It started like any other week, but then something happened that changed the face of cinema forever. Spider-Man finally came home.
It was the moment that comic book fans and movie fans alike had been waiting for. Our favourite web-slinging hero could finally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, finally share the screen with the likes of RDJ’s Iron Man, Chris Evan’s Captain America and Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury.
But with the news of Spidey’s homecoming also came the news that Andrew Garfield was being dropped in favour of a new actor. After that, the internet exploded with speculation, not just about who would play Spider-Man, but also when they would play him. So far all we know is that he will appear in one already announced Marvel film and then get his own standalone film.
An older and wiser Spider-Man
The internet already seems pretty certain that already announced film the new Spider-Man will appear in is Captain America 3 – and you can see why. Spidey is fairly integral to Civil War’s story, first as Tony Stark’s poster boy and then as one of Cap’s staunchest supporters. Now that Marvel has him, it makes perfect sense to use him here.
But this piece of common sense seems totally at odds with the news that Sony is apparently looking to take Spidey, and predominantly Peter Parker, back to high school. We’ve seen Peter Parker and Spider-Man go through high school twice before, and we don’t need to see it again. We don’t need another origin story. We don’t need another teenage Spidey.
The Spider-Man of Civil War is an older, seasoned hero, one who has saved the world numerous times and has a huge public following (hence his poster boy status) and is an equal among his fellow heroes. More importantly, the Peter Parker of Civil War is a married family man, with a wife and a job and a life, all of which comes under threat when he willingly unmasks himself to the world. His role in Civil War is tied to him being an adult – it just doesn’t work if given to a teenager.
What Marvel and Sony need to do here (and I’m loath to say this) is take a leaf out of DC’s book and go down the route of Dawn of Justice – like Ben Affleck’s Batman, just have Spider-Man arrive on the scene as an older, wiser and more seasoned character, already known to the world as a well-established (if previously unseen) hero.
And who should play this older, wiser, more seasoned version of Spider-Man? Why, Tobey Maguire, of course.
With great power comes great responsibility (to fix the franchise)
For many, Tobey Maguire is the definitive Spider-Man and the definitive Peter Parker. So nerdy at times it was painful to watch, yet nevertheless convincing as a crime fighting superhero, Tobey Maguire brought the relatable everyman quality to the character that Andrew Garfield was never quite able to sell. And now, almost 10 years on from his last web-slinging outing, he’s older, wiser and more seasoned – a perfect fit for Civil War.
Bringing Maguire back would be a masterstroke by Marvel and Sony, guaranteeing bums on seats (his box-office returns as Spidey massively overshadow Garfield’s) and making amends for what many still see as an utterly pointless reboot. And, if leaked emails during Sony’s hack are to be believed, bringing back Maguire was something they were actually already considering. Plus, he’s good friends with Robert Downey Jr., so that’s a bonus right there.
And why not get Sam Raimi back as well? Like Bryan Singer, Raimi knew how to make a great superhero movie before there was a formula for success, and Spider-Man 2 is still one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. Raimi made web-slinging look and feel so utterly breath-taking (something Mark Webb could never quite do justice to) and he knew that Peter Parker should never be cool (another thing Mark Webb didn’t seem to grasp). He also gave us villains that were always more than just one-note. Together Maguire and Raimi made the definitive Spider-Man films, and getting them both back would re-establish the character to his former glories. And while we’re at it, why not get back J. K. Simmons (the greatest thing to ever happen to a comic book movie) as well. And Kirsten Dunst and Rosemary Harris too.
In fact, just make the new standalone film Spider-Man 4 in all but name. That would please a heck of a lot of fans. And it’s a trick that’s worked for Marvel before. The Incredible Hulk is clearly a sequel to Ang Lee’s Hulk, it just never explicitly says so. Treating the new Spider-Man film the same way would do away with the need to repeat Spidey’s history and origin.
But seriously, folks…
Okay, okay, so a lot of that is wishful thinking, but even if they didn’t bring back Tobey Maguire, casting an older actor, one able to go toe-to-toe with the other 30-40 year old heroes of the MCU, would still be the best decision Marvel and Sony could make. Taking Spidey back to high school, treating him like a kid, would be disastrous for the character.