Warning: “Captain America: Civil War” spoilers below.
He’s one of the most beloved Marvel characters, but Spider-Man has had some rough times of late.
Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just a glimmer in Disney’s eye, Sony was the ruler of the comic-book adaptations with the release of three Spider-Man movies from 2002-2007.
From the perfect casting of Tobey Maguire as the web slinger to the steamy chemistry between him and and costar Kirsten Dunst playing Mary Jane Watson – all watched over by the geeky eye of director Sam Raimi – the franchise proved a monster moneymaker for Sony. The three films raked in a combined $2.5 billion worldwide on a $597 million budget.
But how things have changed for Peter Parker.
The first blow was the lackluster critical reception for “Spider-Man 3” (2007), which, honestly, was a byproduct of Maguire and Dunst, and probably Raimi too, burnt out from the franchise. This led to a fourth movie with the trio attached being canceled.
Then things got worse when Sony rebooted the franchise in 2012 with Andrew Garfield as Spidey. “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its sequel two years later found only modest box office (by superhero standards) and fans weren’t feeling the passion for the character that the Raimi films had. Future movies with Garfield attached were scrapped.
Sony, again, went back to the drawing board. And what they pulled off might go down as one of the biggest moves ever in comic-book movie history.
Though studios are extremely protective of their properties, Sony and Disney came to an agreement to allow Spider-Man to join the MCU, and having Spidey in the mix with the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and other Avengers in “Captain America: Civil War.” The move has given fans a glimpse at the future Spider-Man/Peter Parker, and we’re here to tell you it’s bright.
As seen in the trailer for “Captain America: Civil War” (now in theaters), Spider-Man swings into action as a member of Team Iron Man in the movie. But Spidey’s presence is far from a blink-and-you-missed-it cameo.
In many ways we get the Spider-Man origin story out of the way in “Civil War,” as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) heads to Queens to seek out Peter Parker’s help and finds a kid who for the last six months has been swinging around New York City in a unitard and goggles assisting people with his new superpowers.
Stark doesn’t just bring him on Team Iron Man; he also upgrades Parker’s look with the Spider-Man outfit we all know and love. (This will likely eliminate a lot of the backstory and we can get to the good stuff when the standalone movie, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” opens on July 7, 2017.)
Actor Tom Holland (best known for playing the lead in “Billy Elliot the Musical”) embodies Parker perfectly – a geeky outsider whose new powers make him yearn to do great things. And the 19-year-old has the sarcasm of the character down, as he holds his own opposite fellow smartypants Tony Stark, then as Spider-Man throws out the funny one-liners while going up against members of Team Captain America.
As much as “Civil War” is a great superhero movie, the beginning is a little slow, and it’s when Stark seeks out Parker that you feel the movie really finds its groove.
Then when Team Captain America and Team Iron Man go head-to-head, the collision of the superheroes and their different personalities in the same space is a thrill. But it’s Spider-Man who stands out best. Mainly that’s a result of great action and dialogue, but partly it’s the joy of finally seeing Spider-Man done right since the Raimi era.
What’s so unique about Spider-Man is that along with the superfans of the character, which are many, even if you are just a casual comic-book fan, you’ve probably encountered your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man either through cartoons or movies. So that ingrained knowledge leads to even more enjoyment when you watch a movie like “Civil War” and may not know every character featured, but you’re up on the guy in the red tights one way or another.
If “Civil War” is any indication, we are in store for an enjoyable new era of Spider-Man.