Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Welcome Home, Wallcrawler

I'd really like to take a few minutes and write up my feelings on the news that Spider-man is going to be handled by Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios instead of by Sony (who will still distribute).  Maybe tonight after work.  Maybe it'd just take forever.

After being saddened/frustrated/angered by Sony's treatment of Marvel's flagship character (especially in last year's misfire), I am pleased to hear this news, and look forward to Spidey's interaction with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Better late than never.

I’ve heard it suggested that Peter Parker be retired and that they use the new(ish) Miles Morales version from Ultimate Spider-man.  The biggest reason for this seems to be that Morales will make the universe more diverse and less (crusty old) whitebread.  Another reason—one that I can get behind a little bit more—is that Morales is fresh, and young, and simply more fun than the Peter Parker we’ve seen lose countless loved ones and weighed down with fifty years of guilt.  But a reason I could understand would be that Morales has no baggage, has relatively little backstory and continuity to balance, is a somewhat-blank slate that could be put into any scenario without a segment of the viewing public saying, “Wait, that’s not how Spider-man would react in this situation.”

But Morales ain't Spider-man.  No more than Guy Gardner is the Green Lantern or Damien Wayne is Robin or Henry Cavill is Superman.  Pete Parker is the guy.  Always will be.

However, Peter Parker has been around long enough that there are different interpretations as to who he is.  You can find people who love Spider-man disagreeing on the basic core of who the character is (which, of course, we have recently seen with both Batman and Superman, the other two Big Three of superheroes).  Is Spider-man a jokester, running his mouth and quipping every minute of every fight?  Is he a morose, emo-teen slogging along in the rain, even on a sunny day?  Is he a manchild, unable to be in a committed relationship because his true love is fighting crime?  Is he a true adult who is shackled with responsibilities, and tries his best to get to all of them, even if it costs him pleasure and health?  Is he the mere shell of a man, haunted by past mistakes so much that he roams the night, looking for fights, even when he’s asleep?  Is he a geek, a nerd, a science dork who is awkward in social situations, and is better off alone?  Along those same lines, is he a brilliant inventor with a beautiful mind the likes of Tony Stark or Reed Richards?  Is he a handsome ladies man, who is able to romance fashion models, secretaries, party girls, science babes, and busty catburglars?  Is he a mama’s boy who is more concerned with his ailing aunt that he’ll sacrifice anything (ANYTHING) to make sure she’s okay?  Is he a team player who thrives when surrounded by other heroes, who look on him as comic relief . . . or as a defacto leader?  Is he a representation of the best qualities humankind shares, enabling us to see a glimpse of who we are in him, and who we could someday be, maybe?

Of course, he’s all of those things.  Including stuff I left out, like a clone and a powerhouse and a loner and a survivor and a photographer and a teacher and an insecure loser.

To me, he’s a lot of things too.  Including my hero.  I went to a panel at a convention last week, called “Why Spider-man Is Amazing,” and I wasn’t at all satisfied sitting in the audience.  I wanted to be on that panel, talking about the whys and the hows.  My only contribution to the panel was getting up there and asking the question of why Spider-man works so well in the comics, but they can’t seem to get him right in the movies.  There was no satisfactory answer to that (although I may have answered it in the above paragraph, listing a couple of wildly differing interpretations of the character), but seeing Spidey come into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and be handled by a bunch of people sitting around talking about who Peter Parker is and what they’d most like to do with him rather than how many toys they can sell and figuring out a way to jam in as many villains as possible, just as long as they don’t have to use those villains looks or origins (not to mention fixing the many things “wrong” with Spider-man himself) . . . well, that’s certainly a good place to start.

I have to recognize that, despite my passion and love, I’m not Spider-man’s biggest fan.*  But I’m up there.  I think of him as a real person, as a friend.  And believe me, the man deserves better than AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.  He deserves to be handled by somebody who loves him.

Brian Michael Bendis is a comic book writer who gets a lot of grief from the fans nowadays.  But he wrote over a hundred issues in a row (which, I believe, only Stan Lee accomplished previously), and seemed to “get” Spider-man.  It was his writing that re-energized my excitement about Spider-man as a character, especially when he joined the Avengers in New Avengers #1.  Suddenly, I saw Peter be both endearingly dorky and admirably heroic, often within a couple pages of each other.  He encouraged Tony Stark to roll his eyes and caused Steve Rogers to shake his hand.  After more than twenty years of reading his comic books, I saw Spider-man become part of a team, and somehow it felt like he always belonged in one.  This is something that could only happen if Spidey is part of the Marvel Universe (something they have free reign to do in the cartoons, to the delight of my nephews, and probably yours as well), and I look forward to seeing him interact with all sorts of folks, some of which we haven’t even been introduced to yet.

This probably also means that J. Jonah Jameson will be part of the Cinematic Universe, and that makes me happy too.

Rish “Spider-fan” Outfield

*At the aforementioned convention I went to with Big, I looked around at how dedicated people were to their favorite things, dressing up in elaborate costumes, spending thousands, getting tattoos of the Bat-symbol on their very scrotums, and began bemoaning the fact that there’s nothing that I love more than anybody else does, no character that I am the world’s biggest fan of.   There are people who love “Firefly” or “Star Wars” or horror films or Spielberg or Pepsi or Butters on “South Park” or Disney animated musicals or Stephen King or Soundwave from “The Transformers” or Sting or chili dogs or writing or Wendy Jo Sperber, or maybe even the Dunesteef more than I do.  And that made me sad.


Seraph said...

You don't want to be the world's biggest fan of something / anything. Those guys are one step away from being serial killers. :-)

Tom Tancredi said...

OMG when is the TGMG episode that unpacks this news coming out?!!?!?!?!?!@?#??!?@?!