Apparently the revised Spider-Man will feature Peter Parker’s parents. The original comics never mentioned them... Peter was an orphan who
grew up with his aunt and uncle. According to the new director, the spider bite and the uncle remain, although the circumstances of the uncle’s death
are different. Other than that, they apparently tried for a whole new take.
It is easy, and commercially sound, to re-invent the wheel. Whatever the rest of the design might look like, a wheel
will always roll if it is round enough. You can change the size of the wheel, the spokes, and whether it has soft rubber around the outside... it’ll still be
Movie makers love re-inventing the wheel because it seems so easy, but somehow recapturing what ultimately makes the wheel work remains largely a
mystery. Filmmakers become locked into maintaining characters and situations, with the result of too many sequels ending up square, or with bumpy
edges, or at least with all the soft rubber gone.
Part of the problem lies in what the wheel is made of. Why are some sequels wooden?
Hollywood ‘builds’ on what worked in the past. A sequel should, understandably, give the audience more of what it enjoyed before. But more often this
translates into bigger, not better. The Spider-Man film trilogy of the 2000s is a good example of good and not so good.
Spider-Man 1 went overboard with the origin story, but okay. It worked. The film had a real charm, the leads were very good. The first wheel was in
place. Spider-Man 2 even built a better wheel. Having already established the characters, it could move directly into the story. Happily, that story
built properly on the first film. A great villain was introduced, and the film felt not bigger, but better. The second film in the series holds up as
fine in its own right, and an excellent sequel.
Then came Spider-Man 3. Now the filmmakers clearly opted for bigger. So there were now three villains sharing screen time. The special effects
dominated the film rather than supported it. Perhaps the repetitive character approach, at least, was understandable: the first two films had already
pushed the story to a comfortable limit. A lot of this sequel felt like talented people trying hard, but with nowhere to really go.
Now, after some years, comes the reboot.
Undoubtedly, the film will look bigger: the capabilities of special effects continue to grow more sophisticated, and the filmmakers probably assume
that’s what audiences want. But tinkering with the basic story line and main characters is dangerous. Not dangerous from a purist point of view: this
is, by now, after all, commercial product. Nope, tinkering is dangerous because the original story worked so well.
Parker was a nerd who lived with his aunt and uncle. He received great power only by accident, but it was a creepy kind of power related to an insect
most people fear. His initial use of his power was related to the death of his uncle, so Parker saddled with guilt. The terrific part of the original
comics was how subversive they were. Peter Parker was no standard super hero of the time, wearing a cape and being adored. He was a loser, who was
If you introduce his parents, then you may upset the delicate balance. Also you may get trapped into origin-story-itis. The recent Captain America
suffered in part from origin-story-itis, but the story was told with some humour and speed. Still, the trouble with origin stories is that: when do I
get to the good stuff?
So why should any chance be taken at all? Because there is money to be made. And let’s be clear: okay, fine, movies are exceptionally expensive, take
the opportunity when you know there is a built in audience waiting for the film!
The real test of whether the new Spider-Man is round or square will be, most likely it will rely on whether the film focuses on the characters or
special effects battles. If it focuses on the battles, it will likely have a been there done that quality, given, well, we’ve been there and done
that. If they take the basic ideas of the characters, and do something new with them (but that is true to the characters), success!