By Rick Davis
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the second big-screen reboot of Marvel’s most famous comic book superhero and the story of how the character has evolved is almost as dramatic as the movies themselves. Long before Tobey Maguire became the wall-crawler under the direction of Sam Raimi in 2002’s Spider-Man, the character was mired in legal battles over who owned the movie rights.
At one point, no less than three movie companies claimed they had the rights to make the movie, and one even promoted a version in pre-production with James Cameron (Titanic) directing and Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio starring. In 1999 Sony (Columbia) pictures secured the rights and made the hugely successful Maguire/Raimi trilogy, however the narrative of the third movie was widely considered to be a disappointment. Raimi was prepping a Spider-Man 4 but when he left the project over creative differences with the studio, Sony decided to reboot the character hiring director Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man. They had big plans for a number of characters in the world of Spider-Man, including stand-alone movies for villains like Venom and even a team of bad guys called The Sinister Six. They even teased The Sinister Six in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but future movies were put on hold when the new series underperformed at the box office.
This created an opportunity for Marvel Studios to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Back in the ’80s, Marvel wasn’t the powerhouse it is today and had sold off its hottest comic book properties to various movie studios. Although it had retained rights to many and some that had been previously sold off had reverted back to them, the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four were still owned by other companies like Sony and 20th Century Fox. As a result of the disappointing returns of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Marvel and Sony negotiated a deal that would bring the webslinger into the MCU starting with Captain America: Civil War.
Actor Tom Holland was introduced as the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a much younger version (15-years-old) of the character which is a little truer to the character in the comics. While Spider-Man: Homecoming continues the association with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the movie is a stand-alone story about Peter discovering what he can do with his abilities and as he gets it and starts fighting street-level crime, he soon crosses paths with a super-villain called The Vulture (Michael Keaton). Unlike the previous two series, the reboot does not revisit Spider-Man’s origin story, as the storytellers have assumed the audience already knows it. It is told in a way to appeal to the widest of audiences that are new to the super hero genre, fans of the MCU and hardcore fans of Spider-Man, who will appreciate all the “easter eggs” in the movie.
Sony still has plans for other Spider-Man characters, such as a Venom movie and an animated Spider-Man movie, both scheduled to be released next year.
Rick Davis is the general manager of Landmark Cinemas Xtreme. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @rickthemovieguy.