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Thursday, November 13, 2014 

Sony overdoes the Spider-Man film series

The Verge says Sony's going too far with the Spider-movies they're making:
Sony wants Spider-Man to be as big as The Avengers, and no property is too good to milk for all it's worth. On top of The Sinister Six and the third Amazing Spider-Man film, Latino Review now reports that Sony executives are batting around the idea of a movie focusing on Peter Parker's Aunt May. And she'll, of course, be a spy in the swinging Mad Men era. Even if Sony comes out and says this isn't happening, that it's even a rumor worth addressing hints at how bad the Spider-Man franchise is already getting.

Sony isn't shy about its ambitions for Spider-Man. All The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really did, aside from ending what was a genuinely likable onscreen pairing, was tease sequels and spinoffs. Did it make one lick of sense that Harry Osborn became the Green Goblin, other than the fact he's supposed to? No. But he did, and now he's poised for appearances in the followups. All this is because Sony wants to do the kind of world-building that Marvel is doing with The Avengers and what DC plans on doing with the Justice League. And in its desperation to play superhero catch-up, it's stretching the Spider-Man mythos to its conceivable limits.

And it's not working. Spidey doesn't work that way. The reason why The Avengers and even Man of Steel in its best moments worked was because both films understood scale. Spider-Man, at his heart, is a small-town hero, and his best stories tend be focused largely on him, his relationships, and his struggles. Making him the heart of an expansive movie universe is wrongheaded, betrays the soul of the character, and makes it clear that Sony just wants the money.
They're right the rebooting isn't working out. But if only they knew how far behind the times they've fallen: back in comic books, Spidey hasn't had good stories for years, thanks to Joe Quesada's machinations. And that doesn't bode well for Spidey's future either.
The thing is, Sony can't even really be faulted for wanting those sweet superhero dollars. Everyone's doing it. But making a hypothetical Aunt May movie of all things would be the worst move in a string of bad moves dating back to Spider-Man 3, and it would hint at a cynicism that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. First, it's a risky, downright nonsensical project, especially as it took this long to give Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel — hugely important characters, don't forget — movies of their own. Second, the Parker backstory in the films, already full of corporate intrigue, was one of the most disliked plotlines in the rebooted series. Third, the one comic story from May's youth being mentioned in these rumors, Trouble, was booted from generally accepted canon because it was terrible. Fourth, telling a story about Aunt May isn't telling a story about Spider-man, which is already the biggest problem with Sony's present plans.
Since they bring up Trouble, what if it's still canon? Sins Past still remains that way, yet they haven't mentioned it, even though that was terrible too and tarnished both Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson. But they're right everyone's going after those superhero bucks, even Marvel studios under Disney's ownership, to the point where they'll tease sequelmania too.

In better days, a stand-alone comics story casting May Parker in her youth would've been a great idea. But since Quesada took over and caused all that Trouble, it's no longer something worth looking forward to.

They're right WW is important as a DC creation, but what about Hawkwoman and some of the heroines from Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes? Don't base importance solely on recognizability. As for Captain Marvel, I think Carol Danvers would be better off and more important under the Miss title. The move to Captain was just so they could keep up the copyright for the name so DC can only call Billy Batson Shazam.

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It appears that Sony is determined to be a dog in a manger with Spider-Man, and Marvel is doing the same thing with Captain Marvel.

A movie about May Parker, only tangentially related to Spider-Man, is not likely to appeal to fans of the superhero series. And the tenuous connection to Spider-Man will not appeal to the fans of straight (non-fantasy) drama.

My understanding was that DC could use the name "Captain Marvel" in the strip itself, but not on covers or in merchandising. And they were afraid that fans would be confused if the lead character's name was not the same as the series title, so Billy Batson is now "Shazam."

There have been a lot of TV shows with titles that were not the names of the characters: Lost, Law & Order, The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek, Kung Fu, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Dragnet. Does DC think that their readers are dumber than TV viewers?

For that matter, there were a lot of anthology comics in the Golden and Silver Ages. The titles of the individual strips were usually the names of the lead characters (Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Iron Man), but the magazines had generic titles (Action, Detective, Whiz, All-American, Tales of Suspense). Do they think that a 23-year-old college senior reading a comic in 2014 is less perceptive than an eight-year-old third grader reading comics in 1942 or in 1965?

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