Unless this is the very first website you’ve clicked on today, you’ll have heard that Spider-Man is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alternatively you’ll have read that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to Spider-Man, depending on how you read the rather amusing and carefully worded press release.
There is a lot to think about and some interesting implications. I think some people may be jumping the gun by celebrating however…
Remember, Sony Have The Final Say
What does that mean? It’s not quite clear what Sony having the last word translates to in actuality, but it simply sounds like if Sony don’t like something then Sony get what they want. It’s important to remember this regardless of where you stand as you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Spider-Man is “back” at Marvel (more on that in a moment) as Sony still have control, they’re simply accessing Marvel Studios’ talent and continuity to help make their own movie. This is a joint venture but it’s Sony who’ve got the power here.
“Spider-Man Is Home”?
Here’s something a lot of people forget: without Sony and Fox there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, X-Men and X2 Marvel would never have gambled on producing an Iron Man movie. Ever. It was a very expensive risk that was made less risky by the fact that these movies had gone first and found out that yes, there is a pretty big audience for super hero movies and the formula works pretty well on screen.
Acting like Sony was holding onto Spider-Man all this time, while Marvel cursed to the heavens, is silly. Everyone benefitted from those films. Marvel Studios didn’t even exist when Spider-Man 2 was raking in money.
Yes, the quality of those movies had begun to slip in later years, but sequels were in pre-production long before Iron Man came out. X-Men First Class for instance, which was excellent, was always in the pipeline. Marvel Studios didn’t make that movie happen by putting out their own.
Keep in mind Marvel was basically bankrupt when the Spider-Man movie deal was originally written.
If Spider-Man is really “home” then it’s only because he moved out to escape his broke ass parents and their dilapidated house. Then he made a name for himself with his pal Sony and came back home after his parents got even richer than he did.
Marvel Studios aren’t the good guys, Sony aren’t the bad guys. Everyone just wants to make fun, profitable movies. And that’s okay.
A Few Years Ago, Nobody Cared About Iron Man
There was a time when Iron Man elicited shrugs of indifference from the general public. Thor and Captain America were similarly considered relatively bland and uninteresting. The average movie-goer didn’t even know who Hawkeye and Black Widow were. How about Groot? Describe him to a non-comic reader before the movie and they’d probably laugh in your face.
By having little other choice, Marvel Studios turned those characters into big sellers. By having Spider-Man it’s another reason to settle. What’s riskier, Guardians of the Galaxy or Spider-Man? The answer is pretty obvious.
It says something that 4 of the Phase 3 movies have been bumped to make room for Spider-Man. Thor: Ragnarok, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Inhumans have all shifted to make room. Which tells you a lot about the priority of the movie.
Would Marvel have bothered with something like Dr. Strange if they had Spider-Man all along?
This is the reason why I think as an audience we actually benefit from having the Marvel universe sliced up between studios. It fosters creativity and encourages risky thinking instead of just playing it safe and pumping out the known quantity.
Marvel Studios can only make so many movies, they’re already looking a bit like a film factory. If we imagine for a minute that they also had the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man when the Phase 3 line-up was being planned, then it would look a lot different right now. I wager we wouldn’t have the riskier movies at all. Yet it’s Black Panther and Captain Marvel that I’m most excited for. They have the potential to be another Iron Man and permanently boost the character into the A-list roster while giving us a movie that’s something different. Not to mention the diversity which is so painfully rare today.
…But I Understand If You Disagree
All this said, if you think I’m ridiculous for saying this then I admit I do understand. We all have characters that are special to us and if Spider-Man occupies that position for you, where Captain Marvel, Mystique and Batwoman sit for me, then I totally get it. This is an exciting announcement if you’re a big Spider-Man fan.
But personally I want more diversity. I want leftfield characters to be given a chance and I see Spider-Man coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a way for a very popular and very familiar character to take someone else’s slot.
Unless of course it’s not Peter Parker and it’s Miles Morales, or even Spider-Gwen getting a movie. Then I’m on board.
I’ll be holding out hope but I doubt we’ll see anything other than Peter Parker. We all better get ready to watch Uncle Ben die, again. Because with great power, comes a great desire to use the safest and most recognisable character to make the greatest amount of money.