Homecoming to Marvel's Family
The fact that movies based on a single character have been rebooted twice gives a clear indication that no amount of failure is going to stop the executives from bringing the webhead on to the silver screen until they get it right, writes Kumar Debvrat
Spider-man was introduced by the Marvel Comics in Amazing Fantasy Vol 15 in 1963 and now 54 years later we are going to encounter the third version of the character in Spider-man: Homecoming. When Marvel's renowned creator Stan Lee pitched the character, publisher Martin Goodman was sceptical about introducing Spider-man, since it was the story of a teenager having daily life struggles and the christening of the name of the superhero on the lines of a universally hated bug. Defying all the initial inhibitions, the character topped the sales figure among all characters in the Marvel Comics universe published during that time and rest has been history since. The wall-crawler has been a major icon in the pop culture scenario among the likes of Batman, Superman, and Wolverine and probably the most widely recognised Marvel Comic character till date. The fact that the movie based on a single character has been rebooted twice gives a clear indication that no amount of failure is going to stop the executives from bringing the webhead on to the silver screen until they get it right.
"With great Power comes great responsibility"
The second reboot has been the most exciting event as Spider-man jumped into the bandwagon i.e. Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Captain America: Civil War (2016) wherein he got to interact with the other Marvel superheroes on the silver screen. It was a dream come true for the fans since the inception of the ensemble cinematic affair in 2008 with Iron Man.
While Spider-man was one of the major characters in the Marvel Comics, he was kept out of the MCU because the rights to character was held by Columbia Pictures (Subsidiary of Sony Pictures) in the same way 20th Century Fox holds the rights to two of the major Marvel superhero teams i.e. The Fantastic Four and the X-Men. This brings up the question why did Marvel sell the rights to one of their greatest characters to another studio. Well, the answer is the obvious case of helplessness as Marvel Comics turned bankrupt in the 80's and had to sell the cinematic rights to their best-selling characters at that point in time to Cannon Films.
After a long legal battle, the character juggled between different studios before landing with the Columbia pictures. The studio started the cinematic journey of Spider-man in 2002 and cast Tobey Maguire as the titular character bringing out the arch-nemesis Green Goblin onto the screens with Sam Raimi at the helm of the project. The series had a good run with a sequel which came out in 2004 but the third movie which released in 2007 turned out to be underwhelming despite decent box-office run. The third installment received flak due to a crammed up storyline with multiple villains and a non-impressive portrayal of one of the Spider-man's most dreadful nemesis Venom which led to cancelling of the next movie thereby reducing the series into a trilogy.
The studio tried to revive the character by rebooting the franchise in 2012 and the title 'The Amazing Spider-man' was inspired by the longest comic book series which ran between 1963-2013. The studio had a big plan for the character as they wanted to create a universe of their own by churning out sequels and also bringing out a spin-off movie based on Spider-man's rogue gallery popularly known as The Sinister Six. All these plans went downhill due to a menial collection as the sequel to The Amazing Spider-man fell flat at the box-office along with the harsh critic response while the first movie was already a turn-off for the audience. Following the monumental failure, Sony Studios did what anybody could have done by entering into an agreement with Disney Studios (parent company to Marvel Studios which brings out all the pictures in the MCU) to share the character while keeping the creative control of the character for his solo outings. Disney Studios rebooted the character by introducing Tom Holland as Spider-man in the third installment of the Captain America series. His performance was lauded for its most accurate portrayal of the wall-crawler and a solo movie was teased as well with Disney lending Robert Downey Jr who plays the fan favorite Iron Man. Following the upcoming outing, Spider-man would also appear in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. While Disney has got its hands on Spidey with the creative inputs from the Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige for the solo movies, the famous phrase from the Spider-man mythos "With great power comes great responsibility," seems to be applicable for the studio. They are deemed responsible for blowing off our minds with the portrayal of the friendly neighbourhood with the power of being able to use the boyish charm of Spider-man amidst the line-up popularly known as Avengers.
Homecoming to the Marvel's juggernaut
Anyone who has been following Spider-man closely from its first adaptation for the screen might know the character's portrayal in a certain way that does not stand true to the comic book persona of the character as the goofiness of Spider-man has been overlooked until the first reboot. The last two versions heavily emphasised on Uncle Ben's death which made Spider-man sulk throughout multiple movies. Uncle Ben's death is a pivotal moment in the story arc as it happened due to Peter Parker's selfish choice of letting go a criminal which constantly reminds him of his responsibility to fight injustice. The fact that this event was the focal point all along it took away the chirpiness and the vibe of the character. The first reboot took it a step further by compounding Uncle Ben's death with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy's death in the sequel which was an emotional overkill. But the current version of Spider-man has been teased appropriately in the Marvel universe and was one of the major reasons for turning the airport battle scene into a fun-fest in Captain America: Civil War.
The highlight of the move to bring back Spidey with other superheroes was his Mentor-protégé relation with Tony Stark as he builds him one of the most advanced suits eyeing him as a prospective Avenger. So the new suit will forecast cool features such as spider-drone on his chest, GPS tracking, web shooter upgrades with 576 combinations to choose from, web wings, spider vision and to top it all a personal AI assistant just as Iron Man's Jarvis enabling him to make the most of all features. The technicality of the suit has come a long way since Maguire's Spider-man as the portrayal was criticised for having organic webbing, downplaying the human element of having limited web cartridges and the need to manage it according to circumstances. 'The Amazing Spider-man' did portray the web shooter feature but the new suit by Tony Stark would be closest to what we will get to Iron Spider suit in the comic books.
If we look back into the mythos of Spider-man, it is evident that along with all the struggles of a teenager he has been in a lot of disappointing scenarios when it comes to his love life. Raimi's trilogy used two of his love interest – Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy, while keeping the latter limited as a plot device. The movies in the series show that Peter aka Spider-man has a rough patch when it comes to his romantic escapades due to the complex life he leads as a masked superhero. The Amazing Spider-man series focused on Gwen Stacy and showcased the darkest chapter out of the comics by killing the character. Homecoming focuses on his high school journey where he will be shown crushing over a senior named Liz Allen (Laura Harrier) while a character named Michelle (Zendaya) has been also teased who does not seem as a romantic interest to the protagonist in the movie.
The common philosophy that runs through all the stories told in any medium is that – 'a hero is as good as his villain' and all the movies in the MCU altogether have produced a limited number of villains who can be remembered for years to come. From the Spider-man movies outside the cinematic universe, only first two movies from the Raimi's trilogy gave us the villains worth acknowledging in the brilliant depiction of Green Goblin and Dr Octopus played by Willian Dafoe and Alfred Molina respectively. The upcoming movie has the Vulture as their main antagonist played by Michael Keaton, popularly known for playing Batman in the 90's who has also proved his acting excellence in the Oscar-winning movie Birdman. Along with Vulture, the movie will also features supporting villains such as Shocker and Tinkerer. With all these exciting updates out in the pop culture space, the movie will be put to litmus-test the coming Friday and our minds will be struck on the only question - Would the character have a heart-warming homecoming into the Marvel family?