The journey was long and winding, but Spider-Man is returning not just to the big screen but to his real roots…
The landscape of the superhero film genre has changed drastically over the past years – from obscure characters like Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy gang, to popular ones like Wonder Woman getting their long overdue break, to heroes and villains coming together for more firepower.
So it’s easy to forget that it’s only been three years since the last time we saw a full-length Spider-Man film in cinemas.
Apparently, the combination of many factors pushed the once proud franchise into an indefinite hibernation: the anaemic box-office showing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, internal disputes with directors and bloated story concepts on planned sequels.
The future of the franchise looked so bleak that in 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment then-big wigs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal flew to Palm Beach in Florida to discuss a potential collaboration with Isaac Perlmutter, the reclusive CEO of Marvel Entertainment (which is owned by Sony’s rival studio, The Walt Disney Company).
The Spider-Man brand has long been entangled in a complicated web of varying business interests making a team-up between these two competing companies easier said than done.
Sony bought the film franchise after Marvel, seemingly unaware of the huge blockbuster potential of both the brand and genre, sold the rights in 1999 for a measly $7 million (AED 25.7).
Following the sale, the superhero film genre exploded (ironically, thanks to the success of the Spider-Man series) and Disney, seeing the bankability of comic book characters, went on to purchase Marvel in 2009 to the tune of $4 billion (AED 14.7).
This allowed Disney to produce films based on Marvel’s other comic book characters like Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man and Captain America – basically, almost every name in the canon except the web-spinning hero in red and blue spandex.
But while Disney did a remarkable job in producing and marketing its line of superhero screen projects, Sony was struggling to sustain the early success of its Peter Parker movies.
This prompted Sony to finally entertain Disney’s invitation to share producer roles in an effort to give Spider-Man a much-needed makeover.
The result is Spider-Man: Homecoming, which centres on a 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he figures out how to deal with his spider-like abilities. There’s a deliberate effort to veer away from the familiar storyline, so don’t expect to see the likes of uncle Ben and the Daily Bugle this time.
For Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, it’s like welcoming a prodigal son back home after years of estrangement.
“I never thought we’d be able to make a Spider-Man movie set in our universe, and here we are. It truly was a dream-come-true scenario,” he reflected.
“To Amy and Michael’s credit, they realised this was the best thing for the character.”
Amy, who also served as the film’s co-producer, explained, “Everybody did it because they wanted Spider-Man to be great.
“The character is great and people love him. That’s good for Disney. That’s good for Marvel. And that is certainly good for Sony. So, the fact that all these companies were willing to work together to make that happen, I think that’s pretty miraculous.”
Director: Jon Watts
Also starring: Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover and Marisa Tomei
Rating: PG 13. Running time: 133 mins