Back in May of 2014, just after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had hit theaters, this very column made the case for why Marvel’s arguably most iconic hero should be allowed to come into the fold of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the time, his fifth film from Sony Pictures was doing decent business, but it became pretty clear that the critical reception enjoyed by the film was decidedly harsher than every other major Spidey film, including the infamous third film from director Sam Raimi.
In that previous edition of Comics on Film, we tried to make the case for all of the positive things that could happen if Spidey was allowed to stand alongside the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Back then, we said,
“Bringing Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t automatically ensure its quality over the existing series, but the likelihood is certainly there considering the critical reaction to the majority of Marvel Studios films, how the characters have all increased in stature and in commercial viability due to their mere involvement in it, along with the caliber of creators that have contributed positively to the longstanding legacy of the characters, as well as their respective abilities to make good movies out of them.
Spidey's joining the ranks of Iron Man and Captain America likely isn't possible while he's the property of Sony, and Arad has even said that he has very little interest in it. It would take Disney writing a sizable check, along with Sony's willingness to take it.”
Of course, we know what happened: Sony and Marvel Studios would go on to announce a licensing agreement that would allow Peter Parker to inhabit the same world as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, and after a long road to casting and immense speculation about how the character would appear in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, we’ve now had our very first, brief glimpse at Spider-Man’s involvement in this May’s blockbuster.
And it looks awesome.
A Classic Flavor With a Modern Twist
From the hint laid down in the latest Civil War trailer, it looks like Spider-Man comes in on the side of Iron Man in his conflict with Captain America. This is reasonably true to the original Civil War comic book story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, where Peter’s employment by Tony Stark at the time places him in Stark’s mindset, and at first allows him to see the conflict from Tony’s perspective.
It would seem that Spider-Man’s appearance that we saw in the trailer likely arrives near the end of the film, so he may not have the change of heart that his comic book counterpart did over the course of the conflict, but either way this vision of Spider-Man looks overridingly familiar to anyone who’s read some of the original stories featuring the character, by his creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
While there seem to be some streamlining liberties taken with the costume’s bottom half, what we’ve seen of the top half looks very much like it’s jumped out of the pages of 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, where Spidey made his first appearance.
While the more recent films from director Marc Webb first acted as a relatively radical modern redesign before embracing the far more traditional aesthetic in the second film, costume designer Judianna Markovsky seems to have unified some of the more classic sensibilities behind the costume's most iconic elements, with a more modern flavor extending through the arms and legs. The sort-of streamlined look of the boots and the lines of the arms seem to slightly evoke the 2012 model worn by Andrew Garfield, while the chest and mask, at this angle anyway, seem like they're taken straight from the designs of Steve Ditko.
Nowhere is this more apparent, though, than in Spider-Man's mask. Specifically the eyes. In a departure from every other on-screen depiction of the character thus far, the creators of the Civil War film are cementing a CGI bent to the eyes, which worked really well for Deadpool earlier this year, while also boldening the outlines to give it a very Ditko-centric, Alex Ross-esque style. The resulting look is one that very much evokes 1960s classic Spider-Man when Stan Lee still had the creative reigns on him, and that feeling is pushed far forward by the movement we see in the eyes in the last second.
What Does This Mean for the MCU?
Now, admittedly, this is all very exciting, and as big fans of Spider-Man as the public seems to be, it's hard to see his inclusion into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as anything but a positive in the wide web that continues to be spun out of 2008's Iron Man. That being said, does that mean that we're going to see Spider-Man as an Avenger anytime soon?
While Spidey has generally had more to do with the Avengers side of the Marvel Comics Universe than the side belonging to the X-Men, even he -- the mascot of Marvel Comics and one of their single best, most iconic assets -- didn't have anything to do with actually being on the team until 1991, when he became a reserve member in Avengers #329. He didn't become a fully-fledged member of the team until 2005, when a massive prison outbreak brought the New Avengers together for the first time. Still, though, the fact that he's now a fully-fledged member of the MCU could mean more interaction, but really there are plenty of great, new solo stories to be told.
By being a member of the larger universe as he is in the comics, Spider-Man will help to further enrich the collective unit by his mere inclusion. It's true that the MCU can, at times, feel like it's not populated enough. We still don't have the X-Men or the Fantastic Four able to rub elbows with the Avengers and now Spider-Man, but Spidey himself likely felt like the biggest void for a lot of fans.
Now that he's a part of the fold, the storytelling possibilities have increased exponentially, because Spider-Man is likely also the corner of the Marvel Universe with the best rogues' gallery:H Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, the Lizard, Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, the Vulture, Scorpion, Shocker...the list goes on and on. We already know that the Kingpin is in the MCU because of his incredible turn in season one of Daredevil, so how awesome would it be for Tom Holland's Spidey to crack some jokes at Wilson Fisk's expense?
It's hard for us to see how this is anything but a win for Marvel Studios and their ever-expanding shared universe. But, what do you think? Does Spidey's presence open the floodgates for greater things to happen in the MCU? Or, do you feel like this could somehow mitigate the films' strings of success? Leave a comment below, and check back here next week for an all-new Comics on Film!
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.