You may have heard that the Spider-Man franchise has been having a few issues lately. By lately we mean ever since director Sam Raimi decided it would be a good idea to turn Peter Parker into the front man for Panic! at the Disco in Spider-Man 3. In spite of the ridiculous amount of money the third installment of the saga made, it was clear that something had been lost in the translation. In an effort to get back on track, Marc Webb, the acclaimed director of 500 Days of Summer, has been chosen by Sony to direct the next chapter of Spidey’s story.
The powers that be seem thrilled to have new blood. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, said, “At its core, Spider-Man is a small, intimate human story about an everyday teenager that takes place in an epic super-human world. The key for us as we sought a new director was to identify filmmakers who could give sharp focus to Peter Parker’s life. We wanted someone who could capture the awe of being in Peter’s shoes so the audience could experience his sense of discovery while giving real heart to the emotion, anxiety, and recklessness of that age and coupling all of that with the adrenaline of Spider-Man’s adventure. We believe Marc Webb is the perfect choice to bring us on that journey.”
There are few directors who seem better equipped to balance the tightrope that a story like Spider-Man’s bring than Webb. Unlike Raimi, who redeemed himself with Drag Me to Hell,, Webb can handle a scene where the male protagonist breaks out into song and dance without forfeiting the drama that surrounds the moment. Having said that, let’s pray we never see another dance number in a Spider-Man movie again.
Webb had been previously rumored as the leader in a rumor race that attached both James Cameron and Wes Anderson as potential heirs to the Spider-Man throne, but Cameron has already has his struggles with the Spider-Man story and Anderson’s name screams more indie than blockbuster. Not to say he couldn’t handle the job. Anderson proved he can cross boundaries with the astounding Fantastic Mr. Fox. It just doesn’t seem like the type of gig Anderson was meant to do.
The newly appointed director is treading softly on the path, saying, “This is a dream come true and I couldn’t be more aware of the challenge, responsibility, or opportunity. Sam Raimi’s virtuoso rendering of Spider-Man is a humbling precedent to follow and build upon. The first three films are beloved for good reason. But I think the Spider-Man mythology transcends not only generations but directors as well. I am signing on not to ‘take over’ from Sam. That would be impossible. Not to mention arrogant. I’m here because there’s an opportunity for ideas, stories, and histories that will add a new dimension, canvas, and creative voice to Spider-Man.”
While we could debate with him about Spider-Man 3 being a beloved film, it’s true that he does have big shoes to fill. Raimi, love him or not, helped turn the franchise into a powerhouse unlike many films before it. To imitate him or try to duplicate what he did would be foolish. He’s certainly proven he can handle the weight of a love story from a male’s point of view. 500 Days of Summer is a must see romance. The question is can he combine that with the humor, action and suspense we have come to expect from Spider-Man without it all becoming muddled. We’re betting that Webb will breathe new life into a franchise that was gasping for air, and never look back. Spider-Man will be better for it.
What are your thoughts on the choice of Marc Webb? What director would you have chosen to direct the next Spider-Man?