Live-action Spider-Verse: Why we should be more cautious in our excitement over ‘Spider-Man 3’ casting announcements


Over the past couple of weeks, Marvel Studios and Disney have been making every Marvel fan’s dreams seemingly come true in relation to casting announcements for the third Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man film.

Directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland in his 6th outing as the titular web-slinging superhero/lovable geek, the still untitled follow up to Homecoming and Far From Home is seeming to follow the trail made by the groundbreaking and remarkable Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 2018.

The MCU, now entering into its fourth and perhaps most unprecedented phase, is going full multiverse, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and WandaVision also leaning into this psychedelic new frontier. This new approach is going to come to a head with Spider-Man 3, which is aiming to recapture the magic of Into the Spider-Verse.

As of this week, both Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina have been confirmed to be reprising their roles as Electro (2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Doctor Octopus (2004’s Spider-Man 2) respectively, and both announcements set social media on fire.

That fire was even further stoked when rumors popped up that both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would be returning to don the red and blue suit (Maguire starred as the titular hero for 3 films in Sony’s first Spider-Man series, and Garfield for 2 in their early 2010’s reboot).

Talks of Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey, Kiersten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson, and even Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman joining the film have all been floating around. Check out this article for a round up of every Spider-Man 3 casting rumor:

Most of social media, and the pop culture scene as a whole, have been thrilled with every new announcement, myself included. However, maybe we should be a little more cautious in our excitement. Here are four reasons that the casting announcements for Spider-Man 3 have me nervous rather than excited.

1.) Style, Tone, and Pacing

The reason that Into the Spider-Verse worked as well as it did is because of two things; the style (animation and story) and tone. Both of these are largely due to the film’s incredible animation style, light-hearted yet genuine tone, and breathtaking pace.

While both of Jon Watts’ entries into the MCU have been solid films in their own right, we have not seen proof that this particular franchise will be capable of handling the kind of tongue-in-cheek, campy, and all-around insane style needed for something like a multiverse storyline.

The one hint we were given at the idea of the multiverse in the MCU was in the character of Mysterio in Far From Home, but even that was revealed to be a facade orchestrated by a disgruntled former Stark employee.

The Doctor Strange franchise might have a better chance of pulling this off, as it deals with magic, sorcery, and powers beyond our range of knowledge, but the Watts directed Spider-Man movies don’t seem capable of pulling something like this off.

2.) Live Action vs. Animated

The thing that made Spider-Vers so wonderful, as I mentioned earlier, wasn’t just its story style and pacing, but the animation style as well. Each character had its own unique style, whether it be Spider-Man Noir’s 40’s style serial animation, or Peter Porker’s Looney Toons-esque insanity, and even Peni Parker’s Japanese Anime motion. This gave each different Spider-Man a unique feel and distinct style, and made for an overall enthralling visual experience.

The Watts directed Spidey films have all been terrific in their own right, and have their own distinct high-school drama mixed with superhero style that make them fantastic watches on their own, but I’m not sure their visual style is distinct enough to really sell the idea of a multiverse.

Aside from the James Gunn Guardians movies and Taika Watiti’s Thor: Ragnarok, no MCU film has had a truly unique visual aesthetic to make it stand above any other superhero film, so the idea of this insane multiverse, and the unique visual style needed to pull it off, in a Watts MCU movie doesn’t give me an incredible boost of confidence.

3.) Fan Service vs. an Actual Film

Fan service has become a cinematic crutch of sorts for big-budget franchises as of late. Avengers: Endgame, as awesome as it was and as much fun as I found it to be, largely only works because of the fan-service moments it delivered on, and largely ignored things like plot continuity and logic to deliver these moments.

That is my fear with Spider-Man 3. Casting Maguire and Garfield and every other major player from Sony’s previous Spider-Man efforts seems like an amazing idea on paper for fans, but seems like an incredibly daunting task for a filmmaker to achieve, especially for one film.

Endgame works because it is the culmination of 11 years of inter-connected films and hard work by many other films, so they earned the sort of fan service needed to deliver some of the more memorable moments in the film, because they were set up in earlier films.

A multiverse would need to be set up, explained, and executed all in one film, and I’m not positive that’s remotely achievable. Unless we want a three-hour bloated mess of a film, the idea of executing such a feat seems far too daunting for one film to achieve.

4.) A certain other Spider-Man 3

Source: Sony

My last, and perhaps biggest, apprehension in relation to the newest web-slinging addition to the MCU is a certain other film named Spider-Man 3. Sony’s third attempt at a Spidey film in 2007 left much to be desired, largely due to the over-complication of its plot, and the abhorrent number of villains, plot-lines, and conflicts present. Despite its more memorable action sequences, Spider-Man 3 is largely remembered as being an absolute mess of a film, and one that would have benefitted from a few more trips through the cutting room floor.

That is my main concern. With each new casting announcement comes the necessity to set up that character in the context of the new film, establish their place, and execute their arc.

Even without all of the rumored additions being confirmed, it feels far too busy to achieve the basic criteria I just laid out. This is not meant to be an insult to Watts’ talent; Sam Raimi is an incredibly talented director (as is Watts), and even he struggled under the weight.

If even more casting announcements leak, and more characters get added, the film is going to crumble under its own weight, and fail to achieve everything it is.

In conclusion, I don’t want to falter anyone’s excitement, as I am very excited for this film myself. I also don’t mean this as an insult to Watts or anyone involved in production of this film.

I have been proven wrong many times with the MCU (I also doubted the Guardians films and Ragnarok and ended up loving all of those), and I hope that is the case again. But with each new announcement, a new hesitation is raised.

Spider-Man 3 is setting up a lot of pressure for itself, and it is up to the filmmakers to ensure it doesn’t crumble under the weight.

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