Here we go attempt number three.
It has been revealed; the new title and logo for the upcoming Spider-man reboot which will firmly bring Peter Parker back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which all starts with the release of Captain America: Civil War later this month. Since the debut of this new interpretation earlier this month there has been scepticism of this younger more gadget based Spidey brewing and a lot of opposing opinions being flung around, very much as expected, this is a beloved character being re-imagined after all.
It’s big news for Parker to be back in the MCU, somewhere he belonged long ago, but who was to know that the superhero genre was going to be the biggest thing since, well, ever really in terms of cinema, nothing has exploded like this in cinema in a very long time nor in such a big way. Marvel have wanted their icon back since the beginning of their cinematic universe endeavours, with hints at Andrew Garfield’s interpretation to appear in Age of Ultron but after the sequel to Amazing Spider-man left much to be desired, receiving poor reviews across the board ideas of such plans were scrapped. Sadly for all, while its agreeable Amazing Spider-man 2 was a huge flop, Garfield was great as Parker, nerdy, insecure but once the mask went on he was unbelievably cocky and filled with poor quips, something missing from Tobey Maguire’s interpretation. While those films were far superior (1&2 that is, life is better remembering them that way) Maguire was the inferior Spidey. The dream of recent times has been if only Raimi had helmed those films with the Amazing cast (pun not intended, but take it or leave it on that one). But all of that is the past and the Web-head still lives, even after nearly 65 years of being in print and with two franchises burning out. Yet he remains as relevant today as ever, but for me the question is is Peter Parker still relevant, or is it time for a new class of web slinger.
Spider-man deputed back in 1962 in Amazing Fantasy #15 the brain child of artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee. As the story goes this was to be Stan’s last issue, with the book failing and readership dwindling, so Stan and Steve made the ballsy move to create a whole new class of superhero, a nerdy young boy, suddenly bestowed with unspeakable powers but powers which came at a cost. The story was completely fresh, and unlike anything on the market, an everyday hero with everyday problems. Filled with human dramas, unlike the cosmic implications of the Fantastic Four or the war driven drama of Captain America decades previously. Nor was it anything like what they were doing over at Action or Detective comics. And it completely changed the face of comics, launching Marvel to startling heights once again and soon enough we were given the ongoing adventures of The Amazing Spider-man. As well as his continuing adventures sprawling into the pages of Spectacular, Superior, Sensational, Ultimate, Friendly Neighbourhood and more as well as crossing over into a dozen other books. Cementing Spider-man as the face of Marvel.
And with good reason Spider-man has had some of the greatest adventures, a unique gallery of rogues and some of the most human and heartfelt stories. From Parker giving up the identity of Spider-man in #50 of Amazing Spider-man, to Otto Octavious living through Parkers’ body in the stories under the title of Superior Spider-man, to the death of Gwen Stacy in #122 of Amazing, which would be a seminal landmark in comics period. Spider-man has always been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries in comics, even going as far as killing Peter Parker off as Spider-man. But as the rules go for comics no one is dead for long especially within the stories of Spider-man.
But in 2011 the Marvel Ultimate books was relaunched and we were given another Spider-man, a young boy of Black Hispanic-American descent; Miles Morales. Like Parker he was a gifted individual academically and full of promise but once again your everyday kid filled with real world problems from maths tests to high school crushes and social awkwardness. Morales was the brainchild of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sarah Pichelli. While previous to this we had witnessed the adventures of Jessica Drew or better known as Spider-Woman, Drew and Parker were very different characters, just like Spidey and Venom were similar in attributes, Morales however was fresh. Miles was as much a reproduction of Parker as he was his own person, but being able to relive Parkers earlier adventures, exploring themes of being in high school, struggling with the balance of school work and superheroing, rather then the young adult Spider-man that Spectacular and Amazing focused on. With the twist on identity we got to experience a different perspective of high school life and the path to becoming a superhero, as a lot of comics hadn’t changed their perspective focusing on the lives of primarily white Americans, there was little diversity, even with the metaphorical tales of the X-men, persons outcast due to genetic differences, outside of the X-men only Black Panther was really a character of colour and prominence within the Marvel Universe. And few of these were your average kid growing up in New York, one which many could relate to.
The idea to create a Spider-man of colour was an idea that generated around the time of President Obama’s election, back in 2008. The idea was received with mixed reaction from fans, public and creators alike, with Stan Lee praising the decision while many looked at it a little more sceptically some calling it tokenism due to the changes happening within American society rather then as the progression it was. Comics have long been looked on as a somewhat stagnated industry, born of pre-war male sensibilities, which to the outside world (the non-comic book reading world) hadn’t changed. With the few attempts of progression to include characters of colour or of varying sexualities or to remove the obvious objectification of women were lost in the world of mainstream storytelling and is only something that has really begun to change in the past 5 years since the creation of characters like Morales. So once again Marvel were doing what Spider-man does best breaking boundaries, recasting its main staple hero, whether they were to be black, white, straight or gay it was ballsy no matter how you look at it.
