February 2015. The Marvel and Sony deal around Spider-Man is announced.
This writer still vividly remembers how exciting it was when the news broke. Most Spidey fans felt something was missing from the MCU Avengers as long as he wasn’t in it, but the whole idea of Peter Parker taking his rightful place alongside Tony Stark, the Cap et al had turned into a bit of a joke. The funny thing was that everyone knew it was just a case of the right money being offered, but Sony’s poor management of the franchise up to then seemed to preclude any chance of that happening.
How wrong we were. Money talks, and there’s always a deal to be made. But one thing was clear from the start. We were getting a brand new Spider-Man. The Amazing Andrew Garfield was out on his ear.
Homecoming was a success (sidenote – why does Rotten Tomatoes call it The Amazing Spiderman 4??) with critics and, more importantly, fans alike. It’s inarguable that Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, and Zendaya gave great performances that couldn’t have happened in the existing Amazing continuity. But this isn’t about them. This is about what we could have had.
Civil War wasn’t really about Captain America; it was more like Avengers 2.5, not least because of how much of it was centred around Tony Stark recruiting Peter Parker into the Avengers. Now, take out the jokes about Peter’s “hot Aunt May” (Marisa Tomei is definitely more Tony’s type than Sally Field), and Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker could easily have slipped into the role.
He was even looking for stable work during The Amazing Spiderman 2, and certainly showed an aptitude for science – surely he would have jumped at the chance to work at Stark Industries as an intern. Throwing (or swinging) himself into it head-first would have been an attempt to deal with any lingering regrets over Gwen Stacy’s death. The rest could remain largely unchanged.
Unchanged, that is, until the climactic fight-scene above. Here’s where Geek Soup suggests a bold move that could have worked for the MCU: going in early with the Death of Spiderman storyline – or, at least, their own version.
All the pre-release hype of Civil War notwithstanding, no-one could have failed to notice that none of the Avengers actually died as a result of the events. But Peter Parker could have bit the dust at Leipzig/Halle Airport. This would have resolved that incongruity with some real, gobsmacking, astonishing panache. (It’s also widely accepted that Garfield was… struggling with his role as Spider-Man. He would probably have been quite happy with just one last, relatively minor, but lucrative, appearance.)
Imagine Tony Stark’s reaction. He’s brought this kid into his team (yes, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was much older than Tom Holland’s, but still a kid relative to Tony) and has got him killed. This would play on his mind. We saw in Iron Man 3 that he does not deal with past trauma. So he would bring this forward into Spider-Man: Homecoming. Which leads nicely into the next issue: what’s Spider-Man: Homecoming without Spider-Man?
Step forward, Miles Morales.
In the comics, Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider (sound familiar?) which has been engineered by an Oscorp scientist who was trying to recreate Peter Parker’s abilities, and he picks up the baton after Peter’s death. Remember, in the Amazing Spider-Man movies, Harry Osborn is still entirely in play. It’s perfect for him to adopt this storyline, especially given his wishes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to get hold of Peter Parker’s blood. And there we have it. Our new Spider-Man is back.
Miles Morales is, just like early Peter Parker, a high-school student in New York (albeit a charter school). We can drop him straight into the Homecoming storyline. He’s also a bright kid, so the decathlete element remains intact.
The trade-off in terms of storyline is wholly in Tony Stark’s favour. We lose his flirting with Aunt May, but gain some extra misgivings. He doesn’t want to get another kid killed. How does he react to the new Spider-Man? How does Miles change Tony’s mind? DOES Miles change Tony’s mind?
One last point. It’s all but confirmed that we’ll be seeing the MCU’s interpretation of Gwen Stacy in Homecoming 2. Given that she died in Sony’s continuity, that would no longer be possible. But let’s be honest, is anyone expecting a new Gwen Stacy to be able to come close to Emma Stone? Let’s just replace Kirsten Dunst.
We’ve got no doubt that Tom Holland will be a great Spider-Man for years to come. But Andrew Garfield deserved better than being cast aside. This would have given him a great farewell, acknowledged all the good work that the Sony series did, and given a real opportunity to bring Miles Morales into the mainstream.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below, or on the Geek Soup Facebook page.
Thanks to Stuart Scott (@stuartdn) for the original idea for this article.