Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thoughts on Recent Spider-Man News

Hi! There's been a lot of recent Spider-Man news that I haven't really weighed in on and you may have or may not have heard about. This post I'll be talking about the following topics:
Spider-Man Movie Title
Marvel in Creative Control of Spider-Man Movie
No Venom in the MCU
Zendaya as "Michelle"
Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evan's Role in Spider-Man Movie
Vulture as the Villain in Spider-Man Movie
New footage of Spider-Man in Civil War
As far as I know, none of this constitutes a spoiler for Civil War (both Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evan are signed on for Avengers Infinity War in 2018 and 2019, so whatever happens to them in this next movie, it won't prevent them from appearing in Infinity War which takes place a year after Spider-Man's movie), but I will save the new footage of Spider-Man for the end. As much as I loved seeing it, I wish I could have seen it for the first time in theaters (a gif ruined it for me as I was browsing the web, so I went and found).

In fact, it's possible I'm a little out-of-date here. I'm trying to avoid any spoilers for the next week so I haven't been on Facebook, Twitter, Spider-Man blogs etc to do research. Anyway, let's get into it ^_^

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The next Spider-Man movie is officially titled "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and will be in theaters July 7, 2017. This doesn't really tell me anything.

The Homecoming arc in the comics was about Spider-Man coming back from fighting in the Secret Wars on Battleworld. He had the black suit and he had been absent for quite a while. I'm not anticipating any of this to match up with the Civil War storyline and I'd be more than surprised if Spidey shows up in any movies between Civil War and Homecoming (Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being the only movies between next week and then.

So what it sounds like is Marvel having an inside joke as the title. Spidey has come home to the MCU and he's here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future; still little to no details on the inner workings of the Sony-Marvel deal).

Since Spidey is in high school in these, there's at least a chance that a school dance may feature prominently in the movie, if not the finale of the movie. Presently, other than Aunt May, we have no normal support cast for Spidey. JJJ isn't there, MJ isn't there, Gwen isn't there, not even Flash Thompson or Liz Allan are currently cast (or rather, we don't know they have been). It's only a little over a year away and according to recent reports, they're still writing the script. I'm more than a little worried they don't have a script nailed down, but I'm glad it's in the hands of Marvel . . . which brings us to the next topic:

Marvel in Creative Control of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, recently came out confirming what I've said all along: Marvel Studios is in control of Spider-Man: Homecoming. They weren't going to make a deal with Sony to get the rights for Spider-Man in Civil War without control over the decisions of the stand-alone Spidey movies.

If you're not aware of any of what I'm talking about: a while back Marvel was in desperate straits and began selling off their characters: Fox Studios got the movie rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men and characters introduced in X-Men comics (including Deadpool, Cable, etc) and Sony got both the movie and animation rights to Spider-Man. Marvel Studios took a huge gamble once they were mostly solvent and made the first Iron Man movie to resounding success. Finally, Disney bought all of Marvel and all of their characters, but the movie rights to the aforementioned X-Men and Spider-Man universes stayed with Fox and Sony (animation rights went back to Disney at this time I believe, causing us to lose the best Spider-Man adaptation in Spectacular Spider-Man and introduced the worst Spider-Man adaptation in Ultimate Spider-Man).

Sony failed miserably with the Spider-Man movies, not once, but twice. If you wonder why they immediately rebooted it (and why Fantastic Four has been rebooted twice), it's because the contract has a time limit: if a movie isn't in production by such and such time, then the rights go back. The second time gave us the opportunity to get Spider-Man in a shared movie rights deal.

What a lot of people assumed was that there is some sort of profit sharing where Marvel controls how Spidey appears in Marvel movies and Sony retains control of how Spidey appears in Spidey stand-alone movies. Kevin Feige has come out and said that Marvel is in control of Spider-Man even in his own movies. Which can really only be a good thing at this point.

No Venom in the MCU

This is entirely my take on recent news and not backed up, so here's the facts first:
A Venom movie is being produced by Sony that does not take place in the MCU.
Marvel has control over Spider-Man: Homecoming.
These two things tell me that Venom was not part of the deal with Marvel. The Venom movie is going to be a stand-alone (however that works, probably Flash's version of Venom). So Venom is free to be ruined by Sony and will not reference Spider-Man. Similarly, we will not be getting symbiotes or black-suited Spidey in the Marvel universe. I don't know if Venom works without Spider-Man to be honest. Even though he can go and adventure just fine after he's created, without the origin of Spider-Man, how do you do Venom?

