There are so many great things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No one could have predicted the success that Marvel would have as a movie studio when they first started out with Iron Man in 2008. The only big name super hero movies that had been considered successful had been Fox’s X-Men, and Sony’s Spider-Man, the latter of which breaking all kinds of box office records. But there are a few certain things missing from Marvel’s shared cinematic universe that keep it from being “amazing” (pun most certainly intended).
When Marvel was facing bankruptcy, note that Avi Arad was one of the people in charge of Marvel at this point (it will be important later), They sold off movie rights for their characters to various studios. X-Men going to Fox, Hulk to Universal and so on. Eventually most of Marvel’s character rights reverted back to them thanks to a 7 year deal that required a movie using the character to be in production or the rights revert back to Marvel after 7 years. The rights to Spider-Man were sold to Sony who then went on to make arguably one of the most successful superhero franchises in recent history. Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man trilogy saw more than $1 billion at the box office, and paved the way for the superhero films today. Sony still holds the rights to Spider-Man and all of his supporting characters, and they coming out of what is looking to be a successful opening for their newest film in the franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
After seeing the wildly successful model posed by Marvel Studios with their shared universe, other studios that hold Marvel properties are looking to get a piece of the shared universe money pie, with Fox announcing a new Fantastic Four series that will share a universe with the X-Men, and Sony announcing a sequel to ASM2 as well as a Venom spin-off and a spin-off featuring the Sinister Six.
While I personally thought The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a fantastic movie, one of the places I thought it suffered was that they focused less on the plot, and more on universe building, which is fine, and it works for what they are wanting to do, however Andrew Garfield has put a kink in the hose, saying that he doesn’t want to continue portraying the web-head after the upcoming ASM3.
When asked about his future in the Spider-Man franchise Garfield mentioned possibly passing the torch to a character other than Peter Parker. After all, Peter isn’t the only one who dons the Spidey suit in the comics.
“Miles Morales was a huge moment in this character’s comic book life,” said Garfield. ” and I do believe that we can do that. It’s something I’m really interested in figuring out; an eloquent way of coexisting, or passing on the torch. I don’t have an answer, but I think it’s actually a really important move. I think it’s a really beautiful and important move. I think one of the amazing things about Spider-Man is that you don’t see skin color when he’s in the suit. You don’t see any religious beliefs. You don’t see any denominations. Everyone can project themselves into that suit. It’s incredibly powerful in that way. So of course I think it’s important that the openness, the casting, in terms of who could be Spider-Man, could be absolutely anyone. A hero is a hero, whether you’re a man, woman, gay, lesbian, straight, black, white or red all over — it doesn’t matter.”
Okay cool, so Garfield isn’t interested in coming back after the third Spidey movie, it makes sense, he wants to move on and try other things without having to be committed to one character the rest of his life. He even offered a little help to the studio about how to handle the plans for his departure, and they are pretty good plans as well. However, after Garfield talked about passing the torch to another character to play Spider-Man, Avi Arad would have none of it. In an interview with Indiewire Blog, Arad put any thought of someone other than Peter Parker as Spider-Man to rest when he was asked about the possibility of someone else taking over the Spider-Mantle.
“No. The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker? What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today’s world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don’t know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man.”
and when asked if that meant Peter Parker would always be Spider-Man in their universe, Arad and co-producer Matt Tolmach said,
“Absolutely. As far as we’re concerned. The guys who take it over after us… Who knows…”
Someone else PLEASE take it over, NOW!
As much as I love Webb’s take on Spider-Man and Garfield’s Peter Parker and want to see more of them on screen, someone needs to stop Avi Arad from making the same mistakes he did with Marvel, otherwise we will see the success of the web slinger begin to fall, and here’s why:
1. We don’t need another origin story
What happens when they need to bring in a new actor to replace the old one? Sure you could pull a James Bond, but that’s an easy way to confuse the common moviegoer. How do you make the smoothest possible transition between actors while keeping the audience out of confusion? Obvious, just reboot the franchise! But wait, it was less than a decade before the franchise was already rebooted once. That means we got to see Peter get bit by a radioactive spider twice, come to an understanding of his new powers two times, Uncle Ben has been shot, and tears were shed two times, now villains are being recycled with Green Goblin showing up in the newest installment.
We don’t need to watch the same thing happen to the same character over and over again. That gets boring. We’ve already seen it twice and we don’t want to see how Spidey becomes Spidey again. We get it. Plus there’s only so many ways one can kill off Uncle Ben.
Why not keep the same origin, but as Garfield suggested, pass the mask to another character. Theres plenty to choose from in the source material, so why not make the most of all the characters you have? You did say you wanted to expand the universe right?
2. Diversity isn’t a bad thing
Think about it, who was the last non-male, non-white superhero lead you’ve seen portrayed on the big screen. Can’t think of any? That’s because there haven’t been any. Studios are way too afraid of making their leading character a woman or person of color because focus groups and previous experience tells us that young white male leads make money. If the studios wanted to be brave, and garner support and praise from an expanding equality movement, all they would have to do is throw in a protagonist, especially a superhero, who is something other than white. Guess what, two of the people who have been Spider-Man have been just that, not white. Miles Morales who is biracial, and Miguel O’Hara, hispanic. The possibilities are there just waiting for Sony to grab them, but the studio is afraid, afraid to try something new. Which brings me to my final point…
3. Don’t be afraid to take risks
When Marvel studios unveiled its first independent film back in 2008 with Iron Man, everyone was talking about how Marvel was bringing the B-Team, the backup squad. No one outside of comic book fans had heard of Tony Stark before, but Marvel had the guts to bring him to the big screen anyway. They took a risk, and it paid off.
One of the biggest things that bothered me when reading the interview with Arad was his response to the question about bringing other variations of Spider-Man to the big screen. It was just a plain and simple, flat-out no.
Not only is that a bad business minded thing to say, that also tells us that Arad is completely closed-minded to the thought of any new ideas, and is afraid of what might happen if he takes a risk. Morales is well liked enough among comic readers for him to be received well by fans, but Arad has already made up his mind that taking a risk like that isn’t worth the possibility of maybe losing a little bit of money. Hate to break it to you Avi, but if you want to build a universe to compete with Marvel Studios’, especially since you only hold the rights to one franchise, you are going to have to start taking risks, otherwise the character and world gets stale, and moviegoers will get tired of the same old thing over again.
Hopefully, Arad will wise up and listen to the fans, after all, we are the ones who hold the fate of franchises like these in our hands. But if he and the producers at Sony continue to keep a closed mind and begin to turn the characters into hackneyed clichés, audiences will take notice and the once mighty franchise will fall under the watchful eye of Avi Arad, just as Marvel Entertainment did.