Sam Raimi Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 4

What if Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 Happened Today?

Good morning, everyone! Today I’m just sharing a post I made on Screen Rant. Since Spider-Mania is in the air once again, with Spider-Man: Homecoming aiming to break box office records next week, I thought this would be a fun time to do a “What If?” piece relating to the old Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films.

Raimi’s Spider-Man movies are classics, and so I wanted to dive in and imagine a scenario wherein the original crew would come back, just one last time, to make a Logan-like Spider-Man 4. What would such a movie look like? Well, here are my thoughts.

Spider-Man 4: 15 Things We’d Love To See If A Raimi/Maguire Sequel Ever Happened

Sam Raimi Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 4

There’s no overstating the importance of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Blade may have unlocked the door, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men cracked it open, but 2002’s Spider-Man was the record-breaking blockbuster that blew the door off its hinges, causing the flood of superhero movies that hasn’t ceased in the fifteen years since. Though it’s now been a decade since the arrival of Spider-Man 3 — a film which, while financially successful, was widely considered something of a letdown compared to the still beloved Spider-Man 2 — the legacy of Raimi’s lucrative series is still felt today.

Soon, Marvel Studios will be lighting up theaters across the world with its MCU-based Spider-Man: Homecoming. While that movie will almost certainly be a smashing success, let’s dream for a moment: theoretically, what if the success of Homecoming convinced Sony to get Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire together again one last time, to finally create the worthwhile conclusion that the old series deserves? Continue reading on ScreenRant.com.

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In Comics, Reboots Aren’t Always a Bad Thing

Here’s a controversial idea to throw out there, which many may totally disagree with: what if the two major comic book universes rebooted every five to ten years? Planned reboots. Total reboots.

Let me explain.

Walter White Breaking Bad

Remember  Breaking Bad? Great show, right? And what made it great was that when it started, you knew it was going somewhere—and then, when it got there, the finale was everything we ever could have hoped for. All of the seeds that were planted in the first season paid off in a huge way, so that fans felt rewarded for having embarked on Walter White’s journey.  Throughout Breaking Bad, we saw one man become something entirely different than what he was at the start, and it was believable. Unlike so many popular TV shows, which run too long and thus lose the very things that made them great in the first place—I’m looking at you, House MD—Breaking Bad had a five season plan, stuck to it, and was thus the perfect picture of how to tell a great serialized story.

You know why Breaking Bad was such a great story?  Because it was planned. Because it had an ending.

What if American comic books could tell stories the same way?

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What I’m proposing is simple. First, let’s clean the slate. Start all of the various superheroes fresh, right from the beginning—totally fresh, with no carryovers, no “some parts of continuity are still valid but not others,” none of that.

And then, once the clean slate is established, we start with a brand new comic book universe — let’s call it “World One” — and we set an END DATE.  For the sake of argument, let’s say five years, six years, whatever. So this means that World One has five years to play out.

And then, once writers are assigned to their various characters, let’s allow those storylines to play out with total freedom. This allows characters to grow, change, die, be reinvented, or what have you. Also, when the universe does reset, we don’t need to do some cataclysmic end of the universe crossover: we just need to say that we’re moving onto the next universe.

Consider the advantages of this.

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Let’s say that when World One starts, the writer assigned to Wolverine begins by depicting the Weapon X storyline. That writer then has the freedom to, during their five year reign over the character, bring Wolverine from that point all the way to being an old man, ala Logan. Alternatively, they might decide that they want to have this version of Wolverine take the place of Xavier, leading a new team of X-Men. Or, they may want to have this Wolverine sacrifice himself to save the world from Apocalypse. In a planned universe with an end date, all of these things are possible.

The stakes would be heightened. Individual events would matter. Characters would be free to change, grow, evolve.

If comic universes operated on a five-six-or-however-many-years year plan, all of these options would be open, and comic book deaths would have meaning again. If the World One version of Wolverine died, he would stay dead. The World Two version of Wolverine, whenever he appeared, would be an entirely new writer’s vision of the character.

Batman Begins

Because the end of World One was planned from the beginning, there’d be no feeling of betrayal when it ended. This is the problem with most reboots. When The Amazing Spider-Man rebooted Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, it caused an uproar of negativity that the new series never quite recovered from, and this was because the old trilogy still had a lot of fans who were expecting a Spider-Man 4, never thinking that Spider-Man 3 was the ending. In contrast, a planned reboot wouldn’t stab the old fans in the back, because everyone would already know it was coming. The third part of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was, from the outset, promoted as the end of the series. This left the door open for a new film interpretation of Batman to enter the door in a few years, without trampling on Nolan’s legacy.

