Spider-Man fans are rejoicing today because Sony finally admitted that it has no idea what it’s doing with the world’s most famous wall-crawler. A deal was struck between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios that will allow Spider-Man to appear in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but it also forces Kevin Feige to produce Sony’s next installment with Amy Pascal.
Question: Will Amy Pascal become Kevin Feige’s Mephisto?
Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.
Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.
In the short run, this is great for Marvel. Kevin Feige has done a wonderful job bringing the Marvel universe to the big screen, and there is no reason to believe that he will screw it up with Spider-Man. However, in the long run Sony still has creative control over the character and now the company must deal with Amy Pascal. Sony’s S.S. Spider-Man was foundering and in many ways Marvel may have just come to the rescue of drunk captains who deserved to lose it all.
It will be a sad day if Kevin Feige’s name is attached to future Spider-Man failures because of Amy Pascal’s intransigence. While Spider-Man fans should be thrilled that the character will show up in future Marvel Studios movies, they should seriously ask themselves if Marvel made a deal with the devil when total victory was within reach.
The new Iron Man 3 trailer is out, and it looks amazing. But looks can be deceiving, can’t they? What appears to be one hell of a movie might also be incredibly maddening, when one realizes that once again the bad guy — the “ultimate terrorist” to quote writer/director Shane Black — is really a creation of the U.S. government.
Iron Man started out so well, but ultimately the question becomes: “Where is he going?” In Hollywood, it’s only a matter of time before the star character goes to a place where America, at its root, is the creator of the evil it seeks to destroy.
Q: We’ve seen Tony Stark go through a lot in “The Avengers.” How did the events of that movie wind up helping him change for this one?
Downey: Well, we had to do something, you know? I thought, “Isn’t it odd that he had this experience? And why was he suddenly just in New York for one summer?” We know why he was there. Stark Tower. But what he was doing there was really building an architect for a third act set piece. I wanted him back home and I thought, “What if that happened to any of us? Wouldn’t we be a little tripped out? You’d be watching your back.” Then I thought about this 21st century reality and kind of oddball zeitgeist of America and terrorism and all the weirdo stuff that this country seems to generate and co-create. So I thought he should be a little freaked out.
Hmm. The United States “generates” and “co-creates” terrorism? How so, Robert? If he’s saying evil must exist because good does, then I understand what he’s saying. If he’s saying that good men like Tony Stark create wonderful technology, but because of the warped timber of man others will use that technology for nefarious purposes, I get it. But if Robert is pandering to the “blame America first” crowd, then I just lost a lot of respect for him because it’s expected of Hollywood at this point.
As I wrote in October, Shane Black is a great writer and seems to understand that Tony Stark needs to be grounded this time around. But I also warned of exactly what appears to have happened:
[I]f the U.S. government is somehow culpable for the espionage that destroys Tony’s life, the movie will instantly lose credibility. If the message ends up being some sort of social commentary on how “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” I probably won’t be seeing Iron Man 4 in the theaters.
As it turns out, RDJ was much more Joesph Conrad than Loazi. Disappointing. Incredibly disappointing. Read Shane Black’s inspiration for The Mandarin:
We use as the example Colonel Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now,” this guy who may have been an American, may have been a British National, someone who is out there doing field work, supervising atrocities for the intelligence community who went nuts in the field and became this sort of devotee of war tactics, and now has surrounded himself with a group of people over which he presides, and the only thing that unifies them is this hatred of America. So he’s the ultimate terrorist, but he’s also savvy. He’s been in the intelligence world. He knows how to use the media. And taking it to a real world level like that was a lot fun for us.
Screw you, Shane Black, Kevin Feige, Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel. Screw everyone else associated with the product who thinks that the “ultimate terrorist” is, for the 10,000th time, a Western intelligence agent who was the product of his own country’s dark side. Besides, I just watched another iteration of this plot a couple months ago; it was called Skyfall.
Have we reached the point where a movie with a villain named The Mandarin can’t be a Communist revolutionary from China? Given that the recent Red Dawn remake changed the villains from Chinese Communists to North Koreans to placate the guys who are gobbling up the nation’s debt, I guess so.
At this point, I’ll probably seeIron Man 3just to tease out whatever ‘Heart of Darkness’ themes Shane Black didn’t get a chance to discuss in promotional interviews, but no matter how stellar the movie is I won’t be able to shake the disgust over another “creative” team that turned to the “America is its own worst enemy” well when it was thirsty for ideas.