Monday, January 11, 2010

Reboots a web, any size

Today Mike Fleming, who has just recently joined Nikki Finke's army, broke this story that Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire are done with Spider-Man franchise (not surprising considering the rumors of Raimi's arguing over the script) and that Sony has plans to reboot the franchise.

Granted there are many ways this scenario could have played out but this is, to paraphrase Voltaire, the worst of all possible worlds. I could live with Raimi and Maguire walking, not because I disliked Spidey 3, which I think is a better film than people gave it credit for, but because after three films it's to be expected that both creatives would want to do other things with their careers. Maguire just completely knocked it out of the park in Brothers (in a performance that is being sadly underrated) and Raimi's Drag Me to Hell belongs on everyone's best of '09 list. Raimi could do great oddball films for the rest of his career and I'd be thrilled. Hell if you want big movies he's attached to the World of Warcraft film. I'd rather both of them not turn in a mediocre film especially if their hearts aren't into it. Though I'd rather they had stuck around and gone forward with whatever they had been fighting then deal with...

A reboot.

This is not to say that a reboot is a bad thing. Star Trek certainly bears this out, as do the recent Batman and James Bond franchise reboots. But keep in mind, all of those reboots were coming off massive critical and box office failures. Spider-Man 3 made, according to box-office mojo, 336 million dollars in the US and 500 million more internationally. Which more than makes up for its budget. I'm sorry but a film that makes 800 plus million dollars internationally (and that's not even getting into ancillaries) is not in need of a reboot. The franchise is understood and still has good-will attached to it. Mind you the latest entry is not perfect and it's certainly not as good as Spidey 2 but there are giant elements of the franchise that just plain work. In large part this is due to Raimi's considerable fidelity to the material. Now remember, the Spider-Man film rights are currently owned by Sony and that means there isn't really anyone in the administrative infrastructure who CARES about the character the way a fan would other than Raimi (or perhaps his writers). This is not like Marvel Studios who bring in the comic writers to creative meetings and design stages. This is money-making pure and simple. Of course, I'm not so naive to realize that making money isn't a studios primary job. of course, we the public win when the movie is good. I want a good movie and Raimi has a track record of good movies.

But here's what worries me. Sony is committed to a 2012 release date. That's two years from now. This is not to say that a big tentpole film CAN'T be made in two years, but it's a challenge. Sony has said it wants to start again with Peter Parker in high school and they're working from a draft by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Rundown). Could be good, the man certainly knows how to write thrilling moments and compelling action beats. However, these Spidey films are notorious for being re-written. There is no director attached. Is Sony casting pretty faces and trying for a tone akin to what's popular in the teen market right now? Almost certainly. Does this mean dark, broody vampire-pale Peter Parker pining after confused, clumsy Mary-Jane? I wouldn't be surprised.

A lot of production is going to have to be crammed into a short amount of time. The studio knows it can make money just off the name Spider-Man and isn't really obligated to find a director who won't bring his own vision and investment into the characters. No reason to not get someone who can churn out product quickly. No reason to not quickly cast whatever pretty faces walk into the casting room. It's not an ideal scenario. Right now people are going to be getting a Spider-Man movie for right now and I'd rather wait longer for a better movie. Or maybe, just maybe three Spider-Man movies are enough. Maybe let's put all that money and energy into several smaller, original movies by new directors and writers with new material.

There are no reasons for a reboot of this franchise. Push forward with a new director and new stars but come on, it's barely been a decade since the franchise started. People haven't forgotten where the character came from or what his motivations are. Continue or stop, but there's no reason to reboot.

When you get right down to it though here's what REALLY gets to me. No more JK Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. Oh and it sucks for Dylan Baker too, who we can now officially say got Billy Dee Williams'd on this one.

Alright commenters, who do you think should be the new Spider-Man? Let me throw out the following names:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt - got the physicality (see the dancing 500 Days) and the versatility (Brick)

Michael Cera
- Can bring the funny, looks like a teen and wait until you see Scott Pilgrim, trust me

Anton Yelchin - the best thing about Terminator 4 and a delight in Star Trek, would love to see him have a hit with him in the forefront

Anna Kendrick - she's very versatile

Zach Gilford - the put upon QB Matt Saracen of FNL would totally work as perpetually put-upon Peter Parker. While we're at Jesse Plemons would be pretty good too.

Emile Hirsch - has the chops (Into the Wild, Milk) and knows how to work around special effects (Speed Racer)

Amir Blumenfeld - the young up and comer from Jake and Amir, Pranked and the College Humor Show can play sad, nerdy and easily throw wise-cracks at villains. Hell I hear he does marathon training so he could probably rock the harness too.


Kenneth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carold said...

I love the Zach Gilford suggestion - anyone who has ever scene FNL (especially recently) knows he hits it out of the park every time. And speaking of JGL, I heard a rumor about Marc Webb directing - not necessarily confirmed yet but I think it will be a more pedigreed choice given the recent hirings of Rob Marshall for pirates and Sam Mendes for Bond. And here's to hoping JK Simmons sticks around

ComicInks said...

"Does this mean dark, broody vampire-pale Peter Parker pining after confused, clumsy Mary-Jane? I wouldn't be surprised."

That was way harsh Cher, and p.s., I am worried that casting is gonna be a disaster as well. Hopefully they won't use the cast of Gossip Girl.

As for casting, I really need to think about who I think could pull it off.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emile Hirsch could be ok. I LOVE Anna Kendrick but I don't know who she would be, I don't so much see her as a MJ, but she's surprised me with her awesome in the past so who knows.

El Gigante said...

Carold- Yeah the FNL cast has been badly under-utilized in films. Hopefully Taylor Kitsch in John Carter will change that.

Marc Webb could be interesting. We'll see.

ComicInks-Not being mean. That's what makes money and gets press (though it should be noted NOT AS MUCH money as the actual unbooted Spidey films).

Also I meant Anna Kendrick as Peter Parker (or maybe Jessica Drew if you insist on being gender correct). Though yeah she would be a good MJ.

Terry said...

Anton Yelchin is my preference from your list. He did great things for Star Trek and was one of very few pleasures in Terminator Salvation.

Who would be Mary Jane? God forbid a Selena Gomez-like actresses and let's get Saorise Ronan or someone of equal chops in there.

Also, If Chris Columbus directs this thing I'll puke.

El Gigante said...

It's easy (and fun) to knock Chris Columbus but don't forget he helped cast the foundation of the franchise. He got those actors for the students and teachers and the later movies wouldn't have been as good as they were without them.

Saorise Ronan is an intriguing and unconventional choice. Curious to see Lovely Bones (despite hearing it's kind of a mess).

Carold said...

Seriously - why Connie Britton and Eric Chandler aren't the biggest stats in the world is beyond me. Also love the Sairsoe Ronan idea - she could certainly use a blockbuster franchise

Carold said...

And by Eric I mean Kyle and by stats I mean stats I mean stars