We are only a month away from seeing Spider-Man back on the bigscreen in his first collision with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. As we”ve been saying since we first broke the news that Marvel and Disney were working to figure out the way to make this happen, this is the smartest way to get people excited about the character again. It feels appropriate that we”re seeing Civil War and Spider-Man”s possible salvation a month after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made a whole litany of mistakes that almost exactly mirror the ways The Amazing Spider-Man 2 got it wrong. We”ve been reminded of how they can totally mishandle Spider-Man, and now hopefully we”ll see them get it right.
It”s one thing for Spider-Man to show up in a group movie, a fairly safe environment for introducing any character, but carrying his own franchise again will depend largely on how they handle the first stand-alone film. I think Marc Webb”s two Amazing Spider-Man films are uneven, dependent largely on chemistry over screenplay, and instead of focusing on making us like the characters and care about the story, the films trotted through familiar story points without really feeling any of them. It”s not enough to just hit a checklist of moments that have happened in the comics in the past, and the single most important thing about Sony”s new Spider-Man film is going to be finding their way into telling an ongoing serialized story that still satisfies fully.
As several sites have reported today, Sony has evidently registered the domain name Spidermanhomecoming.com, leading to speculation that Spider-Man: Homecoming could be the title of the new film. The first thing that evokes is high school, and I”d love to see an original Spider-Man story told over homecoming weekend as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles to balance the demands of his personal life and his responsibilities as a superhero. The stakes don”t have to be the end of the world; in fact, if we”re learning anything from modern superhero movies, it is that the more apocalyptic the stakes, the less personal the storytelling feels. It is far more compelling to focus on telling a story about characters and what matters to them than it is to tell a story about glowing doodads on rooftops and CGI city destruction porn. Save the scale for when it really matters. Too much of that crap is making us numb, and Spider-Man is a great opportunity for a studio to learn the right lesson from Deadpool. It”s not about the R-rating, and it”s not about the swearing or the violence. It”s about taking a character and making a film that best suits that character, that is true to them and to the type of stories that work best. Not every superhero film is the same. In fact, the more you homogenize them, the easier they are to dismiss.
I don”t have any particular insight into the meaning of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I can”t even tell you whether or not this is the live-action film or the animated movie that Chris Miller and Phil Lord are making. But the title certainly suggests some cool possibility, and I”d like to be excited about the return of Spider-Man. We”ll get our first look in a few weeks, and until then, fingers are crossed.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters May 6, 2016.