This past week has yielded our sixth Spider-Man movie in 15 years, and the third (and youngest) actor to play him in a major film franchise.
Have you seen it? What did you think?
Who is Spider-Man?
In all of the feature films so far, Spider-Man has been Peter Parker, smart kid from Queens who gets bit by a radioactive spider and suddenly has powers. In recent years, Spider-Man has also been Miles Morales, an equally smart kid from Brooklyn who similarly gets bit by a radioactive spider. Most people who are not familiar with the comics or new animated series are not familiar with Miles, but they totally should be. He’s hilarious.
Peter Parker, when he first appeared on the scene in 1962, isn’t what casual readers of comics might have expected of a superhero. They’d read the stories of Batman, Superman, Captain America and Captain Marvel, all big, serious men who came into their comics as adults (well, for the most part). But Peter was a teenager, more Clark Kent than Superman. He was relatable to the majority of people reading comics (kids), and was much more of an everyman than Superman or Batman could be. Not everyone is going to be from another planet, but any kid from the suburbs could find themselves in a strange situation, right? And they’d find they had to do the best thing, and hope to still get the girl.
There's a really good history of Peter Parker in Superheroes!
Why have there been so many Spider-Man reboots?
You might think that the 2002 Spider-Man was the first feature film, but that is surprisingly not true! While we are familiar with the great superhero movies of the 70s like the Superman franchise, The 1977 Spider-Man films are...not as great. They were actually feature-cuts of multi-part episodes of the Amazing Spider-Man television series, released on VHS and touted as feature films.
We deserved better, and we didn’t get it until decades later.
Sony Pictures got into the superhero game long before they were a big deal, and when their first Spider-Man film came out in 2002, Marvel Studios was barely a sparkle in someone’s eye. The first three films were made, and people were happy with them. But shortly after Spider-Man 3 was released, Marvel threw down the gauntlet: They released Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, laying the framework for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it.
What did this mean for Spider-Man? If Sony didn’t use their film rights, they might lose them. To Marvel. So in 2010, instead of continuing with the Sam Raimi version of things, they started again from scratch.
Well, as far as scratch works when you’re utilizing someone else’s original content.
It wasn’t actually until 2015 that Marvel and Sony made an agreement to share Spider-Man as a character (which is great, because the MCU was really missing something without him). The agreement between Marvel and Sony allowed for Spider-Man as a character in Marvel ensemble films, while Sony retained rights over any new Spider-Man movies. Their first crossover adventure included an appropriately young Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, followed by Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first of however many films they decide to make (so far, they make plans to make more than 3 and that never happens, but we’ll see…)
Where should I start?
There are so many entry points into Spider-Man, as a character. Here are some good ones:
Award Winning author Jason Reynolds is joining the pack, too, with the upcoming Miles Morales
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What’s your favorite Spider-Man story?