Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spider-Man 4 - RIP

It's official. Yesterday Sony Pictures announced the fourth installment of the Spider-Man franchise is no more. Both Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire have walked out and the studio has instead decided to reboot the series. We pause briefly to allow Spidey Nation to mourn as it seemed a fourth movie was well on it's way. The third movie, despite not being as praised as the first two, left the door open and now it has been shut forever. It's a sad day, but also a day of confusion.

CBR: Spider-Man 4 No More

It has been no secret that the Spider-Man movie has been struggling lately. Reports have been coming out about delays and disagreements over what direction the series would take. Most notably, there were reports that Sam Raimi wanted to use Vulture (rumored to be played by John Malkovich) in the last movie, but was rebuked. Now after being rebuked again, he's walking out and taking the continuity of the movie with him. What's more surprising is that there were few indications it had gotten this bad. While the creative disagreements were well known, nobody imagined they were to the point where the movie would be halted. It has comes as quite a shock, but now it appears we'll have a reboot to look forward to.

It seems ironic because the Spider-Man movies have been the one franchise that are least in need of a reboot. Compared to the other series like X-men, Hulk, and Superman this movie has been consistent quality across the board. It hasn't had a "Batman Forever" flop and it hasn't evoked the same kind of fan rage as "X-men 3: The Last Stand." Spider-Man had what none of the other franchises really had. They had a stable acting cast, a stable director who had the trust of the fans, and a consistent story that was true to the comics yet still fresh. That kind of consistency is not easy to build and even harder to maintain.

With a reboot, it's tantamount to trying to capture lightning twice. It's a long shot. It took years to get a fresh start with the Batman franchise and fans are still waiting for Superman to get a reboot. The X-men movies are in far greater need of a reboot than Spider-Man. While the first two did well, the third X-men movie was almost universally panned by fans and is still the butt of many jokes among comic readers. Yet they still saw fit to continue the series with Wolverine Origins, which also didn't live up to the hype and was not well-received despite doing okay at the box office (even if movies like The Blind Side did better). Now more prequels are in the mix like First Class and Deadpool, all of which are working within a continuity that not many like because the ending is already known with X3. A reboot would inject fresh life into a struggling series. Yet instead, a series that isn't struggling as much is getting a reboot. How's that for irony?

Either way, Spider-Man movies are officially a concern. How are they going to reboot the series without re-telling the story? How are they going to make it feel like a movie we haven't seen before? How are they going to capture the magic that the first movie captured? It's not going to be easy. Only time will tell.

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