What the hell, Sony?

Posted by Mister Mets 17 January 2010

Upon reading that Spider-Man 4 was cancelled, I was disappointed. This immediately struck me as a cynical ploy to adapt Spider-man into a fusion of Twilight, Dark Knight, and the quantity of the Harry Potter films. The Raimi/ Maguire Spider-Man movies were pretty goddamn successful (including the top films of 2002 and 2007) so it seemed absurd to remake the stuff so soon. There was the sense that something that was well-received and financially successful on its own merits was being remade into something more derivative, especially after the comments from Sony about how Spider-Man’s going to be grittier. The Dark Knight was successful, but it didn’t happen by copying Pirates of the Caribbean.

Even though the big three villains had been used, there was no dearth of new material for Spider-Man 4. Dylan Baker had been waiting for half a decade to be the Lizard, and it’s been pretty much a no-brainer to combine him with a certain hunter in a story similar to Kraven’s Last Hunt, where you could give Peter and Mary Jane an emotional arc as they realize that Spider-Man can be killed. If you wanted to have a theme of youth and optimism versus experience and cynicism, you could have used the Vulture instead. If you wanted Spider-Man to be overwhelmed, you could have had a crime war with any combination of Mister Negative, Tombstone, Hammerhead, Rhino, Electro, Shocker, the Enforcers and Chameleon. It seems like the first trilogy was thrown under the bus, which is a short-sighted insult to the people involved critical and commercial blockbusters. Tying up the story in a more satisfactory way would also have made the first three films even more successful in various rereleases in the long-term.

It seems like the relaunch will revisit territory (the high school days) and story beats of a film which came out a decade earlier, and probably confuse the hell out of the many who saw the first three. Waiting a few years could have increased the gap between the first films of the Spider-Man franchises. As it currently stands, there’s only going to be a decade between the scenes of Peter Parker in high school in the first one and the same material in the relaunch. Imagine if someone in 1987 had relaunched Star Wars with a new cast focusing on Luke Skywalker on Tatooine (or maybe his early days amongst the rebels.)

Spider-Man 3 was a mess, but a lot of that was due to studio interference. This was also a problem with the proposals for Spider-Man 4, with the well-publicized and oft-ridiculed casting of Anne Hathaway as the Vulture’s daughter. The first two Spider-Man films did well critically and commercially when Raimi was left to his own devices, so it’s disappointing that he wasn’t given the same opportunity here, if only for one last hurrah.

And, does anyone believe they'll be able to replace JK Simmons as J Jonah Jameson?


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