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This is shaping up as a big week for Spider-Man. On Wednesday, Marvel released The Amazing Spider-Man #1, which marks the return of Peter Parker as the famous wall-crawler after the character had been controlled by Otto Octavius for a while. The timing of the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man is no accident since two days later, on Friday, is the release of the latest movie incarnation of the character: The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There are many indications that the movie will adapt the comic story “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” (Amazing Spider-Man #121), though it’s possible the filmmakers are foreshadowing Gwen’s death in order to make her survival surprising.
The first four Spider-Man movies have utilized a number of classic Spider-Man stories: the origin (twice!), the black suit/Venom saga, the death of Captain Stacy, and even elements of stories about Peter’s parents. We know that the “Sinister Six” will be a big element of upcoming Spider-Man films and spin-offs from Sony. Still, that hardly taps out the reserves of great Spider-Man tales. With almost 52 years of Spidey stories, what other arcs should be adapted for film? I picked five good story arcs that would work well for a movie.
We’re relatively early in the age of the comic book movie and there are naysayers every year who say that there are too many comic book movies and that it’s a fad. And yet most of the big movies do very well at the box office. We’ve already seen 2 actors portray Spider-Man and I think we should start to understand that there will be more in the future, similar to how James Bond is a legacy film character. There is also interest in making superheroes more racially diverse (there was already an Internet push to have Donald Glover be Spider-Man). So I think it’s a matter of time until we see half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales, the second “Ultimate” Spider-Man, on the screen. However, this isn’t a bad thing. As written by Brian Michael Bendis, Morales is much more than tokenism – he’s an interesting character who has a different origin and personality than Peter Parker but is still very much Spider-Man.
I know some people will just flip out seeing the words “clone,” conjuring the massive and terrible swerve that was Ben Reilly. However, the original Clone storyline was told in the 1970s by Gerry Conway, involving Professor Miles Warren (who would turn out to be the villain the Jackal), who had fallen in love with Gwen Stacy. If Gwen dies in ASM 2, this could be an interesting way for Emma Stone to reprise her role. Even if she survives, I think there is a movie that could work around the obsession of another man (and a professor of his) and Peter’s love, Gwen.
This one might be hard to sell because it doesn’t have name-recognizable villains. The main villain is named Sin-Eater. So this one might need to be changed to be more marketable. However, the core of the story, which Peter David wrote in the mid-1980s, revolves around the murder of a Spider-Man ally, an event that makes him question the lengths he will go to see justice and whether he really wants revenge more than justice. Although Christopher Nolan has incorporated superhero ethics into his films (as did, surprisingly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), more superhero blockbusters could offer viewers something to think about as well as watch. A movie based on “The Death of Jean DeWolff” could do that.
Many of the Spider-Man films have involved someone Peter Parker loves being in danger (usually Mary Jane), but it’s not always been a compelling danger. “Back in Black,” the J. Michael Straczynski story line from 2007, presents a credible threat to Spider-Man (and the one in danger is not his girlfriend). Although it does have some similar themes (vengeance and vedettas) as “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” I think it’s compelling because it’s a crime story, which we haven’t seen in Spider-Man movies. With some adjustments, “Back in Black” could form the basis of a taut and suspenseful superhero thriller.
Perhaps better known as “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” this 1987 story from J.M.DeMatteis is one of my favorite Spider-Man stories not only because it puts our favorite web-head through the wringer (it does do that) but because there is a compelling and understandable villain. As Kraven the Hunter is dying, he sets out to challenge and conquer Spider-Man. This story, which would probably need adjustment since it incorporates minor Spider-Man villain The Vermin in a key role, would work because it is an epic story with satisfying character arcs for the hero and antagonist.
What are other Spider-Man stories that you think could be adapted to make great movies? Add your thoughts in the comments.