Look, I love comic books, especially Marvel. As I’ve written before, I credit superheroes—especially Spider-Man—with helping me come out of my shy shell as a kid, and I’ve retained my love of them into adulthood.  The characters that Marvel and DC comics have brought to the world are iconic, and that’s why they’re now lighting up the silver screen and bringing in billions of dollars.

But let’s face it, comic continuity is a mess. Storylines can’t be shocking or exciting when they always, always revert to the status quo. Planned reboots would be different, because each reboot would herald the beginning of a new story. If a fan loves one version, they get to have that version. If they hate it, well, they can just wait for the next time around.

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Planned reboots would allow characters to have endings. Consider the impact of this year’s Logan: the reason that movie was so heartbreaking was because we knew it was the end of Hugh Jackman’s character. There might be a new Wolverine someday, sure, but at least we got a chance to say goodbye to the old one. Endings matter.

Endings are important, because endings are what gives a story deeper meaning. Without an ending, a story is forever unresolved.

We all know that the biggest American comic books out there aren’t ever going to end permanently: there’s too much money to be lost if Superman is suddenly gone forever, no more issues, done. But with planned reboots, an individual version of Superman could end, could be a complete, satisfying story. In a few years, the comic would still get to continue, without trampling on the work of the previous writer.

Would it work? Who knows. I’d imagine this might not be the most popular solution for the comic book continuity quagmire. But personally, I think it’d be worth trying out.

 

 

 

 

Doctor Doom Victor Von Doom fan film Marvel Fantastic Four Ivan Kander

The “Von Doom” Fan Film Reveals the Doctor Doom We’ve All Been Waiting for

Superhero films may have taken over the multiplex, and characters both A-list and B-list may have become household names, but there’s arguably one major Marvel Comics character whose legacy on film has been mistreated more than any other: Victor Von Doom, better known by the title Doctor Doom.

Famous Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee, who co-created almost all of the Marvel Universe, has long said that Doctor Doom is his favorite villain. While the Joker has catapulted to the #1 spot on most supervillain lists thanks to a long line of fantastic film and animated adaptations, Doctor Doom is a character who has long been held by many comic book enthusiasts as the greatest comic book supervillain of all time. Doom is a complex figure whose mythology combines science fiction and sorcery; he’s a vain man pained by a dark past, a tortured soul who believes himself to be the hero, believes that he could save the world if only everyone accepted him as their leader. His story is epic, tragic, one of the most developed in all of comics.

What Doom is not, and never has been, is the obnoxious, greedy businessman that he was portrayed as in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, or whatever weird stuff they were trying to do with him in the 2015 reboot. While villains like Magneto and Loki have risen to prominence due to excellent film adaptations, there has never been a proper, faithful cinematic depiction of Doctor Doom.

Doctor Doom Victor Von Doom fan film Marvel Fantastic Four Ivan Kander

Well, until now. Thanks to filmmaker Ivan Kander, there is now a fan film named Von Doom available online, that does for Doom what 20th Century Fox has failed to do. Gritty, epic, and faithful to the comics, Von Doom may be only 14 minutes, but it’s the best 14 minutes that Doom has ever had on film. Using time travel as a plot device, it tells the story of Doom’s tragic origins, as a young boy in the small Eastern European country of Latveria, and his young adult self’s attempt to combine magic and science in an effort to change the past. Don’t be wary of the fact that it’s a fan film, either: like Truth in Journalism, the Venom fan-film that I reviewed back in 2013, this is quality stuff. But don’t just take my word for it: check it out below.

(And after you do, continue reading my thoughts, right below the video!)

Now, this film isn’t perfect. It’s too short to get as deep as I’d love for it to,  and the budget is lower than a studio production would be. But what really shines here is that Ivan Kander really understands Doom’s personality, really gets what makes the character iconic, and even came up with a clever way to frame Doom’s story in a way that could fit three periods of his life within such a short runtime.

