Wed
Jan 13 2010 5:40pm

What Will Become of Spider-Man?

Earlier this week, Sami Raimi and Tobey Maguire dropped out of production of Spider-Man 4. Naturally, the loss of the franchise’s director and its actual Spider-Man seems not to have fazed the studio at all; they’ve already announced plans to reboot the franchise with a high-school Spider-Man. Studio co-chairman Amy Pascal is quoted as saying, “We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots.”

Now, granted, I’m a cinema-culture grandmother who wants fewer subpar sequels and fewer explosions and whippersnappers off her lawn. However, I was under the impression that not only was this era being pretty well-covered in The Spectacular Spider-Man, but it was also the setting of the original Spider-Man movie.

I am not someone who necessarily minds grinding a franchise into the ground. It’s the cinematic equivalent of nuking the site from orbit—sometimes it’s the only way to be sure.

We didn’t know how bad the Schumacher Batmans could be after Batman Forever, which was run-of-the-mill overblown; we needed Batman and Robin to prove that tongue-in-cheek Bruce Wayne had run his course. (And like, ten other people’s courses.) And from the ashes of that Batman rose Christopher Nolan’s incarnation of Bruce Wayne, who has propelled himself through two movies with a gripping narrative underneath their car chases. Nolan is currently working on a sequel that I will be standing in line to see, because The Dark Knight left Batman in a different narrative place than it found him, and there’s a space—a need—to to tell the story and see how it all falls out.

On the other end of the sequel spectrum are the stand-alone films that do not even attempt to pretend they have interrelated plots, for fear of scaring off those who think they might have missed something. This does, however, take away slightly from the narrative arc. For instance, I’m not sure what anyone is hoping to see in Transformers 3 that they didn’t get from the first two movies. (Spoiler: robots fought each other, and also Megan Fox.) On the other hand, if you want robot fights, they have that market cornered but good, so perhaps this is what the studio is hoping: If you want an awkward teen-superhero-as-labored-metaphor-for-puberty story next summer, you know just where to get it!

Spider-Man 4 as high-school reboot seems on the surface to be an even shakier concept than More Robot Fights. Sidebar: Spider-Man seems to get a lot of this knocking-around, doesn’t he? Marvel killed Mary-Jane so they could reboot his comics canon, and then attempts to bring Spider-Man to Broadway as a musical got stuck in development hell (bad news), and then made it to completion for a February 2010 run and looks like it will actually happen (terrible news).

So, the question is: is the studio moving ahead with whatever they can cobble together just to keep from defaulting on the property rights they’re holding for Spider-Man 5 and 6? Are they hoping for brand loyalty from an audience that might already be oversaturated on this particular origin story? Or did Spider-Man 3 grind the franchise into the ground, and Raimi’s and Maguire’s departures have left the studio free to nurture a newer, better Spider-Man?


Genevieve sat through Batman and Robin twice, because she could not even believe it the first time. She writes more about movies on her blog.

12 comments
Harry Connolly
1. Harry Connolly
However they handle it, I just want to see Peter Parker weep like a beauty pageant winner four or five times.
Christopher Turkel
2. Applekey
Maybe my memory is long but the first Spider-Man movie didn't seem too long ago.
John Massey
3. subwoofer
Le sigh- I am not a big fan of some of the reboots. Batman was an exception to the rule. Look at the Punisher. OG one with Dolf was pansy, the second one was good, then they do a reboot again with another actor. What was that all about?

And don't get me started on Superman.

Hulk? James Cameron might as well of directed those train wrecks FWIIW.

Gahhhhh

Woof™.
Harry Connolly
4. mityorkie
Everybody wants to do origin stories these days. I can imagine studio execs with a pleading look in their eyes, asking Raimi if he could make SM4 more of an origin story... then deciding that they should just go for it everything else be forgotten.
For the record, I miss the Michael Keaton Batman... a fully formed character who interacted with events instead of just reacting to them.
Harry Connolly
5. Bluejay
Personally, I'm intensely curious about how the Spider-Man musical works out. With Julie Taymor (The Lion King) directing, and Bono and the Edge working on the music, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the possibility that it'll be a pleasant surprise. (As Batman Begins was a pleasant surprise; I remember groaning "Not another one" the first time I saw the trailer.)

And even if it does wind up being terrible, I hope at least we get one so-bad-it's-good song out of it. Like "Doing Good" from the musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman. :-)
Teresa Jusino
6. TeresaJusino
I think they're just using the Maguire/Raimi/Dunst fallout as an excuse to do something sooner that I think Marvel Studios was going to do later anyway. I think they're going to start the Spider-Man franchise from scratch in the Ultimate Universe. Iron Man, and all of the films that are coming - Thor, Captain America, The Avengers - are set in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and I think they wanted to start Ultimate Spider Man so that they could all be set in the same world, and maximize cross-over potential. I think it's a bit soon, but whaddareyagonnado?

As for "Turn Off the Dark", I have faith in it ONLY because Julie Taymor is directing it. The Lion King didn't sound like it would translate well to the stage, and I thought it would be like all the other cheesy Broadway Disney adaptations....but it ended up being really brilliant because of what she did with it, and she righly won the Tony for Best Director that year. If anyone could make Spidey burst into song, it's her.
Mike Conley
7. NomadUK
Applekey @ 2: You clearly have an attention span of longer than 30 seconds, which leaves you out of the popular entertainment demographic. Sorry, old man.
Marcus W
8. toryx
It's much too soon to do another Spiderman Origin story, in my opinion. Even if they're trying to set it in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, it's just not going to have as much appeal as the other movies already slated for that setting: Iron Man 2, Thor and the Captain America movie are far fresher than another turn with Spiderman.
Harry Connolly
9. Wendigomt
Man, this is gonna be terrible. And with McGuire and Raimi gone, it'll be like Bewitched and Roseanne when they lost main actors and expected us not to notice. Besides, isn't Zach Effron getting long in the tooth these days for high school? I'm only guessing on the Effronity of the situation. But you know they wanna.

It takes a lot for Sam Raimi to walk away from a project. Have you seen "Puke in My Mouth?" I meant, "Drag Me to Hell." Awful. People loved it because it was Sam Raimi. Take away the cult icon and you've got no cult following. You've just got Jonestown without the Jones. Just sayin'.
Alex Brown
10. AlexBrown
To quote the great Wil Wheaton, "Sorry to get all comic book geek, but isn't a Spiderman movie "reboot" actually a retcon?"
Harry Connolly
11. Dovile
I this had to happed someday, but still it's kinda sad.
And the concept of Spider-Man 4 sounds too much like Smallville. I'm sure it might be actually good, but a large part of Spider-Man fans are well over the high-school years, so they won't be able to identify themselves much with the new Spidey. But, I guess the studio's goal is to attract new (young) fans, so they might be right in this, especially considering crossover possibilities with other movies form the same universe.
Hardi Stutes
12. seelo
I love reboots. I think there should be more of them.

Not that every movie should be a one off but I really think that "franchise" is a word movie producers use to mean "less risky" when they talk to investors.

It's a rare creative team that can take a franchise and keep it interesting for more than two (maybe three) movies because people get comfortable and stop taking risks (which is why the bean counters love franchises, it's like McDonalds, you get the same lame burgers wherever you go but at least they're the same) and then things get boring.

By tossing the characters and stories we all love into a blender and taking risks to try new things the chances very much increase that we'll see great new things from a reboot. The possibility of utter crap is also there but at least the steady decline to mediocrity is brought to a halt which to me makes it all worth it...

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