The internet seems mostly on fire today as the announcement that Sony and Marvel (or Disney? are they even separate things at this point) will no longer be working together as far as Spider-man is concerned, meaning Spider-man: Far From Home the last one to be appearing in the MCU for the time being. Details are a bit sparse, but […]
The internet seems mostly on fire today as the announcement that Sony and Marvel (or Disney? are they even separate things at this point) will no longer be working together as far as Spider-man is concerned, meaning Spider-man: Far From Home the last one to be appearing in the MCU for the time being. Details are a bit sparse, but details we do have say is that Marvel wanted a larger share of the profits from the relationship, and Sony wasn’t about to budge. This has created two firm camps on the internet, as Team Marvel believes Sony are being a bunch of jerks, and Team Sony believes that Marvel are being being super greedy. I’m not here to comment on who’s at fault here, who’s being greedy or selfish and whether or not any of that blame is justified, but what I am here to do is convince you that this might not actually be a bad thing. That Spider-man leaving the MCU might actually help the character be the Spider-man he should be.
I’ve already talked about my opinions on the MCU’s iteration on Spider-man and what it has done to the character, but a brief summery would be that they have fundamentally changed the character by taking away the driving force that makes Peter Parker want to BE Spider-man. Without his loss, his guilt and his desire to do the right thing because he believes he can make a difference in spite of everything in his life beating him down, he stopped being Spider-man, and started being Midoriya from My Hero Academia, or Iron Man Jr as people taken to calling him. While I had hopes they might be able to bring back some of what I think makes the character so beloved in the comics, Far From Home kept the “Iron Man Jr” angle, and the followed the same kind of format that first movie had, but this time in Europe.
I don’t think it was a bad movie, I really don’t. It was fun in the way most Marvel movies are, Tom and Jake clearly are doing their best with the characters and everything the movies is throwing at them. But Spider-man still felt like a sidekick in his own movie, focusing on how he’s trying to be like Iron man, instead of trying to be his own thing. And that’s where I think a complete disconnect from the MCU might actually benefit the character, because without the big shadow of RDJ’s Iron Man motivation him to be the next big hero, Spider-man can be the hero that made him into one of the most popular superheros in the world.
There are a whole host of reasons that freeing up Spider-man from an extended universe might actually help the character, but the major benefit of the severed relationship with the MCU is that Spider-man will finally be able to have villains have a personal connection with him, keeping the conflict they have actually mean something to the character. In both solo movies, all of the conflict is caused by Tony Stark. Both the Vulture and Mystero are both just people who got screwed over by Tony, and now Spider-man has to clean up the mess. At least with the Vulture, Peter had a tiny bit of thread with him in that he was crushing on his daughter, which made for a great twist on the usual “Dad Speech” you normally see from movies. But neither of these antagonists have any personal stake with Peter himself. Everything they do is a result of Iron man, not Spider-man, which is unfortunate because that’s what all of Spider-man best villains have. Green Goblin is trying to figure out how to recreate him, and plays with the idea of creator vs the one they created. Kingpin is all about challenging Peter’s belief that the world is most full of good people, even though people like Kingpin are out there. Recently, the best example is Doc Ock from the PS4 spider-man game.
The game spends hours setting up Otto Octavius as a genus visionary that Peter idolizes, and establishing their relationship with one another, similar to how he was in the Sam Raimi films. He’s someone Peter wants to be because he’s managed to do what Peter has been trying to do his entire career as spider-man: balance be able to use his gifts that he has along with having a personal life and relationships. Otto is able to use his genus to help the world and make it a better place, a goal Peter has had since he was a child. Anyone who knows Spider-man knows Otto is going to become Doc Ock, but as the game progresses, and Otto starts to mentally deteriorate, it becomes all the more heartbreaking when Peter is forced to confront him as Spider-man, with the whole city, and Aunt May at stake if he doesn’t. A character like that couldn’t exist in the MCU because they need to set up the next big bad that the MCU needs to face. Spider-man villains need to be more personal, because that’s what makes them, and by extension, Spider-man so much more compelling. By forcing Spider-man to confront these hard questions these villains make him answer, the character becomes all the more inspiring when his optimism and the hope he represents triumphs.
Overall, I think Spider-man doesn’t need the MCU to be a compelling character. Actually, with his move to the MCU, Spider-man has lost some of his relatability that made so many connect with him. His money troubles, his trouble with relationships, the fact that everything in his life seems to go wrong all seem to be missing from these movies. They never deal with the consequences that being Spider-man brings, which is a shame because to me, that’s why I love Spider-man. I love that even though life constantly beats him down, even though his life sucks a lot most of the time, and even though every villain he has in his rouges gallery challenges his beliefs in the world, he still goes out there and tries. He still goes out and helps every person he can, and he still gets back up every time someone tried to put him down. And if we can get more of that out of Spider-man movies, I think that him leaving the MCU will be absolutely worth it.
Posted by Austin Hamblen, Owner and Main writer of Endlessmonkey.com