Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Inside The Thematic Web That Connects Each Version Of Spider-Man

So imagine you’re a kid at the airport with your family, and while waiting to board your plane, you pass the time looking at magazine covers in a book store. Your mom says you can pick a book to read on the plane. Being a nerdy kid, obsessed with toys and cartoons, I gravitated towards the comic books, and that’s when I saw it. The comic book that would be my first: Amazing Spider-Man #1.

No, I wasn’t some kid in an airport in 1963, about to buy a comic book and a pack of smokes at eight years old. This took place sometime in the 90s when Marvel had reprinted some of their #1 issues. ≈

I remember seeing a similar looking copy of an X-Men issue, but only knowing the X-Men from the cartoon, I didn’t recognize any of the characters on the cover (the original X-Men). The Spidey cover, however, featured Spider-Man trapped in a glass tube, seemingly captured by the Fantastic Four. I tore it apart on the plane that day, absorbing every panel, teaching myself how to read and follow the speech bubbles and narrative captions. Later that comic was probably shredded underneath a mountain of Legos in my closet, but I can never forget my first.

I grew to love more heroes and books, and later I would look for specific artists and writers, but my heart has always held a special place for Spider-Man. The anticipation I felt getting ready to see his first movie in 2002 is equal to the giddiness and excitement I feel preparing to watch the sixth—Spider-Man: Homecoming. It doesn’t matter how many times they reboot the franchise, I just love seeing that guy swing from building to building on the big screen.

Rebooting the Spider-Man universe for the second time, Sony has teamed up with Marvel Studios. The comic book giant gets their flagship character back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is how he appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

Following the events of that film, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns to Queens and his regular life of attending high school by day, and fighting crime by night as the Amazing Spider-Man. After running afoul of the villainous Vulture, (Michael Keaton) Peter’s already hectic life is further disrupted.

This movie is just what the doctor ordered for both Sony and Marvel. A coming-of-age story that breaks up the current superhero model. He’s not like Iron Man or Thor; Spider-Man is a high school kid, who’s not just trying to understand his new amazing powers and abilities, but also how to navigate his regular life in the meantime. Also, we can all rejoice in the fact that it’s not an origin story. We’ve seen it twice now already and get the gist—great power, great responsibility, you know the rest.

They’re also introducing many new/never-before-seen characters (most notably villains) from the Spider-Man mythos, as well as completely new characters. Vulture might not have name-brand recognition with casual moviegoers, but it’s a sly decision on the studio’s part. Vulture was the second supervillain Spider-Man ever faced. He also appeared twice in the first 7 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic (Issues #2 & #7). And with Michael Keaton playing the role, we’re sure to see an amazing performance.

Although it hasn’t been officially stated, it seems like they’re borrowing a lot of elements from the Ultimate universe version of the character. Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Jemas and Mark Bagley was truly an incredible comic book and modern take on the character. Tom Holland himself has stated that he used this version for his own inspiration in portraying the character.

“The comics that sort of resonated with me most and I used for my performance was the Ultimate Spider-Man comics,” Holland told IGN. “They’re so modern and up-to-date with what’s happening in the world right now. For me, it was just a really, really strong thing to follow and I have so many screenshots on my phone from like lines that were written that I stole to use for the movie.”

From that first issue I read in the airport to this sixth movie entry, a connective web runs through every version of Spider-Man. That’s why Spider-Man: Homecoming can’t come soon enough. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 7.



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