[Spoilers for Spider man : Homecoming but nothing too major]
Comic book movies are littering the movie theaters all year. Warner Brothers with DC Comic stories and Sony, Fox and Marvel with Marvel Comic stories. There is no formula for success though. Only thing that bothers me worse than a boring and bad story is seeing the same stories over again. Weird that one comic executive is advocating just that.
There are comments from Nick Lowe in an article that can be found here : https://www.fatherly.com/play/spider-man-homecoming-uncle-ben-problem/?utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=377. Nick argues that we need Uncle Ben in the new film Spider man : Homecoming. Maybe Nick means Uncle Ben’s sage advice and strong moral character he instilled in Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. But something tells me Nick thinks we need to see Uncle Ben die. Again. And I am wondering, why?
I think Uncle Ben Parker’s death had a big effect on Tobey Maguire’s Peter in his trilogy. It is a real turning point in the movie and for Peter when Cliff Robertson gets killed. The first two movies were solid and moving in the right direction. But the real problem with that version and its sequels are, Tobey was age 27 when he made the first film. And his character didn’t age well primarily because the stories were not interesting. No true intrigue to keep the viewing public interested in the character just bad stuff happening. Reference this ill-advised scene that is not up to Superhero dance sequence standards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu2IlAKu4po [I will mention the gold standard later].
Andrew Garfield was equally unconvincing as a teenager. He was of course even older at age 29 when he started his shortened tenure with the webslinger. The real problem with Garfield’s Peter is he is mean. I reference this clip and the proof comes at about 6:20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETMvpdfS1rU it shows what I mean. The story at least did not start with Green Goblin who is overused. Martin Sheen bite the dust in this series but not sure if he taught this Peter well enough so I question Ben’s inclusion. Worse still they botched trying to introduce Mary Jane, who is kind of an important character for the franchise, so much they did not even include the scene though I am told they are in the DVD additional scenes category. Shailene Woodley took the blame for her perfomance here : http://www.tvguide.com/news/shailene-woodley-amazing-spider-man-2-1082883/ . But this two film “franchise” was botched from the beginning. At least we got Branzino.
So why exactly does Homecoming need Uncle Ben? Tom Holland’s Peter seems to be a responsible kid. The choice he makes at Homecoming is the responsible one. In fact; he seems to crave more direction from a certain Avenger which substitutes for the lack of Uncle Ben in a way that is much more enjoyable. Tom Holland’s Peter is able to find things that demonstrate he is a responsible person even if he needs more maturity. Which he should since he is a teenager.
If someone is missing it is J. Jonah Jameson. It would have been interesting to see how teen Peter took Jameson’s form of criticism. Especially from someone who later becomes his boss. Assuming Sony goes that route which they didn’t for the “Amazing franchise”.
Speaking as someone in the viewing public; I am weary from origin stories that have been told multiple times over the last 3 decades on screen. Particularly Batman’s and Superman’s respective origins which are so well known. Weird thing is during my first decade of Superhero exposure; I am not even sure if some of my first superheroes depictions had origin story episodes.
My first Superhero was Batman ‘66. Adam West in his Blue and Gray “The Bright Knight” suit. I can’t remember them covering the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. I do remember that I knew Batman was a good guy doing good things. Not because his “Batusi” was so groovy [even though it is the gold standard of superhero dance sequences I mentioned]. And not because of the capes, of which Spidey does not have conveniently. It was because he was doing good to the bad people. Fairly easy premise to understand. Even for a kid watching old syndication during the afternoon.
My second Superhero exposure was Wonder Woman series from the 70s. I think the origin was mentioned that she was from Paradise Island. But there is little mention why she is so righteous from her upbringing as a demigod. To the contrary; in the show her primary motivation is her attraction to Steve Trevor. Not that heroic a narrative to have. But she did what a superhero should. She did good and beat the bad people.
My last real basic exposure to Superheroes was the Superfriends cartoons. And while I still don’t know what Wendy and Marvin were doing in the Hall of Justice; this group of Heroes did good. I don’t remember if origin stories were mentioned. The action crowded out the origin if it ever was mentioned. The stories were compelling and looked cool, that is why I watched. Not because any of the Superheroes lost someone.
Plus these days; we don’t have to rely on just comics for an origin. Most major characters have had their stories told on TV or movie screens multiple times. Superhero origins are well documented on not only Wikipedia and even on comic and character specific wikis. So why does every reboot need to redo said origins? Why is that appealing? Particularly when most of the origins are about death. The stories no matter the medium don’t keep characters dead forever.
When Henry Cavill is replaced [because he will be at some point, just like Brandon Routh and Tom Welling and Dean Cain to name a few] why do I need to see Krypton’s destruction? Again! To get to that destruction, we have lost some great actors. We have seen Marlon Brando die (2 Oscars experience lost). Also seen Russell Crowe died (1 Oscar still a great loss). Even Kara Zor-El’s parents died on the TV version of SuperGirl. What did this do to the narrative? Very little at this point. There are 75 years worth of stories to draw from. Producers should feel free to diversify from Krypton’s destruction and Zod; two things that come up in most Superman franchise products.
