Alright then, Spiderman. I have had some thoughts on this new movie!
Mostly I have few requirements for Spider-Man (I’ve been meticulously hyphenating his name, because it makes me feel like a proper nerd and everything). I’d say the most important thing, character wise, is that he should be funny. It’s kinda difficult to get it right, maybe because you don’t want it to be facetious, and you don’t want it to be quippy in a gimmicky way but I feel like, with the general track record of the MCU, the humorous aspect is probably dead set to to be done right. There’s also some directorial stuff – Spider-Man, when he’s swinging around, should really look genuinely quite amazing. I don’t really know much about the director (nor does anyone else, really) but I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make that that kind of quality will be assured.
On Peter Parker
I have recently realised that pretty much any permeation (iteration? interpretation? depiction?) of Peter Parker wherein he isn’t a straight white guy adds a new and more compellingly layer to the story. (For example, linked here, this version of Peter Parker wherein he’s African-American) The ship has sailed on that one, given the casting of Tom Holland (who I am sure will do excellently), but I still think it’d be interesting to depict Peter Parker as gay or bisexual, because it reflects a lot of the original themes which played a crucial role in the character, back when he was first envisaged – the idea of someone who was a bit of an outcast, who represented the underdog. That basic idea is what comes into play, if depicting Peter Parker as gay.
The way I’m thinking they’d depict it is relatively subtle, in a nice kind of way. Throughout the film, you’d have references to MJ, this person Peter has a crush on. Everyone who’s reasonably familiar with Spider-Man has some idea of MJ, so they know who we’re referring to, even though you don’t actually see MJ. So, anyway, you have Peter’s friends, giving him a bit of a good natured ribbing about the crush, scenes like that. And then towards the end of the film, Peter can pass this guy in the corridor, and feeling a little more confident – perhaps because he’s been out being Spidey – says to this dude:
MJ, of course, stands for Mark John Watson.
It might be nice if we’ve seen this guy around a few times, in different scenes across the school. Perhaps a roll call scene, where the teacher calls him ‘Mark’, setting up the eventual “twist” at the end. I quite like that idea.
On the Supporting Characters
Okay, so if Peter Parker is going to be in school, then that means that we’re going to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time with his friends – I’m sort of imagining this taking place with maybe 50% or so of the scenes in school, and with Peter out of costume, to really explore the angle a teenager, gifted with powers most kids could only dream of, but ultimately dealing with his life becoming far more complicated than ever. None of the characters in the MCU at the minute really have secret identities; Peter, on the other hand, does.
Let’s say, then, Peter can have two to three friends, as well as a school based antagonist. The antagonist is of course Flash Thompson, who’s a bully, and quite a bother for Peter and his friends. Something which I’ve seen proposed online would be for Flash to be bullying people because he’s closeted; it’s Spider-Man who inspires him to come out, and be less cruel to others. That could, if handled well, be a pretty interesting subplot to include, because it’s showing the way in which heroism can impact on and inspire others – as well as forming an interesting counterpart to Peter, if he were depicted as gay.
One of the friends could be Harry Osborn – but since he’s been done twice before, it might make sense if this film decides to eschew the use of him. (Then again: How about Peter in love with MJ, whilst Harry has an unrequited crush on Peter? Could be an interesting angle for future Green Goblin appearances)
Bringing us onto Peter’s two other friends, we’ve got Felicia Hardy, being set up potentially as the Black Cat for sequels, and providing another LGBT character (As nice as it would be, it seems unlikely that Flash or Peter would be depicted as LGBT; at least with Felicia, there’s a comics precedent. Still, I’m trying pretty hard to make the lineup for this film as diverse as possible.)
The next friend, who would form a pretty important part of the narrative, is Kamala Khan. She knows Peter’s secret, and she encourages him to do a lot of what he does. Essentially she’d fill a role not too dissimilar from Cisco on The Flash; really enthusiastic, and really enjoying the world of superheroics, You’d have references to and maybe briefly see her family, but they wouldn’t really take focus. There’s going to be quite a few scenes between the two of them, where they confide in each other and joke around and all that. It’s a little bit of a departure from the Canon, but it seems like a good way to introduce Kamala.
