Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling pop culture commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!
Avengers #11 – December, 1964
Cover Art by Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers (and Steve Ditko?)
The big comic book movie news this past week was that Spider-Man will finally be able to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) together with The Avengers and other properties owned by Marvel Studios (AKA The Walt Disney Company.) This is fantastic news, right? RIGHT? Let’s hope this doesn’t come down to the worst case ever of being careful what you wish for.
I’ve long been amused by the battle between Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. (DC Entertainment), trying to one-up each other with grandiose announcements regarding future movie plans – plans that can change or be canceled altogether at the drop of a hat. Just look at what the Spider-Man deal has already wrought in regards to the big future film releases like Black Panther and Captain Marvel (read about it at Marvel.com.)
The Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios Spider-Man deal is most likely the death blow to the anticipated Sinister Six film that Sony had planned as well; not that anyone will be missing that one. But my biggest concern regarding having Spidey in the MCU is the current plan to have him make his inaugural appearance in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film. Here’s why.
In the comic book Civil War saga, Spidey is convinced by Tony Stark to sign on to the Superhuman Registration Act and reveal his secret identity, which makes for great drama in the comic series, as I’m sure it will in the movie. Awesome! But once that cat is out of the bag, it’s going to be very difficult to cinematically get it back in.
A big part of Peter Parker’s pathos, the thing that makes his personal drama appealing to so many, is that he must constantly strive to protect his identity, and therefore protect his family and loved ones. So the new plan is that he shows up out of nowhere in the proposed Captain America: Civil War, having very little character development (by the necessity of cinematic time restraints), and takes his mask off. Then what?
Back at Sony for his solo picture, the Spidey announcement states, “Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films. Again, that’s awesome, if it happens, but the real problem is going to be doing the next ‘possible’ trilogy of Spider-Man films where everyone already knows that Pete is the web-head, but where the character and his supporting characters have yet to even be developed. It’s going to be a tangled web indeed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about seeing Spidey in the MCU, I just don’t think that having him reveal his identity as an opening salvo in the Civil War film is a very good idea for the long term cinematic future of the character. I’d like to think that Marvel knows what they are doing, but this could be a major misstep.
How can they avoid the aforementioned problems? Just take a page from Avengers #11 (1964), where Spider-Man, sort of, first meets the Avengers. He’s actually a robot sent by the evil Kang, from the year 3,000, to defeat the Avengers. That is until the real Spidey shows up to save the day. But the wall-crawler is mostly behind the scenes in this issue and doesn’t have any real interaction with Cap and the crew. For that you’ll need to jump ahead to 1966’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, when the Avengers contemplate adding Spider-Man to their ranks.
This cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers is slightly controversial as it is debated that, although uncredited, Spider-Man’s original artist, Steve Ditko, actually penciled Spidey on this cover (or at least part of him) and maybe even had a hand in drawing Giant-Man as well.
Having Spidey appear as a robot in the next Captain America movie may be just as lame of an idea as having him reveal his identity, but at least the secret identity part of the character’s appeal would be preserved for the future Spider-Man films.
Now, I know I’m talking a lot, like some weird ‘living being,’ but speaking of identities, if the powers that be are dead set on getting rid of Andrew Garfield, then my pick to play the next Peter Parker is Brenton Thwaites, from last year’s films The Signal and Maleficent. Although I think Garfield has done an amazing job as the character. ‘Nuff Said!
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