I’d love to see what Ivan Kander could come up with for a full length studio production, but even in the absence of that, Von Doom contains a lot of lessons that 20th Century Fox should pay attention to, if they ever want to utilize one of their biggest properties in a way that will not only befit the character’s legacy, but also get fans into theaters. To me, these are the biggest takeaways from Von Doom, and how it could influence future films:

1. The Origin Really, Really Matters

Doctor Doom Victor Von Doom fan film Marvel Fantastic Four Ivan Kander origin story

Both Fantastic Four franchises to date have completely ignored Victor Von Doom’s comic book back story, and both have also totally destroyed the character as a result.  That’s because Doom’s origins aren’t some throwaway reference, and tying them to the Fantastic Four’s origins is a mistake. Victor Von Doom’s childhood tragedies are as important to his character development as Magneto’s Holocaust origins are to him, and if you tamper with the story, you lose the character.

Doom’s back story is epic in scope. You can’t just pay lip service to Latveria and expect fans to be happy, because the character is Latveria. Victor Von Doom began as a poor boy in a poverty-stricken country, fled to the United States, became a brilliant scientist, and then came home as a revolutionary, ready to overthrow the authoritarian government that had enslaved and brutalized his people. Now, this doesn’t change the fact that Von Doom is also an authoritarian himself — the people of Latveria might be safe beneath his rule, but they certainly aren’t free — however, the complexity here is what makes the character interesting.

You Need Science AND Magic to Make a Proper Doctor Doom

Victor Von Doom Doctor Doom fan film origin story latveria Ivan Kander Marvel Fantastic Four

Doctor Doom, the armored figure that Victor Von Doom is destined to become, might seem at first like a purely science fiction character. He’s a brilliant scientist, he attacks his opponents with armies of robots, he uses life model decoys. But what Von Doom really gets right, from the very beginning, is that Doctor Doom’s interest and skills in the mystical arts are also a huge component of the character.

Some of Doctor Doom’s best stories involve him relying purely on magic, and he’s listed as one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Marvel Universe. Sure, the whole magic thing doesn’t fit into the wacky sci-fi high jinks that define the Fantastic Four, but there’s a solution for that…

Make Doom the Protagonist of His Own Film

Victor Von Doom Doctor Doom fan film origin story latveria Ivan Kander Marvel Fantastic Four experiment

Seriously, if there’s anything that the Von Doom short film proves, it’s this: Doctor Doom works better as a protagonist, instead of being squeezed into a Fantastic Four movie. That doesn’t mean he’s a hero, but he thinks he’s a hero, and a character as complex as Doom deserves center stage.

The bad writing that Doctor Doom has suffered from in the Fantastic Four movies is at least partially because both films have unsuccessfully tried to tie Doom into the Four’s origin story, and it’s a bad fit. While Doom is linked to Reed Richards, and despises him, much of his actual character arc is largely independent of those four blue-costumed heroes. Doom has gotten into blows with most of Marvel’s heroes, but those battles aren’t really his focus. In the grander scheme of the Marvel Universe, he’s a well known dictator who has diplomatic immunity when he visits other countries, and thus can’t be arrested. He’s not just a foil for the heroes.

No, Doctor Doom deserves his own movie. A Doctor Doom film could tell the story of Victor Von Doom’s rise, fall, and subsequent rise. It could tell the story of his exile from Latveria, his mastery of science and magic, and then his return as a man in a metal mask. Again, Doom can be the protagonist without being a hero. A film that focused on Doom, and only on Doom, could have an epic narrative similar to Batman Begins.

If the film needs a villain, then Ivan Kander’s Von Doom proposes a terrific solution, through the use of time travel: use Victor as both the hero and the villain. Pit the younger Victor against the older Doctor Doom. There are lots of ways to make this work, and the Fantastic Four aren’t necessary for it. They can have their own new reboot — preferably one which has them battle against, say, the Mole Man —  and Doom can meet up with them in a sequel, if need be. But not yet.

 Get the Personality Right

Doctor Doom Marvel Victor Von Doom Fantastic Four Stan Lee

And finally, here’s another big one. Doom’s personality has to be right. He’s not a psychopath, not a cocky businessman who tells dumb jokes, none of that. The character as depicted in Von Doom is Doom as he should be.

Again, Doom doesn’t see himself as a villain. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the hero of the story, and he’s in a constant struggle to do the right thing, to take the path that he believes will make the world a better place. Doom has flaws, but insanity isn’t one of them. He’s arrogant, vain, and haughty. But he’s also a character that viewers should, at least on some level, want to root for — a character whom we should be saddened by when he starts making decisions that we know to be immoral, even if he is too stubborn to see it.

A solo Doctor Doom movie is a blockbuster success waiting to happen, and if the studios ever decide to pursue it, then Von Doom should be their primary inspiration.

