Spidey Director Jon Watts Talks More About Spidey Comics

Picture Source: IMDB

Picture Source: IMDB

Spider-director Jon Watts recently talked to Den of Geek and while doing so he mentioned some of what he’s liked from Spidey comics. Previously the director has mentioned that he was a fan of the Todd McFarlane run – but what else catches his eye?

Via Den of Geek:

Oh, I love that. Ultimate is great. I love Ultimate. We have the freedom to pull from anything, but I really like what [Brian Michael] Bendis did. A lot. That felt like… that was Peter Parker back in high school. And, spending as much time with his high school problems as it did with his superhero problems, which I think is really a lot of fun.

There’s also some really funny comics stuff, like, the Archies. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane series, but they have this really great anime-style illustration, and it’s all just about Peter Parker’s relationships. It’s like the soap opera of Peter Parker in high school. Those are really funny, too.

I’m just sitting around reading comic books all day – it’s a pretty great job.

–George Berryman!

(28) Comments

  1. C-Spider31

    @18 Ohhhh, now I remember reading that. I don't know much about Doctor Strange, but I always thought that the Ancient One was someone who was treated with reverence by Doctor Strange and the writers themselves, so it was weird hearing Feige talking about an outdated stereotype when I never associated that with the Ancient One at all.

  2. Ronny

    @frontier #22 So key word 616 character stronger inter and outer strength . Honestly tho very few character I feel have as much inner & outer strength as 616 Spider-man so you or anyone shouldn't take offense.

  3. Ronny

    @ #23 Frontier. Ultimate Peter was strong in ways I've read it too from the start & liked it for what it was. An alternative. In that version though, & correct me if I'm wrong, Peter wasn't as super smart, his villains like the shocker were a joke compared to 616, He generally couldn't beat a well trained human to the point it was like what's the point of your powers (616 Spider-man's spider-sense made him able to go toe to toe with the best trained fighters without training as it told him what to do and where to dodge and counter before they did it) 616 S-man could endure more and keep going through sheer force of will & just always seemed to have more inner strength & more depth. I know its not politicly correct in comic book world to say that after his death but its all true from what i saw in my honest opinion. I'm sorry... Ultimate Pete however, I love how human & vulnerable he was as just a kid without a clue whos connections with everyone felt so real and strong and you always feel sorry for him. Some did feel it was more realistic for him to be that way & relatable to what they thing an average kid even with these powers would be like & so like it better. II liked it but not better for those reasons. I could go on with plenty more examples & reasons but like you said people would be angry weather there's truth to it or not. Its not at all politicly correct to say this in comic book world after what happened. P.s. I dont care for Miles character either. just not as all around powerful in, inside strengths or outside as 616 Pete before OMD. I do like the concept of his powers, should go to Pete tho or one of his kids instead actually better

  4. Frontier

    @#24 - He at least seems more willing to play ball and is far kinder to his actors then Trank was.

  5. Jeff Gutman

    Again I have to come back to the only film he's made Cop Car. How many on this board have actually seen it? If you had you'd know we're not dealing with a wunderkind like director, maybe a notch below Josh Trank...

  6. Frontier

    @#22 - You're perfectly fine with preferring 616 Pete to Ultimate Pete, and 616 Peter was allowed to develop and grow far more than USM Peter was before OMD hit, but I think it's doing a disservice to Ultimate Spider-Man to say Peter wasn't a strong character in that book. I don't think a lot of people would've stuck with the book for so long, nor would it have been successful, not to mention the impact of his "death." USM Peter Parker was far more respectful and true to the character then most of the Ultimate incarnation of other characters were.

  7. Ronny

    I actually agree with @ All #9 & #10 George Berryman Except I'd say look more at the spectacular Spiderman cartoon by Greg Weisman if you're looking for an example of how to modernize it but stick with the classic & try to get it right. That hasn't been done with a Spiderman movie yet for Pete's sake. I never liked Ultimate Peter better than 616. Sure Bendis does great teen drama if that's what you're looking for rather than a stronger character in peter parker . Which is what you'll get out of Ultimate Pete.