Same with Ben Affleck when he is replaced [seriously Warner Brothers had 4 animated films in 2016 with Adam West (Return of the Caped Crusader), Jason O’Mara (Justice League vs. Teen Titans & Bad Blood), Kevin Conroy (The Killing Joke) alongside Bat-Fleck in BvS: Dawn of Justice. That is 4 actors playing the same character at one time so his replacement is inevitable] . Michael Keaton saw his parents die. Christian Bale made it international. Ben Affleck too had to relive that. Even young David Mazouz has gone through this trauma on the Gotham TV series. Why?
We have the internet now. We get it. Joe Chill or Jack Napier killed The Waynes. Beyond the morbid motivation it provides; that scene had about a ⅓ of the influence someone like Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Wayne’s butler and Batman’s assissant?) has. Who should have had more of an impact? A live Alfred or two people who died when Bruce was 10? Why hasn’t anyone tackled Alfred’s backstory/ origin in earnest. It is being addressed on the Gotham TV series. Still that seems like a movie Warner Brothers could make and it might even be something that is not all that expensive.
This could even be a series with the right writers. Show him as a young man. There are a few stories including on Gotham of Alfred being in the Army and moreover the Special Forces. There is a story there. Also how he learned to be a butler which probably expanded on his duties in the Forces. And last how he came to work for the Waynes. You got a trilogy about a beloved character that audiences already know and love. Wouldn’t that be better than trying to tell a story no one wants?
Of course; having a fan base does not guarantee success. The Mortal Instruments has not only its own series of main books also two other series. But the first movie was not a success. It is on TV now on the little know channel Freeform which used to ABC Family. I wouldn’t call that a huge success considering it is a popular book series. ABC Family had success with Pretty Little Liars so maybe Freeform can do it with Shadowhunters. Only time will see.
Same happened with the Divergent series. It look like they will not be making the last film Ascendant with this current cast. But Lionsgate owns the rights for now. Nothing stopping them from trying to redo it. There was some talk of Ascendant being put out on TV. Maybe it was intended as a backdoor pilot? Either way; the storytelling is what you have to take a chance on. Not simply trotting out old characters without good purpose.
All movie companies should focus on telling good stories. Telling the same story with new actors is in no way compelling or interesting. Look at Tom Cruise’s The Mummy. The lackluster reception puts Universal Studios plans for a “Dark Universe” in jeopardy. It will be interesting to see what they do with the many other properties they own like Van Helsing, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man and others available.
Maybe this will force studios to tell a truly compelling story(ies) in the future. Not just trot out a “star” in a “classic tale”. More than the same for superhero stories we have all seen too. The right story could have just about any cast / “star” in it. Which should be a refreshing revelation to movie studios trying to cut budgets at every turn.
New and compelling stories are what is going to keep the viewing public engaged. Look at the success of series on Netflix like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I know they are building towards a franchise. But is seems like the right way by building up with good stories and then meddling those complex character.
Telling the same stories did not work for the first two Spider man franchises. I found it refreshing seeing something a little different and high school aga appropriate. Maybe now the character can grow with Tom Holland? It will be interesting to see where this franchise goes
Also I would really like to see cameos from Tobey Maguire and/or Andrew Garfield. Because I do like nostalgia when it is done correctly. Just not when it is done ad nauseum. But oddly, Tom Holland has an interesting idea for a cameo : http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1681109/tom-holland-wants-tobey-maguire-for-this-spider-man-role.
I find it funny I am more in line with Tom Holland who is half my age than Nick Lowe who is closer to my age. I am just a strange guy though. I still think it high time the industry tell good stories. Concentrate on the product. Get the perspective of the customer. Let that be the standard instead of rolling out tired stories that no longer need to be told. Let’s hear about a Peter who is in college or maybe even out of it?
Uncle Ben could be a moneymaker for Sony. Maybe his own origin could make a story the fans could sink their teeth into? A character that fans and Nick Lowe like. I mentioned Alfred Pennyworth’s origin as a compelling story. Nick Lowe might suggest Uncle Ben’s origin as compelling too. But Mark Millar’s take was not that well received in the miniseries Trouble. That might have been because the series pushed a lot of boundaries and changed some vital canon. Still young adult Ben Parker making a hard life decision sounds more watchable than the upcoming Emoji Movie.
In the end, Good Luck to Sony. Look at what Marvel has done at Disney. Fox is doing some fun things with Logan and Deadpool. Sony has to look at how to leverage good stories. Capitalize on the momentum the this new Spider Man has generated. Make a ton of cash along with it.
Maybe even make people happy and have some fun too !!