Comics on Film: Why We're Getting 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Instead of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 3'

Comics on Film: Why We're Getting 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Instead of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 3'

Apr 29, 2016

We're just about a week away from the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the form of the highly anticipated – and heavily lauded – Captain America: Civil War.

With more superhero characters than even the last Avengers movie, Civil War is the MCU's take on the highly popular and influential comic book storyline Civil War by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven from 2006-07, and it illustrates a rift in the superhero community that causes the highly capable comrades to take up arms against each other.

Of course, one of the major reasons that so many people are looking forward to seeing Civil War – beyond the fact that both Cap and Iron Man are appearing in a movie without "Avengers" in the title – is the fact that the film will introduce us to the next cinematic incarnation of, arguably, Marvel Comics' most recognizable hero: the Amazing Spider-Man, as played by Tom Holland.

Still, it may be worth revisiting the idea of what exactly got us here in the first place, because only four years ago, fans were gearing up for their first reintroduction to Spider-Man. 2007 would prove to be actor Tobey Maguire's and director Sam Raimi's final turn with the iconic Webhead, and a lot was riding on the then-impending release of The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield.

 

A New Direction, and a Promising Start

When it became clear that Raimi, Maguire, and company would not return for a fourth entry in their iteration of the Spider-Man film series, one of the primary reasons given by producer Matt Tolmach for a franchise reboot was in one, core idea: Peter Parker's transition from boy into man. Because the original films began with Peter graduating high school and resolving to marry the love of his life, it would be difficult to perpetuate that idea with the actors that they had associated in the series' major roles.

So Tolmach, Amy Pascal, and Avi Arad hired Marc Webb, still fresh from his directorial debut with 500 Days of Summer, to direct this reboot of the film series. Because his debut film was a youth-infused romantic comedy, the producing team felt that Webb had a perspective that could give sufficient focus to Peter's life, as opposed to losing the necessary focus on him.

Ultimately when the film was released in July of 2012, it was positively received by fans and critics. While some more devoted Spidey fans found certain issues with the story and the way that some characters were presented, The Amazing Spider-Man dripped with real chemistry between its two leads in the form of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and featured dynamic action that allowed the main character to move with the speed and grace of his comic book counterpart in an even stronger way than the first film series accomplished.

Some critics were certainly irritated that they were given a second origin story for a well-known superhero within ten years of the last one, but the larger consensus was that Andrew Garfield was definitely the right guy to play Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man also has the distinction of being the final Marvel Comics-based film to be reviewed by the late, great Roger Ebert, and in his review, he calls it the second best overall Spider-Man film next to Sam Raimi's second effort in 2004.

Cutting the Web

Although the first Amazing film grossed less than 2007's disjointed third Raimi film, it received a much stronger critical reception, and still made over $750 million worldwide at the box office, so a sequel was a foregone conclusion. Webb, Garfield, and Stone would all return to the roles they established in the 2012 film, with Jamie Foxx joining the cast as Max Dillon/Electro, and Dane DeHann (Chronicle) joining as Harry Osborn.

Though the budget for Webb's second film was smaller than his first (down to $200 million from Amazing's $230 million), the film itself was more ambitious. Instead of featuring only one villain character as the first one did, three recognizable Spider-Man adversaries (four if you count Chris Cooper's bedridden Norman Osborn) would be appearing in Amazing 2. There would also be four credited writers working on both the story and screenplay, as well as foundation being laid in the film for a larger universe, with hints toward classic Spidey villain cadre the "Sinister Six" having their own film developed by the studio.

Still, though positively punctuated with the continued chemistry and devotion to the pair of Garfield and Stone, the film ended up being a critical disappointment, ranking the lowest of all five theatrically released Spider-Man films on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming in with a global box office take of $708 million, the film was still certainly successful, but it also ranks as the lowest grossing film in the entirety of the series. On top of that, in terms of domestic box office take, a pattern was now more solidified with the release of a fifth film: each successive Spider-Man film would gross less money in North America than the last, with the original from 2002 still having earned the most money by that standard.

When looking purely at the financial side of the equation, there was certainly no obligation on Sony's part to reach some kind of accord with Marvel Studios on the creation of new Spider-Man films. They could've very easily called Amazing 2 a financially successful endeavor, kept the other potential releases in the pipeline, and still made some decent money on the license.

For one reason or another, though, they took a different path.

 

Coming Home

While Sony had initially announced release dates for two additional Amazing Spider-Man films in addition to potential spin-offs based on both the Sinister Six and Venom, eventually these plans were abandoned. In late 2014, Sony had just endured a massive cyber-attack, which resulted in thousands of emails and other secret correspondences being leaked to news outlets and the public at-large.

It was in these emails that people first began to understand that Sony was going to make something of a course correction with the Spider-Man film property, which at one stage could’ve involved a returning Sam Raimi.

As things played out further, though, that course would instead lead them into an accord with Marvel Studios, and parent entity the Walt Disney Company, to include Peter Parker in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, established in 2008 by Iron Man and fed by the likes of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. While it appeared within the same leak that talks broke down and ceased due to some specifics in the arrangement of rights, it was just a couple of months afterward that Sony and Marvel Studios announced that Peter Parker would be joining Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Gamora, Black Widow, and Thor as a fully-fledged resident of the MCU.

And now, the world is waiting to get its first glimpse at new Spider-Man Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War.

 

The Road Ahead

Things could’ve been very different for Spider-Man, but it’s hard to deny that the series has come to an exciting place of cross-pollination now that the character is joining the MCU alongside the Avengers. While Andrew Garfield definitely made an admirable Peter Parker and Marc Webb proved to be an inspired directorial choice, this time next week it will become clear to general audiences the world over that Spider-Man is in an entirely different place.

We've come to the end of one journey and the beginning of another, so Comics on Film tips its hat to Tom Holland and the new creative team behind Spider-Man: Homecoming. We’ll definitely be there on opening night to see Spidey’s first strike in the MCU. Let’s hope it’s as amazing as the character himself has been for over 50 years and counting.


Chris Clow is a geek. He is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, as well as a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and Batman-On-Film.com, as well as host of the Comics on Consoles podcast. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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