Luke Cage: The Real World Hero for Our Times

The most impactful image in Marvel’s Luke Cage — the shot that lingers afterward, cutting straight to the core of what the series is trying to say — isn’t an explosion, an alien invasion, nor even a scene of super-powered fisticuffs. No, it’s something much less fantastic, but far more important.

This scene comes near the end of its first season, the entirety of which has been on Netflix for a few weeks now. As comic fans know, Luke’s primary superpower is his rock hard skin, an epidermis so powerful that it can repels bullets; however, since his cotton and denim clothing doesn’t possess the same magical properties, his many confrontations with Harlem’s criminals tend to leave all his hoodies, jackets, and t-shirts riddled with bullet holes. So when the police go out in search of Luke, they hunt the streets for a tall black man with a bullet-holed hoodie — only to find that many people in the Harlem community have begun wearing hoodies riddled with holes, as a sign of solidarity toward their misunderstood hero.  One man, as the police drive by, even holds open his holey hoodie to them, to show that he’s not afraid. It’s a brief moment, but an unforgettable one.

Method Man, who has a brief guest role in the series, says shortly afterward that, “Bulletproof always gonna come second to being black…there’s something powerful about seeing a black man, who’s bulletproof, and unafraid.”

Luke Cage bulletproof

There’s no question about how much Luke Cage resonates in today’s world. The fact that the main character wears a hoodie is a direct reference to Trayvon Martin, and the show’s star, Mike Colter, has stated on a few occasions that this is due to “the idea that a black man in a hoodie isn’t necessarily a threat. He might just be a hero.” It’s clear just how much the showrunners deeply care about the issues they’re confronting, and they aren’t afraid to make powerful statements about the racial tensions, systemic racism, and inequality that exists within the United States today, and has always existed since the country’s inception.

Luke Cage is an amazing series, due to its combination of bold themes, fantastic writing, and great direction. A lot of what really makes it work, though, comes down to the title character. As played by Mike Colter, Luke is smart, confident, and charming, but also subtle, reserved, and soft spoken. He’s a good guy who doesn’t want the glory of being a hero, but nonetheless ends up being the big brother that Harlem wants him to be.

Luke Cage and Pop in Harlem

There’s a truly honest connection that Luke has to the show’s depiction of Harlem, in a way that goes beyond the other heroes in the Marvel Universe, who are more like celebrities than next door neighbors. While Daredevil foiling Fisk might land his name in the papers, and Jessica Jones’s heroic exploits might earn her more business as a private investigator, Luke has no superhero identity, no cape, no mask — especially not by the end of the series, when his old life as Carl Lucas, escaped prisoner of Seagate Penitentiary, is brought back into the public eye. Luke is who he is. He must actively deal with his increasingly important role in the day-to-day life of Harlem, whether he’s helping a neighbor out of a jam, giving a eulogy for a friend, or getting blamed for somebody’s busted window. All of it feels astoundingly real, grounded, and relatable. If there was a superhero in the real world, he or she would probably be a lot like Luke Cage, and we’d be lucky to have someone like him around.

Openly political, cerebral, featuring an almost entirely black cast and centered around a black hero, Luke Cage is one of the boldest shows of the year, and possibly the boldest project that Marvel Studios has ever done.

How Captain America: Civil War Nailed What Makes Spider-Man Great

As a Spider-Man fan, it’s been a tough decade. After crawling to the top of the world with the unprecedented success of the first two Sam Raimi movies, Spider-Man enjoyed a brief moment as the world’s favorite superhero; a huge victory for a character usually defined by being the awkward weirdo of the superhero table, and just as much of a victory for those of us who always loved him for it. However, the fallout from Spider-Man 3 — which wasn’t terrible, really, but didn’t come close to Spider-Man 2 — was the first blow. The fall terminated in a ridiculous editorially mandated reboot called One More Day (and followed by the equally wrongheaded Brand New Day), an ugly stain on the comic book mythos that has yet to be erased.

All this, combined with the less-than-enormous response to the two Amazing Spider-Man movies (which also weren’t so bad), and, well… something’s been missing.

Until now.

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Captain America: Civil War has a lot to recommend it. Ever since Marvel Studios first launched, this is probably the best movie they’ve ever done; it’s not quite the genre-defining blast that Marvel’s The Avengers was, but it is definitely a game changer. The conflict between Captain America and Iron Man is real, visceral, and painful to watch, in a movie that isn’t afraid to dramatically alter the status quo of Marvel’s cinematic landscape. And amazingly enough, Spider-Man is one of the best parts.

