Reuniting With ‘Spider-Man’ Movies After 10 Awful Years
The trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming came out a few weeks ago, and it made me want to do a backflip off of my porch in joy. Sure, I'd probably fail that backflip and wind up in a broken heap on my front lawn, but at least I'd be a broken heap in a world where the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming exists.
My neck is broken, but I'm so, so happy.
"But it's just another superhero trailer. Three new ones came out in the time that it took me to read the first paragraph of this article." Yes, it is. And yeah, that's oddly probable. But if you look at the last decade of Spider-Man media, you can see why Spider-Man fans are treating this new trailer like it saved their children from a house fire.
Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007, and it's not terrible so much as it's just not good at all. If I had to work in a group school project with Spider-Man 3, I wouldn't hate it, but I would complain about it to Spider-Man 1 and 2 whenever I passed by them in the classroom. After it came out, director Sam Raimi was gearing up to make Spider-Man 4, but realized that he couldn't construct a good movie in the time that he'd been allotted. So, the studio decided to reboot the franchise, and we got The Amazing Spider-Man, a movie so bland that it forces you to reconsider whether or not it was actually made to entertain people.
Me too, Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 followed this, and was set up as the launching point for five different Spider-Man sequels/spin-offs. It was a movie series that they didn't even really want in the first place, and now every scene was like a fake can gag gift, except, instead of a snake popping out, some person that you'd recognize from the comics would walk onscreen, hint about shit that they'll do one day, and walk away. This approach to filmmaking led to it making $202 million in the U.S., which sounds like a lot of money until you remember any other Spider-Man movie.
In the cartoon world, we were gifted with The Spectacular Spider-Man, which is the best superhero cartoon ever made. Yeah, Batman: The Animated Series is great, but Batman: The Animated Series also had episodes where Batman moved like his suit was lined with roast beef, and dealt with plots like "Two children steal the Batmobile, and The Penguin knocks over some furniture." The Spectacular Spider-Man was twenty-six episodes of funny, well-animated, compelling perfection. So, naturally, the people behind the channels that it was on could not be bothered with it.
"Theme Song from The Spectacular Spider-Man" is what I'm gonna name my firstborn.
Hell, during the airing of the final episode, a lot of people discovered that someone had misplaced the entire dialogue track. So instead of a climactic confrontation between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, they got a weird silent Spider-Man film. And even though a Spectacular Spider-Man episode where the characters' mouths move but nothing comes out is still, like, a 7/10 in the grand scheme of animation, that kind of neglect is disappointing. Maybe I'm being relatively clueless about this, but making sure that the second most important part of a cartoon is, well, there at all, should be somewhere on someone's list of priorities.
"Why would you want to hear what they're saying anyway? It's muuuuch better to remain angry and utterly confused."
It was also disappointing when the voice actor of Spectacular's Peter Parker, Josh Keaton, recorded multiple episode's worth of Spidey dialogue for Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, only to be swiftly replaced by the voice actor from Ultimate Spider-Man. Ultimate Spider-Man was Spectacular's replacement, and because the universe is a realm where dreams are reprimanded and then farted on, that show has garnered the critical reception of a dog carcass.
There has been some decent stuff in the last ten years of Spider-Man comics, but it's all been overshadowed by "One More Day," a storyline that saw years of Spider-Man history being wiped out. It was like someone had played a game of telephone with Marvel readers, but by the time it got to the higher-ups, the message was "Everything we've cared about for years should be ripped away from us." It's okay to want to drive more readers to comics with something huge and shocking, but that something doesn't always have to be "Make the readers feel like they've wasted a decent-sized chunk of their lives."
This all leads us to the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, which shows us that Robert Downey Jr. will have a supporting role. First of all, Robert Downey Jr. is a bottomless well of charming, and we should all do what we can to make sure that our buckets runneth over. Second, we've seen five straight movies that all told us the same message of "Spider-Man is alone in this fight, because the people around him just get hurt." Having him pal around with Iron Man for a bit isn't going to kill a narrative. Until the opening credits reveal that the actual movie's title is Iron Man And His Amazing Friend, I'm not going to pretend that adding Robert Downey Jr. in a supporting role is suddenly an unforgivable act.
They even have an international trailer! It's slightly different!
Oh, the Vulture! Michael Keaton, the most watchable actor on the planet, is playing the Vulture. And while this seems like a step down after being Batman, it's the kind of casting that the Vulture needs. The Vulture starred in the second issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, and he was mostly there to give Spider-Man some punching practice.
This raises the question "How in the fuck do you make the Vulture a viable villain for a whole movie, especially after this same series has included dudes like Loki and Ultron?" You cast Michael Keaton, that's how. Because even if this movie ends with Spider-Man giving the Vulture a wedgie so hard that it breaks the Vulture's spine, you can at least count on Keaton to make it enjoyable. After he gave me the strength to sit through the RoboCop remake, I would watch him play Paste-Pot Pete.
He has the intensity to really sell the internal struggle of someone that would name themselves "Paste-Pot Pete."
Also, Spider-Man: Homecoming has two black female leads, his best friend is Filipino-American, and goddamn Flash Thompson is Guatemalan-American. This is as many POC in major roles as the first five Spider-Man movies combined. Also, before Spider-Man: Homecoming, the most interesting role given to a black actor in a Spider-Man film was the "The next person who talks will fail this course. I kid you nooooot..." teacher in the first Spider-Man.
Lastly, we have Tom Holland, who, if he continues what he started in Captain America: Civil War, will remain a Spider-Man that feels like a more finely edited version of what we saw with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Maguire nailed being a lovable, awkward dweeb, Garfield made for a more self-aware, quippy Spider-Man, and Holland seems to be a good combination of the two. As long as he's able to handle some of the emotional hand-wringing that the character requires, he'll confirm my theory that he's actually the first man ever laboratory-bred to specifically play a superhero.
He never had a family, just Thomas Holland Versions 1-8.
I will probably never have my dream of three more seasons of Spectacular Spider-Man. And I will definitely never get a Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man 4. And for ten years, Spider-Man has been the high school friend that I still invite to parties, despite the fact that I know it's going to try and steal a lamp. But I refuse to be cynical about a new Spider-Man movie. The day that I don't respond to a new Spider-Man trailer by popping champagne bottles is the day that I quit this whole superhero thing and move onto something more stable, like birdhouse-making or meth.