The Evolution of Spider-Man
“With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility,”
A line as iconic as the character itself. When superheroes were meant to be dark and intense, a guy swung into the scene, fighting crime with style and panache–the Spider-Man. A silly name for sure, but millions of people go bonkers over him.
From Spider-Man to Spider-Man: No Way Home, the box office for Spider-Man movies kept escalating and today it reached the zenith with no doubt. The question is how?
A guy swinging on strings, shooting cobwebs, crawling and climbing walls, is not just among the most popular comic book characters, but has also cemented himself as a pop culture icon. Let’s travel back in time and reminisce about Spider-Man's origins.
Amazing Fantasy, no. 15, came out in 1962 and gave birth to Peter Parker, a nerdy high school student who gets bitten by a spider and receives superpowers. But how did Peter catch readers' attention?
First, he was relatable. Stories of Spider-Man were about Peter’s struggle to maintain a balance between Spider-Man and Peter Parker. We may not have superpowers, but we can always relate to a human struggle, and that was one aspect that clicked with most of the audience. With that answered, let’s explore other media in which Spider-Man boomed.
“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a Spider can,”
A song replicated in various parodies, movies and spoofs, this Spider-Man song originated from the 1960s cartoon. Several other animated series were made implying the same.
The Animated Series, Ultimate Spider-Man, among several other cartoon adaptations. Spider-Man also crawled his way into Action Figures, Novels, Toys, Clothes, Video Games and even Popsicle Sticks!
The Marvel/Sony Deal
Let's date back to 1996 when Marvel wasn’t as successful as it is today. It was barely staying afloat when it leveraged all of its Comic Characters.
Cut to 1999, Sony had the rights to Spider-Man. A major term of the deal was that Sony had to produce a Spider-Man movie every couple of years to keep the rights to the character, which led to them making Spider-Man in 2002.
Forget Cartoons, here is the Real Spider-Man!
Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire as the titular character hit cinema ground on 3rd May 2002. The crowd went wild, and it quickly became the fastest movie ever to earn more than $100 million.
Clearly, Spider-Man resonated not only with “comic book nerds'' but also with the general audiences. The follow up Spider-Man 2 (2004) was an even bigger success and often ranked among the greatest superhero films ever made. Naturally, another sequel was made, with plans for a fourth and potentially a fifth movie, but something strange happened.
Spider-Man 3 made more money than all the previous Spider-Man Films at the Box Office, but wasn’t a huge hit among critics and audiences. Sony tampering with the director Sam Raimi’s vision to forcefully include Venom (a famous Spider-Man villain) in the story, among many other factors, led to the film not being appreciated.
Despite that, Sony was up for another Spider-Man film directed by Sam Raimi himself, but because of multiple factors, including Raimi not being satisfied with the script, and not being able to meet the deadline for making the film led to a mutual fallout that got Spider-Man 4 cancelled.
Spider-Man Strikes Again!
According to the Sony/Marvel deal, Sony had to make another Spider-Man film within a few years, so it rebooted the franchise to make The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. This was quite successful at the Box Office, though not as much as the previous one.
However, they went for it again with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, but that made even less than the previous one, and was disliked universally. This wasn’t working and Sony needed to do something else.
The Sony/Marvel Deal Part 2
Sony and Marvel coordinated to clear up the webs. They finally came to a deal that was beneficial to both the parties. Spider-Man would be shared.
Marvel would have creative control in what they would do with the Spider-Man Films, whereas Sony could still make Spider-Man spinoffs (like Venom and the upcoming Morbius) and Animated Films (Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse).
The outcome of the deal was extremely beneficial to Marvel and Sony. Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first solo Spider-Man film in the MCU, grossed $880.2 million worldwide and outperformed all other Spider-Man movies (except for Spider-Man 3). And its sequel, Spider-Man: Far From Home was the most successful Spider-Man movie ever made.
Sony had their share of success too. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, their animated film was welcomed with extreme success from Critics and Audiences alike. Venom may not have pleased critics, but still proved to be successful at the Box Office.
Spider-Man: No Way Home seems to be on a path to becoming the most successful Spider-Man Film ever. We can clearly say that there is no stopping for the wall crawler now. With another trilogy planned in the MCU, and a sequel to Spider-Verse coming out in 2022, it seems like this is a great time to be a Spider-Man Fan.