While watching the new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, it occurred to me how the story being presented to us seems to mirror Sony’s relationship with Marvel Studios. While it’s clearly not intentional (or is it?), this movie could act as an interesting lens to view the past, present, and future of the Spider-verse.
The trailer begins with Tom Holland‘s Peter Parker asking Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark for advice on being a superhero, and Iron Man wisely tells the younger hero “Can’t you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Just stay close to the ground.”
Stark’s comments could be reflective of the fan response to Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, which was not as grounded as many people wanted it to be. Marc Webb’s films were originally supposed to be a character-centric high school movie with small stakes, but they developed into something much bigger and much busier. By the time the sequel came around, Jamie Foxx was flying around Times Square with a weird CG glowing blue face, Dane DeHaan was doing something as the new Harry Osborn, and no one was happy with the direction of the franchise.
So let’s go back the trailer. Parker, unwilling to take Tony’s advice, attempts to fight some henchmen on the Staten Island Ferry. One thing leads to another. This happens:
The boat is ripped in two and Spider-man tries to keep the ship together with his webs, but he’s fighting a losing battle. And then Iron Man shows up to save the day.
This is a pretty apt visualization of Disney and Marvel Studios showing up to rescue the sinking ship that was Sony’s Spider-Man movie franchise.
Former Sony boss Amy Pascal made the historic deal to share the character just before stepping down as the head of the studio, becoming a producer on the rebooted franchise. And then, Peter’s friend (the audiences) learn that he is secretly Spider-Man (learn that Spidey has joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and geeks out over the fact that he knows Captain America and the rest of the Avengers (it’s a good time to be a comic book movie fan).
Now that Marvel Studios is on board to save the Spider-Man movie franchise and fans are once again excited about the series, it’s time to introduce our villain. Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes, AKA, the Vulture, who is like an evil Tony Stark. He is literally picking through the remains of the Battle of New York for his own financial gain. The Vulture has put no consideration into where these weapons will ultimately go, nor does he care – it’s all about the bottom line for him.
It might be easy to see Keaton as the on-screen version of new Sony head Tom Rothman, who wasn’t involved in the Sony/Marvel Studios deal and is now threatening to produce a Spiderverse of movies not connected to the MCU – movies based on characters like Venom, Black Cat, and Silver Stable. What pieces can he find in the rubble? What characters can produce some fast cash?
As the trailer comes to a climax, Keaton tells Parker that he is willing to do whatever he needs to protect his family. He gives a strong warning to Parker: “Don’t mess with me, because I will kill you and everyone you love.” I believe him.
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