Film: The Amazing Spider-Man Series

The Amazing Spider-Man is a film duology of the iconic Marvel Comics superhero, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It is a Continuity Reboot of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy, but is still handled by Columbia Pictures (which is owned by Sony). It was produced by Avi Arad (who also produced the aforementioned trilogy) and Matt Tolmach.

The series was planned to span at least four main films, and the first two of these were directed by Marc Webb. Webb was also set to direct the third installment, but would not return for the fourth. Spinoff films starring Venom and the Sinister Six were planned, the former to be directed by Alex Kurtzman, and the latter to be directed by Drew Goddard. Sony had initially stated that the movies may be released before The Amazing Spider-Man 4, and that the plan would eventually be to release a Spider-Man movie every year (counting spin-offs).

However, the production plan changed after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out. The film was met with a more polarized reception, primarily being criticized for introducing too many plot threads at once and not having enough action at times. Sony was extremely confident with the future of the franchise at that point, moving forward with the two main sequels in addition to the spin-offs before the movie even came out, but began to backpedal in response to the more tepid reaction to the film. While The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was moving forward, the creative team behind the film requested more time to address the criticisms of the previous movie, and the film was pushed to 2018. The film order was originally meant to alternate between an Amazing Spider-Man film and a spin-off for every other year, but the schedule was altered - three spin-offs would precede The Amazing Spider-Man 3, most likely done in such a way that the antagonists of the Sinister Six would have time to develop on-screen. An October 2014 rumor stated that the Venom movie was dead, the Sinister Six movie would be a soft reboot that would ultimately involve an Enemy Mine where the villains team up with Spider-Man to face a larger threat, and that Sony's focus would primarily be on Spider-Man, with side characters being considered for spin-offs based on their popularity. The rumor also mentioned that recasting would probably be in order, allegedly due to Sony's unhappiness with Andrew Garfield's unhappiness with the way that the sequel turned out. Another plan was for Sony to merge the Sinister Six and Venom: Carnage films into a single movie, with Spider-Man wearing the black suit and teaming up with the Sinister Six and either Venom or Carnage being the superior threat that unites them. At one point, a May Parker spy thriller set in The Sixties was allegedly in discussion. Yes, really. All of this was set to happen at the same time that an animated feature from the creative team behind The Lego Movie would be released.

The movies are not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although the Oscorp Tower from these movies was originally meant to appear in The Avengers as a cross-company promotion, but it was cut from the film due to time constraints in digitally rendering the building. Sony was initially hesitant to share Spider-Man with Disney after the success of the first movie, but rumors have appeared suggesting that Sony and Disney both wanted to work out another cross-company deal due to Sony's financial instability (along with the sequel under-performing) and Disney's goal to obtain the rights to every Marvel character (Sony would benefit from receiving greater promotion from Disney, and Disney would benefit from having the character appear in their media). At that point it was unclear if the Spider-Man that would appear in those movies would be Andrew Garfield's version of the character in an Intercontinuity Crossover or a different take on character (similar to how Quicksilver is a different character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than he is in 20th Century Fox's X-Men series, in spite of appearing in both). While most presumed that the character would appear in 2018/2019's Avengers: Infinity War (the end of Phase Three) at the earliest, rumors have since suggested that he could make a debut as early as 2016's Captain America: Civil War (the beginning of Phase Three). There's even the possibility that he could appear in The Stinger to Avengers: Age of Ultron, with a "proper" introduction in Civil War.

The rumors about these talks were confirmed in December 2014, after hackers leaked e-mails from Sony. Disney proposed an opportunity to reintroduce the character in Phase Three, and then reboot the film franchise again with a new trilogy of standalone films starring the character in Phase Four and beyond. In turn, Sony would retain distribution rights of the franchise, with the boons of having some of the marketing perks, some creative rights, and profits to these movies. While these plans initially were reported to have broke down, Sony's dire financial situation and the revelations from the hack brought it back to the forefront. The company's plan for the Spider-Man franchise was discussed in January 2015 at a summit, with the outcome of said summit to be announced in February.

Just as it was predicted, the reveal of the partnership came to pass in February 2015, when it was confirmed that Spider-Man would be joining the MCU. As a result, the continuity featured in these two films is ceased and Spider-Man is set to be recast before appearing in the MCU - first in 2016 in either Captain America: Civil War or Doctor Strange, and later in a new standalone Spider-Man movie set in the MCU. While both the Sinister Six movie and the animated film are still in development, everything else has been shelved in favor of the new deal. Sony has claimed that they still wish to pursue spin-offs that take place in the MCU in addition to films starring Spider-Man, meaning that some concepts may be reworked into the larger setting.