Why? Because they actually got Spider-Man right. He’s only in two scenes, but he’s the shining moment of both of them. And boy, is it wonderful to see the real Spidey again.

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The comic book Spidey hasn’t really felt like himself since Brand New Day, and though I wasn’t a fan of the deterministic totem elements of the JMS run, JMS’s take on Peter’s non-superhero life was something to be applauded: I’ll take JMS’s high school science teacher version of Peter over the corporate “Parker Industries” Peter any day. What makes Spidey great is his social and economic normalcy, how real his life is, how he’s an everyday awkward human being that can get evicted, lose his job, or be late on bills, instead of a larger-than-life superhero. While I liked the two Amazing Spider-Man movies far more than I expected, they also focused too much on determinism instead of chance: too much focus  was put on genius scientist parents, and this focus undermined the fact that Peter’s role as Spider-Man is accidental, luck (or bad luck) of the draw.

The Spidey that we meet in Civil War is still young, only six months into his superhero career. But from the moment that Tom Holland, our new Spider-Man, first appears on the screen — walking through a lower income apartment complex with an old DVD player in hand — we know that we’re in for something special.

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I think it’s too early to call Tom the best Spider-Man, since he’s only had a few scenes to show what he can do. For now, Tobey Maguire’s amazing performance in Spider-Man 2 is still the pinnacle, and Andrew Garfield did a good job as well.  But in the few scenes Tom has, he nails it. He becomes Peter Parker in the flesh, and I think it’s very likely that by the time he gets center stage in his own film, he might very easily become the best Spider-Man we’ve ever seen. His portrayal combines the joyous sense of humor, the enthusiasm, the human quality, and the heart. He takes the best aspects from both prior Peter Parker actors and melds them into his own interpretation.

“When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t… and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you.” – Peter Parker, to Tony Stark

The scene where Peter meets Tony Stark is a masterwork in how to establish a three dimensional character in only a few minutes of screen time. Within one scene, we find out that Peter Parker is a poor kid in Queens, a dumpster diver. He’s quick-witted, smart, and funny, but definitely a dork. But most important is the quote above, the young Peter’s shy callback to his Uncle Ben’s famous mantra. This Peter is an awkward, clever kid with a big heart, who just wants to do the right thing.

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When Captain America tells Peter “You got heart, kid”, he nails exactly what the movie itself gets right about Spider-Man. Spidey is a character whose mythology is all about heart. Spider-Man isn’t about darkness, shadows, secret agents, or epic conflicts. Tragedies are important to his narrative, but only as important as they are to our own narratives in real life. Just as us regular people lose our loved ones, just as we feel guilty over every loss, so does Peter. When Stan Lee had Peter age, go to the college, get a job, and get married, it worked — because Peter is a normal person, in a way that other superheroes are not, and the balance between his normal life and his superheroic exploits should never be undone for the sake of a shocking twist.

The struggle for balance between Peter and Spider-Man’s lives, separate and yet unified, is exactly what made Spider-Man 2 so terrific. That’s the movie that the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming should look to for inspiration.

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What makes Spider-Man such an iconic figure is his normalcy. He’s a regular person trying to do the right thing. A nerdy kid from Queens, with a big heart, a big brain, a mouth that tends to run in circles when he gets nervous.

In Civil War, Marvel Studios shows us a glimmer of what makes Spider-Man great. As long as they don’t lose sight of that uniqueness, as long as they remember who the character is, then Spider-Man: Homecoming should be something truly special.

 

Who will be the next Spider-Man villain?

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All right, so now that we know a new Spider-Man movie is coming out, who’s going to be the bad guy?

Some backstory: just two weeks ago, the internet cracked in half with the recent (and rather explosive) announcement that Spider-Man is going to be entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea that Sony would ever make a deal with Marvel seemed like a fairytale, but now the pieces have been set and Marvel’s Spider-Man is set to come out in just a few years.

For anyone unclear on what this means, it comes down to this: Spider-Man is now going to enter the same world as the now-iconic Avengers characters, meaning we’re going to see him interact with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evan’s Captain America, and so on.  With that in mind, it seems like a sure bet that he’ll probably be joining the team by the time Avengers: Infinity War rolls around.

