In addition to capitalizing on the unprecedented popularity that superhero movies currently enjoy, the upcoming series reboots The Amazing Spider-Man and The Man of Steel will no doubt attempt to breathe new life into familiar mythos by approaching the heroes' origin stories from some new, audacious angle.
But recent plot revelations regarding both films are beginning to raise the question: how many changes to the source material are too many?
It goes without saying that, from here on out, we'll be presenting MILD SPOILERS for both The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel - so, if you don't want to know anything about the films, best to turn away now.
The Amazing Spider-Man
For fans of the Sam Raimi trilogy, the decision to scrap the entire franchise and start over (at first) seemed rash, to say the least. On the other hand, many followers of the comics likely wanted a darker, grittier, more brooding tone than that of Raimi's often-cartoony adaptations. In that respect, at least, The Amazing Spider-Man seems sure to deliver, if the trailers are any indication.
What's less-certain is exactly what the filmmakers mean when they say that the film tells the "untold story" of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Previous reports suggested that marketing spin referred to Peter's search for information about his long-missing father (something Raimi's films never bothered to touch on), and the previews seem to support this plot point.
However, according to Badass Digest, The Amazing Spider-Man also tinkers with the hero's long-established origin story. Apparently, this time around, Peter is not imbued with superpowers by the bite of a radioactive spider, but rather by some sort of dormant mutation for which his father is responsible - and the spider bite merely triggers it. This detail could potentially alter the entire dynamic of the Spider-Man character and story. Instead of some timid high-schooler who has to struggle with and adapt to the hand which fate has dealt him, is he now some sort of "chosen one," or genetic super-soldier? Because that's how it's starting to sound.
The Man of Steel
The issue of "destiny" also crops-up in the forthcoming Zack-Snyder- helmed, David S. Goyer/Christopher-Nolan-penned Superman reinterpretation The Man of Steel. Think McFly Think reports that this time around, Kal-El isn't just any Kryptonian refugee, but rather a full-fledged prince, who is somehow preordained to save Earth from destruction. This isn't necessarily as significant an alteration to the legend as the aforementioned Spider-Man re-envisioning, but it may add a layer of mysticism that will feel out of place in what's supposed to be straight sci-fi/comic book movie. Then again, Superman has never been the most complex or compelling superhero, as Brian Singer's underwhelming Superman Returns made painfully clear, so maybe a new layer to his backstory could actually provide some much-needed depth. These deviations from the accepted Superman origin mythology are reportedly holdovers from an earlier J. J. Abrams script, Superman: Flyby, which apparently contained other, far more radical, plot elements.
The success of The Avengers and intense anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises have both, no doubt, weakened interest in The Amazing Spider-Man, but who's to say it can't still turn out to be a dark horse success? All anyone really has to go on are a few trailers and blind conjecture. Predictions about The Man of Steel are even more futile, given that it's not scheduled for release until summer 2013. That said, the project has a powerful asset in Nolan. Hopefully he can redefine and reinvigorate the last son of Krypton as he did with Batman.
The Amazing Spider-Man hits theaters on July 3rd, 2012. The Man of Steel is tentatively scheduled for release in the U. S. on June 14th, 2013.