Monday, August 23, 2010

Conspiracy Theory? Sure, Why Not!

The new Spider-Man film has begun casting, with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man (presumably a Spider-Man who hates Mondays and loves to eat his own weight in lasagna. It's a daring choice.) They're also working on casting his love interest, an as-yet-unnamed character (or, at least, one whose name they're not putting on the scripts that are circulating through Hollywood) who apparently is definitely probably not Mary Jane Watson.

Since I'm bored, I'm going to go ahead and circulate a half-baked conspiracy theory that I may or may not believe. Remember how "One More Day" happened, and went over like a lead balloon stuffed with dwarf star material because contrary to editor-in-chief Joe Quesada's expectations, nobody really was pining for a Spider-Man comic that looked just like the ones that came out when he was a kid in 1970? And how to the average Spider-Man fan, Mary Jane was and pretty much always had been Spidey's "true love", because we didn't even start reading comics until almost after they were married? And how the casual fan had barely even heard of Gwen Stacy, because all the film adaptations, cartoon versions, and even most of the non-616 versions of Spider-Man had Peter dating MJ?

So now they're rebooting the movies with a new, MJ-free version. The "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" comic got canceled a while back, despite great reviews and steady trade paperback sales. Ultimate Spider-Man is living with Gwen Stacy. There hasn't been a cartoon Spidey in a little while, but the last one had a far more prominent role for Gwen and emphasized MJ's desire to stay single. (Yes, I know, they're returning to the original series' roots. That is rather my point, though.) All in all, it seems like there's a concerted branding effort to take MJ out of the picture in order to bring the alternate media versions of Spider-Man in line with the "Amazing" version, complete with what seems like a plan to push Gwen Stacy to the forefront.

Does this mean that Joe Quesada is abusing his lofty position within Marvel's hallowed halls in order to make all comics just like they were when he was a kid? (If so, he could probably take some lessons from Geoff Johns. **rimshot**) I doubt it, really. It seems like a lot of work for such a petty agenda. But if the new movie girlfriend for Spidey is named "Gwen Stacy", well...all I'm saying is, don't be surprised if there's a "shocking resurrection" a few years down the line in the main Spidey book.

8 comments:

Mory Buckman said...

The clone's still around if they want her.

ChrisPV said...

I don't think this is a conspiracy theory at all. It's something everybody's better-than-half expected ever since the trifecta of Hal/Bucky/Barry came back to appease nostalgia. Did some good stories come out of those resurrections? Yeah. Does that mean it was a good idea? Not sure.

Gwen's back before the movie comes out, or very shortly thereafter.

Jim S said...

What kills me about the Gwen nostalgia is that I don't think anyone advocating her return actually read Spider-Man when Gwen was alive. She died in Jan. 1973.

Gwen was dead when I started reading Spidey and that was more than 30 years ago. Gwen has the advantage of no personality. She's a blank slate. The reason Gerry Conway offed her was that MJ had all the juice. MJ was a character that popped. You couldn't keep her down. Those characters never stay away.

Bringing Gwen back won't work. MJ is the star of the Spidey daily comic strip. She's the heroine of the Raimi movies, and that's what most people remember, those norms who don't obsessively follow comics. Remember that number is getting smaller. Amazing Spider-man is hovering around, what 53,000an issue. What's Ultimate Spider-Man? In July, according to ICv2, sales were 37,879.

That's not a lot. It's not like getting rid of MJ is boosting sales. I have a theory. Comics situations, once they become the status quo, will snap back. 25 years ago Steve Englehardt tried to get rid of the Guardians of Galaxy, sectors for Lanterns, etc. Snapped back. They killed Hal Jordan, snapped back.

40 years ago Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams moved Bruce out of the Batcave. Got rid of Robin from the books. Bruce moved to a penthouse and out of Wayne Manor. Snapped back.

Get rid of MJ, star of Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man, two hardcover teen novels with the same theme, star of the daily comic strip (I'd bet money far more people read the daily strip than the monthly comics), three movies etc. I see it snapping back. Far too many people think of MJ as Spidey's girl. Now what they may be doing in the reboot movie is giving themselves room to maneuver. Have a girlfried that Gobby can kill.

I also have my doubts as to whether the reboot will work. First, I believe $90 million is too low. Costs will rise. Second, Raimi is a true believer. He's a guy who's been married to the same woman for 20 years, has five kids, puts his high school buddy in all his movies.

He was polite when Sony and Ari Avad insisted on putting Venom in his film (Note the Venom arc matched the comics almost exactly. Raimi knows story. Giving "fans" what they want often doesn't work. I was never a Venom fan because Venom took away from Spidey. The villains should complement the hero's journey, not overwhelm it.)

