In case you missed the trailer for it that was attached to The Avengers, there’s a new Spider-Man film heading our way this summer. It’s not the Spider-Man we knew and (mostly) loved from Sam Raimi. Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker has been replaced by a younger, hipper Andrew Garfield. The utterly adorable Bryce Dallas Howard’s Gwen Stacy has been replaced by the equally adorable Emma Stone. Denis Leary has been tapped to play her father.
It’s certainly a younger take than we’ve had over the past decade, though it’s hard to see how they could possibly top Raimi’s Spider-Man 2—a masterpiece of cinema, superhero or otherwise.
I’m an unabashed Spider-Man fan. I love the character, I love the comics, I love the angst and the drama, but more than anything, I love the humor. Spider-Man is one of the wittiest characters in the Marvel Universe and makes you laugh as readily as his situation could make you cry.
As I watch the trailer for the new film, I have to admit I have my trepidations, to say the least.
Sure, Spider-Man 3 wasn’t the movie we all wanted, and someone deserved to be fired for it, but that person wasn’t Sam Raimi and cast. It was the management at Sony that forced Raimi to shoehorn in a villain as lame as Venom and expect anything but a 1960s Stan Lee/Steve Ditko take on the lamest of ’80s villains. Instead, they fired him and, by the looks of it, sought to emulate the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe. While I love Nolan’s take on Batman, I think his films are more crime drama than superhero, almost as if they’re apologizing for the fights-and-tights elements of the source material. That’s not a world a character like Peter Parker can long inhabit without turning him into something completely different.
Aside from the odd, mismatched tone the trailers give off, we’re told quite blatantly that this new movie is once again an origin story. Why? Is there anyone left on this planet that doesn’t know how Peter Parker got his powers? Or how he lost his uncle? The Spider-Man film of 2002 gave us that origin and managed to gross more than $400 million dollars at the box office. That was less than 10 years ago. Mix in the countless cartoons and comic-book retelling of the origin, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can’t give you the words “radioactive spider.”
Director Marc Webb is giving us a twist, though: the “untold” story of Peter’s parents. Except it’s not untold. It’s been tread through several times in the comics, most recently in the best-selling Ultimate line. James Bond has traded actors and creative teams repeatedly, and we’ve only been given one “sort-of” origin story for 007. That’s it. We don’t need to revisit it every time someone else comes along.
And doesn’t it feel like the entire trailer happens at night? The Peter Parker I know always seems to be skipping school to fight crime and stop threats to New York City.
I don’t know—maybe I’m coming off as one of those crotchety “get off my lawn” sorts. But this movie just seems like a recycled retread of every Spider-Man story that’s trying too hard to be “gritty,” whatever that means. What happened to Spider-Man being everyone’s favorite friendly, neighborhood hero?
I’ll reserve judgment until I see the film as a whole, and I’ll approach it with an open mind, but at this point I’m not keeping my hopes up. Maybe by keeping expectations low, it’ll surprise me.
Bryan Young is editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.