  8. George Berryman - Post author

    @20 - <i>"I don’t agree with this, but it’s how this PC culture thinks."</i> Right? Which is why political correctness is nonsensical and I reject it utterly. Unfortunately it's a cultural tsunami that I don't think can be stopped. In the early 90's we used to joke about it at parties. Today it's a Sword of Damocles that hangs over the head of <i>everyone</i>, regardless of intent. I keep thinking back to all that crap Joss Whedon went through after Avengers 2, which was so stupid, unfair and generated by ignorance. Yes, the Ancient One is definitely depicted as wise and mystical. I even remember Strange referring to him at one point as either "Ascended Master" or "Enlightened Master." I get why people didn't like the negative stereotypical Chinese army soldiers in early Iron Man stuff. But the 60's Marvel is under a double standard here. They get crapped on for that legit negative stereotype, but then when they have a positive take on an Asian character (who is supremely effin' powerful)... then hey, they still get crapped on. Screw that.

  9. xonathan

    @18 on a serious note, stereotype are seen as negative even when they stereotype something positive. Like black men can jump high and are good at basketball. I think that's something good, because jumping high and being agile are great traits. But because is a stereotype, it would be politically incorrect to portray. Which is BS. I haven't read Strange, but is this Ancient One wise and all mystical? That could be interpreted as being stereotypical, even though being wise and having a strong cultural background are positive traits. I don't agree with this, but it's how this PC culture thinks.

  10. xonathan

    @18 It worked so well for Iron Man 3. everyone loved the white rich boy with a grudge Mandarin. What can possibly go wrong? Sarcasm aside, Iron Man 3 did make buttloads of money, so it's hard to use it as an example of things it did wrong

  11. George Berryman - Post author

    @13 - Feige had this to say in regards to Tilda Swinton playing the Ancient One: http://www.designntrend.com/articles/61919/20151001/doctor-strange-marvel-kevin-feige-rachel-mcadams-tilda-swinton-roles.htm <blockquote>"We get an amazing actress to play an amazing character, and do it in a way that's very unique <u><strong>and doesn't fall into any outdated stereotypes that sometimes pop up in the comics from years past</strong></u>," Feige said. "It's funny you ask 'Will Tilda Swinton be playing a woman?' and you ask it because she does an amazing job of being sort of ambiguous in terms of gender. I think you'll see us playing it in ways that she's played other characters that way. Clearly she's a woman, but it is very ambiguous in her portrayal."</blockquote> I recognize that there were negative Asian stereotypes presented in early Marvel Comics. But the Ancient One was <i>never</i> one of them. <i>Ever</i>. When introduced, he was Strange's superior. He was the one who selected Strange as a pupil to, ultimately, to succeed him as Sorcerer Supreme. The Ancient One was <i>always</i> presented as a bad ass, and never as a negative Asian stereotype. It really pissed me off hearing Feige say that.

  12. George Berryman - Post author

    @15 - The Tranked Fantastic Four should forever be used as evidence of why studios need to stop listening to Mark Millar on anything superhero related.

  13. ItsMichaelReid

    @1 I Agree Al, we honestly need peter to meet MJ more down the line, either during Pete's Senior Year or when he hits college in order for people to see how she's truly supposed to be betrayed as. She's a pretty adult character with her flirty and wily charms. I DON"T WANT GIRL NEXT DOOR or NERDY/JOURNALISM MARY JANE!

  14. xonathan

    It worked so well for Fant4stic. Kidding, there's some stuff that worked, some that didn't. Hopefully they can differentiate.

  15. Frontier

    Considering the MCU has generally been an amalgamation of 616 and Ultimate, not surprisingly considering Ultimate was intended to be a more grounded and modern interpretation of the classic stories and characters (whether you liked what they did with them or not), it would make sense for them to draw from both 616 and Ultimate in terms of what they do for MCU Spider-Man. Spectacular Spider-Man is a good example of how that can work very well, considering how much they drew from both the classic Lee/Ditko/Romita books with some Ultimate influences. Just in general I think it's important for Watts to watch Spectacular XD.

  16. C-Spider31

    I'd rather him draw from 616, but I'm still fine with Ultimate. It did a good job of keeping Peter's supporting cast in the mix. @7 I haven't been keeping up with news about Doctor Strange. What were the wrong-headed remarks Feige made?

  17. JianGeGe

    As optimistic as I want to remain about the movie, Jon Watts influences are.... not that great. Todd McFarlane is THE epitome of style over substance, and while I like the Ultimate Universe, there is a certain obnoxiousness to it that would be very difficult to tolerate when translated onto screen (as AMS was a testament to). Never read the SMLMJ series and that's because I'd seen enough previews to decide that the tone of the book was not for me. Now, as far as the new movie series being focused on a high-school Peter, I can see how the Ultimate Universe could be a good influence since one of the elements in which it completely surpasses the 616 universe is in depicting how insanely terrifying and gut-wrenching it is for a 16-year old kid to have to deal with all the crap he deals in his life. So, really, if Watts' influence stopped at the Ultimate Universe, I wouldn't be so worried. But considering the other influences he's mentioned, I'd say there's cause for concern that he's taking hints from the less palatable aspects of the UU.

