UPDATE: Late last night Marvel released a press release stating that they had come to an agreement with Sony. Spider-man will be joining the MCU in an upcoming film with his own franchise starting July 28, 2017. It seems the arrangement allows for Marvel to handle the brunt of planning and production. However, Sony will retain the distribution, financial, ownership, and final creative rights. Basically they have the power to say yes or no to story ideas. With Spider-man taking Thor: Ragnarok’s release date, there has been a slight shift in release dates. Thor: Ragnarok will release November 3rd, 2017. Black Panther has moved to July 6th, 2018. Captain Marvel is now November 2nd 2018. Rounding it out, Inhumans will now release July 12th, 2019.
What is most interesting is that Infinity War has not changed release dates for part 1 or part 2. Part 1 will release May 4, 2018 and Part 2 will release May 3rd, 2019. The only thing that I can glean from this, is that Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Inhumans might not be as important to Infinity War as originally thought. My guess, they will be used to start setting up Phase 4. I still believe the Spider-Man franchise should wait till Phase 4, but you can read on to learn more.
Ever since the Sony Hack last year, the rumors concerning Spider-Man have been many and varied. To this day there still hasn’t been any official announcement. Even after a supposed Spidey summit in January that involved Sony’s Japan headquarters, no new news. Absolutely nothing. What we do have is a report from Latino-Review that seems to shed some light on not only the fate of Spidey but Marvel Phase 3 in general. You can read a shorter summary over at Comicbook.com that has fewer potential spoilers. Basically, Sony and Marvel came to a compromise that would allow Spidey to appear in Infinity War.
To clarify, these are mostly unfounded claims and the credibility these claims have is the Latino-Review’s supposed inside source. They haven’t been too far off in the past but I would file these reports under speculation. However, this got me thinking. If Spidey wasn’t going to appear before Infinity War what do you do with him in the mean time? Spidey has to be reintroduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This would probably mean a new actor and a new take on the character. However, I personally feel that if we get another Spidey origin story I might just explode. So I came up with my own way to reintroduce the character.
It involves a slow reintroduction. Without any particular order of importance, I’ll outline how Spidey could be introduced into the MCU. First, he would need a Marvel One-Shot. Marvel One-Shots if you are unaware are short-films that were based on characters or events in the MCU. These were usually attached to the home release of Marvel films. Their focus ranged from Agent Coulson to Trevor’s (The Mandarin) adventures in prison to essentially an Agent Carter pilot. While not very long, these films did a great job of filling in the gaps of what happened after our favorite films.
For Spidey, I imagine two ways for this to go down. First, we would get a glimpse from Spidey’s life as an established hero. Where he stands in the grand scheme of things and even where he was when New York was under attack. I imagine Spidey being a little older. He has been around working at the Daily Bugle and hanging out with MJ. Most of his heroics would be pretty minor. Muggers, robbers, and general thugs would be his main villains. He was mostly an urban myth until the battle of New York where he is seen actively helping people and fighting off the aliens.
Then we would see where he is at now. With most heroes untouchable by the press. I mean how are you going to paint a guy who wears the American flag as a menace. Since Spidey is an “unofficial” hero, J. Jonah Jameson targets him for his rants. We then see how Spidey has been struggling to fight the press and his regular villains, something we have seen before. We would then at the very end see Tony Stark, or somebody representing him, approach Spidey. Not only to join the Avengers but to start working at Stark Industries.
The only two things that need to happen in this one-shot is Spidey’s recruitment and J. Jonah Jameson. This is mostly so that we can see J. K. Simmons become JJJ once again so that all is right with the world.
Beyond the one-shot we would also need Spidey to do some crossovers. Particularly, I think Spidey should crossover in the upcoming Marvel Netflix series. Since these series will focus around street level heroes, it’s not hard to imagine these heroes crossing paths. Spidey is first and foremost a street hero. Stopping muggings and what not since isn’t quite cut out for the big cosmic stuff.
Spidey wouldn’t even have to physically appear. They could just dot references here and there about him. Ideally, we would actually see Spidey but I wouldn’t be heart broken. If he was a regular on the series he could act as a branch between the street level heroes and the rest of the MCU.
The last thing that I think would need to happen is for an appearance in a major MCU film. Ideally this would have been Civil War. However, it has been confirmed that isn’t an option anymore. What could still work is to have Spidey appear in Black Panther. At this stage, Spidey would have to be an established hero who was either working at Stark Industries or has founded Parker Industries from the comics. What I imagine, is Spidey is invited by T’Challa to Wakanda to consult on something. Depending on how the events of Civil War leave the state of the Avengers, Spidey could be representing Tony Stark in some way. Or after Spidey is invited to Wakanda, whoever is acting as the current spymaster could approach Spidey to observe the state of the country. Whatever happens largely depends on what the state of the MCU is in at the time.
