– and Peter wakes up beside his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Without MJ in his life he has instead built a relationship with Gwen after he took her dancing in Spider-Man 3 . Otherwise his life is basically the same as it always was except that he now has terrible One Direction hair, and Harry and Norman Osborn are still alive.
This was the other weird outcome of One More Day – it brought back Harry Osborn, Peter’s best friend, who had been dead in the comics for fifteen years. Spider-Man 4 follows the comic’s example and undoes Harry’s death in the previous film, but it also brings back his father Norman who died (dressed as a Goblin) in the first film. It actually makes more sense here than in the comic, because the death of both Osborns is a major source of the problems Mephisto offers to fix.
Keep in mind that Peter’s demonic exchange only takes up the first twenty-minutes of screentime, though. The rest of Spider-Man 4 is actually a pretty standard romantic comedy: Peter and Gwen fall out then make up, Peter and Gwen split up then get back together, Peter causes the death of Gwen’s father then completely ignores his dying request… and hilarity ensues!
Meanwhile, back in the real world
Obviously I’m being facetious. Every word I’ve just written is nonsense (except maybe the part about stabbing Andrew Garfield in the eye). There was a point to it all, though, and that was to highlight the importance of continuity.
The original four-part comic of Spider-Man 4 – sorry, of One More Day – was almost universally hated. Partly because it’s a literal deus-ex-machina ( diabolus -ex-machina?), partly because it came out of sodding nowhere, but mostly because it trampled all over decades of established continuity. And that’s the same way I feel about The Amazing Spider-Man .
It’s true that continuity can be convoluted and obnoxious, and that the stories involved are terrible just as often as they’re good – but, in the end, it’s those stories that fans are invested in. It’s the stories that connect us to the characters and make us feel like we know them. Take those stories away and all you have is a name, a costume and a collection of powers; maybe that’s what got us interested in the first place, but it’s not why we continue to care .
When the owners of a property change history on a whim – when events are altered or completely undone – they show how little that history means to them. These are the stories that hooked the audience and defined the characters. Even the bad stories helped shape who that character is and what they mean to the fans. But if the creators don’t care about any of that, why the hell should we?
Why should we care about Spider-Man if the marriage that defined his character for so long can just be deleted in moments? Why should we care about Spider-Man movies if the version we came to know and love can be reset back to the beginning to tell the exact same story again? Why should we care about the DC Universe when everything we know might get Crisis ed or New52 ed at any moment? Why should we care about Star Wars if the universe we invested so much time in can be swept away in one press-release?
These decisions seem to be based on the idea that fans are invested in only the shallowest surface of these properties: that we’ll buy anything with “Spider-Man” on the label, even if it’s just retreading the same story again – or that we’ll love a Superman movie just because he has an “S” on his chest, even if he acts nothing like the character we know.
One reason Marvel movies are so spectacularly successful is that we’re nine films in and, so far, every decision made – even the bad ones – has been respected and carried through. Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk aren’t great movies, but Marvel understands that they inform the characters and the world. Even if fans don’t like them, those same fans are still invested in their existence and the events that happen in them. They may pull One More Day s in their comics, but their films maintain one seamless continuity.
Heck, even Fox ‘s problematic X-Men series gets this right. X3 is a bad film and Origins: Wolverine is just dire , but I’m far more invested in that series than Spider-Man because they’re so committed to their continuity. They’ve made mistakes but, rather than scrapping everything, they’re pushing ahead and gently nudging things back on track. They care about their own universe and their own characters, so I care too.
The Amazing Spider-Man upsets me. I care about Spider-Man because I’ve invested time and money and effort into watching and reading his adventures, and because I care about the people and events that I saw in those adventures. But Sony scrubbed those adventures away with barely a gesture and started again; yet they still expected us to be invested and care just because the poster says “Spider-Man” and because there’s a vague approximation of the costume (gods that thing is ugly). I simply can’t support that. It’s a horrible, twisted way of thinking and I refuse to prove them right, which is why I’ve never seen the film.
I am willing to see this second one though, because as we’ve seen, Sony have actually made a sequel to the original trilogy – they just forgot to tell anyone about it. From what I’ve heard, our imaginary Spider-Man 4 actually explains a bunch of plot-holes in this one, like how Harry can be Peter’s best friend even though we’ve never heard of him before, why people talk about Peter’s photos when we’ve never seen him take any, and how he got his original costume back. That stuff’s not explained in The Amazing Spider-Man , but all you need to understand it is that Mephisto showed up, making it so Peter never met MJ and the Osborns aren’t dead – everything else is exactly as it was in the original Spider-Man series. So, knowing all that, I’m ready to give Spider-Man 5 a chance!
…or I was , until someone told me it’s pants.