Why Won’t Spider-Man Stick?

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.

Source: @the_samwhich via Twitter

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.

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(3) Comments

  1. Bill

    The original Raimi films were good (even the third one wasn't a total loss). And I think they all pretty much "stuck". After all, a respectable (and highly profitable) trilogy is pretty sticky if you ask me. You really can't ask for much more than that. Then we have the Garfield reboots, which were pretty much doomed from the start. Their first mistake was straying too far away from the comics. The suit was different, the origin was different, (no wrestling match, Uncle Ben killed on the street by a guy who Pete let rob a convenience store. Wha?), no Daily Bugle or J. Jonah Jameson. And what the heck was up with Norman Osborn? Then things got even more complicated when they tried to give Peter's parents an "interesting" back story. I mean who cares? People want to see Spider-Man doing Spider-Man stuff. It's really not necessary to over complicate things with too many flashbacks and superfluous side stories and characters. The whole thing just became a hot mess. They really jumped the shark when the secret subway car rose up out of the ground. Whew! I have high hopes for the new Spider-Man movie(s) but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they find a way to ruin it. I'm already skeptical about the whole Tony Stark and the high-tech suit twist. That really goes against the DIY homemade hero aspect of Spider-Man's character. But we'll see. It may not be too bad.

  2. xonathan

    Actors getting old and Sony not planning for long term or planning bad stories is the reason Spidey hasn't stuck

  3. MisterMets

    I think there are a few reasons we've had so many relaunches. Relaunches. recastings aren't that unusual. From 1967-1973, Bond changed multiple times (from Connery to Lazenby to Connery again to Moore.) There were three Batmen from 1992 to 1997. Ben Affleck played a new version of Batman three years after Dark Knight Rises. It can be a sign of a series' health, showing that there's perceived demand for these films. Switching Spider-Men means they're producing Spider-Man films, and think there's a future in the series. The main reason is that the Spider-Man films tend to build on earlier productions, and the writers/ producers wrote themselves into a corner. With the Raimi films, they killed off the best villains, while focusing on a central relationship that led to an inevitable ending (Spider-Man quitting). With the Webb films, they killed off the most compelling character and didn't have many in the supporting cast who would care about the lead's loss.

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