Why ‘Spider-Man’ Should Go To Netflix, Not Movie Theaters

In the recent report on potential Spider-Man directors, one tidbit we left for another time was the fact that Marvel is turning Spider-Man into yet another franchise. Marvel wants three to four movies about Spider-Man going through high school, learning about life, and getting into hijinks… and that’s two or three movies too many.

On a money level, it’s obvious why this is happening. Spider-Man is far and away their most popular character, and, more to the point, he sells tons of merchandise. In fact, Spidey alone makes three times more money selling jammies than the entire comic book industry makes selling actual comic books. Spider-Man is more or less the only reason Disney didn’t just fold Marvel’s publishing operations and subcontract the whole thing to IDW or something. They want Spidey front and center and selling everything they can put his name on.

They also have an issue in that all their franchises are about to come due for a fiscal reckoning. Once Avengers: Infinity War ends, it’s likely that the Thor and Captain America franchises are wrapping up, too, at least as they currently stand. Either Marvel is handing out some pay raises or it’s finding new franchises. True, Marvel still has Guardians of the Galaxy, and will be launching a whole string of potential franchises in the coming years, but they want an absolute, guaranteed hit in their roster.

But is Spidey that guaranteed hit? Each Spider-Man movie has made less than the previous one, and we’re already approaching Spider-saturation; not only does Marvel want at least three live-action movies, they’ve also got an animated franchise in the works. It hasn’t affected his merch sales, but, in film, the character is getting tired, and Marvel’s “magic touch” has to run out sometime.

So, instead of eight hours of Spidey on the big screen, bring him on for the Avengers… and then take him to Netflix for a limited series. This has all sorts of advantages, both practically and creatively.

First of all, it would give them a chance to be faithful to the comics and the character without having to basically trap the cast on a high school set for eight years or worry about how to tie one expensive, complicated movie in with the other expensive, complicated movies. If you’ve read the early Spidey comics, they actually work better as interconnected TV episodes; arguably one of the greatest Spider-Man comics actually doesn’t have Peter in the get-up for most of its pages.

Secondly, we’ve seen Spidey’s high school years in detail; if we’re visiting them again, there needs to be more to it than just an MJ cameo and Flash getting tossed in a dumpster before Spidey swings off to fight… yeesh, who’s even left after five movies? The Kangaroo? I’d argue that what the first two Spider-Man movies got right was that they were really movies about Peter Parker, and that lends itself better to a TV series.

Finally, Netflix would give Marvel first rights to employee organs for the single most popular character they have, especially ones that keep turning up in Marvel movies. The series wouldn’t suffer budgetarily; exclusive rights to a Spidey series would essentially pay for themselves no matter how much was spent on the show. It would be especially useful in Asian markets, like Japan, where Netflix happens to be heading later this year.

Besides, then we’d get that Daredevil/Spidey team-up that Charlie Cox pitched. That alone will be worth it.