Now one other decision that would need to be made is who would actually play Spidey. I have two things to say about this. First, if they stick with Peter Parker they should keep Andrew Garfield on. I would rather them pretend the first two Amazing Spider-Man films didn’t happen but they could still fit them in. We know that other than Tony Stark and Bruce Banner the other Avengers went to do their own thing away from New York. Spidey’s two films could potentially fit into Phase 2 of the MCU. Cap was dealing with Hydra, Tony was dealing with the Mandarin, and Thor was dealing with Malekith. All of these distractions would have pulled them away from New York. This isn’t a perfect solution but if they had to, this is the only way I see them adding them to the continuity.
Now if they were to recast Spidey, I think they should go with the Miles Morales Ultimate version. Miles would bring some much needed diversity to the MCU and you could distance yourself from the Amazing Spider-Man films. You have two options with Miles. Either you establish Miles as the only Spider-Man that has ever happened. It would totally work and would mainly be simple substitution. Or you could still retain a connection with Peter Parker. In the Ultimate comics, an alternate updated version of the Marvel Universe, Miles received his powers from another spider from Oscorp. He gained similar abilities to Spider-Man but kept them secret because there was already one Spider-Man and Miles just wanted a normal life. However, Peter dies and Miles picks up the mantle soon after.
That right there does two things for the MCU. Gives us a new Spider-Man with the potential to still acknowledge the original incarnation of the character and establishes an important precedent. The precedent of passing on the mantle. Eventually, the actors playing our favorite characters have to retire from the MCU. Heck even Robert Downey Jr. came close after Iron Man 3 from leaving the studio. By introducing Miles Morales, you can show that these heroes are interested in establishing legacies. Recognizing folks that come their way that could carry-on what they started. Very important if Marvel wants to continue their brand.
All of this to say that nothing can really happen until we know the fate of Spider-Man. I do not think we need a new Spider-Man film yet. I would rather see the first Phase 4 film be a new Spider-Man film and set him up as the new driving force of the MCU. However, as long as we don’t get another origin story I’m pretty much happy.
If you haven’t noticed, Marvel Studios has been taking the world by storm. Every one of their films has been a financial success and for the most part a critical success as well. Before this new age of superhero movies, these films were seen as fairly low-brow entertainment. Simply actions movies whose stars had a few fantastic powers. That is until Marvel Studios burst onto the screen with Iron Man, a superhero film done well which was also the movie that launched an entire universe.
What Marvel has done in the most simplest of terms is bring the comic format to the world of cinema. They created a shared universe where their multiple franchise heroes reside and even interact on occasion. This has huge ramifications, which I will get after we dive into the comic format in a cinematic world.
The comic book format of delivery that I refer to is the idea of having heroes with their own series which then crossover during big events or in team based series. Using the Marvel films, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Guardians of the Galaxy, are all those singular series. While they all still exist in the same universe, the film themselves focus on the individual heroes. The Avengers is the big crossover event, where all these heroes meet on the screen and it focuses on their interactions as a team against a bigger threat.
By bringing this format to Hollywood, it allows for these films to tell more complete stories. If this had been done like a more regular franchise, we would probably only have The Avengers and direct Avengers sequels. By giving each hero their own franchise you are able to expand and grow the characters outside of the team while focusing on the characters growth as a team during the crossover films. This creates a much bigger pay off as we saw in The Avengers. In fact, the majority of complaints about The Avengers centered around the fact these heroes never had a struggle. It didn’t seem at any point you thought they were going to lose. How one of my friends liked to put it, it was all win and not enough struggle.
What this critique or point of view isn’t taking into account is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) needs to be taken as one film rather than in pieces. Especially when you take into account the actual timeline of the films, you find that they often happen at the same time. You can see below an example of this timeline and you can click here for a larger version.
What this means is that The Avengers is not simply a 2.5 hour film about the band getting together, it is a 2.5 hour climax of a series of events leading up to the big final conflict. This ultimately is what sets the MCU apart from the rest of Hollywood. Marvel plays the long game and while individual films may suffer from the need to establish other aspects of the MCU, such as Iron Man 2, ultimately they are minor setbacks when compared to the big picture.
We as an audience see each character with a completed arc, instead of seeing all the other bits that happen elsewhere in the world during Iron Man we instead see that entire story. Honestly, in my opinion this entire film franchise should be seen and presented as a mini series instead of a film franchise. That way they would have more freedom to blend the characters and plots together instead of what we have now. Hopefully this what Marvel’s Netflix shows will look like with a focus of individual characters while still having others in the background.
So, how has this changed Hollywood? It shows how you can get a better payout for your films while still telling great stories filled with compelling characters. Disney is following suit with Star Wars VII by launching their own shared universe. Even Universal is launching a cinematic universe based on classic monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Werewolf, The Mummy, and any classic black and white monster you can think of.
This idea of a shared universe I believe is the new face of franchises and good provide much better film experiences all around. Ultimately, what I hope is to see a blend between the format of a film franchise and the format of a mini-series. Having the big budget muscle of Hollywood applied to a format that historically has told more complete and fulfilling stories than normal television series does. All we can do is wait and see.