DEAD NO MORE.
Of course Peter would return, and would do so in Dan Slott’s run of Amazing Spider-man in 2014. But now the spider-family has increased tenfold with other various versions of Spider-men (women and pigs) on the market, ranging from Spider-Woman to Spider-Gwen to the futuristic adventures of Spider-Man 2099 and the tales of the Web Warriors. All have found their place in the All Different All New universe post Secret Wars. Parker is now a global leader in the world of electronics having come far from his humble beginnings as a struggling college student and reporter but it this older matured Spider-man that seems amiss. I have yet to read an enjoyable Peter Parker Spider-man in recent years. Has he come to far as a character, I mean of course progression of character is needed one which is a slow process in comics particularly, having taken decades for the Amazing title to reach this point. But he has grown to an extent with his audience, the people who have been reading him since the very first imprint of Amazing may be years older then Parker in the books but they’ve been there and they understand those life efforts he is struggling with, as can many, they are universal themes and he is enjoying a great run at the moment under the hands of Slott. But for years I have struggled to get past the tales and version I grew up with, I’ve been reading the tales of Spectacular Spider-man, a title birthed in 1968 and continued with force until 1998 within its first volume, for years, collecting and reading a huge number of back issues. This is the Parker I know and love, and here may lie the problem for me personally.
My love for Parker has dwindled, for nothing will compare to those days, Parker was at his best in the 80’s and 90’s for me and sadly that is how I remember him. But the mythos of Spider-man is still one I love, I’m loving the current run of Spider-man (now Miles Morales, while Parker returns to operating under the Amazing Spider-man banner) along with the likes of Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman. While a comic book character will never truly truly die, they do progress, following their deaths they are reinvigorated, their ideals are transferred and expanded upon by other minds and other bodies . Like Batman Spider-man has always been a beacon of inspiration inspiring a legacy beyond himself and like Batman he has been through three cinematic reboots. So isn’t it time that the movies follow in the footsteps of its comic book counterparts and make a bold and ballsy move and change who we see as Spider-man.
Batman cinematically has slowly changed over time, moving from Gothic fun to a realistic brooding hero to more recently a dark and intense vigilante whereas in the case of Spider-man he has simply got younger and closer to his comic book counter part there is little that differentiates between the versions we have witnessed on screen and nor is there a great difference in the latest one. We get new suits, new gadgets, new quips, new casts but there isn’t a great feeling of difference, Marvel are in a position where they can take risks as they have comfortably established their cinematic universe. While I can understand the trepidation of entirely re-casting your icon, and potentially removing the entire history of Peter Parker particularly in the eyes of the mainstream. It would be a seriously bold move but wasn’t that the point of re-casting him within the spider-verse, to show the diversity of the character and introducing a whole new audience to the world of spider-man, delivering to a greater spectrum of people with a book induced with themes heavily relevant to today.
One of the true strengths of Morales as Spider-man is how his tales take place in more a racially active environment filled with prejudices, misconceptions and tensions that communities face everyday but Bendis always dealt with this as background noise it was still Spidey at heart. This is the kind of film Marvel fans of today deserve of course I’ve enjoyed seeing the adventures of Parker being put to screen witnessing both of he’s biggest relationships with Mary-Jane and Gwen Stacy play out and seeing some of his greatest villains come to life before my eyes. But we’ve seen it, of course there are hundreds of stories to draw from, new interpretations to be made and new avenues to explore. And yes you may think me biased having previously admitted my displeasure with the current form of Peter Parker but the films I love. They brought to life the early adventures of Spectacular and Amazing that I still hold dear to this day, but I’ve seen them, I’ve witnessed my wildest dreams playing out before me, yeah they weren’t perfect but there he was, Peter Parker, from page to screen swinging and slinging through New York City battling the Green Goblin, what more could the child inside me want.
While sadly this time we won’t be seeing a new Spider-man just a new Peter, I think it’s time Marvel take a leaf out of their own book and be the innovators they are off-screen on-screen. And allow a whole new generation to grow and love a character in a whole new way. Allowing it to reach them as it reached me way back when when I was just a white nerdy kid who loved comics, Parker was somewhat of an idol to me and I believe Miles Morales is and will be just that for an entire generation to come and is a representation and character that deserves such a legacy.
It may be Parker’s Homecoming next year but I hope Morales is the one who deservedly becomes the Spider-man we come to love on-screen. While I harbour no hard feelings and don’t wish to witness a fourth reboot in my time, which I’m sure I will undoubtedly do so, I certainly feel Parker has had his time as Spider-man and it is time for someone else to take up the responsibility of power within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Until that time Web-heads, lets just hope this film is the Spider-man film we’ve been waiting for since the muddled era which followed the darkness of Spider-Man 3. And hey, anything that has the Vulture in it has my blessing.
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