4. A TANGLED LEGACY
Spider-Man has one of the greatest supporting casts in comics, and while the movies had no trouble playing them up (especially J.K. Simmons’ masterful J. Jonah Jameson), it’s had sort of a rocky relationship with the other characters.
This interview with Mary Jane creator Gerry Conway highlights it: Even though Gwen Stacy was a complex character, she’s remembered exclusively for her death; Mary Jane was created to be an “ideal” girlfriend and is a CONSTANT maiden in distress. Many other characters surrounding Spider-Man are defined chiefly by their deaths, such as Captain Stacy, the Osborns, Aunt May, Uncle Ben… the list goes on.
The simple fact is, Spider-Man needs a revitalized mythology, one not bound by the “who lives/who dies” mentality of the comics. It’s also time for some fresh blood in the cast. Cast a Harry Osborn or a Gwen Stacy and audiences will be counting the seconds until they inevitably go crazy and die or get kidnapped and die. If a “Mary Sue” is the author inserting an wish-fulfillment version of themselves into a story, I hereby decree that a “Mary Jane” is when an author inserts a wish-fulfillment girlfriend for themselves into a story.
What about Flash Thompson? Gloria Grant? Liz Allen? Show us a cast that evolves in a way we haven’t seen before but is true to the character’s legacy. Give us Kraven the Hunter, Morbius, the Flash Gordon Venom… characters that haven’t already been done to death or haven’t been culturally cemented in place by previous movies.
Believe me, I want to see the next, greatest version of Doctor Octopus as the next guy… But I want to see the character evolve even more. And given all the Russos have said, that’s what they’re promising to do with Spidey.
Evolve the character.