20 Suggestions For Sony Regarding the Spider-Man Reboot

Cross-posted from my blog at www.keithwcunningham.com ….

It was announced earlier that the plans for “Spider-Man 4″ have been scrapped in favor of a reboot due to Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire both dropping out of the project. A lot has been said about whether this is a good thing, or a travesty, and I’m not going to hook onto either opinion. What I am going to do is make a few suggestions on how Sony could make this new film the strongest possible product and the beginning of a franchise which they hopefully won’t feel the need to reboot again.

As with any film series the previous Spidey films had missed opportunities and mistakes (Spider-Man 3). What I think everyone can agree on is that we just want to see a rocking Spidey film get made.

1) Stay as true to the origin as possible. Spider-Man has one of the purest superhero origins, right up there with Batman and Superman. You do yourself a disservice if you move away from that in any way. We need to know how important Uncle Ben is, how he died due to Peter’s failure to act, with great power comes great responsibility, all of that. Do not under any circumstances make Ben the victim of a supervillain (Spider-Man 3 I’m looking at you). That he was killed by random crime was essential. I’d also like to see a return to good old-fashioned radiation. As modern as “genetically-enhanced super spiders” may sound, you just can’t beat the original.

2) Norman Osborn should not be the villain. Not yet. It’s too soon, especially if you want this to launch a new series. The Green Goblin is Spidey’s archfiend and there should be a slow build to that. He should definitely be in the film, but to foreshadow and establish the character for later (film 2 maybe). The same can be said for Venom, which is even more recent and requires even a slower build. I’ll accept Doc Ock.

3) No Mary Jane. Not to bag on Spider-Man’s future bride, but it’s the same reason that the Goblin shouldn’t be the villain in the first film. It’s just too soon and Mary Jane being there from day one would just distract from . . .

4) Gwen Stacy. Gwen needs to be the love interest to set things up for the inevitable. Besides, in many ways she’s the true love of Peter Parker’s life.

5) Make the friendship between Peter and Harry central. Harry Osborne is supposed to have been the only friend that Peter had for a long time, and vice versa. They should be like brothers. As good as Franco and Maguire did, they never really sold me on this.

6) Mechanical web-shooters. Spiders do not have wrists, and they certainly don’t have spinnerets in those nonexistent wrists. Mechanical web-shooters show Peter’s intelligence, as well as provide the potential drama of running out of fluid.

7) Make the cast of supporting characters strong. One of the things that Spider-Man has always done better than a lot of books is to have a diverse and interesting supporting cast: Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Robbie Robertson, Flash Thompson, Liz Allen, Glory Grant, to name a few. We should know who these people are. In the previous three films it seemed like we knew more about Ted Raimi than most of these people (provided they existed in a film context at all).

8 ) Peter Parker should remain in high school throughout the course of the entire film. The advice I would give to any teenager is that growing up takes a long time, and that they shouldn’t rush it. This is true of plots too.

9) Leave your mask on. I don’t care who the star is, and I don’t care if they want to mug for the camera. Superheroes wear masks, and wouldn’t rip them off willy nilly. It’s never worked when they do. You could probably cut down on this problem by hiring an unknown for the role of Spider-Man, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, because you could get a young person who was committed to the long term project of anchoring a franchise. Maybe someone versed in Parkour?

10) Bring the funny. The character of Spider-Man is a joker. He constantly yacks and makes jokes both good and bad. He toys with bad guys that prove to be incompetent. Where were the hilarious quips in the previous films? In Marvel 1602 Neil Gaiman described a dream that the alternate Elizabethan version of Peter Parker has. He says in narration, “In my dream I can see perfectly. In my dream I am in a forest of trees as tall as mountains, swinging from tree to tree . . .I am more free and more alive than any man has ever been . . .” To me that has always summed up Spider-man excellently. While Peter Parker may suffer, Spider-Man exists in joy.

11) Keep it simple, stupid. The thing that hurt Spider-Man 3 and X-Men 3 more than anything was that they were simply trying to do too much with them. Like an overstuffed sandwich, even if you like the component pieces, the end result is sloppy. This movie needs ONE main bad guy. It would be great if it was some establishment figure . . . a mob boss like the Kingpin. Then he could throw all kinds of other villains out there without having them distract from the main story.

12) Begin in media res. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t touch on his origin. You absolutely should. But nothing would blow your hair back more than if the first thing you see is Spider-Man involved in a big, stunning action sequence. Throw in one of his B-listers like Shocker to make it really memorable.

13) The public dislikes Spider-Man. As nice as it is to see him appreciated by the masses, New York would NEVER hold a Spider-Man Day. Individuals may like him, but society hates him.

14) Stick it to the man. Spider-Man, like many of the Marvel comic characters created in the sixties, were very popular with the counterculture movement because they’re essentially anti-authoritarian. No matter how many bad guys Spider-Man defeats, he’s never going to win the war, because it’s ultimately about people with power screwing over the little guy.

15) Does whatever a spider can. Take advantage of the fact that Spider-Man would not move in ways we expect or would think of. This is a guy who can run down a hallway along the wall, ceiling, etc. I would suggest taking a look at the Spectacular Spider-Man animated show to see how this would work in action.

16) Peter Parker is a genius. Show it. He defeats his villains with a combination of fists and wits, not just fists.

17) Spider-Man IS New York. The setting is essential to the story, and the city of New York should be one of the most prominent characters in the film.

18) Bring in Marvel staffers as consultants. No one really knows the character like the guys who really know the character. I would highly recommend Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker, Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, and Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis.

19) Tie it in with other Marvel films. This will not happen for business reasons, but if Sony could see to cut a deal with Disney and Marvel Studios the potential greater profit in future is unfathomable. Couldn’t you just imagine Samuel L. Jackson showing up at the end of the credits and rolling his eyes (eye) at a copy of the Daily Bugle highlighting a Spider-Man adventure?

20) No dancing. Okay, this is probably a cheap shot.

As this is a reboot they should go ahead and call it The Amazing Spider-Man, obviously . . .

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