Spider-Man: “This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!” – Spider-Man: the Animated Series, (I Really, Really Hate Clones), season 5, episode 12
Marvel’s prodigal son is home.
After Sony released five Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, the Marvel-Disney juggernaut negotiated Spidey’s return to Marvel and introduced Tom Holland into the role in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Holland is being groomed to take mentor Robert Downey Jr’s place as the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The duo teams up in Spider-Man: Homecoming, one of the most lighthearted MCU films so far.
Marvel seems to have realized that snarky comedy and offbeat characters (the talking tree Groot, anyone?) appeal to larger movie audiences than any brooding caped crusader or weird romantic tension between Black Widow and The Hulk. While Marvel stretches the boundaries of superhero movies, Spider-Man is one of the quirkiest characters in the entire superhero pantheon.
We humbly submit these five Spider-Man stories as off-limits to Marvel producers for future movies. Yes, this means forever.
#5 The Spider-Mobile
Spider-Man: “Now that’s what I call a fiasco” – Spider-Man #130
This strange story was created when a toy company convinced Stan Lee that much money would be made if Spider-Man had a car that the toy company could sell to holiday shoppers.
Lee wrote a story where Spider-Man was approached by a car company to promote their new engine. A strapped-for-cash Spidey thought the idea was dumb, but needed money. And Lee needed a way for Spidey to maintain his dignity while Marvel cashed a check from the toy company in the real world.
The web-swinger recruited the Human Torch to help build a high tech dune buggy that mimicked his powers. The Spider-Mobile was born… and promptly destroyed when Spider-Man drove it off a pier. Why did he do that? We learn that Peter Parker never learned to drive. If you could swing through town, would you even bother driving? I thought not.
#4 Toei’s Spider-Man
Solus: “What manner of creature are you?”
Spider-Man: “I am the Emissary of Hell! And I will fight this great evil for the sake of all spiders!” – Amazing Spider-Man #12 (2014)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A company with an idea to make money approaches Stan Lee about Spider-Man. It’s only five years after the Spider-Mobile fiasco, but Marvel hasn’t learned its lesson yet.
This time, Japanese movie company Toei will write the big check. They want to make a Tokusatsu show about Spider-Man. Stan Lee and Marvel agree because money.
This version of Spidey was a motorcycle racer who discovered a dying alien in a crashed UFO. The alien from the planet (sigh) Spider traveled to Earth to warn humans about the approaching Iron Cross army. Before dying, the alien gives the racer a bracelet that transforms him into Spider-Man.
The show’s most unique element was Spider-Man’s giant robot, Leopardon. Yes, a giant robot he used to fight alien monsters. He wasn’t ripping off the Power Rangers because Toei Spider-Man’s 41 episodes were filmed in 1978-1979, twenty years before the Transformers and the Power Rangers and all the other toys made heroes.
#3 Spider-Man meets Saturday Night Live
John Belushi: (screaming in Japanese)
Spider-Man: “Belushi, NO! That samurai’s for real!” – Cover, Marvel Team-Up #74
Many celebrities appear in comics. Superman fought Muhammad Ali. A gritty story about The Punisher meeting Eminem scored lots of attention. But for in-your-face WTF-was-that weirdness, nothing matches the cast of 1970s era Saturday Night Live appearing with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #74.
John Belushi’s brilliant samurai character faced off against a samurai supervillain during a show that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Olson were attending. Outnumbered and trapped in the studio, Spidey fights the Silver Samurai while Belushi and the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players deal with his goons.
No reason exists for any of these characters to meet again in any way whatsoever. Not even in Zombie John Belushi & Spider-Man vs. The Evil Samurai Clan. Especially not that. Just say no. But if that one is made, we came up with the title, okay, Stan Lee?
Spider-Man 1: “You know what’s really weird? One Spider-Man would not stop singing showtunes.”
Spider-Man 2: “ Yeah? I ran into one who kept trying to teach me English.”
Spider-Man 1: “All right. I saw one of ‘em unmasked and I swear he looked like the guy from Seabiscuit.”
Spider-Man 2: “Really? I think I saw the guy from The Social Network over there.” – Spider-Verse #2
Spider-Man faced one of his dumbest threats just a few years ago. 2014’s Spider-Verse featured aliens called The Inheritors who were traveling the multiverse. The Inheritors were consuming every spider-themed hero because, get this, they grew stronger by consuming spider-themed superheroes. The drugs in the Marvel water cooler were potent during that part of 2014.
Spidey traveled the multiverse to recruit a Spider-Army to fight The Inheritors. He even brought in Toei’s Spider-Man and Leopardon to fight an Inheritor that had become a god because nothing defeats deities like a giant robot.
Sadly, this isn’t even the craziest story Marvel created. There were eight blockbuster MCU movies by this time, but Marvel was content to muck about with Spider-Man because they didn’t have his movie rights yet.
#1 One More Day
Mephisto: “I want your love. I want your marriage.” – One More Day
During the Superhero Civil War, Spider-Man revealed his secret identity on national television. The Kingpin (Vincent D’onofrio in Netflix’s Daredevil) put out a hit on Spidey’s family that mortally wounded Aunt May. Spidey pleads with everyone possible, but no science or sorcery could fix a bullet in an octogenarian.
While searching for a way to save Aunt May, Marvel’s Satan stand-in Mephisto appears as a little girl who offers to save Aunt May’s life in exchange for erasing Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane. The couple agrees.
In other words, he sold his marriage to a compassionate, intelligent supermodel to the devil for a few more years with his spinster aunt. And the little girl? She would have been his daughter if they hadn’t made that deal.
Why sell a marriage instead of a soul? Marvel execs wanted Spidey to be single again but weren’t willing to kill off MJ or have them divorce. They betrayed the concept that “with great power comes great responsibility” in concocting such a stupid story.
Somewhere Uncle Ben is weeping.