3 Things We Know (and 3 We Don't) About Spider-Man's Future
Spider-Man usually triumphs over his adversaries, but should he keep a closer eye on his friends? The entire franchise is at a critical point after Sony's decision yesterday to jettison director Sam Raimi and the cast in order to reboot the story in high school. Movieline's already taken a look at who could fill Tobey Maguire's spandex super-suit; since then, here are three things we know conclusively about the new direction of the series, and three questions that could make or break it.
What we know for sure:
1. It's going to be (sigh) "dark and gritty." That's according to EW's Nicole Sperling, which confirms some of my worst fears about The Dark Knight's long tail. Certainly, there's a little room for tonal exploration in the Spider-Man franchise, but do we need to see a gritty Peter Parker who's "battling today's issues"? And what the hell are today's issues, anyway? Health care?
2. The script is already written. Though the next Spidey installment's release date was pushed back a year to 2012, screenwriter James Vanderbilt has already written it -- in fact, Sony had always eyed a reboot for Spider-Man 5 and 6 and commissioned scripts ahead of time.
3.The studio's got certain directors in mind. Sperling says Sony has murmured about Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), Gary Ross (Seabiscuit), and...yes, Michael Bay. Because Mary Jane wasn't objectified enough in Spider-Man's famous wet t-shirt scene.
Here are the three things we've yet to learn:
1. Will it be an origin story? Though the new Spidey will be set in high school, the press release didn't clarify whether the film will retell Spider-Man's origin story or simply begin with that already under his belt. Unless producers plan on a radical revision, I'd like to lobby for the latter -- who needs this origin story retold so soon after Raimi's iconic version?
2. Who will the villain(s) be? If the reboot is taking its cue from Christopher Nolan's Batman overhaul, it may emulate Nolan's decision to have Batman battle new filmic foes Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul in its first installment. You've got to earn the right to redo the villains that Raimi's already tackled, though I worry Venom (already shunted into Spider-Man 3) will appear in the next film anyway.
3. Seriously, was this all because of the Vulture? One villain we can absolutely assure you Vanderbilt won't include is the Vulture, who became an incredible sticking point for Raimi. The director had originally cast Ben Kingsley as Spider-Man's elderly adversary in Spider-Man 3 (before Sony replaced Vulture with Venom), then found himself overruled yet again when he lined up John Malkovich to don Vulture wings for Spider-Man 4. Seriously, Sony? This was a franchise where the villains were almost always played by men in their forties and fifties, and nobody seemed to mind then. Right now, Alfred Molina is thinking, "They were fine with me but John Malkovich was the deal-breaker?"