Everyone knows Spider-Man. He’s one of the world’s most popular heroes; he's featured in five solo movies, thrilled us with his appearance in Captain America: Civil War and is still on track to reach even greater heights! With the recent addition of Donald Glover to the cast, Spider-Man: Homecoming is fast becoming one the most anticipated superhero movies in the (relatively) near future.
Homecoming is an important marker in movie history due to its unprecedented deal between Sony Pictures (the owners of his film rights) and Marvel Studios. But there are signs that it could break new ground in ways that we haven’t fully realized as of yet.
What are these signs? How could our wall-crawling hero change the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Spider-senses tingling? Read on to find out!
It could pave the way for new deals with other studios
As I said earlier, the agreement between Sony and Marvel is certainly a unique one, which sees a creative collaboration between the two companies which hold both his film and merchandising rights respectively. We’ve had situations where ownership has reverted back such asDaredevil, and most recently the stirrings around Namor, but this is the first time that two companies have moved forward with conjoined ownership of a superhero property. What could this mean for future movies? Could we see similar situations and agreements arising with other studios?
Could we see other fan favorites entering the MCU fray?
Don’t scoff straight away- it’s worth remembering that Spidey is Marvel’s flagship character, and has earned Sony billions of dollars. No one predicted how The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would garner disappointing returns. Everyone expected them to plough ahead with the third installment because of his popularity, albeit with rigorous changes made. Yet again, we could not foresee the Sony Hack, and how much damaged that would do when it revealed how much the company were floundering in attempts to competently continue the franchise.
With the massive critical and commercial failure of the Fant4stic, could we see Fox consider sharing the rights to these characters? Even with X-Men: Apocalypse’s decent enough takings (so far), is it too much of a leap to imagine the Merry Mutants bounding into the next big crossover? After all, with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evan’s contracts potentially ending in the next few years, fresh attractions will be needed to continue the MCU.
Improbable? Maybe, but with the way Spidey has been handled, we certainly can’t fully rule it out.
It could help to grow the genre
With the furor over Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the undeniable triumph of Deadpool, the success rate of 2016’s superhero movies has been unpredictable to say the least. There are still a huge amount of movies yet to be released over the next few years, so it has become fashionable to use the phrase “superhero fatigue” to denote how, in some people’s eyes, caped crusaders have outstayed their welcome.
However, as this article points out, filmmakers must take creative risks and plunge our heroes in different directions and into different genres to stop the bubble bursting. This has already begun. We saw this in the political thriller Captain America: The Winter Solider and the space opera Guardians of the Galaxy, and from the sounds of it, Spider-Man: Homecoming could be another step in a new fresh direction.
Kevin Feige has said that Homecoming will adhere to the tone of a John Hughes teen comedy since:
"[In many] Spider-Man arcs and Spider-Man stories, he’s in high school for a lot of it. We want to explore that. That also makes him very, very different from any of our other characters in the MCU, which is something else we want to explore: how unique he is when now put against all these other characters."
Yes, we have already seen the high school Peter (Andrew Garfield) in The Amazing Spider-Man, but that was an origin story. Homecoming won’t be, and if Feige is to be believed, it will hew closer to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club.
A super-powered Ferris Bueller? Now THAT sounds like something we haven’t seen before. If Homecoming successfully pulls this off, we could see greater risks being taken in our comic book adaptations, even more cool stuff occurring and ensuring that the characters exist in expansive and diverse range of superhero movies. And speaking of diversity...
The cast is varied and awesome
Take a glance at the news, and you may notice how we are finally starting to see a shift towards varied, more diverse casting in blockbuster movies. In Western society, it would be false to say that we are limited to simply Caucasian males and females, since there are so many races, genders, sexualities and differently-abled people who make up our populations. As such, many have criticized how Western media is depicted onscreen because it doesn’t reflect this; you need to look no further than the Elsa-Girlfriend campaign for Frozen 2 to see what fans want.
Now let’s look at Homecoming’s roster, which features a variety of young and old actors, veteran actors like Robert Downey Jr and new talents such as Zendaya, with distinct heritages and backgrounds. It’s hard to say how successfully this diversity will translate through their roles- especially in light of the controversial Michael Barbieri casting - but even so, personally, I can’t remember another tent pole film with a new, divergent collection of talent like this.
And who’s to say that this is the limit? If Marvel are adapting to reflect youth culture today, can we expect to see references to the openness and fluidity of sexualities? Andrew Garfield previously expressed a desire to see Spider-Man experiment in his relationships, and whilst this may not come to pass so overtly, we may get to see it in some other form. Don’t believe that Disney would allow it? Check out the new inclusions to Finding Dory!
Television and cinema are slowly changing, since countless young and vocal citizens would like to see the twenty-first century represented in what they watch.
Representation is important, and has been to young people for some time. James Dean and his teen movies are now iconic since they changed how we see teenagers and what it meant to be one. Spider-Man has always represented the younger generations as well; in this way, Homecoming could therefore be another important step to inclusion, portraying the many creeds, colors and sexes of the twenty-first century.
The wall-crawler himself has unparalleled potential
Because of Spidey’s popularity in the comic book world, he has been placed into all manner of situations; be it light or dark, science-fiction or fantasy, there is a wealth of great stories to choose from for his future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has dabbled in all corners, so it again means that the film makers can push into new territories going forward. And yes I have one in particular in mind...
We’ve seen the technological (Iron Man), we’ve seen the old-school adventure (Captain America: The First Avenger) and the space adventure (Guardians of the Galaxy), so what about the science-fiction of the multi-verse?
The comics frequently delve into time-travel and alternate versions, and given that Spidey has had two other recent iterations (Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire) his character has the built-in potential to delve into uncharted waters. How cool it would be if the previous Spideys suited up once again and interacted with Tom Holland in a massive crossover! Oh wow! The possibilities...
Think that might be a bit too far for a superhero movie? Remember, popular TV shows such as Doctor Who, The Flash and Fringe have done it to great effect, and mainstream audiences loved it.
Therefore, with the rumours that Donald Glover could be playing Miles Morales, could we see, as Zane E. Sanders has speculated, some version of Spider-Verse on screen? Or, as Tom Bacon has explored, even different Spider-themed characters?
Again, I don’t think we can rule it out!
Silly speculation or something more?
Whether or not you believe that these ideas will come to pass, it’s great to theorize about how our favorite shows and movies will pan out. As you can see above, Spider-Man: Homecoming possesses many qualities which could make it stand apart from other superhero movies, or perhaps even transcend its genre and become a phenomenon in itself. Either way, lots of people are looking forward to the movie, and we hope that Marvel can deliver something great on July 17th, 2017.
And they better had! As the saying goes...