Sony to re-boot the Spiderman film franchise in 2012 with Marc Webb taking over director duties from Sam Raimi and a new cast of actors to be put in the roles. See the following links for more detail over at superherohype and the bbc.
It looks like Peter Parker will be going back to high school with the next film delivering a new vision for the Spiderman film franchise. Not wanting to call into question the director attached or the cast that has been announced so far, these may be a winning combination but is a reboot to the Spiderman franchise what we really need? Reboots have generally been used where an existing franchise was spent, with little option left on how to progress the franchise or where an entirely new take on the franchise is desired. The state of the Batman franchise after the disaster of Batman and Robin is a great example of where a reboot was sorely needed. Under that continuity Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, were all dead, Riddler had been left insane at the end of Batman Forever, Catwoman could have been brought back but ultimately for such a drastic new tone and new vision for the franchise Chris Nolan had to be brought in by way of a reboot.
While Spiderman 3 had more than its fair share of problems, the series of films have been both hugely popular and financially successful, with part 3 being the conclusion of a (for the most part) great first story arc in what could have been an ongoing series of films. The franchise was in a far better state than Batman was after the release of Batman and Robin, did a change in creative team really need to result in a reboot to the franchise? I for one would like to see the comic-book based film franchises follow the example set by their comic-book counterparts and explore the idea of a new cast and crew continuing a franchise rather than simply having to reboot it. We have seen on countless occasions in comic books a new creative team take over on an existing book, such as Spiderman or Detective Comics and then take that book in a new direction with a new vision for the characters and story. This allows for the epic ongoing rivalries, romances and tales for these enduring characters.
Could we not see a new cast and crew simply take over the reins of the Spiderman films from Sam Raimi and deliver their new vision for the series but without having to wipe out all of the stories that have already been told? The first Spiderman film was released in 2002; do we need to see Peter Parker in high school again so soon? Rather than see something that Sam Raimi has already given us one version of wouldn’t it be more exciting to see the character continue to grow and evolve and deal with the fallout of the events in Spiderman 3? This could include Peter’s grief over the loss of his friend Harry, his ongoing relationship with Mary-Jane, and many other Spiderman stories that could be told after the character has been set up so well in the first few movies. Was Carnage ever going to be introduced? Would we have seen Dr Curt Connors transform into Lizard? Questions we will never have answered, and stories that comic book based films will never get around to telling if they are forever restricted to the origination story of their lead characters.
If the filmmakers and studios viewed these properties with a more enduring perspective, we may see multiple story arcs being told over a series of films, epic villains that have survived decades of stories as told in the comic medium may not be dispatched so quickly such as what happened with Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman or King Pin and Bullseye in Mark Steve Johnson’s Daredevil. Removing such pivotal characters from a franchise especially so early (the first film) limits your options on where to go further along in the series. The Bond series spans over 20 films, with never so much as a hint of a reboot until Casino Royale was released in 2006, with new creative teams taking over at various points throughout the series, though even Bond doesn’t quite deliver that sense of continuity that I am referring to.
If a comic book franchise like Spiderman, with literally decades of source material in existence isn’t worthy of a long term view, with story arcs spanning several films or at the very least a strong sense of continuity maintained across many instalments as Sam Raimi had done so far, I don’t see how any franchise can be worthy of it. If the Spiderman films are simply being swept aside, with a re-telling of the origination story in the works, can we only ever expect a comic book based property to get maybe three of four instalments before being rebooted and retreading the same material again, despite the volumes of source material that would allow for these franchises to rival the lengths of the Bond and Star Trek films.