What's Next for Spider-man?

Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday. I had some minor surgery and the anesthesia knocked me out more than I expected. But I'm back in tip-top shape so let's get rolling again. Today's topic is our friendly neighborhood Spider-man.

Sony has been in a creative battle with Sam Raimi over the direction of the franchise. Now, Raimi is out and so is actor Toby Maguire as Peter Parker. The franchise will get a reboot with a new cast and a new director. Raimi, whose first two Spider-man motion pictures were critical and financial successes, gave in to studio pressure on Spider-man 3 and added Venom despite his reservations. Since that third film was the weakest in the trilogy, it's not a shock that Raimi didn't want to compromise his vision another time. Rumor has it that he wanted to focus on old-school villains like the Lizard and the Vulture, but Sony wanted the villains to be more recent villains like Carnage. Needless to say, Sony made it clear that it was calling the shots and Raimi walked away with Maguire following.

Sony will now reboot the Spider-man series, ignoring the three blockbuster films that came before. It is baffling why the studio would have so little faith in the filmmaker who arguably made some of the finest and most popular superhero movies in the genre.

I'm starting to feel like the Spider-man franchise is facing the types of adversities the character faces in the comics. Spidey is always a hard-knock hero, everything always goes wrong for him, the weight of the world is always on his shoulders, yet he selflessly fights through against all odds.

Not only has the movie franchise hit a mega-pothole, a Broadway version has also faced a bunch of hurdles. Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark (stupid title) with music and lyrics by U2 (I kid you not) has been delayed for various reasons but is finally scheduled to make its stage debut this February. Alan Cumming plays the evil Green Goblin and Evan Rachel Wood plays the love interest Mary Jane Watson.

Maybe Sony should make the next movie a musical too. I'm kidding, of course. The saddest news is that the new movie will be sort of a prequel. Instead of moving the story forward, Sony will ignore all the continuity established in the first three films and start from scratch with a reimagined interpretation of young Peter Parker's beginnings as Spider-man.

It's troubling for me to see studios take great characters and act like they don't know what to do with them. Sam Raimi's films weren't perfect (especially the third one) but he created some great moments and I think earned the right to make a fourth film his way. Of course, Sony calls the shots and has every right to produce the type of film it thinks will make the most money. Even though I thought Maguire was great in the lead role, I think the franchise can survive with someone new playing the part, but I completely disagree with the decision to totally revamp the series and take it back to square one. It almost makes me wish that Disney would have cinematic control over the character it now owns as part of its deal with Marvel -- a sugar-coated Disney Spider-man movie might still be better than a prequel Spidey. It's all the more disheartening because Sony actually gave us some very entertaining movies.

Putting all my fears aside, the next film might still be terrific. But now we'll never know what Sam Raimi's fourth Spider-man film would have been. And I think, if they'd let him do it his way, it would have been something special.