Coming soon to a theater near you, one of the biggest names in superheroes, one of the oddest behind-the-scenes franchise negotiations… Spider-Man Homecoming! After the abrupt ending to their last Spider-Man movie series 3 short years ago in Amazing Spider-Man 2, lots happened to bring us a Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s a new Spider-Man (well, the one we saw in Captain America: Civil War). It’s the third actor playing Spider-Man in recent memory. It’s only a few short years since the hot mess that was the last film. It’s still Sony’s property, even with the MCU connection. However, there’s plenty of Marvel cooperation as well. The trailers look good. There’s Iron Man. There is simultaneously a lot to say against this movie, and a lot going for it.
I mean, the most important thing in there is that the trailers look pretty good. In the end, give us a good movie.
Still, the questions I see are both, how are they going to give us that good movie? And what are they planning to do from there?
Spider-Man Without an Origin Story?
Okay, so I may have made claims that it didn’t seem like Batman was going to have an origin story on screen in the DC Extended Universe, and I may have been proven wrong by not one but two instances of his origin story in Batman v. Superman. So I am going to avoid saying they are definitely going to skip Spider-Man’s origin story – instead, let me say that at this point it seems like they should skip it.
There are a number of characters that you can put on screen that really just don’t need introduction. Many of them are superheroes, with the like of Spider-Man and Batman where people know and get it. There are also literary figures like Sherlock Holmes that need no introduction and you can dive into the thick of things. Or there are characters like James Bond, who have had so many actors playing the character without an origin that when you finally try to do one – like they’ve done with the Daniel Craig movies of late – it gets a little weird.
Moreover, we’ve already seen this character on screen, in Civil War. He already had his powers, had a suit, had connections with Tony Stark, lived with just his Aunt May… One of the things that has been nice in the MCU is they have avoided doing much backtracking or ret-conning. The movies have stayed fairly chronological, even incorporating the weekly TV show Agents of SHIELD into the flow of time.
There’s a notable exception with Captain America: The First Avenger, just because his origin story happened decades in the past – but they caught you up to the contemporary moment when Cap is woken up. There have been a few other flashback sorts of moments, like the Hank Pym backstory in Ant Man, or Doctor Strange starting basically during the events of Civil War before a time jump ahead. Okay fine, also, all of Agent Carter. But the fact that I can sit here and name specific notable exceptions to this rule means that they have largely held to it.
Recently in Wonder Woman, we got thrown back to see the origin story for her after she had already been seen on screen in the franchise, in Batman v. Superman. So this is actually probably the best compare and contrast movie. Wonder Woman as a character hasn’t had a movie before, unlike the several recent Spider-Man films. Spider-Man has also had a number of TV shows in the time between the famous Linda Carter Wonder Woman and now, although Wonder Woman has shown up in plenty of animated Justice League TV. Still, one is a character who has had lots of screen time over time, and one who has not – so the argument is there for Wonder Woman to be an origin film (even if it’s framed by the present day and is technically all a flashback), and for Spider-Man Homecoming to not be an origin story.
They can really just dive into it. Please, please, I hope they do. Sure, we’ll probably see Uncle Ben die at some point. Don’t lead with that. Bring it in later. Integrate it into the story. Don’t make the origin story a checklist item you feel like you need to check off.
I mean, to be sure, there are ways they could have angled for an origin story here. A Miles Morales Spider-Man would be the top reason to do that, I think, and I’m still disappointed they didn’t go this way.
But at this point, the part has been cast for a while, they didn’t go this way, and that’s not changing anytime soon. So we’re getting yet another Peter Parker, which means again: please, we know who Peter Parker is. Don’t feed us an origin story, tell us a new story. Tell us a good story.
Still Hopes for a Sony Spider-Man Franchise?
It certainly seems like Sony has hope for a wider franchise, anyway. And in partnership with Marvel, which seems to have possibly been news to Kevin Feige…
We had previously heard that the later movies were potentially not connected to the MCU, but were back in a Sony-run cinematic universe. I guess Sony is hoping they can keep cashing in on Marvel’s success, as they are working on talking about their next movies now with the imminent release of Homecoming.
For instance, it seems their plans of making a Venom movie are still a thing, now with Tom Hardy in talks for the lead (maybe as Agent Venom?). Venom wouldn’t be hard to introduce into the MCU, with an increasing amount of stuff happening in space. It would be much harder to introduce in an independent movie with no tie-in.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still thinking about the Sinister Six movie they were setting up to compete with Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy. Characters like Vulture and Shocker – appearing in Homecoming – have been members of this villain team-up before. And they use technology to fight Spider-Man, so there’s a source to that technology, and some of the plot for Homecoming seems to revolve around the villains getting their hands on and also selling this powerful tech. It could be an origin for this – much like they were trying to do with Oscorp in Amazing Spider-Man 2.
So these future movies – and a potential future Spider-Man film, I’m sure – could all make sense in the MCU. And I’m sure Sony is hoping to make these, because they had been previously planning a 4-movie (minimum) Amazing Spider-Man franchise along with stand-alone Venom and Sinister Six. Now it seems they’re trying to find a way to still pull that off, at least in terms of number of movies made.
But with Marvel’s plans for movies seemingly set between now and the as-yet untitled Avengers 4 in 2019, well, we’ll just have to see if Sony’s hopes pan out to be part of Marvel’s larger plans. Lots of the actor contracts end after Avengers 4, so it’s possible that might be that – or, that they’ll be looking for what to do for Marvel Phase 4 and Sony will be there waiting with a plan.
But if this movie sets up another larger movie franchise and those movies never happen, well, I don’t think Sony is likely to get a chance to do this a fourth time.