Who Should Direct Sony's 'Spider-Man' Reboot? The Possibilities Are All Intriguing In Their Own Ways
In case you’re having trouble keeping track of all the freakin’ Spider-Man films we’re gearing up to see in theaters over the course of the next few years, here’s a quick breakdown. First: A product of a collaboration between Sony and Disney, there will be a Spider-Man showing up in the forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film Captain America: Civil War, playing alongside Cap and Iron Man. The actor playing this incarnation of the character — one that is indeed confirmed to be Peter Parker — has not yet been cast, though talks have narrowed down to two primary names: Asa Butterfield (of Hugo and Ender's Game) and Tom Holland (of The Impossible). This film will come out in 2016.
Second: Sony will then utilize the same variation of Peter Parker/Spider-Man by themselves — to be played by the same yet-uncast young star who will first appear in Captain America: Civil War — and give the classic character his own feature film more or less independent from the MCU. This one is planned to hit theaters in 2017.
And finally, third: Frequent creative partners Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the guys behind The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Clone High, and Last Man on Earth) are directing an entirely separate Spider-Man film: an animated comedy. But that one won’t reach us until 2018, so we don’t have to think about this one right now.
So, yeah, there's a lot. So, for the sake of simplicity, let's turn our attentions to Sony’s live-action standalone Spidey, which will launch the third go at a Peter Parker-led franchise in 13 years. Back in the early '00s, Evil Dead mastermind Sam Raimi gave us two great films and a largely bemoaned third entry (which some of us enjoyed, at least) with the Spiderman franchise starring Tobey Maguire. More recently, (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb tried his hand at the material with a pair of overcrowded and tonally befuddling flicks, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise.
And now, with a new filmmaker at the helm, we can either pride or pity one more attempt at engaging fans with the adventures of the web-slinging New Yorker. But, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see which of the short list directors is chosen before we make that distinction. Here’s who Sony is looking at right now, according to Indiewire, and what each one would bring to the table.
What he’s done: The Wackness, 50/50, Warm Bodies
Levine’s M.O. is sensitivity, investigating realms like teenage loneliness, cancer, and the undead with an affectionate combination of somberness and humor. Warm Bodies affords him some experience doing “genre” work, though the film’s somewhat sloppy zombie lore was hardly its strongest characteristic.
With the heightened focus on world building that comes intrinsically with a job writing and directing a comic book movie, Levine might be a pretty fair hire for the gig. Peter Parker is a character draped in sad humor, Levine’s specialty and that which delighted us to Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s take on the character back in ’02. But that heightened focus is a chief priority.
What he’s done: Winding Roads, St. Vincent
As proved by his 2014 comedy St. Vincent, Melfi’s sensibilities might be a bit too down the middle for a property wanting for imagination. The Bill Murray film was simple, palatable, schmaltzy, and sweet, but the sort of thing we’ve seen over and over again. Considering the fact that we actually have seen Spider-Man over and over again in the past 13 years, Melfi might not be the best choice for such a gig.
Jon Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein
What they’ve done: Horrible Bosses, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
The minds behind Spider-Man seem to think that the creative vision of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs franchise is just what they’re looking for; the duo behind the first of the two family flicks is helming the animated Spider-Man, and that behind its sequel is up for the live-action superhero story.
Daley (who you’ll probably know better as an actor — he played Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks) and Goldstein are humorists before storytellers, prioritizing joke over plot in everything they’ve written so far…and to varying results, though never anything astonishingly funny. Yes, Spider-Man is a character rooted in his sense of humor, but he’ll also need either a rich mythology or some genuine pathos to afford him a worthwhile reboot.
What he’s done: Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre
Here’s an interesting one. Hess’ oddball sensibilities would be quite a departure from the character’s tone as established in Civil War, doubtlessly making him feel like a separate entity altogether. Furthermore, Hess’ reliance on quirk and awkwardness, not only within his characters but in the world around them, could well overshadow the presence most comic book fans are hoping to see in a Spider-Man outing.
But is this necessarily a bad thing? Webb’s by-the-book Amazing Spider-Man films were clearly the wrong way to go, so maybe something completely out of left field like a Nacho Libre-esque Spidey picture, one peppered with abrupt takes and an intentionally jarring aesthetic, is exactly the kind of shakeup needed to make a third round feel worth the venture.
What he’s done: Pitch Perfect
There's something wicked coursing through Pitch Perfect that might well signify the right kind of black comic tone worthy of Spidey's next outing. That said, Moore (with no other credits to his name) has got to get a few things under control: his understanding of pacing and story structure stand at the top of the list. But he certainly has a handle on the kind of one-liners to which Peter Parker fans are so happily accustomed.
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