The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rebooting Spider-Man

Everyone and their grandmother has ideas for how Spider-Man should be re-booted in the movies. However, as a film buff, a comic book geek, and someone who is always right I think I'll share mine.

First off, don't do the origin. Everyone in the world knows the origin, and it wastes at least an hour of precious screen time.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man

I never liked Tobey Maguire in the role. He did the awkward nerd very well, but he didn't give us the smart ass. Peter Parker is an awkward nerd, and a funny smart ass. Sure, he has bad luck, but his sense of humor gets him through things. Maguire's Spider-Man never, ever once displayed that. I think it's time to bring that aspect of the character to the silver screen.

Peter Parker is the everyman, but even though we can relate to him, we should also want to be him.

The Supporting Cast

Aunt May, Harry Osborn, and Mary Jane are naturals to be included. They are all so essential and ingrained in pop culture that you know they will be there. However, in the case of Mary Jane, while we all know she is destined to be The One... don't go there until the third movie. Build up to it, but by no means should she be his first love. That honor goes to...

Gwen Stacy. This character is essential, and all too often, ignored. Bring her in here. The smart, cool blonde along with the hot, partying redhead. I always thought the love-square between Peter, Harry, MJ, and Gwen was an essential part of Peter's early years. It should be depicted. And Gwen should be the one he falls in love with first, maybe at the end of the first movie and through the second movie.

Flash Thompson should be here, and not just as a jock with a name. He's a jerk, and a bully who, throughout these movies should be ironically inspired by the guy he torments into becoming a bit of a hero himself.

And yes, the Daily Bugle should be there as well, and I'm sure it will be. I had no complaints about how they were presented in the first movie series, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'd like to see J.K. Simmons return as J. Jonah Jameson.

I'd also like to see Gwen's father, George Stacy in this series. Considering that I think we should skip the origin, if you include George, you can give Peter a very tragic reminder of why he needs to do what he does.

And finally, there's Norman Osborn. A key part of Peter's supporting cast. He should become the substitute father figure in the absence of Uncle Ben, all the while poisoning Peter's friendship with his son. But, even though he is a member of the supporting cast, it should be more than clear to the audience that this man is the most evil person on the planet. Even worse than whoever the supervillain for the first movie is. I doubt he'd do it, but I think Daniel Day-Lewis would be perfect as Norman Osborn.


Spider-Man has five A-List villains: The Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Venom, the Kingpin, and the Hobgoblin. Naturally, at least two of those don't belong in a first movie.

So, who should the first villain be? Venom and Hobgoblin are definitely out. The former because he naturally comes later in Spidey's career, and the latter because he is dependent on the Green Goblin being done first.

Kingpin is probably still licensed to Fox via the Daredevil license, so Sony can't use him.

That leaves the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus. And, honestly, the Green Goblin should not be used out of the gate, even if Norman Osborn should. He is Spider-Man's greatest enemy, and we should build up to him... hold him off until, at least, the second movie... with Norman Osborn as an overall "main villain" throughout this first trilogy.

So, that leaves one little indian... the good doctor.

Doc Ock is terrific first villain material, especially in the sense that he is the evil Peter Parker. A young Peter Parker can see exactly what he'd become if he took a darker path.

But, we've seen Doc Ock before. Which is why I'd like to give him an accomplice. Maybe the Vulture as his partner in crime... John Malkovich was interested in the role anyway, let's see what he can do.

Mundane Criminality

Spidey also fights crime, and if Nolan's Batman series has taught us anything, you can have a terrific use of mundane "real world" crime amongst your supervillains, and Spidey has got plenty of them. But, as I said before, you can't use Kingpin, so what should they do instead?

I'd love to say use Tombstone as the Big Man of Crime ala "The Spectacular Spider-Man." But, he's too much of "a freak" especially if you want to contrast them with the supervillains. In a sense, the old guard of crime is being pushed aside in favor of the supervillains... which is why I think Silvio Manfredi aka Silvermane would be the way to go.

The Tone

It shouldn't be anywhere near as campy as Raimi's movies, however, it shouldn't be "Kraven's Last Hunt" either. Spidey is both funny, and tragic. Light hearted, and serious. It's a fine line to walk. But don't cater to the kids, but don't replicate "The Dark Knight" either. There is plenty of time for darkness in the sequels as Peter grows up and his enemies become even more dangerous. When the Green Goblin comes along, then bring the darkness.

Just remember, we love this guy, and the people in his world. Because they're as real as anyone in comic books could ever be. Never forget that.

And finally... PLAN AHEAD! It's Spider-Man, you know it will be successful. You don't need to kill off the villains in each movie, because the chances you'll get another shot are very good.


  1. My friend Nick just wrote a column for AMC on the Dos and Don'ts of rebooting Spider-Man. Seems like you agree on most points.

  2. I'm actually working on a treatment for a Spidey film trilogy. I know I have no chance now, but in a couple of decades, you never know.