Alix and I are on vacation as of now, and while Cole is sitting at home in the shadow of Disneyland making the most of his break from us, we are in beautiful southern Florida, seeking as much all-you-can-eat shrimp as possible. Even coming from Southern California, there is much more of a focus here in using seafood with every meal; while staple meats like chicken or beef are available, many restaurants in the region are more more apt to serve barbecue grouper or conch fritters. It’s been an incredible and relaxing experience so far, and I felt that the dishes served here were a great analogy of how I feel about the news that Spider-Man will be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic universe.
I swear that this isn’t as much of a stretch than you think, so bear with me here.
First, I would like to state that I am a fan of Spider-Man, but not as much of a fan as I was with other characters. Spider-Man is a greatly accessible franchise full of teen angst, family struggles, and child-appropriate violence to make it the powerhouse that it is today, but I’ve always felt that he was the “meat-and-potatoes” version of comic books. It’s filling and gets the job done, but you tend to grow out of that palette in order to find new and favorite dishes. Not to say that you don’t enjoy your meat-and-potatoes once in a while as well.
I personally think that it’s very difficult to do Spider-Man justice on-screen. His movements are contortive and slightly awkward, his best banter is always mid-fight, and the studios have yet to find the “perfect actor” for the role. You know, in my most humble and inexperienced opinion. For this being the third time in about a decade to try and revitalize the web-slinger is a little telling of how much the film studios struggle with this character; this is disheartening to say the least, and these casting directors and producers make these kinds of make-or-break decisions on a daily basis.
What worries me most about Spider-Man being in both Marvel and Sony franchises isn’t the actor or the content though, but the creativity of the comic book film industry itself. Here in the beautiful Jensen Beach, restaurants have less access to beef or pork, but they do have access to clams and seafood. The region has had lemons given to them, but they proverbially made lemonade taste better with a side of scallop chowder and crusted grouper. This was Marvel Studios beforehand: no access to their cash-cows like Wolverine or Spider-Man, but they’ve made franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans worthwhile ventures in the eyes of the general public. Now Marvel has as much access to a staple character as much as they want, and because of this four films have been pushed back about a year or two: Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans. Do you think the general public would have ever heard about the Inhumans if Marvel had access to X-Men mutants? I absolutely promise you that the answer is the exact opposite of “yes”, but Marvel found a way to tell lasting stories with other franchises in their stable.
There’s no way to get around this: having access to Spider-Man stifles diversity and creativity.
I know that we’ve made fun of films like Jupiter Ascending, and for the most part I will still stand by that decision. But what’s important about Jupiter Ascending is people are at least taking chances on franchises that are little-known or brand-new, and we can only have real creativity when we’re forced to work out of our comfort zone. Marvel now has their safety net back when it comes to promoting superheroes, right before we were about to see diversity in franchises like Black Panther or Captain Marvel.
And honestly, at this point I’m tired of the meat-and-potatoes of film, and I’d like to see a little more white clam pizza on the menu.