You might have heard recently that Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, and just about everyone associated with the first three Spider-man movies have dropped out of the sequels. Not a whole lot of people cared for the third, but it should have been interesting to see that same crew try to rebound from a lackluster movie. Now Sony is going to try to completely reboot the series with a new director, new star, new everything. Providing that it’s not just a money grabbing move and care is taken with the reboot, this could actually work really well. Knowing Sony, that’s probably a long shot. But we can hope. That said, here are five ways that Sony can make this reboot work.
1. It should be about Peter Parker, not Spider-man.
This point is arguable, but Spider-man is not and should not be a superhero story. Instead, it’s a story about a teenage kid (and later a young adult) who deals with normal life while juggling being a superhero on the side.
There’s talk that Sony wants to appeal to the Twilight crowd by making the Spider-man reboot more of a teen drama, and I have absolutely no problem with that. That approach isn’t at all anything new, and frankly the one that Spider-man narratives should follow.
For a good example, check out the Spectacular Spider-man cartoon series. It’s one of the best approaches to the character in years, and it does so because it focuses on the drama at Peter’s high school, not with his supervillain adversaries.
2. The villain must not be a main character.
You can blame the Tim Burton Batman movies for starting this tired stereotype of superhero movies. Ever since the early 90’s, it’s been almost required that you have to spend a lot of time developing a cheesy villain portrayed by a popular and overpaid actor. Is anyone actually enforcing this rule? Is there some fee that has to be paid to Stan Lee if it isn’t followed? Let’s for once forget this and let Peter remain the main character. Think of it this way, .. the shark isn’t the main character of Jaws. And he doesn’t talk or have a backstory. He’s a freaking shark.
3. There’s no need for an origin story.
Popular DC and Marvel comic characters are the Greek and Roman gods of our day. For every marketable and popular franchise, everyone knows the origin story. It’s been told so many times before, and there’s nothing new that can be said about it. Everyone knows that Peter Parker was bit by a radioactive spider, everyone knows that his Uncle Ben is dead. Instead of spending so much time on what’s been gone over countless times before, let’s just jump right into a story and have a lot more screen time time for something new.
4. It should not be overly “gritty”.
Ever since The Dark Knight made unthinkable amounts of money in 2008, studio heads pressuring script writers seem to have it through their heads that a comic book movie must be “gritty” and push the PG-13 rating to the limit. That approach is appropriate in Gotham City, but it’s unnerving to hear the talk about how Superman’s Metropolis or Spider-man’s New York has to be made similarly gritty. There’s nothing wrong with making a realistic NYC in a Spider-man movie, but there is something wrong with making it gloomy and depressive. Peter deals with a lot of trouble, but he always keeps a sense of fun and humor about everything. Turning him into the Amazing Emo-man is what went wrong with the third movie.
5. The traditional comic story arc doesn’t have to be followed by the letter.
This is somewhat an addition to my earlier point that everyone knows the origin story. Everyone also knows that Peter has a crush on Mary Jane, but it wasn’t until Spider-man 3 that most knew that Peter also had something going on with Gwen Stacy. Picking up on some of the lesser known narratives to keep things fresh would be nice, but creating something entirely new could work well too. I’m not saying that it should break canon or create inconsistencies, but let’s face it, the on-screen Spidey is a bit stale. The comics continue to innovate, and have become fresh and revitalized lately after the controversial Brand New Day reboot. Perhaps this is the best opportunity for the Spider-man screen series to do the same.