It’s been a bumpy journey for the Spider-Man movies. Cult director and fanboy favorite Sam Raimi left the franchise after Spider-Man 3 was released, a movie which bore all the telltale hallmarks of studio meddling and ended up disappointing audiences. A rebooted franchise, starring Andrew Garfield, fizzled out after a mediocre first movie and critically-panned sequel. Thankfully, a deal was made between Sony and Marvel Studios and Spider-Man will soon be coming back home, with the Tom Holland version of the character debuting in Captain America: Civil War and a planned solo adventure in 2017.
How can the studios ensure that this Spidey re-reboot doesn’t flop like the previous attempt? By following Screen Rant’s 14 Ways To Make Spider-Man Great Again!
14. Move past the origin story
It’s safe to assume that most people know how Peter Parker got his powers by now. Not only is Spider-Man’s origin one of the most famous origin stories out there, audiences saw two movie versions of it within ten years. It seems that the films only get so far before the timeline is dragged back for the reboot. It’s like Groundhog Day.
There are great stretches of Peter’s life that we haven’t seen yet. We’ve barely seen his high-school existence, with him trying to balance school, teenage problems and heroics. We’ve not seen much of his college and adult life either. These stages all present their own challenges for Peter to face and it’d be way more interesting than watching him come to grips with his powers and responsibilities over and over again.
13. Take advantage of the rogues gallery
Spider-Man has had a lot of diverse enemies to fight over the decades. In the five films we’ve had so far, three of them have been a version of Green Goblin. It’s time to let some of the other Spider-Man antagonists have their moment. Famous villains like Vulture, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, Chameleon, Carnage and Morbius are still up for grabs, all with great potential to make excellent films.
The expansive line-up doesn’t just afford a bunch of colorful baddies for Spidey to fight, it also presents new ways for the stories to go. The motivations between them all vary wildly. Not all of Spider-Man’s villains want to take over the world, nor did they all start off as Peter’s friends/mentors. Some of them are just thugs that won the superpowers lottery and decided to use those abilities to rob banks and punish those who wronged them. Getting deeper into the roster means that we aren’t being presented with the same old stories.
12. Control the tone
While some may find Raimi’s films to be a little corny, he did an excellent job of balancing the weird tone that Spider-Man stories often have. Many of the best Spider-Man stories can be light and breezy one minute and tragic and affecting the next. It’s a tough thing to get right, especially when adapting for the big screen.
2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man wore its Batman influence on its sleeve and, some would argue, went too dark with the source material. Grittiness doesn’t really mesh too well with a story about a kid in red and blue spandex spinning webs and stopping crooks. Perhaps in response to this, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was incredibly colorful, akin to a Saturday morning cartoon in some parts, going too far the other way. The reboot will have to avoid these extremes and find a happy medium between the two. Spider-Man stories can deal with mature themes, but they’re seldom dark and brooding.
11. Concentrate on human drama
This doesn’t necessarily mean Peter’s love life, although there’s plenty of room for that. For the most part, Peter’s romances have been well-represented by the films. One of the key elements that has made Spider-Man resonate with so many people for over fifty years is the soap opera element to his stories. They keep readers invested in the Peter Parker side of things just as much as the Spidey side.
Stan Lee has often been quoted as saying that he wrote Spider-Man to be the first hero with problems. Peter always struggled with school, work, family and (especially) finances. Making Peter deal with things like trying to make ends meet and paying bills keeps his character grounded and makes him easy to root for. It keeps him human and people can identify with him more than they if he just breezed through life and punched bad guys in the face. The reboot needs to balance these elements if its to tap into what has made the character endure for so long.
10. Tell smaller-scale stories
Spider-Man is mostly a street-level hero. He stops robberies, catches crooks and rescues people in trouble. Not every villainous plot has to threaten all of New York or the world. Saving the world makes sense for the Avengers. Only Earth’s mightiest heroes can avert some of the biggest threats the universe has to offer.