  18. Jonathan

    I think it's perfectly acceptable for Watts to take a look at Ultimate. It makes sense to me that he would want to look at a more modern story of Peter Parker in high school, since that's what the movie will center on anyways. As much as I love the Ditko stuff, I think we should be drawing from Ultimate a bit for the sake of the time period. Plus, I think there's a lot of really great stuff in there, and I think they accomplished the high school angle really well in that series.

  19. George Berryman - Post author

    @8 - Marvel is looking for directors they think are competent and who work well within their system. Not auteurs. The Hollywood model for super hero stuff now is "hire someone who can finish it and do what they're told." In honesty, I don't think today's Marvel would hire Kenneth Branagh to do Thor. This is the same line of thinking that got Gareth Edwards a Star Wars film - and which almost got Josh <i>"LOL Moveez R Hard"</i> Trank one as well. @9- Agreed. There are reasons the Marvel Universe has been popular since the 1960's and why it became part of our pop culture. The Ultimate universe is <i>not</i> one of those reasons. But this is also why I'm choosing to remain optimistic for now. Feige has spoken with reverence about the Lee/Ditko & Lee/Kirby stuff before.

  20. Al

    Look...fine take a look at USM and SMLMJ...but shouldn't you look at the Ditko stuff more? Especially for Jameson?

  21. Jeff Gutman

    Just finished watching Jon Watts one and only film "Cop Car." Gotta say, I was not that impressed. There's absolutely nothing in the film to give any sense of why this guy should be directing a marvel movie, let alone such an important flagship character as Spider man. Cop car wasn't a bad film, just really really unremarkable. No idea what Kevin Feige saw in this guy given that he has no other film credits.

  22. George Berryman - Post author

    @4, @6 - I'm remaining cautiously optimistic and, since Kevin Feige is still calling the shots, I'm still hopeful. His recent wrong-headed remarks about Doctor Strange haven't yet convinced me not to trust his instincts for the movies. I did withhold my own reaction from the write-up just because I know there are a lot of you out there who like the Ultimate stuff (which I called, for years, Faux Marvel). I know I groan about it on the podcast, and ever so often on the main page, but I do hold Faux Marvel in the same disregard and contempt that I do One More Day/Brand New Day. Taking Watts at face value, he <i>does</i> say they're free to pull from damn near anything they want and he does mention other comics besides Ultimate. SMLMJ was a great thing for him to reference, for example. But Marvel's still so in love with their gimped alternate universe that publishing keeps trying to push it onto the big screen. With each new Marvel film project I can see the box of source 'material' getting shipped to writers, directors and actors... all filled with the Ultimate taint. <i>"Here, study up on these. It's from an alternate universe that became a giant, unwieldy mess that eventually had to be taken out back and put out of its misery..."</i>

  23. Nick MB

    If you're looking at making a high-school-set Spidey in a modern setting, you'd be a fool to not at least look at Ultimate, especially the early incredibly good stuff. (The first six or so arcs.) Alongside other versions, obviously - Spidey Loves Mary Jane is a good shout too.

  24. Frontier

    I think if the creators are looking to really emphasize Peter being in high school and balancing his double life alongside a high school supporting cast with all the drama therein, then USM and SMLMJ are very good references to be looking at as well as being great books in their own right. They're also generally good examples of taking the classic cast and stories, or the general spirit of Spider-Man, and putting it in a more modern context, which is also something to consider for the movies. I would also think watching Spectacular would be another great reference because it also accomplishes that fairly well over the course of its two seasons.

  25. parabolee

    Ugh. I hated the Ultimate series (even though I bought 100+ issues). Really hope the writers are less impressed/influenced by them.

  26. Al

    I'm hoping with Bendis gone we won't get another Ultimate influenced series. it's nice he likes Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane though, although I don't think using that as an influence is a good idea. That being said if we have to have a High school Mary Jane SMLMJ's version of Mary Jane is better than Ultimate Mary Jane. But really we need 616 MJ who is at her best when older.

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