How Marvel Could Drop The Ball On Spider-Man

Most superhero fans were beyond excited when it was announced last year that Marvel had cut a deal with Sony to regain creative control over Spider-Man. Sure, Sony did some decent work with the first couple Spider-Man films back in the day, but they also put up some stinkers. Marvel's track record, on the other hand, is much better across the board. But while Spider-Man's debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a resounding success, one cool cameo in Captain America: Civil War does not guarantee anything. The big test, 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, still remains. And despite how well Marvel's previous movies have done, there are still plenty of ways even Marvel could screw this up. Here's why they might end up dropping the ball on the biggest superhero film of them all.

Yet another origin story

Spider-Man has one of the greatest, most poignant and powerful origin stories in superhero history. And if we never see it again, it will be too soon. Everyone knows how Peter Parker got his powers (a radioactive spider!) and why he became a superhero (poor Uncle Ben was shot by the criminal Peter failed to stop!). The last thing we need is to see this origin story retold yet again for the ten billionth time. Batman vs. Superman made this fatal mistake by having their whole plot hinge on yet another retelling of Batman's origin, insuring that audiences would be bored to tears within the first five seconds. If Marvel does the same, Homecoming could be a Zack Snyder-sized dud.

The wrong bad guy

Superhero movies live and die on the strength of the villain. You can have the coolest story ever, with the ginchiest hero, but if you use a crappy bad guy, the whole film goes right down the drain. So what has Homecoming done? Well, on the plus side, they signed up the resurgent Michael Keaton to play the villain. He's fantastic, plus he knows a thing or two about superhero movies. On the downside, though, he's playing the Vulture, whose gimmick is being a crotchety old man. Look, Vulture is cool enough, and lord knows we're all tired of Green Goblin at this point. But Marvel and Spider-Man have a host of top notch supervillains. Surely one of them has to be better than Vulture, right? Here's hoping they know what they're doing.

Not enough interconnectivity with the MCU

Marvel took an interesting route with the way they decided to introduce Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, setting Peter Parker up as Tony Stark's protégé. That was cool, but it also set something else up: fan expectations. Tying Spider-Man so closely to Iron Man certainly gives fans the impression that Tony Stark is going to be a major figure in Homecoming. While we do know Robert Downey, Jr. is in the film, there's no word yet on just how prominent a role he actually plays. If it turns out to just be a cameo or bit part, it's going to be a pretty big letdown, given the setup from Civil War.

Too much interconnectivity with the MCU

On the other hand, Spider-Man could also suffer from having too many ties to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU has a tendency to drag its films towards the mean: lesser films in the MCU benefit from all the ties to other, better, more popular movies, while superior films (like Captain America: Winter Soldier) kind of get pulled down some by the burden of setting up future installments and fulfilling an Easter egg quota. With Homecoming, Marvel faces an especially tough challenge: trying to find the sweet spot between bringing Spidey into the MCU, and overwhelming his story with extraneous ties to characters and plots irrelevant to Peter's story. It's a difficult balance to find, but if they don't, Homecoming could suffer as a result.

Tom Holland has a lot on his shoulders

We don't envy Tom Holland the task he has in front of him. At just 20 years old, the unknown actor has not only become the face of the biggest superhero in the world—he also has to both anchor and revive a struggling franchise. And it's just billions of dollars and his entire career on the line. No pressure! Holland was pitch-perfect in his brief Civil War role, so signs are encouraging. Still, it's a ton for any actor to take on, much less someone so young and inexperienced, especially since he has the additional burden of living up to the standards of his predecessors, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Here's hoping Holland is up to the task—for his sake and for ours.

Who is Jon Watts?

Marvel has done a good job signing and developing top talent behind the camera, from Jon Favreau to Joss Whedon and Kenneth Branagh. So it's a bit of an eye opener that they handed the reins of their biggest character to a virtually unknown director, Jon Watts. If Watts is known for anything at all, it's for the two low-budget indie films that comprise his resume, Cop Car and Clown. Sometimes, jumping talent up from the minor leagues works. Then again, sometimes it results in a spectacular train wreck, like when Fox gave Fantastic Four to Josh Trank and watched their film empire dissolve right before their eyes. Who knows? Jon Watts could be the next superstar. Marvel better hope so.

Marvel is spread too thin

A lot has been made about superhero fatigue, with many moviegoers getting a bit burnt out from the seemingly dozens of superhero films hitting theaters one right after the other. But if it's hard for us to watch that many movies, how hard must it be for Marvel to keep making that many movies? There are only so many top-talent writers, directors, producers, and stars to go around, which might explain why so many unknowns are working on Homecoming. With a dozen movies, and even more TV shows in the works, Marvel seems to be in danger of spreading themselves too thin. That's fine if it just messes up some third-tier network show like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Spider-Man is a franchise that needs Marvel's absolute best effort—if they're still capable of giving it.

Sony is still involved

Finally, there's the fact that Sony still has a hand in things. Oh, sure, it's Marvel's ship to sail now, but those pesky executives at Sony are still on board somewhere, acting as an anchor that could drag Homecoming straight to the bottom. Just how much say they have is unclear—hopefully none—but the idea that Sony brass even gets to deliver notes on the film is enough to make us shiver in our Doc Ock underoos. They've already screwed up the franchise twice. Hopefully Marvel won't let them do it a third time.