Sunday, March 08, 2015

Spider-Verse: The Movie

There’s been a lot of discussion about how exactly Marvel is going to incorporate Spider-Man into their cinematic universe now that they’ve (partially) regained the movie rights to the character, but it’s clear that yet another reboot of the franchise is coming.  Having our third different Spidey within a nine-year span seems like overkill, yet there’s really no other way around it given the overall disappointment of the Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield Spider-films.

Unless, that is, Marvel adopts my brilliant idea to turn into the skid by both giving the franchise its necessary reboot, AND acknowledging Spider-Man’s recent movie history AND winking at the silliness of movie reboots in the first place.  My idea?  Adapt the “Spider-Verse” storyline into the new Spidey movie that’s being released in 2017.

For non-comic nerds, a brief recap of “Spider-Verse,” the storyline that has been taking up the Spidey comics for the better part of the last year.  (Also, here’s a link to the long recap.)  What’s happening is that there’s a villain named Morlun who feeds on people’s life-forces, essentially just sucking the life right out of them, and he and his entire family have developed a particular obsession with Spider-Man since he’s defeated them in the past.  Morlun’s family gain the ability to travel between alternate realities, and in each one, they’re attacking that reality’s version of Spider-Man, killing many of them along the way.  Eventually, several different versions of Spidey team up to defeat Morlun and company.

The cleverest part of this storyline is that Marvel has had so many ‘alternate’ Spider-Men (and Women) in so many various ongoing comics and continuities over the years, it’s quite a trip to see them all gathered together.  In other cases, it’s quite a trip just to see some taken semi-seriously, a la Spider-Ham.  While it’s technically a serious storyline given how Morlun and company are, y’know, butchering all these Spider-people, there’s also lots of room for comedy given how “every” Spider-Man in every form of media is involved.

For instance, those old Spider-Man Hostess Twinkies ads?

Man alive.  I award ten No-Prizes to whomever came up with that idea.  A movie tie-in has also sort of happened within the storyline, as two of Morlun’s other victims were versions of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield who literally were Spider-Man in their realities, not just actors playing Spidey.  This is so meta is hurts.

Anyway, the simplified “Spider-Verse” movie would be a simplified version of this story, with the various Spideys of various films, TV series and whatnot all joining together to stop the Morlun family, with the final result being that the new Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spidey is the one whose reality we’ll follow into the next set of movies.  On the one hand, there’s the danger that this new Spidey will be overshadowed by the sheer scope of this film and the other Spider-actors involved….yet it also takes some of the pressure off this kid right away.

The cast!

* The new MCU version of Spider-Man!
* Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man!  His aging could simply be explained by how years have passed in ‘his’ reality since Spider-Man 3, or it could not be an issue since Maguire never seems to age.
* Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane!  A key part of the film as she realizes that MJ/Peter are an item in virtually every reality, perhaps renewing her faith in their marriage if she and Tobey are having issues in a subplot.  She could also comfort…
* Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man!  He’s already depressed over Gwen’s death, and now he has all these Morlun attacks to deal with.  He’s even more weirded out when he encounters…
* Emma Stone as Spider-Gwen!  One of the highlights of the comic storyline was the introduction of ‘Spider-Gwen,’ from a reality where Gwen is the one bitten by the radioactive spider.  To simplify things, you can just have this Gwen be the reverse-version of Garfield, as she’s getting over her Peter being killed by the Green Goblin.
* J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson! This is a must.  Nuff said.
* James Franco, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Topher Grace, Rhys Ifans, etc.  Basically, everyone who played villains in the earlier Spidey movies could have cameos as representatives of “the reality Harry Osborn got bitten by the spider” or “the reality where Otto Octavius got bitten by the spider,” etc.
* Martin Sheen as Spider-Ben!  You guessed it, from the reality where Uncle Ben is the one bitten by the spider.
* Sally Field or Rosemary Harris as Spider-May!  You guessed it, from the reality where Aunt May is the one bitten by the spider.  Field is probably the likelier candidate though it would be awesome to see 90-year-old Rosemary Harris as a superhero.
* Some teen actress as Spider-Girl!  In the comics, Spider-Girl is from an alternate reality where Peter and Mary Jane have a daughter, and she inherits Peter’s powers and becomes a hero herself.  Could be a key role to get all of the various Spider-people on the same page, as she represents hope for the future.
* Jeremy Renner as Spider-Hawkeye!  Since we need at least one other notable Marvel Cinematic Universe cameo, throw in an alternate-reality Avenger.  I picked Renner since Hawkeye is easily the least-used hero of the bunch.
* Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh and a host of British actors as Morlun and his family.  There are eight members of Clan Morlun in the comics, yet to make things easier for the movie, we can only give a few of them major roles and the lesser siblings can be dispatched by the lesser Spider-characters.  I mention Redmayne and Branagh specifically since they’ve both gone on record as saying they’d like to get into a Marvel movie.  Cast Redmayne as Morlun, Branagh as his disapproving father, get them both into the mood for this goofy movie by telling them to go into whole-on Jupiter Ascending/Wild Wild West-esque overacting and let them run wild.

Beyond these roles, you can also introduce Miles Morales (the Ultimate universe Spidey), Pavitr Prabhakar (India’s Spidey), Miguel O’Hara (Spidey 2099) either just as international variety or to set them up for future movies, especially Miles.  And then you have the comedy bits, oh my god, the comedy bits.  Imagine….

* 60 seconds of animation in the style of the 60’s Spider-Man cartoon with this Spidey being killed by an animated Morlun.
* 60 seconds of animation in the style of the “Spectacular Spider-Man” series, having this Spidey get killed by an animated Morlun.
* 60 seconds of Simpsons animation featuring Morlun killing Spider-Pig.
* 60 seconds of Morlun edited into the super-crappy 1977 Spider-Man movie, killing that version of Spidey.  Nicholas Hammond is still alive, so give him a cameo too!
* 60 seconds of Morlun showing up on the set of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and having him kill the actor starring as Spidey.  Or, even better, the actor just falls to his death due to faulty wiring, and Morlun just shrugs his shoulders and leaves.  Cameo opportunity for Bono and the Edge!

The possibilities here really are endless.  The entire film can be a love letter to 55 years of Spider-Man in pop culture, and most importantly, the movie can be FUN.  That’s the one element that has been drastically missing from every modern Spider-Man movie, which is that Spidey is a wise-cracking smart-aleck.  Sure, there’s a lot of tragedy and dark elements to his history, but at the end of the day, he’s still the “Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man.”  Aside from the Guardians of the Galaxy, I guess, It would carve out a special niche within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and for comic book movies as a whole) if Spidey becomes the overtly comic and meta representative of the whole bunch.  Spider-Man is Marvel’s signature character, so his movies should stand out from the pack — you can have him involved with the Avengers, sure, but he should ultimately stand alone as an entity unto himself.

If someone at Marvel wants to send me a seven-figure cheque, I can get cracking on this script right away.  Just say the word!

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