Films:

Films in flux:

  • Untitled animated Spider-Man film (July 20, 2018; still in development)
  • Sinister Six (originally November 11, 2016, moved to first half 2017, moved to TBA date; possibly cancelled)

Video games:

Cancelled films:

  • Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven (planned for second half of 2016)
  • Untitled Spider-Gwen/Silver Sable Team-Up film (originally 2017)
  • Spider-Man 2099 (planned for 2nd half 2017)
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Venom (originally 2017, moved to first half 2018, later merged with Sinister Six project)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (originally 2016, later pushed back to 2018)
  • Carnage (planned for 2019)
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Jackal (planned for second half 2019)
  • Untitled Aunt May origin film (planned, no date announced)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 4 (originally 2018, later removed from the schedule)
  • Spider-Man 2099 2 (planned for first half of 2020)

This franchise contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Seeing as the The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the final film in this series, many things will be left unresolved. Such as Spider-Man's battle with the Rhino and Harry Osborn's and The Gentleman's formation of the Sinister Six. Also the setting up of characters such as Alistair Smythe and Felicia Hardy will never be brought to fruition.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The series is largely inspired by the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, but also takes a lot of different elements from the mainstream Spider-Man mythos.
  • Alternate Continuity: This series in comparison to the Marvel Cinematic Universe - both feature Spider-Man, but they are both separate fictional universes.
  • Bigger Bad: Oscorp as a whole is responsible for many of the superhumans, and so far only one is a good guy. This extends to Norman Osborn as well, who oversees the company without actually fighting Spider-Man directly.
  • Continuity Reboot: Of the Spider-Man Trilogy.
  • Darker and Edgier: The franchise is overall grittier and more grounded than the Sam Raimi films, though the sequel is lighter in tone than its predecessor.
  • Follow the Leader: A number of things, such as the use of after-credits stingers and the creation of an expanded superhero universe, are inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man also followed in the wake of the Dark Knight Batman films with its nighttime superheroics, antagonistic police, and its extended darker Character Arc for Spider-Man (who goes from revenge-driven to altruistic).
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is Lighter and Softer than the previous film, with a brighter color palette, more Spidey scenes in daytime as opposed to only suiting up at night, and Peter visibly being a happier, better-adjusted person. In many ways it's more like the Raimi films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Franchise Zombie: Starting with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, this accusation started popping up for those that considered the film series to suffer from Sequelitis. The changes made to the schedule two months after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released (Sinister Six in 2016, Venom Carnage and the movie with a female lead in 2017, and The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018, as opposed to The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016, The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018, spinoff movies in odd years in between) made it seem even more as though Sony wants to keep the franchise, but doesn't have clear plans in place to proceed. The lack of vision is made all the more apparent by people involved with the franchise apparently not knowing who the Sinister Six were going to be before The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even though the movie revealed several candidates in the last ten minutes of the film.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For any and all of Peter's faults, it's always very understandable where he's coming from; ignoring the mistakes he makes that any normal human would make, the things he does tend to have a lot of justification for them. Hitting back at Flash (who had been bullying him and others for a long time), yelling at Uncle Ben (who was trying to Guilt Trip him at the time, which was pretty unfair), not keeping the promise to George (as noted by Gwen in the second film, it's not George's decision if the two date, and the promise was likely to hurt Gwen a lot (who, frankly, needed her boyfriend to be there for her after what just happened) if they kept it), and refusing to give Harry his blood (which as well as giving him false hope as there's no guarantee it would work the way he believes, but also risks turning Harry into a monster, if not just killing him quicker) are all good examples.
  • Meta Origin: Every superpowered character's origin is connected to Oscorp in some way.
  • Myth Arc: The ongoing mystery of what happened to Richard and Mary Parker, Peter's parents, and how Oscorp ties into it. The first film touches upon it, while the sequel expands on it to a greater degree.
  • Mythology Gag: There are quite a few in the movies themselves, but the Daily Bugle Tumblr features a ton of references to characters that have yet to appear in the film series.
    • For starters, the Daily Bugle's staff includes John Jonah Jameson, Kathryn "Kate" Cushing, Isabel "Izzy" Bunsen, Joy Mercado, Edward "Ned" Leeds, Dilbert Trilby, Eddie Brock, Frederick Foswell, and Ken Ellis - all of which appeared in the comics and worked under the news publisher. As an added bonus, most of the articles written by these characters refer to their preferences in reporting.
    • In the first newscast, the Russian Mob is mentioned as one of the threats the NYPD is focused on dealing with - and it's eventually revealed that Aleksei Sytsevich, the man who becomes the Rhino, is among them.