However, that’s all some ways off. For now, we’ll concentrate on Spidey’s first MCU solo outing, and try to make a guess at who the villain will be. Let’s survey our options:

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1: A prior villain

So, let’s see. Out of our bank of previously-used villains, we have multiple Green Goblins, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Sandman, the Lizard, Electro and the Rhino. These are some of Spider-Man’s most well known, most interesting enemies, but…

They’ve all been on screen before – and we’ve seen Goblins up there three times already. Since Marvel is rebooting Spider-Man a third time, it seems unlikely that they’d use a villain that the audience is so familiar with, and thus draw more comparisons to the prior two continuities. I could be wrong, but I predict that we’ll be seeing something new this time around.

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2: The Vulture

Why the Vulture? Well, primarily because the Vulture has come so close to getting into a Spidey movie, so many times, that he seems like one of the more obvious choices. Sam Raimi wanted the Vulture in Spider-Man 3, then wanted him in Spider-Man 4 and his flight harness was teased in Amazing Spider-Man 2.

In the comics, the Vulture was Spider-Man’s first supervillain, and he’s continued to menace the wall crawler ever since. Though often underrated and/or misused, I think that the Vulture would be best approached by emulating J.M. DeMatties Funeral Arrangements storyline, wherein the character is diagnosed with terminal cancer and sets out on a suicide mission to take down everyone who he blames for turning him into the embittered, caustic criminal that he is today.

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3. Scorpion

For my money, I’d bet that this guy is near the top of their list, if not at the top.

Mac Gargan was the original anti-Spider-Man, created entirely for the purpose of killing the webhead, and there’s a lot of room to play around with his origin while not losing the key elements: Margan is a down-on-his-luck private investigator, he’s transformed into the anti-Spidey, and then he flips out.

Once the basic parameters are set, there’s a lot of potential to flesh out Gargan’s backstory. Though Scorpion has often been the victim of poor writing and lazy character development, the character himself has enormous potential to be one of the MCU’s most memorable villains.  Scorpion would also present an opportunity to show the public’s uncertainty regarding Spider-Man, if they stick with the general idea that Scorpion’s creation is bankrolled by a public figure (it doesn’t necessarily have to be J.J., I don’t think).

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3. Mysterio

This character has already been rumored, which isn’t too surprising; he’s unique, visually distinctive, and he’s one of the Stan Lee classics. Mysterio, as the so-called master of illusions, offers a lot of special effects opportunities that would make for a very different – and unpredictable – Spider-Man film.

On film, Mysterio could be played similarly to a sort of less-horrific Freddy Krueger, constantly warping reality in bizarre and unsettling ways.

morlun

4. Morlun

Though Morlun is one of the more recent Spider-Man villains to hit the scene, having first appeared in 2001, he’s also one of the most cinematic.

A sort of immortal, vampiric supernatural force, Morlun is driven to feed off of the powerful energies produced by so-called totems – beings that have bridged the gap between man and beast, such as our poor part-arachnid protagonist. Though Spider-Man and Morlun have only fought a few times, each encounter has left massive devastation in its wake.

In a Spider-Man movie, Morlun would present a threat unlike any that we’ve yet seen: an unstoppable, seemingly godly force that is driven to destroy Spider-Man at all costs. It would give the filmmakers an opportunity to really demonstrate Spider-Man’s fierce strength of will, his endless perseverance against a force more powerful than he is, and his determination to do the right thing at all costs. Such a film could capture the same spark that made Roger Stern’s classic two-parter, Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!, such a classic. Spidey is always at his best when he’s the underdog, part of why Spider-Man 2 is still the benchmark when it comes to Spider-Man movies.

It would probably be better to leave out the deterministic aspects of Morlun’s original storyline, and how it relates to Spidey’s origin; the spider bite that gives Peter his powers should remain an accident, not an act of destiny.  But what matters, really, is the idea of Morlun himself, and that Peter will have to put in everything he’s got if he wants to take Morlun down.

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5. Jackal

Great character, but it’s not going to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if we someday do see an adaptation of the infamous Clone Saga, in one form or another, but certainly not for Spider-Man’s reintroduction.

Sure, there’s a lot more to Miles Warren than the Clone Saga, but it’s his defining storyline. The second his name gets mentioned, it’s what people are going to expect.

Maximum-Carnage

6. Carnage

Also unlikely. Carnage, AKA the symbiotic alter ego of serial killer Cletus Kasady, has always been a character that spins off of Venom, and it would be rather strange to do Carnage before the Venom symbiote has even appeared.

