Drew Goddard's 'Spider-Man' Might Feed Into The Uniformity Of Superhero Movies
We can revel in the hiring of ’90s hero Joe Johnston, the theatrically groomed Kenneth Branagh, action comedy favorite Shane Black, Game of Thrones vet Alan Taylor, or modern sitcom staples Anthony and Joe Russo. But no matter whose name is tacked to the top of the production, the Marvel brand is the true director of every film under the MCU banner.
With only minuscule diversions in tone, pacing, or aesthetic, every Marvel movie to date has molded to one unifying form. Expensing the creative visions of its talented feature helmers in favor of stylistic consistency, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been criticized for shooting shy of its necessary targets: the darkness intrinsic in Tony Stark, the sprawl demanded by the stories of Thor, and the ostensible weirdness of the Guardians of the Galaxy. All sacrificed in the name of brand recognition.
The engagement of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man properties with the MCU threatens a spread of this imprint. In February, news broke that the webslinger would be finding home in a forthcoming Disney film — confirmed thereafter to be the 2016 release, Captain America: Civil War — which would align in canon with a standalone Spidey flick to follow, produced by Sony. Now, we get word that Drew Goddard might be handling the Spider-Man movie in question. The Drew Goddard who wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The Cabin in the Woods with Joss Whedon.
If any sole director carries bona fide weight in the development of the Marvel vision, it’s Whedon. Not only has he been charged with helming the series’ centerpieces (The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron), but he has famously stepped in to polish up penmanship on the intermittent features’ screenplays. Goddard’s history of working with — and, as some would go so far as to say, schooling under — Whedon insinuates the likelihood of a shared genetic composition by his and Whedon’s pet franchises; and all this without mentioning the plausibility of direct collaboration (be it on the record or off) on Goddard’s Sony film, The Spectacular Spider-Man (a potential title).
Even more important than Goddard’s preexisting association with Whedon, perhaps, is the former’s claim to Marvel’s Daredevil Netflix series on the way. Already living under Marvel’s heavy thumb, Goddard is imbued with the MCU psychology; in fact, the ubiquitous designation of Marvel’s films as big screen “television” renders the threat of Goddard’s Daredevil practices carrying over into the new Spider-Man film's development all the more real — a conflict of across-the-board homogeneity.
So why is this an issue? Why, if Spider-Man’s newly confirmed presence among the established Marvel heroes that have gleaned such popularity since the introduction of Tony Stark in 2008 is itself an endeavor to celebrate, does the thought of his adventures to follow falling in step with the composition of the Avengers films read as such a blow? Simply, because we need something different. Or at least the possibility thereof.
With a filmmaker whose résumé is as strange as James Gunn’s hired to helm a movie about a misanthropic raccoon and his simple minded anthropomorphic tree, there’s very little excuse for the product we walked away from to have felt anything in the vein of ordinary or familiar. But Marvel managed to render Guardians of the Galaxy both. The studio reined in Branagh, Taylor, and the Russos alike in the delivery of their Thor and Captain America pictures, resulting in a collection of movies stylistically indecipherable.
We know why they do it — if it ain’t broke, after all — and we can applaud the endgame as undeniably watchable. But don’t we want more than another go ‘round?
Don’t we want originality, strangeness, and surprise? Shouldn’t Guardians have felt as jarring and unique as its source material might have promised? Shouldn’t fans of Taylor’s Game of Thrones episodes and the Russo brothers’ Community work be validated in their excitement over the thought of these visionaries’ small screen acumen finding bona fide life in movie form? And shouldn’t we be wide-eyed and curious over what course Sony’s new Spider-Man might take at the hands of a great talent like Drew Goddard?
Of course we should. Before viewing and after, every new movie should be something to wonder about.
Images: Sony Pictures; Walt Disney Pictures (2)