Why The Amazing Spider-Man is the same but (slightly) different.
The Spider-Man universe may have a bunch of eclectic stories waiting to be told, but Sony has decided to play it safe and simply start the series again. Okay, so there’s more focus on Peter ‘n’ Gwen’s relationship, and Peter Parker’s mum and dad get more of a thematic look-in, but otherwise it’s largely business as usual.
Ugly rumours have also been circulating about the inevitable Batman reboot and who’s likely to pick up where Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale left off. Elsewhere, the Twilight producers have had to deny their mega-franchise is to be rebooted even before the last in the existing series arrives in cinemas. Meanwhile, the Total Recall remake hits cinemas in the next few weeks, with Colin Farrell front and centre as a curious Arnie replacement.
Audiences don’t seem to mind too much. Making Spider-Man ‘Amazing’ may be one of the most significant changes that the franchise has undergone (it’s all in the title), but the box-office is pretty healthy and Sony has already confirmed there are two more on the way. The media may give the studios a hard time for re-using what works with maybe a few tweaked settings here and there, but if Joe Cinema Goer’s happy to pay for it could it be the media that’s out of touch?
Studio Boss may choose to fight his corner and defend his choice to provide audiences with what they want and in 3D too: “Dear Media: Okay, I get it. You’re all annoyed that the Big Bad Studios seem quite keen on re-hashing the same stories and rebooting franchises when we could be spending our millions on what you call Origin-Ality. In fairness, we’re very good at the Origin – Peter Parker’s been bitten by a radioactive spider twice now in ten years!
“But seriously, I think you should take a good, hard look at yourselves and question your true motives. I recently found out about a great entertainment medium called theatre. It’s a bit like a cinema, only the actors actually perform on the stage every night for real. My point is that the stories they use are sometimes performed for years at a time. They often change the actors after a few months, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same model that my competitors have been using for Spider-Man. Theatre’s even in 3D and nobody complains! Okay, so you don’t need to wear glasses to get the full 3D effect, but the fact that the actors and sets stick out of the stage isn’t even considered a talking point, despite the anger it provokes when we do the same for cinema!
“Then there’s Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. It’s immediately misleading because I trotted along one night recently expecting to be ushered into a giant novelty model of a globe, like the kind of thing you get at Universal Studios. Instead I found myself having to stand for the best part of three hours in a 17th Century building with a thatched roof. There was no Dolby Digital Surround Sound, no lengthy car commercials and no cup holder in the seat I didn’t have.
“It gets better. At the Globe they base their work on one Right-Er and they’ve been using the same scripts on a regular basis for more than three hundred years! Okay, so it’s in 3D too, but talk about a lack of Origin-Ality in the presentation.
“The Evil Hollywood Studios cause a media furore when they re-cast Spider-Man, hire a new director and change the writing a little bit after a full decade! The strangely-dressed men and women at the Globe perform the same stories on a loop and they’re referred to as cultural events! Somehow I doubt the Total Recall remake will be greeted with the same enthusiasm; it’s blatant media bias.
“What I’m saying is you have to give credit where credit’s due. We, in Hollywood, are the experts. We’ll risk our millions to commission scripts involving the usual character archetypes, broad narrative brushstrokes and some fizzy one-liners if Joss Whedon or Shane Black get a chance to take a pass. If audiences don’t like what we come up with we’ll deliver something else slightly riskier and get more aggressive with the marketing.
“So cut us some slack, media people, and just remember that we have lots of young Right-Ers who know how to deliver. We certainly haven’t been rehashing the same stories for three hundred years like that guy at Shakespeare’s Globe. That’s just lazy.”