Death to the Amazing, Birth of the Avenger
By John Hussey.
In recent news Marvel fans were given the terrific announcement of Spider-Man finally joining the Avengers team as depicted in the comics/graphic novels. But with all good news comes bad news. I point to the cancelling of the recently rebooted Spider-Man series with Andrew Garfield playing the leading role. I wish to use this opportunity to look upon the pros and cons of this decision by Marvel Studios and Sony.
This deal with Sony will add much to the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe which started way back in 2008 with the premier of Iron Man. This led to Universal Pictures producing the one-off Incredible Hulk film in order to introduce his character to the same universe. After the first Iron Man sequel Marvel introduced Thor and Captain America to the mix before going on to doing the unthinkable: an Avengers movie. The success of Avengers led to Phase Two of Marvel’s operations where even Guardians of the Galaxy was introduced, along with Ant-Man whose film is due out in July after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in May.
Marvel Studios have even planned out the entire Third Phase of this series which will go on to introduce Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel as well as adapting the Civil War arc and bringing Thanos in to do battle with the Avengers during their third instalment Avengers: Infinity War due out in 2018 and concluding in 2019.
That’s a nice little background into what has already gone on with this successful franchise. Some might wonder why I’m wasting my time talking about this within this particular article. The reason is I wished to emphasise how big the franchise is and how much Marvel are working hard to bring the Avengers to life. So it gives them great pleasure to add yet another character into their established series that was thought to originally be excluded due to him being owned by Sony. Spider-Man is a vital part of the Avengers team and it would’ve been a massive shame not to have him in the adapted films. Plus he is a popular character within Marvel’s universe, so that’s another pro to this ongoing series.
Apart from Spider-Man being an important element within this universe in the comics/graphic novels he also has a lot of character development through his interactions with the Avengers, something that would translate well onscreen. Those who have watched his films will know of his tragic story as a young man trying to find himself in the world and constantly battling against his two different lives. Also he is one of the only superheroes within the current Avengers team onscreen to not have his identity revealed. That is why his incorporation in Captain America: Civil War is greatly appreciated as from what I’ve heard, and can’t wait to read when I receive the Civil War graphic novel, Spider-Man receives a lot of dark story development. Not dark as in his character goes dark, but the fact that harsh things happen to him.
From what I know of the Civil War arc (spoilers for those who don’t want to know) the government forces a new policy, the Superhuman Registration Act, upon super heroes in which they have to reveal their secret identities to the world. This causes a massive friction within the Marvel universe as the different super-heroes conflict on the matter of whether or not this should happen, leading to some ugly battles between who’s right and wrong. For Spider-Man this would mean everyone he knows and wishes to protect would be in mortal danger to his enemies within Manhattan because his identity will be known to them. It would be a personal battle and place him in some difficult situations. Whilst some wouldn’t mind knowing his identity some might get violent towards him (especially those who are against his superhero activities). He would also surely lose his job at the Daily Bugle at the hands of Jonah Jameson as well as him having the awkwardness of explaining his secret to his Aunt May and his many different love relationships and friends.
The aftermath of this arc caused the Spider-Man comics to go to dark places because of his revealed identity. This storyline would be a great adaptation onscreen. We’d start off by seeing him as a tall, upcoming hero whilst intercutting as a harmless nerd at college trying to get through his day. Then after his encounter with the Avengers team in Captain America: Civil War we would see a turn of events. In his following film he would be broken and exposed. Everyone would know his secret. He’d no longer be as amazing within the public eye. And as stated above, his loved ones would be in danger to his enemies and his battles would become much more personal as well as him controlling his two lives.
All of these developments would bring a whole new depth to the character, beyond what we’ve seen onscreen so far within his stand-alone films. Like with the rest of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we see both their conflicts within their own adventures as well as those that integrate with their fellow Avengers, showcasing a larger journey and development. Above all it adds yet another new character to the franchise, allowing for more films and grants us one extra Avenger for the third film who happens to be one of the more popular characters within Marvel’s universe. It allows the comics/graphic novels to be translated better by having as many of the characters from the Avengers placed onscreen to do battle, and Spider-Man’s arrival will only serve to make the series that much better.
