Pim Razenberg on the downside of The Avengers adopting Spider-Man…
So, there we have it! Monday this week Marvel announced their new partnership with Sony, after striking a deal to cement The Amazing Spider-Man’s future firmly within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The news was welcomed by many of the web-slinger’s fans, who were left disappointed by Sony’s previous Spider-Man instalments.
Personally, I’m not very thrilled.
Every time there was talk of “negotiation” between Marvel Studios and Sony it gave me the awkward feeling that something just didn’t fit. Marvel has been on a winning streak for years producing entertaining, yet highly qualitative superhero movies, while the Spider-Man franchise has been in a downwards spiral ever since the series’ highlight, Spider-Man 2. Not once, but twice Sony killed its own cash cow by oversaturating their Spider-Man movies with an unbalanced amount of characters and diluting the characters that actually mattered.
Is Spider-Man’s comic book iteration a great, diverse character? Arguably so. Popular? No doubt about it. As a movie franchise, however, the web-slinger’s reputation is severely damaged by bad sequels and a rather pointless reboot that came too soon and changed too little. For Marvel Studios to adopt – and thus, revive – the twice dead corpse of Peter Parker really doesn’t sound like such a great idea to me.
In 2012 there was talk of including Spider-Man in The Avengers and Oscorp Tower was to be added to New York’s skyline in Marvel’s ensemble movie. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. If there is one thing Marvel is hell-bend on, it is their consistency in story and structure – just ask Edgar Wright how the studio enforces that policy. The tone, style and level of “realism” of the “universes” The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers inhabit are very different. In addition to that, the franchises don’t click storywise either: in both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers New York was wrecked, yet somehow there was no mention of such events in the franchises’ respective movies? There’s another big-time superhero in New York, yet none of the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever taken notice of him?
To include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is to again reboot the rebooted franchise, sadly, without its main star, Andrew Garfield. Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel have worked way too hard making every detail in the Marvel Cinematic Universe click, to allow for Sony’s failed franchise to puncture holes in the entire continuity of Marvel Studio’s shared universe.
Marvel Studios’ goal was to create a series of interlinked movie franchises similar in structure to their comic book publications. The Marvel Cinematic Universe sports a host of great superhero characters and is about to become a lot bigger with the inclusion of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and many others. If there’s one thing that was abundantly clear during these last few years is that Marvel Studios never needed Spider-Man to become successful, nor to tell great stories. Even Civil War, a story heavily featuring Spider-Man, would have been made without him in the blink of an eye. Taking back Spider-Man under these circumstances sounds like a step away from “great movie making” and a step towards financial greed.
What stung the most about Monday’s announcement was the statement that Sony remains to have “creative control” over the Spider-Man series. Because of this, my one hope for Spider-Man’s inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the presence of Kevin Feige’s “iron thumb” that has been keeping all the storylines and characters (as well as Marvel’s directors) firmly in place. Marvel stated that Feige will co-produce the new Spider-Man films along with “his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal.” If Marvel Studios’ role as “co-producer” weighs in even half as strong as it did in all its Phase Two and Phase Three movies, I am willing to give this turn of events a chance… Just as long as Spider-Man doesn’t become the Avengers’ unruly, spoiled adoptive child, who’s ready to kick Marvel’s golden teeth in corny juvenile one-liners…