’t a dud.
Spider-Man has always been the crown jewel of Marvel properties. Now I love Iron Man and don’t mean to diss the character, but he’s not Spider-Man. He’s not going on Marvel’s Mount Rushmore, as Spider-Man certainly would. Spidey is Marvel’s big gun and doesn’t need any guest stars to be successful in any media venture. In this particular case, it feels like Iron Man can only get in the way.
Also, as I touched on last year, there’s the practical matter of Tony Stark being rich while Peter Parker is poor. If the two characters are going to be besties now, Stark’s wealth negates all of Peter’s financial worries. Again, this would be a monumental shift away from classic Spidey.
I explained why the portrayal of Aunt May here doesn’t work last year and my concerns remain exactly the same now as then. Aunt May should be old (very old) and frail and sickly. As such in the original comics, she was a constant source of worry and concern for Peter Parker, as well as one of the biggest motivations for his maintaining a secret identity. It may not sound like much, but in reality it’s a major, major shift from classic Spidey to change Aunt May like this.
…Let me just say that the film looks great in almost every other way. The action looks to be outstanding and the sense of humor/whimsy is great. They’ve also got the Spidey banter down almost perfectly.
Is this enough? Or will the flaws doom the film? We’ll find out on Friday.
Other Spidey Stuff
Some other news in webhead land…
A new animated Spidey show (Marvel’s Spider-Man) is arriving on Disney XD in August. Here’s a sneak peak:
And over in the pages of this month’s SFX magazine (#289), they’ve got a write-up on the death of Gwen Stacy, featuring an interview with Gerry Conway. Click here to read at least some, if not all, of the article (haven’t seen the magazine so I’m not sure how much of it is reprinted through the link). Unfortunately, Conway still isn’t expressing much regret for the decision to kill off Gwen. He also says it was Romita’s idea to kill off Aunt May at first, which directly contradicts Romita’s memory of it, and I tend to believe Romita, as outlined in the doctoral thesis I published at the dawn of the new bloghome.
In any case, enjoy the rest of Spidey-Week everyone. Hope the new film is a good one.