However, with Spider-Man, there’s a great opportunity to tell tighter focused stories that don’t necessarily have world-ending consequences. Having Spider-Man battle gangs or lower-level criminals keeps the stakes relatable and could give us smaller and more personal stories. Just because the world isn’t in danger, it doesn’t mean Peter’s world isn’t under threat. This is perhaps one of the things the MCU is missing (at least outside of Daredevil and Jessica Jones) and Spider-Man could allow for it. If the reboot decided to take this route, it’d further diversify the different kind of heroics it had to offer and make the big event pictures feel even bigger by comparison. Plus, if and when Spidey does join up with the Avengers, it’d be a great change of pace for the character.
9. Include a healthy amount of MCU crossover
It’s a fantastic thing that one of Marvel’s most iconic characters is able to co-exist in the same universe as the rest of the carefully maintained Marvel roster. It’ll be huge kick to see Spider-Man finally share the screen with Iron Man and Captain America in Civil War. Marvel’s way of interweaving stories and characters together is a great way to get people excited to see just how the next instalment connects to everything else and gives fans hints and clues as to what’s coming next.
However, it’s important that Spider-Man stands on his own as a franchise lead character, and that his films aren’t just used as a filler movies between the bigger event ones. As the film went on, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 became increasingly preoccupied with setting up what was to come and establishing Sony’s own “spiderverse” in lieu of focusing on the story it was trying to tell.
Now Marvel are at the creative helm and have years of experience with this approach, this is unlikely to happen again. The reboot needs to clearly establish that Spidey is part of the MCU, but also be confident in its own storytelling rather than occupied with how it fits in with everything else.
8. Parker Luck
It never rains but pours in Peter’s world. Important things in his life tend to clash and he’s often torn between his personal life and his superheroic one. The world weighs heavy on Peter and it presents him with no-win scenarios, like caring for a sick and frail Aunt May or stopping Doc Ock from running amok downtown.
These kinds of problems make Spider-Man a uniquely sympathetic character. We root for him because no matter how downtrodden he is, he perseveres. On the rare occasion that Peter does get a “win”, we share in that victory because we’ve been on the journey with him and seen the struggles he’s had to overcome. The new film could do a lot worse than including a bit of the “typical Parker luck”.
7. Save the multiple villains for The Sinister Six
Having multiple villains in your movie tends to not do it any favors. It’s usually a symptom of a lack of narrative focus and/or an overwhelming desire to sell as many toys as possible. It certainly hasn’t worked for the Spider-Man series as both the worst films have had three villains for Spidey to deal with.
The introduction of the Sinister Six could be something special if treated with the proper amount of care and attention. They form because none of them can beat Spider-Man individually, and so they team up to try to overwhelm him by strength in numbers. The coming together of Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Vulture, Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio could be like done like the anti-Avengers, each having a film or at least an appearance under their belt before finally teaming up.
However, until then, the rebooted series should lay off the villain team-ups. They rarely work and spread the narrative too thinly.
6. Make Spidey funny
This is one aspect of Spider-Man that none of the films have really grasped. The beginning of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed promise, with Spidey quipping merrily while stopping a speeding stolen truck, but it didn’t feel like enough.
Humor is an integral part to the Spider-Man character. Peter Parker is a quiet introvert, whereas Spider-Man is loud and confident. When Peter dons the suit, he almost becomes a different person, or at the very least gets to showcase a side of him that few see. His constant jokes are used for a number of reasons. One, to hide how scared he might be and project a sense of confidence and, two, to enrage his enemies, forcing them to make mistakes when fighting him.
These are both fantastic character quirks and speak volumes about who Peter is. The reboot definitely needs to give Spidey some decent one-liners at the very least.
5. Focus on Peter’s intellect
Peter Parker is clever. In the comics, he graduates high school as valedictorian and goes to university on a science scholarship. The fact that he invents his web fluid in addition to designing and building his webshooters is a symbol of his smarts. It serves a great narrative purpose too.