Obviously, in terms of Peter’s home life, he’s living with Aunt May. There’d be references to Uncle Ben, but very few to his parents; presumably at this stage in Peter’s life, he’s essentially as content with the death of his parents as he could ever be, and what’s bothering him more is the death of his Uncle. The idea of “With great power comes great responsibility” is still a motivating factor, obviously.
On the villains
This is actually quite a difficult one, thinking about it. A lot of the more iconic villains, like Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, have been done, and done quite memorably. My own favourite Spider-Man villain is the Lizard, and of course he’s been done… I think it’s important to keep this story small scale, because Spider-Man, I think, works best when he’s just protecting his own city, or even his own neighbourhood.
I mean, Wilson Fisk is worth considering, because he’s quite heavily associated with Spider-Man, given his appearances in the cartoons and whatnot, and Vincent D’Onfrio does play the role amazingly well. But I think that it might be difficult to portray Fisk in an all ages Spider-Man movie in the same way he was in Daredevil. Perhaps the majority of the violence could be implicit? If done correctly, it could still be suitably horrific, yet suitable for younger kids – but that’s a very fine line to walk. If this were an origin story, I’d be tempted to try and involve Uncle Ben’s killer in some capacity. That could still be possible – if the origin is told in the opening credits, a la The Incredible Hulk, then perhaps a thread of Spider-Man investigating Uncle Ben’s killer, and then being lead to a weakened Fisk, who’s trying to rebuild somewhat… That could potentially be quite a strong plot to use. If Fisk is still in prison, and he’s pulling strings from there, that’s an easy way to limit the violence, and keep it a little bit more PG. (Or, you know, 12A.)
Alternatively, if it’s being kept school based, the idea of the Jackal (Miles Teller, who’s a teacher at Peter’s school) could be a route worth exploring… though it’d probably be advisable to avoid all the complicated clone stuff. Potentially Mysterio could be worth dealing with, however the angle from which I’d approach him (the illusions he uses providing a more psychological threat with less punching) might not be the most interesting for all age groups. Still, I reckon there’s probably a pretty strong Mysterio movie, somewhere, and it’s likely that might be the direction they go in.
On the tone
Something I’ve been wondering about, as I’ve been writing this, is the possibility of voiceovers. With the exception of Iron Man 3, it’s not really prominent in superhero movies – although they are pretty common in comics themselves. It might help to establish the tone, to use the voiceovers, and let Spider-Man… Not quite break the fourth wall, but make jokes and comments in a way that are sort of outside the narrative. Again, it’s a tricky thing to get right, particularly if you do use Fisk, but I imagine if handled carefully, it could be quite successful.
Music is also important in establishing the tone – not to step on the toes of Guardians of the Galaxy, but it could be nice to see, say, some scenes of Peter swinging around set to some upbeat music. As in, not a film score, but an actual song, which the audience will know? That could be worth considering; at this point I’m just kicking ideas around. Essentially though, I’d approach this not as “The Amazing Spider-Man”, or “The Spectacular Spider-Man”, but “The Friendly-Neighbourhood Spider-Man”. If they could actually get away with this as a title, that’d be nice.
Essentially, the most important part of this movie is to be really fun, and enjoyable to watch.
The post-credits scene
Oh, well, this one is obvious. Kamala Khan gets her powers here. A Ms Marvel movie can follow a few years later, after the Captain Marvel movie, with Peter as a supporting character in her movie. Kamala has inhuman genes… so potentially they could follow up on that fish oil plot from Agents of SHIELD. Maybe have her drinking the stuff (do you drink fish oil? Or, like, fry things in it? And is it halal?) throughout the movie, and then the end credits sequence shows her… say, stretching for a pen, and then her arm actually stretches. The final line of the movie is her saying “What.”
Alternatively, if this isn’t placed so well, timeline wise, in terms of when they do Captain Marvel and when they do Inhumans, maybe a short meeting between Spidey and Daredevil could work. That’d make sense if you did use the Fisk plot – presumably in Daredevil Series 2, most of Matt’s attention is going to be divided between Punisher and The Hand/The Chaste, so a sort of “Thanks for dealing with Fisk while I was busy” scene might make sense.
So, any thoughts?