My point is that Raimi is a grown man who built his business and is looking at Spidey from the perspective of a true fan and an adult who has life experience. He understands Spidey is about growing up. Having a grown-up running the show makes sense. Having younger people with less life experience, I don't know. I'm afraid they'll make it about being cool.

Note You forgot to mention Garfield's time in the Oval Office.

Exception, when the replacement has enough time to come to the forefront. Far too many people like Wally. One reason Barry was killed was that the Flash monthly comic was dying. Barry Allen was dull.
Waid and others rebuilt the Flash brand with Wally. Except for Johns, no one was pulling for Barry comeback. Retroactively trying to give him a "deep" back story by killing his mother via weird time travel, won't work. Barry's lack of personality will show through. The snap back will be with Wally because Wally became the popular status quo.

Back to my point. Too many people have an idea of Spidey that has nothing to do with Quesada's so far failed attempts to get rid of MJ. It isn't working, Disney isn't dumb. Look for a snap back. But your conspiracty theory has weight. I just think right now people are trying to keep their options open. Put in a lot of characters to give them options so they don't always have to have MJ being kidnapped. That was a weakness in the Raimi films. Once, OK, twice a weird coincidence, three times, this MJ chick knows something.

Eric Teall said...

I did a huge three- or four-part series on the Death of Gwen when I was still keeping up with my Spider-Man blog, and I discovered the same idea that Jim S notes above: Gwen was boring. No one really wants her back, because if you read the stories with her, she was a mess of a character.

Same thing goes for Barry, BTW. They gave him a heroic send-off, but that was what he was good for at that point.

I'd like to point out, though, that the return of Bucky has been anything BUT a return to some status quo. Brubaker gets something that Johns does not, IMHO.

Jim S said...

Eric,

Thank you for your kind words. People who agree with my rants, it's always kind in my book.

I am a bit of fanatic about bringing characters back from the dead. The only exception was Spoiler. I liked her, and the death was in service of a really, really bad story. Her revival was easy. Her death was faked.

Bucky, on the other hand, makes no sense if you think about it. It drove me from Cap. Let me ask this question of you. The Bucky stories, could they have been done with Cap. What's Bucky's personality? Steve will return to being Cap. Even if Bru doesn't want it, it'll happen because Bru won't write Cap forever. The snap is coming.

I also have a peeve about everyone surviving WWII. That includes the Justice Society, the Invaders, etc. The war ended 65 years ago. Did Stan and Jack, in 1965, reference Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Ride up San Juan Hill? No, it was too far in the past. Cap OK, He was Frozen. Namor, he's an amphibean. Some Sea Turtles live for centuries. Everyone else, write stories that take place in the appropriate era. Nothing wrong with getting old and dying of natural causes.

I'd like to see your Gwen post. Is it still online?

Other examples of snap back blown up Baxter Building, Johnny marries Alicia, Iron Man goes broke, Iron Man loses business, Asgard gone, Odin gone, Reed Richards dead. Betty Ross Banner dead.

I predict pa Kent will come back. Snap.

John Seavey said...

I agree, Gwen never had even half the personality of MJ. Gwen could pretty much be summed up as, "Oh, isn't that Peter Parker dreamy! But that Spider-Man...ick!" There was a mention once or twice of a science major, but that was pretty thin gruel to wind up becoming "Peter and Gwen are soul-mates because they're both geeky science types!"

Whereas MJ...she was the one who was always doing something. Acting, dancing, working...she's practically the only woman in comics in the 60s with a career of any sort, assuming you don't count "full-time superhero." (If you do, the Wasp and Sue Storm both have careers.) She's got way more personality than Gwen, and it's no surprise that future generations can see it.

ChrisPV said...

What I find so incredibly funny is that the term I'd best use to describe Gwen is "sweet." Now, there's nothing wrong with sweet. Sweet has a place. But if Joey Q's whole argument is that the marriage to MJ neuters story potential and drama, how much worse would the situation be if Gwen were back? Then not only do you have Pete in a relationship, but it's with someone who is pretty much totally incapable of driving any storylines on her own because she's just not going to start fights with Pete. At least MJ (when she's written decently) has enough fire in her to disagree with him and call him out when he's being a lunkhead.

Anonymous said...

Someone suggested once that the reason MJ was a better character is precisely because Stan pegged Gwen as Peter's true love. As a result, Gwen got the Sue Storm/Karen Page/Jean Gray "good girl" personality while MJ could be more colorful.
Personally I like Barry a lot, but I still object to his return. Out of all the legacy heroes of the post-crisis period (Kyle, Conner Hawke, etc.) Wally had earned his slot: He'd been around as long as Barry, almost, and had almost as much Flash-experience when Barry returned. He's entitled to keep the suit in a way I never felt Kyle was.
-Fraser