Spider-Man will often be physically outmatched by his enemies. However, he’s able to think his way out of situations and improvise ways to gain the upper hand in a fight. Parker’s intelligence is the great leveler. We’ve had glimpses of this in the films. Peter and Otto Octavius got on famously because of their shared love of science in Spider-Man 2. We get a similar sort of thing in The Amazing Spider-Man where Peter impresses Doc Connors by completing his father’s incomplete equation.
However, this dropped off in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where Peter had to have Gwen explain how magnetism works and then we had to endure a scene of a supposed science scholar watching a video of how magnets worked on YouTube. The new Spidey must be smart because his intelligence is a crucial part of who he is as a character.
4. Build up the big storylines
There are several big storylines/events that a Spider-Man series is going to have to tackle at some point. The death of Gwen Stacy, the formation of the Sinister Six and the symbiote suit are probably the most famous of them. We also live in a world built on franchises, where Marvel and DC’s future calendars are meticulously planned out with at least two, and sometimes three superhero films scheduled per year for the next four years from each of them, without even factoring in Fox or Sony’s plans.
Perhaps the new series can use that to its advantage and sow the seeds of future storylines into the films. For example, instead of just introducing Eddie Brock and then turning him into Venom, have him be Parker’s rival at The Daily Bugle for a few films before giving him the black goo. Sam Raimi was already playing the long game with Dylan Baker’s Doc Connors being mentioned in the first and becoming a supporting character in the second and third movies. Raimi clearly had plans to turn him into the Lizard at some point.
Introducing Gwen Stacy in the reboot and having her survive the first film was a smart move. If we got to know these characters before the big event involving them happened, it might make the world feel more cohesive and automatically made audiences more invested.
3. Bring in Black Cat
Felicia Hardy is great character and her Black Cat alter-ego is not something we’ve seen in a Spider-Man film. In a similar way to some of Spidey’s villains, Felicia Hardy/Black Cat is a mirror of Peter Parker. She dons a costume because of a father figure’s legacy and she revels in it. However, she initially picks a life of crime before becoming an ally of Spider-Man’s.
Black Cat represents temptation. She’s not only physically attractive, but her lifestyle is too. She takes what she wants and has a complete lack of responsibility. She’s tried to persuade Peter to give up his regular life and become Spider-Man full-time on numerous occasions, but Peter refused.
If the series wants to establish who this new Spider-Man is, they can also focus on who he isn’t by way of Black Cat and his refusal to shirk his responsibilities to Aunt May and the people of New York.
2. Bring Back J. Jonah Jameson
While it unfortunately looks like the peerless J.K. Simmons won’t be snapping on the suspenders as Jameson again due to his new responsibilities policing Gotham, that’s still no reason to not bring ol’ JJJ back to terrorize Peter once again.
Jameson is one villain that neither Peter nor Spider-Man can beat. His desire to sell papers, his ridiculous editorializing and his hatred of anyone stepping outside of the rules leads to his persecution of Spider-Man and a massive newspaper campaign to smear the wall-crawler.
It’s also a fascinating insight into Peter’s mind, having to sell pictures of himself saving the day, knowing full well that Jonah is going to use them in his crusade to have Spidey branded a menace. In regards to the reboot, seeing the new Peter stumble over his words as he’s barked at by Jameson would be worth the price of admission alone.
1. Make Peter a geek again
This should be an obvious one. The whole point of Peter Parker is that he’s a social outcast. He’s shunned by the popular kids in school and is bullied. When Peter gains his powers, he finally has a way to get back at the world, but doesn’t, learning his lesson after one selfish act cost him his Uncle Ben. He instead chooses to save people, usually ending up having to save people like his schoolyard bullies or people turned against Spider-Man thanks to The Daily Bugle.
Having Peter as a geek makes him relatable to the vast majority of people out there who feel like they don’t belong. One of the many reasons for Spider-Man’s enduring popularity could be down to audience projection alone, considering that unlike many superheroes, he has a full body suit with a mask. He could have any color of skin, be any gender, anything. If the reboot has any sense, they’ll have their Peter get back to his nerdy roots so he can be the hero of the alienated and the downtrodden both on and off-screen.
How would you make Spider-Man great again? Let us know in the comments!