I don't typically do entertainment-news-related posts, but the recent cancellation and subsequent rebooting of the Spider-Man franchise has gotten the proverbial Internet so tangled up and righteously (though not rightfully) indignant about the whole affair. The problem isn't that director Sam Raimi's next effort was going to be anything revelatory - I'd be surprised if anyone seriously thought Sony was bringing him onboard to give us his final vision of who Spider-Man is and what he defines him, not after Spider-Man 3 was simultaneously the worst film in the franchise and the most financially successful (when accounting for the foreign market, and considering the perception created by, at the time, beating the opening weekend record).
Since yesterday, I've heard everything from how this signals the end of cinema (but Devin Faraci is blowing that horn a few times a year) to how this really, really sucks. The real problem seems to be that people feel this is a shift in how studios approach blockbuster filmmaking, and by extent films in general. Faraci wrote, "It's the depths of creativity and the apex of shittiness, as far as I'm concerned." Over at Cinematical, Elisabeth Rappe, in her always-astutue column "The Geek Beat," wrote, "What does the adult moviegoer think when they go to the multiplex and the same movies they saw a decade ago are the only ones playing? How does that build a future for movies, marketing, or the industry in general?"
I don't see it as a studio problem - as I tend to, I see it as an audience problem. We, the audience, have made it necessary for sequels to follow continuity. Continuity has been the major problem sinking the comic book industry (I can't tell you how many comic books I would have bought over the past few years if I knew I could just get one good contained read from them), and it's sinking the film industry. I long for the days when even the same director did two movies in the same franchise, they were set in totally different worlds - who believed that Batman Returns was actually a continuation of Batman, or Batman & Robin a continuation of Batman Forever? For that matter, it wasn't until the last two movies that the Bond franchise gave any thought to what happened in the film before that.
Let another director tackle Spider-Man. And another. And another. I WANT to see a lot of different versions of the character, rather than the same one over and over - that sort of long-form storytelling is for television. I want to see a movie.
I know another big concern is that they'll go straight for the Twlight and Venom crowds with this one, but I find it baffling that comic book fans think the idea of sending Peter Parker back to high school couldn't possibly work after the tremendous creative and financial success of Ultimate Spider-Man. Maybe I'm biased, because that was the comic book that made me realize that Spider-Man is a pretty awesome character, but there's also the little matter that Sony's quite keen on the James Venderbilt script, which has the advantage of being written by the guy who gave us one of the finest screenplays of the last decade with Zodiac.
So while I share a lot of the same fears as Faraci, Rappe, and apparently the entire Internet put together, I also seem to be alone in thinking it's possible that it could totally work. Personally, I'm quite taken with Drew McWeeny's suggestion of Anton Yelchin, consistently the best part of lesser films, as Peter Parker...
Although I really hope they don't do a straight-up origin story. I'm sick to death of origin stories.