Artwork by Chloe Leeson
By the time the newest movie version of Spider-Man comes out, we would have had three versions of Peter Parker and three versions of Spidey on the big screen in less than 20 years. The only difference this time round is that the adaptations will be in the hands of Marvel and not Sony, who they previously sold the film rights to in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy. (The comic industry was in a bad place in the ‘90s, guys.)
I love Spider-Man, honestly, I do. But after a series of Spider-Man films – some great (Spider-Man 2), some not (The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2), I’m starting to get the feeling that, out of all the Marvel heroes, movies aren’t the best medium to tell Peter Parker’s story.
The success of Netflix and Marvel’s team-up to produce Daredevil has shown that television is a stronger format, if not better, than movies for comic book adaptations. The CW’s crop of superhero shows including Arrow and The Flash, have strengthened that same idea over the last couple of years.
We’re still in the early stages of TV taking over the superhero live-action medium – and soon enough I am sure everyone will be bored of it like the hammer coming down on the MCU movies – but think about it for a second. How damn cool would it be to see a live-action Spidey on the small screen again?
It needs to happen and here are some reasons why.
If you’re going to do high school Spidey, make it about Peter
Marvel are taking Peter Parker back to high school, we know that for a fact. Since they won’t budge on this idea, make a season about the trials and tribulations of navigating the last year of high school instead. You don’t need a linear origin story (which Daredevil and Arrow established) in order to set up a superheroes arc. Peter, at the start of this series, should already be Spider-Man. Flashback to Ben dying when it is absolutely necessary, it doesn’t need to be bogged down by the same stories we’ve seen before.
The awkwardness that makes Peter a universally beloved character has been cast aside in most Spidey films, especially in The Amazing Spider-Man series. So, try and make him relevant again. Bring back those traits that work so well and relatable. He needs to be young and not ‘feel’ young. That’s one of the biggest flaws in high school set shows – you can tell when they’re written by a team who have no clue about young people.
Imagine the Freaks and Geeks writers on this show, or even the Buffy the Vampire Slayer crew. You don’t need to throw in a Snapchat storyline or EDM soundtrack as pitched by an employee at Sony to connect with this current generation. Regardless of technology (which should be featured, but in a way that it is actually used), teenagers feel the same things; they go through the same cycle of emotions that most of us do, usually more heightened and scary. Freaks and Geeks and Buffy (seasons 1 – 3 anyway) had a high school tone which would work for Spidey. He needs an injection of humour, ASAP, at the same time as struggling with his overwhelming responsibilities.
A lot of Spidey villain arcs can’t be contained in one story
Marvel has a big villain problem. Going into the Daredevil series, I didn’t expect anything from their depiction of the Kingpin, a Man Without Fear villain as well as a Spidey one. Turns out they can create a complex character that you feel for (when given space to breathe) and their motivations actually make sense. Wilson Fisk worked because you understood why he had an affinity with Hell’s Kitchen. His storyline coincided with Daredevil/Matt Murdock, showing they are not too dissimilar; it’s their approach that’s different.
Spider-Man’s court of famous bad guys – Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Green Goblin – all serve for longer storylines. They have their own tragic backgrounds and connections to Peter Parker. Their arcs have more of an impact on Spider-Man because the boy behind that mask knows who they are (or later finds out) in rather tragically, Shakespearian ways.
Give screen time to the villains that aren’t just for exposition sake. That’s what makes a great character. They don’t need to be talking about something affecting the plot, just talking. Marvel should take lessons from the Daredevil team on this one.
The less ‘Big Bad’s the better; one big villain at a time, here.
Think of the crossover/cameo/team-up potential
Kamala Khan and Miles Morales featuring? Spidey helping out Daredevil in Hell’s Kitchen? I would die to see this. Someone, make it happen. The origins of the comic book wouldn’t be the same, but seriously, the MCU has switched up so much that it doesn’t really matter at this point. Miles can still be relatively young, a couple of years below Peter in school, so he is more of a supporting character than anything. The constraints of different universes in the original source material don’t need to be the case – Miles and Peter can exist at the same time. I want it and I want it now.
I’d love to see a friendship develop between the future Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, too. Bring these characters into a televised world; introduce the audience to them in a not so obvious way, which could then lead to their own series. (I’m thinking massively ahead on this one.)
What about the crossover potential? Spidey can work in the movie universe; I just don’t think that his main storylines should be condensed to a two hour film. Have him in The Avengers, or popping up in other MCU movies, that’d be cool. There’s so much crossover potential. TV wise, Daredevil and Spider-Man have a history. The tone for Daredevil is so fine-tuned it’d be really interesting to see how they could make a more colourful show, like Spidey, work in the DD show and vice versa; a challenge, but not impossible.
So, who do I need to speak to at Marvel to make this happen? I’m ready to pitch it.
Cherokee is a 20-something year old weirdo based in London. She has a morbid fascination with Justin Bieber, is a collector of toys and cute hats, and enjoys musing on popular culture, marathoning Dragon Ball Z, reading comics and napping. Her favourite films include Akira, the LOTR and original Star Wars trilogy, The Matrix, The Warriors, Blue Valentine, My Own Private Idaho and anything that has been touched by the gods she worships (David Lynch, Jean Cocteau and Satoshi Kon). You can find her atcherokeeseebalack.tumblr.comand tweeting @TheCherokeeElf