Zendaya cast as "Michelle" in Spidey

Zendaya (which is apparently her entire professional name) was recently announced as playing the character "Michelle" in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I don't really have an opinion on this to be honest. I doubt she'd be playing the only current character in Spider-Man with the name Michelle and the name might just be a stand-in anyway.

I don't have any opinion on her acting ability as Disney actors usually are directed to overact and I've only seen her a handful of times. If Marvel thought she could do the job they hired her for, then I'm inclined to trust Marvel given their track record.

If she is Michelle Gonzales, I don't get how they would do any of her big storylines since Peter isn't likely to be roommates with her or having a drunken one-night stand with her at age 15. On the other hand, they may just export the name and her relationship to a police officer and have everything else different.

If "Michelle" is a stand-in for another character, who is it likely to be? There's the obvious Glory Grant based entirely on ethnicity, but that character's almost universally been under-utilized; she'd obviously not be Gwen Stacy after the smashing success of Emma Stone's portrayal of her. She could be Liz Allan or Betty Brant, two characters that feature prominently in Peter's high school life. And she could be MJ.

Yes, I know, lots of enraged white assholes if they cast Zendaya as MJ, but I'm surprisingly not attached to it at all. I do agree that MJ is pretty much impossible to not be red-haired (for whatever reason, in my head her hair color is more important than her skin color—probably because hair color is associated with personality or maybe I'm racist in favor of red-hair???), but can that be accomplished with a wig? Eh, I don't know. I don't hate the idea as long as Zendaya can pull it off (which remains to be seen), but the fact that we'd have a brown-haired MJ does bug me and I doubt they'd put her in a red-haired wig. I'd also hate the through-the-entire-movie-she-goes-by-Michelle-but-then-we-see-she-actually-has-the-middle-name-Jane-or-other-J-starting-name-and-gets-called-MJ-at-the-end.

More likely in my opinion is that she'd be an MJ expy. (Is it even an expy when it's to an adaptation of the same property?) A character that is pretty much a copy-and-paste version of MJ but isn't MJ. Bright, vivacious, occupying the same role in Peter's life as MJ, but not MJ in name. When I personally think of Zendaya, I think of an energetic, vivacious kid. An MJ expy or a proto-high-school-version-MJ-expy would be a good fit.

Given the ruination of the MJ character in the movie world in the Raimi movies and the amazing job of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, I think there's a pretty good chance Marvel is going to back off of both of these characters (which according to the comics, never were introduced until Peter was in college anyway—even though MJ found out his true identity in high school before they ever met).

If she's going to be a known character, my choice is for a Spectacular-Spider-Man-like Liz Allan. I really like what they did with her in that series and she's the right level of drama for a high school Spidey. Most people meet the person they're going to marry in college, so I'm down with holding off on MJ and Gwen until later movies.

Also, if they're doing an Agent Venom starring Flash Thompson, it may be that Flash won't appear in this version of Spider-Man at all. I'm a fan of the evolved relationship between Peter and Flash and the idea of Flash as a veteran/soldier, so this can only be a bad thing for the character of Peter in the long run, but really shouldn't affect him in high school. One bully is just as good as another in high school.

The Role of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans in Spider-Man: Homecoming

It's been announced that Robert Downey Jr is coming to Spider-Man: Homecoming. A lot of people are saying that he will play the role of a mentor for Spider-Man. I'm OK with Spider-Man being impressed with him for Civil War, but Spidey in high school needs to be a loner. It really takes away from him as a character if he has friends in high places. What issue does teenage Spider-Man have that can't be fixed by being friends with Iron Man?

If Civil War goes the way I think it will, Spidey will be initially impressed by Iron Man and take his side in an attempt to help his own public image, then be convinced by Cap that he's got it wrong, repent and step back from the Civil War. To me, that would be the ideal arc for our first introduction to the character of Spider-Man in the MCU. It introduces him as a powerful individual that neither side can dismiss easily, doesn't detract too much from the overall story of Cap vs. Iron Man and has the whole, here's a kid that the public hates trying to do good but choosing wrong, that fits a Spidey story perfectly.

To that end, Cap is the perfect foil for Spidey. Cap is trained and uses lower-end super powers to super effect, while Spidey flies by the seat of his pants and uses upper-end super powers to foil street level crime for the most part. Spider-Man is significantly stronger, more agile, smarter, and has the added benefit of wallcrawling and spider-sense and yet Cap would win in a fight between the two and Spider-Man knows it. Cap does have superior tactical and fighting abilities, but in the end, he's merely, merely, the pinnacle of what is possible from human beings. Spidey is super-human.