I’m not a big fan of the idea of another reboot for Spider-Man. We’ve already had one recently and I really enjoyed the new take on the character with Andrew Garfield in the lead role. It makes the whole Amazing Spider-Man series seem redundant now and I feel sorry for everyone who worked on it. Like with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the team tried the approach of overlaying story-arcs intertwined between different films, with future plans including a Venom and Sinister Six spin-off as well as two more Amazing Spider-Man films. All that hard work and planning seems absolutely wasted now and to have the plug pulled knowing a new Spider-Man series will take its place immediately afterwards is a true stab in the back by Marvel Studios.
My biggest annoyance with this is knowing the Amazing Spider-Man had a future and it will never be told, meaning every time I watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I must be reminded of what could’ve been. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the series run like the original trilogy in which the story-arcs weren’t as in-depth. But with the Amazing series there was so much to be told and so much being built upon it’s massively clear that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends unfinished.
With a third reboot so soon after the second means that there is the risk people might be bored with the idea, having only just got used to Garfield’s portrayal. Now a new guy will step in and Marvel will be expecting their audience to except him as soon as possible in order to move forward with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a massive risk I think and I hope it pays off for the sake of the franchise but it’s still a gamble all the same.
The question that needs to be asked is how are they going to establish the new Spider-Man efficiently? The risk with bringing Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (as rumoured) without prior introduction is the lack of strong development like the other main characters gained. He won’t seem as important because he is a late tag on, only latterly getting a film of his own like Black Panther. Maybe it could work due to the importance of the arc and the scale of the film due to the arc itself and the many different super-heroes involved. Structurally though it would’ve been better to have established Spider-Man within his own film prior to the events of Captain America: Civil War. On the other hand yet another introductory film would prove tiresome to fans as two have been done onscreen already.
In all this talk of re-establishing the character and building up his universe Marvel Studios have failed to understand one thing: they already have an established universe they could have used. The Amazing Spider-Man series was well on its well to developing Spider-Man so why not just use that? Why go to all the trouble of gambling with a new actor and a whole new set of films when a rebooted series is already at Marvel’s disposal. Maybe it might be the fact that they didn’t have control with his developments from the get-go, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have been too far of a stretch to incorporate Garfield’s Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I suppose the lack of explanation towards New York being partly destroyed by Hulk and then invaded by Loki’s army poses as a problem but other than that there was nothing really stopping an incorporation.
The main reason I defend the idea of The Amazing Spider-Man series being continued is it was already established and would’ve given Marvel Studios an easier job of introducing Spider-Man to their universe without the need of rebooting the character for a third time which by that point, as I’ve said above, is a massive gamble because people might start getting bored of the idea of rebooting the series and character so frequently.
At a stretch, I did consider some ideas that Marvel Studios could’ve done to make this transition easier (you guys be the judge). They could’ve cancelled The Amazing Spider-Man series but kept Andrew Garfield on to play Spider-Man. It may pose as confusing to some but what they need understand is that this Spider-Man is from a different universe and series. Plus it allows Garfield to keep the part he has so earned without being mistreated. I think being involved within the Avengers would’ve been even more of an achievement.
My other idea is that they kept The Amazing Spider-Man series going but just have a different Spider-Man appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both franchises get what they want and everyone’s a winner. But unfortunately more casual audiences may get confused a bit too easily, so perhaps wouldn’t grasp the idea of there being two separate Spider-Man’s on their screens.
I hope this article has proven interesting and gives you both different sides of the coin within this new radical decision. For those interested in knowing what side I stand, I’m all for the new approach of having Spider-Man join the Avengers despite my disappointment in the cancellation of the Amazing series. Either way I thought it would be good to write this article for those who stand on either side of this coin and of course to deliver something of interest whilst the news is still hot within discussion.
Thank you for reading.