ROUNDTABLE: Spider-Man Joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe

SpiderVerse After months of rumours, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have announced that Spider-Man will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with a cameo in an upcoming Marvel film  prior to a new solo film on July 28th, 2017. The 24 Panels team shares their thoughts in this roundtable.

DAVE: Coming July 28th, 2017: Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man! You just know that is going to be what it is called, if only as a way to say “screw you” to Avi Arad.

I have to admit, I never expected Sony and Marvel to work out a deal, given that for Sony such an arraignment amounts to admitting that they have no clue how to manage the property. But the deal has been made, the course has been set, and all that is left is to try and guess where it is going and figure out how we feel about it.

With regards to the latter question, I feel a bit mixed towards the news overall. As much as fans have been itching to see Spider-Man end up back at Marvel, the reality is that Marvel’s inability to use the character has been a blessing overall, as it has forced the company to build up its other properties. In a world where Marvel did have the film rights to Spider-Man long before now, we might never have had Guardians of the Galaxy as we know it, and the way in which Iron Man has become the central figurehead of the Marvel Universe may never have come to pass. Given how Spider-Man has now become a top priority for Marvel, enough so that their other films have been pushed back to accommodate it in the schedule, I can’t help but worry that too much time and energy may be spent on a character who could honestly do with a cinematic break more so than a new film.

Yet as concerned as I am, I can’t help but be excited as well. While I have no doubt that the new Spider-Man film will be about Peter Parker, you can bet that Marvel is already planning on finding a way to incorporate Miles Morales into the Marvel Universe down the line, something that I am very excited about. Also, we can now have a scene of Spider-Man and Daredevil shooting the breeze on a Manhattan rooftop, or a film featuring the pair taking on the Kingpin (assuming he survives season one of Daredevil). And, if I dare to dream, we could even hypothetically begin to see steps towards putting Spider-Man 2099 on the big screen.

This deal likely also means that the various incarnations of Spider-Woman are on the table for the rest of the Marvel Universe as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the deal with Sony gives Marvel unrestricted use of those characters. Given that the Jessica Drew incarnation of Spider-Woman is deeply tied with HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D., it is easy to see why Marvel would want to be able to make use of the character, particularly as her role in major Marvel’s event stories has grown over time. I can easily see the character being brought into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in its hypothetical third season, establishing who she is and where she comes from before bringing her into an Avengers film (or her own) later on.

What I am having a hard time with though is imagining what yet another Peter Parker focused Spider-Man film will look like. It is not as if either of the previous film incarnations ignored the source material, and beyond allowing Spider-Man to interact with Tony Stark and crew, I am not too sure what Marvel can really do to make this incarnation different beyond simply jumping to Morales. Okay, that isn’t entirely true: they could start with Peter as a young married man, and move past his time as a teenager, but again, I doubt Marvel will make that kind of major jump with the character in terms of his timeline right off the bat.

On the other hand, let me be clear: if nothing else, I pray the rumours of a return of J.K. Simmons to the role of J.Jonah Jameson are true. The man flat out owns that role, and if Judi Dench can jump from one James Bond continuity to another in the same role, so can Simmons.

What are your thoughts, Dru?

DRU: Oh boy. I’m not as surprised as you are, Dave, that this has come to pass, especially since we’re been adequately prepared with months of scuttlebutt and leaked discussions. What does surprise me is my deep ambivalence to this news. If I had to come down positive or negative, I think I ultimately come down on the negative side, at least at the moment. I’m really upset to see Andrew Garfield’s tenure with Spider-Man cut short: my mind reels to imagine what Andrew Garfield (and Emma Stone and Marc Webb) could have accomplished with their characters and world without Avi Arad in the picture. Unpopular opinion though it is, The Amazing Spider-Man is better than any movie Marvel Studios has yet made, and even if the sequel was a bit of a let down, I’m disappointed that we aren’t getting a proper finale to that story. Though I guess Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends about as well as any Spider-Man movie ever has (I’m referring to the last few minutes specifically, involving a certain Spider-Boy and a certain Rhino), so in a way I can walk away from the Garfield/Webb years feeling pretty good over all.

I’ve seen theories of “soft reboots” and Amazing Spider-Man 3s and Sinister Sixes, but there’s no way any of that is happening. This is another hard reset for the character, built from the ground up to fit into the MCU. That said, I think it’s much more likely that we’ll be given an established Spidey from the get-go (whether he’s married or not… I’d guess no, but it would be a great way to distinguish the character from previous versions, both of which have been courtship tales) rather than another Spider-Teen (or “-Teen”). There’s no way we’re getting another origin, at least for Peter Parker. I’m no fan of Venom, but at least we have the cosmic precedent in this Universe to set up his origin in a less preposterous way than we saw in Spider-Man 3. Though if that means we get to Venom sooner, mark that down as another notch in the “con” column. And if we get Miles Morales, I’m guessing that would be relegated to a Netflix series, at least to start. Which, by the way, is a fantastic idea that needs to happen pronto.

Marvel knows which stories are beloved and will make those top priority. Look at the Captain America franchise: the WWII origin, The Winter Soldier, and then Civil War. Basically the three most beloved and iconic Cap stories, modified to play as chapters in the MCU’s larger narrative. With the origin, “Spider-Man No More,” and “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” basically off the table, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see Venom, “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” “No One Dies” (a personal fave), and even Superior Spider-Man reconfigured to fit the basic arc they’re working with for the MCU. So long as it’s not a slobbering ’90s Venom but rather a Flash Thompson super-soldier, I don’t see a flaw in that plan. Except that Garfield is being left out of it.

Will I be convinced by whoever they end up casting? Probably. But for now I’m sulky. Win me over, Marvel!

DAVE: While I can’t say I share your love of the Flash Thompson Venom (classic Eddie Brock, please), if Marvel is willing to try and adapt Superior Spider-Man for the big screen, I will ready and willing to hand over my money to them on opening night.

If I have to take a guess as to how Marvel is going to integrate the character into the Marvel Universe and kick off a new series, my guess is that it will be a tale which picks up with Parker having quit the role due to the events of Civil War, only to get dragged back into action due to some new threat. Perhaps the U.S. government hires Kraven the Hunter to track down the renegade Spider-Man? Who knows.

Either way, with a 2017 date to meet, Marvel and Sony are going to have to get cracking on this new incarnation of ol’ Web Head soon, particularly if they are going to feature him in Captain America: Civil War or (as unlikely as it is) Age of Ultron. Given these deadlines in place, we’ll start to hear some details soon, including a hopefully not obvious filmmaker taking the reigns of the film. And given that Marvel does now have a relationship with Adam McKay…

The currently untitled Spider-Man film will be released July 28th, 2017.  Leave your feedback below!


Dave is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second.

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