And in my opinion, both characters are the most moral in the Marvel universe.

On the other hand, what does Iron Man add to a Spider-Man movie? His wealth instantly solves 90% of Peter Parker's problems being Spider-Man. He's a smartass just like Parker, and he's morally ambiguous.

Now, that being said, I don't want either character as a mentor to Spider-Man. If Spider-Man doesn't have to struggle on his own through the teen years, then it doesn't really feel like Spider-Man (one of the major issues with Ultimate Spider-Man is his acceptance by all the superheroes and employment by Nick Fury). Adult Spider-Man finally coming to Cap for training makes sense; teenage Spider-Man having training from the get-go means that his mistakes aren't his own.

Iron Man as an opponent would make sense, but that would require him playing the opponent role in back-to-back movies. It dilutes the Iron Man brand and I doubt they would have him play the same role in these movies.

So what would I want from these characters in a Spidey film?

Iron Man should be the current owner of the Vulture tech. It makes the most sense to me that Adrian Toomes creates the Vulture tech, it's sold/bought/owned by Stark Industries which back in the day used it for the Falcon project. Toomes continues to work on the tech, eventually creating his own suit and seeking out a disillusioned Stark (disillusioned from the events of Civil War) to wreak his vengeance. Spidey comes in and puts himself between Stark and Toomes.

Eventually, Spidey comes to a point in the film where he can't go on anymore. Whether he's been physically hurt or through his actions was not able to save someone, he's hurting. that's when Cap steps in to remind Spidey why he's in this business.

Iron Man and Cap bookend the film, but they aren't much more than parts of the setting, grounding Spidey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

To be clear, RDJ is signed on for the film and Chris Evans is not. Tom Holland has said that he wants Cap in it. And they haven't finished writing the movie. So it's anyone's guess, really.

Vulture will be a Villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming

It's not clear if he's the villain, but he is going to be a villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Adrian Toomes developed a flying suit working alongside a corrupt individual that ended up stealing all of his tech (don't remember who his business partner is; it's like Bestman or something) and leaving Toomes out in the cold. Toomes continued to perfect his technology and adopted the persona of the Vulture.

Honestly, I don't see how Vulture can take up an entire Spider-Man movie by himself. We don't have to deal with the origin of Spider-Man in this one and there's supposedly no love story in it either. So it's just Spidey versus the Vulture? How does that take more than two fights? The Vulture is an elderly man in a Falcon suit. Even if they give him additional strength and stand-alone levitation abilities, all Spidey has to do is get to him and the fight is over.

I do think Spider-Man is perfect for multiple villains in a single movie. And I don't think that was at all the problem with either Spider-Man 3 or Amazing Spider-Man. The problem with those was that the characters weren't developed and they did stupid things with the characters they already had. Also, why was every single villain (with the exception of Venom) a sympathetic character in the Raimi-verse?

The only sympathetic villain in Spider-Man should be the Lizard and maybe Harry Osborn.

Footage of Spider-Man in Civil War

I really wish I had gotten the chance to see this for the first time in the theater, but it's so epically Spider-Man that just thinking about it makes me laugh. If you haven't seen it yet and don't want to be spoiled, navigate away now. Otherwise, prepare for awesomeness!

First, the gif that started it all:

Spidey vs. Falcon!

Spidey vs. Bucky!

I love the memes going around comparing Falcon to the Vulture and Bucky to Doc Ock.

Spider-Man is really strong. Really really strong. Marvel documents cite him as being able to lift 10 tons. Regardless, he's stronger than Cap and Bucky. Really, out of all the current Avengers, the only ones stronger are Vision, Hulk, and Thor, and only Vision is showing up in this one. So I LOVED seeing him kick Falcon away and show off just how strong he is compared to Bucky. Not to mention, yeah, he would totally be smarting off to Bucky like that.


Alright, I think that catches us up to the present. I realize that Civil War is out all over the place internationally and I'm sure there will be a ton of new information and speculation arising from it, as well as follow-up stories once spoilers come out, but you'll have to wait until next week to hear any speculation and information from me. I'm seeing it Friday morning in IMAX. Review should be up Saturday ^_^

I have been working on another Peter Parker article that should come out this week, but is mostly unrelated to the MCU. Look forward to it!

So what are your thoughts on anything and everything I brought up here? If you've seen Civil War, please wait until Saturday, May 7 to post spoilers.