More SPIDER-MAN Reboot Details: Lower Budget, Higher Drama

     January 20, 2010

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Hope your spider-senses are tingling out there because we’ve got more news on the upcoming Spider-Man reboot from Sony/Columbia Pictures. As most of you already know, the short list of filmmakers being pitched around to take up the reigns of the new Spidey franchise, which contained names like Fincher and Cameron (who was spearheading the effort to bring the webbed wonder to the silver screen in the early nineties), was quickly pared down, leaving 500 Days of Summer director, Marc Webb, the man in charge. I’m going to spare you all the joke about it being meant to be… no I won’t; Webb, Spider-Man, get it?! Anyway, now we’ve got a few more details about the story angle and scope that the studio is shooting for with this new take on the world of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, not the least of which being that the new film is rumored to be budgeted in the $80 million range. That’s almost half the budget of the first film back in 2002!

THR hit with the news that the studio is aiming for the relatively low budget of $80 million, also looking to cast the film with unknown actors. This is understandable, as you want the audience to associate the characters with the actors and not the personality of the actor themselves. It’s the reason Christopher Reeve is still Superman in our hearts and minds, it was the first thing anybody ever saw him in. The budget is a bit more troubling as it seems the studio is cutting out the spectacle that audiences have come to expect from a Spider-flick, perhaps wanting to disassociate the new series from Raimi’s films as much as possible. But are they really expecting general audiences to respond after cutting out the main reason Tom, Dick, and Harry go to see these movies? It’s a bit of a craps shoot. Of course now the Spider-Man name is enough to get people in the door. For more on this and a few story details, pull on your spandex and hit the jump.

spider-man_comic_book_ultimate_cover_01.jpgWe’ve also come to learn that Jaimie Vanderbilt’s script will take more inspiration from Brian Michale Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man comics than from Stan Lee’s original 1960’s run which heavily informed Sam Raimi’s first two films. Vanderbilt’s script is said to focus more heavily on the problems a high school aged Peter Parker faces while also dealing with his great power and great responsibility, with the high-flying action taking a back seat to character and drama. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Spider-Man has always been the melodramatic heart of the Marvel universe, and it also explains what Webb will be able to bring to film, with his lack of special effects and action experience.

A few months ago, we reported that Marvel had won the television rights for Spidey back from Sony, and that one of the possible outcomes of this could be a live-action Spider-Man series in a similar vein to the CW’s Smallville, and that almost seems to be what this new movie is becoming. Irony. This approach would make for a great live-action series, one that could really get into the characters over seasons at a time, exploring the complex relationships between Peter and his supporting cast, drawing out the mental break down of Norman Osborn, building up characters like Otto Octavius and Curt Connors before turning them into villains. One gets the impression that Sony would be making a television series if they could, but instead have to keep making films to keep the rights to the property. Ugh, such a waste.

Still, I’m intrigued by the way this reboot is unfolding. I loved 500 Days of Summer and am excited to see what else Marc Webb can do. Also, a more character-driven approach to the Spider-Man story could be a welcome change, especially after the mess that was Spider-Man 3. The lower budget could also mean the audiences will be treated to some more impressive in camera stunts and effects, without the over-reliance on CGI that plagued even Raimi’s good Spider-Man flicks. Put the free-runner guy from the beginning of Casino Royale is a Spider-suit and let him run around on camera, that could be more impressive than any computer creation. With this new tone, maybe we could see a return to the slightly creepy feeling the Spider-Man character used to have in the comics. And maybe we can get an actor who can quip in costume and not sound so devoid of personality. These are all positive things we can get out of a new Spider-Man flick, and I’m hoping we do.

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