Ben Robins on the 4 Spider-Man storylines we need in the MCU…
With this month’s Spider-Man: Homecoming marking the third big screen incarnation of the famous wall-crawler in the 21st century alone, you’d think we’d be hard-pressed by this stage to find storylines that hadn’t already been adapted at least somewhere down the line. We’ve already had Doc Ock, the Lizard, and Electro. Green Goblin’s been done twice (three times if you count whatever the hell James Franco was in Spider-Man 3), and now with Homecoming, another famous Spidey staple, the Vulture, finally takes a bow.
So what’s left? The idea of recasting and, at long last, introducing Spider-Man into the MCU was supposedly to give a fresh spin on one of Marvel’s trademark characters. But how can you do that if all his best villains have already been used? Digging up the Green Goblin or Doc Ock again might feel a little too close to repetitive for Kevin Feige and co., and I’ll be damned if Tom Holland gets his wish and they make a movie of the bloody Clone Saga.
So here’s some suggestions for a few major (and not so major) Spidey-centric storylines from the web-slinger’s time in comics, that could very easily slide into this new MCU-flavoured Spider-Man world.
1. The Conversation
A bit of a simple one to start off with, but one of the defining features in any Spider-Man story is Peter Parker’s relationship with his Aunt May. The idea of Aunt May finding out that he dons colourful spandex and goes racing around the streets every night terrifies him more than anything else. So why not have Peter face that head on? I mean, she’s gonna find out eventually, right?
In J. Michael Straczysnki’s story from Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2, just after 9/11, there’s an entire issue devoted to May and Peter simply sitting and discussing his superhero secret after she finds out what he’s been doing. And to throw in another emotional curveball, they share some collective guilt about Uncle Ben too. Sure, it’s not exactly enough material for an entire film, but it’s the sort of sensitive, and character-driven content that Marvel really need to lead with, especially if they’re going to continue to get Spider-Man right this time.
2. Maximum Carnage
One that could work as a good crossover point for new MCU Spidey and Sony’s Venom movie much further down the line, this huge fourteen-part crossover story could be a major set-piece in the MCU’s future. Post-Infinity War, Marvel would be wise to keep the team-ups coming, but with fewer characters and different combinations, and Maximum Carnage is a great way of dealing with that.
After Venom’s unhinged symbiote-driven counterpart Carnage goes on a war-path, the once villain finds himself teaming up with Spider-Man, Captain America and a whole bunch of other Marvel heroes (including current TV stars Iron Fist and Cloak & Dagger) to stop him. It’s a fairly big storyline, that could very easily match the first Avengers movie for scale, and ties together a lot of the groundwork Sony are looking to build with their standalone Spidey-verse.
3. Spider-Man No More
Famously tapped by Sam Raimi for inclusion in his own defunct Spider-Man 4, this 1960s storyline was not only the first to bring Kingpin into Spidey’s world (something I’m sure Vincent D’Onofrio would be pleased as punch about) but more importantly, it saw Peter Parker throwing in the superhero towel. After a sudden media backlash, Peter ditches his spandex in a neighbourhood trash can and tries to leave his heroic past behind. Obviously, it’s not long before he picks it all up again, but Spider-Man No More is incredibly important in understanding Peter’s constant battle with the hero he feels he has to be; that it’s his responsibility to be the Spider-Man the world needs.
Homecoming is all about Peter’s rise, having fun with his powers and the fame that comes with them, but No More could very easily bring some much needed humanity into the fray, and seriously deepen this new-look MCU version of the character.
4. Kraven’s Last Hunt
Arguably the most famous Spider-Man story that’s yet to be adapted, Kraven’s Last Hunt is destined to be a part of the MCU for a whole number of reasons. First, it’s all about Kraven the Hunter, one of the most easily adaptable Spidey villains around (once you get past the loin cloth, there’s a lot more there under the surface). Second, there’s some genuine danger/cliffhanger material here that could happily give a whole new twist on the current MCU storytelling tactics: Kraven seemingly kills Peter, only for him to fight his way out of his own grave. But most importantly of all, it’s a villain-lead story, something that the MCU has always struggled with in the past.
It’s as much about the duality between hero and villain, and what it means to be a villain in a hero’s world, as it is a basic Spider-Man story. It’s dark and dangerous and totally off the grid from where Homecoming has started the new Peter Parker off. But give it another phase or two, and Kraven’s Last Hunt could be a real turning point for the Marvel Studios model: a grown-up, standalone story that’s oozing with character.