That said, Carnage is another character oozing with cinematic potential. Kasady’s chaotic, anarchic philosophies are diametrically opposed to Peter Parker’s utmost focus on responsibility.  And—similarly to Morlun—using Carnage as  villain would also present an opportunity to show Peter overcoming a force far more powerful than he is.

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6. Kingpin

Just a month ago, this would have been impossible, since Marvel has the rights to the Kingpin, and Sony has the rights to Spider-Man. Now, it’s a hot topic of conversation, especially since Kingpin is set to be introduced in the upcoming (and fantastic looking!) Daredevil Netflix series.

That said, while I wouldn’t be surprised if we do someday see Spidey and the Kingpin intersect, I wouldn’t count on it happening in this movie. Kingpin is more important to the Daredevil mythos than he is to Spider-Man, and I’d imagine that Marvel will want to keep all of his big character defining moments in the Netflix series…at least for a while.

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7. Kraven the Hunter

One of the all-time greats, largely due to J.M. DeMatteis’ dark storyline, Kraven’s Last Hunt, wherein the hunter buries Spider-Man alive and assumes his identity. If Kraven is chosen, then Last Hunt is the story to adapt. It’s the story that brought Kraven from the B-list to the A-list.  Though not especially visually engaging, Kraven could present a more cerebral sort of enemy, incredibly different from any that we’ve seen so far.

Other possibilities:

Hobgoblin? What, before the Green Goblin?  Nah.

Hydro-Man? Wouldn’t count on it.

But on the other hand, there are many more options out there. Tombstone, for one. Shocker. Chameleon. Shriek. Mendel Stromm. Carrion. Smythe and the Spider-Slayers. Cardiac. Black Cat. Spider-Man has so many villains that the possibilities really are endless. Maybe they could even bring in the so-called Legion of Losers, comprised of such terrifying foes as the Spot, Gibbon, Grizzly and the Kangaroo…

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Or maybe not.

In any case, the news is fresh and we still have a long way to go before any real news leaks. So in the meantime, we’ll just have to keep on theorizing.

Truth, Journalism and an Alien Symbiote with Sharp Teeth

“The great part of my job is that I get to be an ‘administrator of truth.’ Crime occurs every thirteen seconds in this city. You know how we have these statistics? Because guys like me are out on the streets, collecting these stories. We put the caution in cautionary tale, y’know? And being aware the crime out there, the people of this city can live their lives accordingly. In fact, I’m the one doing this city a public service. We’re the heroes out there….”

-Eddie Brock

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Though Spider-Man has always had one of the most imaginative rogues galleries in comics, there’s no Spidey villain with quite the same fan following as Venom.  Though Venom’s character has, over the years, been abused, written incorrectly and reworked countless times, there’s something perfect about the original conception.  Venom, more than Doc Ock, the goblins, Vulture or even the Scorpion, is truly the ultimate anti-Spidey.  Doc Ock might be the one who parallels an older Peter Parker and sure, Green Goblin is the one who twists Spider-Man’s head around, but Venom is the alien menace that really makes Peter Parker shiver at night – the perfect portrait of an egotistical, greedy, immoral man accidentally given great power.  A man who, in direct opposition to Peter’s obsessive doctrines about responsibility, uses that power only to hurt others and achieve his own ends.

Truth in Journalism – a short fan film produced by Adi Shankar, directed by Joe Lynch and available HERE – is an intriguing look at the character, a tribute that brings Venom back to his roots.

The film introduces us to Eddie Brock, scandalous news reporter, as he guides a Belgian film crew through New York City.  As Eddie’s layers are slowly peeled back – as he starts progressively acting weirder and weirder, from talking to himself in the bathroom to stringing muggers up on balconies – the crew comes to find that the person they’re dealing with might be a far more disturbed individual than he initially appears.

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The first thing that makes Truth in Journalism stand out is its commendably unique style.  It’s a professionally made film with a clear aim in mind; instead of simply imitating the comic, it creates its own dark, horrifyingly realistic sandbox and then plays around in it.   The grainy, black and white footage is gritty, uncomfortable, flawed.  The characters seem like real people instead of actors, and thus their actions—played in a brilliantly subtle manner, instead of being over the top—are utterly disturbing, instead of being thrilling.  While the clear inspiration is the 1992 French film Man Bites Dog, there’s also a touch of Pi in here, a bit of Eraserhead.

