It's easy to forget now, but Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy was one of the watershed moments for the comic book movie genre, showing mainstream audiences in the 2000s that it was possible to bring characters like Peter Parker to the big screen in a way that respected the source material and appealed to casual viewers. If those films weren't the commercial and critical successes that they were, it's difficult to see how the practice of a shared movie universe has become standard or how something like Ant-Man can make a quick buck at the box office.
And while Spider-Man is a symbol for how superheroes in film can be done right, he's also a cautionary tale for how things can go terribly wrong. Sony infamously tried to use the Amazing Spider-Man franchise reboot as a foundation for its own 'shared' universe, before the shortcomings of last year's Amazing Spider-Man 2 served as the catalyst for a groundbreaking deal between Sony and Marvel Studios that will allow Spider-Man (now played by Tom Holland) to take part in the ever-expanding and ultra-lucrative MCU. It's also something that Raimi is interested to see come to fruition.
While promoting Ash vs. Evil Dead at San Diego Comic-Con, Raimi spoke with MTV, and the topic of Spider-Man movies came up. Even though the character is already on his third cinematic iteration, his original director is nonetheless supportive of Marvel's vision (and Amazing Spider-Man's Marc Webb) and can't wait to see what they have in store:
"I saw [both Marc Webb movies], they’re great. And I’m really glad that Marvel’s taking it to high school. I think that’s gonna be refreshing, and just like my favorite of the Spider-Man comic-books. And I have a lot of faith that they really know their stuff… The difficulty of going through high school is so unique to a superhero. It’s unique and that’s what Spider-Man’s all about, so that they’re gonna explore that head on is very exciting."
Marvel boss Kevin Feige has said that the intention is to model the tone of Spider-Man's upcoming 2017 solo vehicle after a John Hughes film. Hughes, of course, was the mastermind behind many beloved 1980s teen-centric projects, such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Even though we've seen Peter in high school in the previous two film series, having the protagonist be this young when we first meet him should be a nice change of pace. Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield moved on from high school fairly early in their respective runs, so to see Peter dealing with the struggles of superhero and academic life (a prominent feature in the comics) should make for interesting material.
It will be fascinating to see how far Marvel goes with that John Hughes influence, as some of his works were full-on comedies and served up the laughs. Based on the talent that's currently attached behind the camera, it's safe to say that the studio is looking for something that leans closer to the light-hearted side of the spectrum. Though director Jon Watts turned heads with his thriller Cop Car, he comes from a comedy background, having done some work for the Onion News Network. Rumored screenwriters Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein penned this summer's Vacation reboot, meaning that a sense of humor seems to be a prerequisite for working on the new Spider-Man.
That's not to say that the movie is going to be a total yuck fest, as the comics still found time to deal with more serious things. But where we stand right now, it looks like 2017's Spider-Man reboot could be an old school teenage dramedy with a superhero element for blockbuster thrills. Given the fact that Marvel has had a great deal of success blending together various genres to tell stories, it's best to give the studio the benefit of doubt until we see otherwise.
Ant-Man is now in theaters; Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.