Reinventing The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

There are some things that are as inevitable as death and taxes. Water wet? Check. Fire hot? Check. Spider-Man reboot ready to hit theaters….again? Check and double Check! It seems that no matter how many times we’ve seen our favorite wall crawler swing across the big screen, he just keeps coming back for more.

On July 7, 2017, Spider-Man: Homecoming, the second reboot and sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years makes its debut. While the first three films in the early 2000’s  starring Toby Maguire as high school science geek Peter Parker turned web slinging superhero, Spider-Man were box office successes, the fourth film in that franchise never materialized. Sony Pictures, which had acquired the rights to the character during Marvel‘s lean years attempted to revive Spidey in 2012 with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, but the magic just wasn’t there. Both were critical and box office disappointments.  (Link)

So, why should theatergoers not turn their nose up at yet another reboot of a popular character in a world littered with Superhero Blockbusters?  The answer may be shockingly simple…this time the producers, directors and studios (yes, Marvel/Disney and Sony) are committed to doing it differently. When Sony Pictures, reeling from its failure with The Amazing Spider-Man films finally relented and permitted Spider-Man to appear as a feature player in  Marvel’s 2016 mega-hit, Captain America: Civil War, the overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans made it clear that a partnership between the studios could work.  With that realization, everyone involved knew that in order to have a shot at future Spider-success, they’d need to approach the character of Spider-Man in a fresh and original way.  (Link)

That new perspective began with the casting of Tom Holland in the title role.  What separates Holland from his predecessors is his youthful look and energy.

One of the main reasons for Spider-Man’s  enduring appeal is that he is an incredibly relatable character.  He’s not an alien with cosmic powers or a billionaire with unlimited resources.  He’s a geeky, orphaned teenager.  He’s broke, he lives in New York City, and while he’s busy saving the world, he also has to be certain to pass his mid terms.  Holland fits that bill in a way that the prior actors who donned the suit did not.  He actually looks the part.  He is believable as a teenager who is approaching his new role as a hero with confusion and enthusiasm.


In that same vein, Director, Jon Watts, wanted Spider-Man: Homecoming to be a film that embraced its high school roots.  Watts has made it clear that Peter Parker should spend a sizable portion of this film interacting with his peers and adjusting to his place in the world as he comes of age. Watts was determined that Peter would be surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities,  so as to bring an air of realism to the film.   “I lived in New York for thirteen years and it should look like a school in New York, it shouldn’t look like a school in the Midwest in the 50’s.” said Watts of his decision to cast more diverse actors in this incarnation of Spider-Man.   (Link)

Perhaps most importantly, however is the decision to forego the staple of the superhero reboot; the origin story.  Reasoning that viewers were treated with the telling of Peter Parker’s bite from a radioactive spider on two prior occasions, the producers were comfortable picking up where Spidey left off in Captain America: Civil War.  Not long after the character is introduced in that film, fans are well acquainted with his powers, his desire to become a member of The Avengers and the inescapable fact that he is a teenager who is just learning how powerful he really is. Producer, Amy Pascal recognized that by electing not to saddle Holland with an origin story, the actor could be set apart from previous incarnations of Spider-Man, freeing him to explore different facets of the hero’s evolution. (Link)


With this refocused approach, it certainly sounds like this is not your father’s Spider-Man.  That being said, it’s important that the film not stray too far from what makes this character as beloved as any in pop culture.  Namely, it’s the fact that Peter Parker finds strength in his shortcomings.  He doesn’t always get the girl, he’s not rich, especially handsome, or possessing of a chiseled physique.  Yet, despite his daily challenges he’s governed by a sense of doing what’s right and important when it’s not easy to do so. Spider-Man is the everyday superhero that any teenage daydreamer can envision being. If the film can deliver that sentiment while making good on all its other promises, well then, look out…here comes the Spider-Man.

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