    • The Big Man is mentioned as a recurring criminal, who is later revealed to be Frederick Foswell. Interestingly, Foswell also wrote many articles on the his alter-ego, and noted that he disliked the name that the police gave him. He even mentions that he assembled "The Enforcers", which was something his comic counterpart did all the way back in 1964. He also mentions the Crime Master, another villain from that period of Spider-Man comics. He's then killed off while serving his sentence.
    • Donald Menken works at Oscorp, like his comic counterpart.
    • Spencer Smythe is mentioned for being responsible for creating a military flight harness and advances in robotics, which allude to the Vulture's wings and the Spider-Slayers, respectively. He also mentions that his son, Alistair Smythe, could take his job at the rate his engineering skills are developing. Indeed, he is forced to resign after the NYPD investigates Oscorp, and his son does take his position. Adrian Toomes also worked on the wings in question, and is not pleased when their development apparently falls apart.
    • Dr. Curtis Connors claims that the crimes he committed were not his own fault, but the fault of his insane Lizard persona. This is an excuse used by Connors in the comics. Anne Weying served as his defense attorney, and in the comics, she became She-Venom. He is eventually sent to Ryker's Island, a prison that is eventually used to contain supervillains - though officials from Ravencroft, a similar institution, claim that their prison is better suited for him. His wife is eventually interviewed after the trial, and she mentions their son.
    • One editorial from JJJ himself is entitled "Spider-Man: Threat Or Menace?" This same headline appeared as far back as 1981, and has been a recurring joke across many Marvel adaptations that feature the character.
    • The construction of hydroelectric towers is discussed semi-frequently, which are strongly implied to be blueprinted by Max Dillon (Electro), and their presence could also be alluding to Hydro-Man. These are seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
    • Several of the citizens reported upon for "Spidey Sightings" allude to Spider-Man characters or characters from the whole Marvel Universe, though it's possible that they are coincidences. These include:
    • There is a robbery reported from the G.K. Mason Bank - which is a reference to a character that appears in the Superior Spider-Man series that was running at the same time that the blog update was posted. The writer behind the update gets bonus points for using the Goblin King's initials - which may also counts as foreshadowing towards the identity of the character. Furthermore, Stanley "Stan" Carter is an NYPD representative (as he was in The Spectacular Spider-Man) that looks into the incident, and in the comics, he became Sin-Eater. In addition, Herman Schultz (the Shocker) is the one behind the crime. Jean DeWolff expresses disgust with him upon his arrest.
    • A report by Joy Mercado features a GIF that zooms in on a white room in the Oscorp facility. A variant of this room is seen in a deleted (but plot-important) scene where Norman Osborn's head is preserved after his apparent death. Otto Octavius (the man who becomes Doctor Octopus) is mentioned as a scientist that Oscorp is in contact with.
    • Daniel "Fancy Dan" Brito, Jackson "Montana" Brice, and Raymond "The Ox" Bloch (The Enforcers) get into a conflict with relatives of Silvio Manfredi (known later as Silvermane) before Spider-Man gets involved and curbstomps the criminals, delivering his trademark insults as he did so.
    • The phrase "'Nuff said" is used on the page - a phrase that was commonly used in comics written by Stan Lee.
    • Fireheart Industries (originally known as Fireheart Enterprises in the comics) pays for repairs to Midtown Science High School. The CEO of that company, Thomas Fireheart, becomes the Puma.
    • Harry Osborn was sent to Europe to study, as he did in the comics, and Donald Menken prophetically mentioned that Harry is a little "green" when it comes to running Oscorp.
    • The Empire State University (which Peter is slated to attend) is apparently studying into the cloning process - and it's being taught by Miles Warren (Jackal). You should know what this means.
    • A gesture that Flash Thompson does at a basketball game is referred to as the "Spider-Signal" - which is one of Spider-Man's tools.
    • Fittingly enough, Eddie Brock reports on the arrest of Serial Killer Cletus Kasady - the former becomes Venom, and the latter Carnage.
  • Orphaned Series: The movie series seems to have been abandoned in favor of the MCU version of Spider-Man, although the Myth Arc franchise may be told elsewhere.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: Averted. Villains in this series have a very good chance of surviving their films, most likely because Sony wants to make villain-based spin-offs, as well as the fact that Sony only has the rights to Spider-Man villains as opposed to the entirety of the Marvel Universe. The only (possible) exceptions may be Electro, who disappears but can regenerate, and Norman Osborn, who dies offscreen but is shown being preserved in a jar in a deleted scene. Avi Arad, the producer of this series, actually said that he wants to defy this trope.
    Avi Arad: One of the things that's unique to Spider-Man... was that Spider-Man cannot destroy a villain. He cannot kill a villain. We'll never cross that line.
    • Put on a Bus: What tends to happen to villains instead. The Lizard reverts to Dr. Connors and is sent off to Ryker's Island, and while Electro disentegrates, it is established that he is able to regenerate.
  • Trilogy Creep: The main film series was announced as a trilogy, then had a fourth film added before the second was even finished. And then it was expanded into a hexalogy before the final trailer for the second movie was released, provided that you're counting spin-offs. Subverted as of 2015, as it seems that the franchise is being abandoned in favor of a cross-company deal with Marvel.
  • Villain Episode: The two spin-offs announced so far focus on members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery. These are notable in the sense that they're the first big-budget Superhero movies that star the villains of their franchise.