The other thing that makes this little adventure really click, though, is Ryan Kwanten’s performance as Eddie Brock.  I don’t know Ryan from anything else (I’m not a True Blood viewer), but based on this short film, I’d be inclined to sign him up for any big budget version of Venom in a heartbeat.  Kwanton totally encapsulates the twisted yet weirdly sympathetic character that David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane created.  The character that later stories and writers all too often forget about,  as they attempt to twist Eddie into being something he’s not.

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This is the real Eddie Brock.  He’s not a noble antihero, not a slobbering brain-eating beast, and certainly not a raving lunatic.  Eddie Brock is a liar, a hypocrite who portrays himself as an idealist – I.E., “administrator of truth” – but in reality, is all too willing to sell out and betray those ideals the second that they get in the way of his goals.  He constantly justifies his immoral actions with poor excuses, desperately tries to prove his importance, and refuses to accept responsibility.  Eddie Brock is, at his core, a power hungry loser who really, really, really wants to be winner.  His psyche is too fragile to accept his own failures – so instead, he blames Spider-Man.  It’s Spider-Man’s fault for turning in the real Sin-Eater, Spider-Man’s fault that his reputation is in shambles, Spider-Man’s fault that his career and life are ruined.

No, this line of reasoning isn’t remotely logical, but Eddie Brock is not a logical man.  He’s an emotional wreck, an impulsive opportunist with severe self-consciousness problems.  That’s why Venom, when used correctly, is such a creepy enemy for Spider-Man.  Whereas Peter Parker is all about responsibility, temperance and guilt, Eddie Brock is a small man who constantly justifies his actions as being for the “greater good,” but refuses to take responsibility when people get hurt.

The Eddie Brock in this short is totally believable.  He’s a real, tragically flawed human being, a person who’s brought down not by terrible catastrophes but instead by his own ego, ambition and arrogance.   The way that Kwanten plays Eddie is simply perfect; you can sense that Eddie is a likable guy, a talented guy with a lot of ambition, the kind of guy who is probably really fun to share a beer with…but at the same time, Kwanten deftly portrays the simmering rage and desperation beneath Eddie’s act; the more we find out about Eddie, the more we see how he’s simply a skilled performer with an obsessive need to prove himself.

He desperately needs to be somebody.  He needs friendship, he needs respect, he needs affirmation.  Notice how, throughout the short, Eddie slowly corrupts the entire film crew, even as he’s trying to prove his innocence to them.  He’s the kind of guy who, if you met him on the street, you’d probably like him – and you’d even sympathize with him – but who would, if it suited his ends, double cross you in a heartbeat and say it was your fault.

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In the the film’s dark denouncement, when Eddie finally gives up, gives in and releases his other side, we know that he’s not going to feel any guilt over his murderous actions.  He’s going to tell himself that he “had to do it.”  He’s going to justify that he had to kill those men “for the greater good.”  And then, most likely, he’s going to continue to repeat the same pattern he’s previously demonstrated to us.

I’ll admit, I actually really liked Spider-Man 3 – though it certainly doesn’t hold even a candle to the absolute masterpiece that is Spider-Man 2 – and I actually thought Topher Grace did a good job as Eddie Brock.  The problem wasn’t Eddie’s characterization; Eddie was suitable hypocritical, smarmy and egotistical, and the symbiote was as menacing as ever.  The problem was simply that a complicated character like Venom simply can’t be crammed into an already overstuffed movie like that.

What could’ve been the biggest bad guy of the franchise was stuffed into the last half hour of an overcrowded movie, and the result felt predictably rushed.  If Venom had been given time to breathe – say, in the potential Spider-Man 4 that never was – he could’ve been a cinematic villain on par with Doc Ock and the Goblins.  As it was, we only got a intriguing glimpse at the most popular Spider-Man villain of all time…and then poof, he was gone.

Truth in Journalism, though it has a short running time of only seventeen inutes, truly excels in all the areas where Spider-Man 3 missed the mark.  This is largely due to the fact that the people involved in this short film have a highly intuitive understanding of the character, and a fervent desire to flesh him out.  Instead of rushing Eddie along his path, the film takes time to develop him, make him likable – and at the same time, make him scary.  The Eddie Brock presented here is truly the comic book character brought to life.

But more importantly than that, Truth in Journalism is just a very cool little movie.  Unlike other fan films – which often function more as extended fake trailers for nonexistent movies than anything else – Truth in Journalism is a terrific piece in its own right.  It’s creepy, intriguing and wonderfully atmospheric.  Truly, an excellent achievement.

-Nicholas Conley

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