October 20, 2021

Spider-Man: A 15 Year Review

The year is 2002 and a young Jason is sitting in the midst of high school’s senior year. Yes, high school, that time for many that is regarded as the best years of your life and for the rest of us: that really awkward stage of life where nothing fits – including your own skin – and every literal and metaphoric move you make is the clunkiest, most seemingly-outlandish personal event that could occur, only to be outdone by your very next move (can you tell that high school was not filled with my most shining moments. If this isn’t setting the stage for my next point, I have no idea what would.

The Spider-Man film that year started in a profound way that spoke to exactly how I felt at that time. I was weird, lanky, enjoyed things that made others look at me with sideways glances (think confused puppy). And here is this geeky Tobey Maguire just personifying every aspect of that in the first act of the movie. I was hooked, this was me. Again, I could so easily put myself in that character’s shoes and saw hope when the freak accident turned him into something super human – something we’d all like to attain, let alone the strange, shy, and less than average among us.

Four years later – with a pretty equally successful Spider-Man film in between – and Spider-Man 3 is announced. To up the ante, a fan favorite and arguably one of the best villains in the Spider-verse was confirmed: Venom. This meant exploring the dark side of Peter Parker and I could not wait. In the Animated Series, they did a superb job of showing how the Venom symbiote changed the Parker character and ultimately lead him to abandon the alien half-parasite. I was definitely not alone in waiting for that menace to be shown on screen.

We were all very disappointed. Spider-Man 3 spat clumpy spider-webbing all over the Black suit Spidey concept. We didn’t see anger, rage, and aggression, we saw pretend-emo and brat-like qualities with some terrible dance moves and a way increased creep factor – we’re talking wave candy at you from a van creepy. You can’t have a character part his hair over one eye, stand up to his oppressive boss arrogantly, and dance down the street flirting with ladies to show that type of change. We needed rage and lashing out. We’re not even going to start on the jazz club scene. (Seriously, WTF, Sam Raimi). Spider-Man 3 left us in a sore place.

A new hope?…

Five years later, and only halfway through a 6 film arc, Sony decides to reboot the series with The Amazing Spiderman. Andrew Garfield did a stand-up job, maintaining that normal kid feel with a smoothness that had just enough quirk to be a great Peter Parker. The visuals, the villain, and the banter were A+ for sure. The sequel worked miracles introducing Gwen Stacey properly (Emma Stone was perfect!) right up to her fateful fall in the sequel.

Hope failed, unfortunately, as Sony tried so hard to launch its own MCU type universe in a single movie. Electro wasn’t a strong villain to start but adding in 4 more villains on top of that brought the entire movie down. The film scored just 52% on Rotten Tomatoes and made less than any of the previous four Spider-Man films. Combine all of this with internal problems with Sony Pictures and a contract dispute with the lead actor, and Sony pulled the plug on the Amazing Spider-Man in favor of a much more lucrative deal.

The Homecoming…

In some dark room, hidden away from the recesses of normal society a deal was made. A perfect collaboration of dumb luck, opportunity, and awkward alliances occurred to bring us to where we are today. Some time ago, it was announced that Spider-Man would finally make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain America Civil War would see the famous web-slinger team up with Iron Man and the Avengers with a brand new Peter Parker: Tom Holland.


Though we only get to see him suit up for one epic scene, it was seriously epic. The sarcasm, the wide-eyed oh-my-gosh-I’m-fighting-with-and-against-Avengers moments, the quips, the one-on-one with Stars and Stripes, THE STAR WARS REFERENCE! It was perfect and I felt he completely stole the scene.

The current Marvel structure has this way of turning heroes into superstars and I have to believe that Spider-Man will be no exception. But there is still cause for hesitation. The early reviews for Homecoming look great and I have no doubt it will be an excellent film. But as this article has shown, the last 15 years of live action Spider-man movies have had a great start only to fall apart because of poor direction. With the recent discord between Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal and this sudden announcement that Sony is moving forward with its own separate universe starting with Venom in 2018, it’s not really clear what to expect out of the future of the character.

Fortunately, the MCU has a fierce mistress in success and I think at the end of the week, we’re going to see that brought out in this newest Spidey-film. It’s already sitting at a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and has some amazing early press it looks like it is going to be a wonderful addition to both studio’s growing universes. We welcome you, Spider-Man: Homecoming.



If it’s a thing and it’s nerdy, this guy wants to do it. Self-taught and self-proclaimed photographer, programmer, and musician, self-described as lazy, indulgent, and pedantic. Give him a task and he’ll do it, except for maritals. Only his wife gets the maritals.

Find Jason on twitter at @jasonkylesmith and on instagram at jasonksmith84

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