There is no doubt that Spider-Man is incredibly popular. He remains one of the sole Marvel superheroes not to be merged as a prominent feature in The Avengers, and can hold an entire franchise up by himself. Created by Stan Lee for Marvel in 1962, Spider-Man’s story of a regular boy who is bitten by a radioactive spider and suddenly has to save the world is one of inspiration and legend. But that begs the question: why won’t Spider-Man stick? There have been three actors playing him across five feature films (the sixth is currently due for imminent release).
Spider-Man’s first foray into film starred Tobey Maguire and paired Peter Parker up with Mary Jane Watson (KirstenDunst) as he battled his friend’s father, The Green Goblin. The Sam Raimi films started out popular (we all remember that upside down kiss in the rain), and retained the features of the Spider-Man from the comics. The 2002 debut became the first film to surpass $100,000 in one weekend and was received well by critics, praising the realistic nature of the film and the internal and external life of Peter Parker. Source: @spiderman via Twitter
It is likely that the success of the 2002 Spider-Man film that kept the Spider-Man saga – and superhero movies – alive. Unlike, say, the Hulk, whose many solo film excursions have flopped, Spider-Man carved out a place for himself. No matter what happened next, Spider-Man would always have the 2002 Sam Raimi film. The popularity is felt today still, with variations on the Spider-Man character doing the rounds.
For example, Vegas Casino offers a slot with a take on a superhero – Blast! Boom! Bang! – which lampoons the classic comic book superhero, but clearly found its grounding following the success of the first really big superhero film. Blast! Boom! Bang! shows that the superhero film’s popularity maintained, and allows developers to wrap up the iGaming gameplay in the superhero branding.
The 2004 sequel, Spider-Man 2 pit Spider-Man against Dr Octopus, a popular villain from the comics. The film retained the charm and heart of the first film and turned Spidey’s second cinematic adventure into a box office coup. However, by Spider-Man 3, with the tropes being wheeled out for the third time, despite doing well in the cinema (and being the highest grossing film of 2007), the concept was a bust and Tobey Maguire was about to hang up his lycra.
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At that time, Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 was in the pipeline, but the studio decided to cull it in the place of a reboot. 5 years later, 2012 let Andrew Garfield don the famous suit for The Amazing Spider-Man. This time around he was paired with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. The reboot retold the story of Spider-Man’s origins and pit Spidey against the Lizard, a former friend of his father’s. The film did well – though not as well as the originals – being the highest grossing reboot of all time, yet the fourth highest grossing Spider-Man film. Garfield returned in 2014 – but any further sequels were dropped in favour of a new franchise featuring Tom Holland, tied into the Marvel Universe.
Spider-Man, up until then, had been a bit of a lone wolf, unlike, say, Batman, who had joined Superman in a blockbuster clash. DC’s poster boys colliding provided a wealth of merchandise and breadth of engagement with the franchise. For example, games were created showcasing the pair, online forums and browser games such as the DC Universe online game boomed at the crossover.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is due for release later in 2017 and will allow Tom Holland to flex his webs under the watchful gaze of mentor Tony Stark. By cementing Spidey in the Marvel world, any changes to the character or actor would reflect across the rest of the films, connected by Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury. So, by merging with Marvel’s other heroes, Tom Holland has likely secured his Spider-Man suit for a long time to come.