Before Marvel Comics became a cinematic powerhouse, they struggled as a company in the 1990s due to a bursting bubble in the comic book industry when spectators flooded the market. By struggle, we mean that Marvel ended up filing for bankruptcy, which is pretty hard to believe these days since they’re currently responsible for some of the highest grossing movies of all time.
To get out of this rut, Marvel sold the film rights to a lot of their flagship characters. This included giving iconic creations like Daredevil, X-Men and The Fantastic Four over to Fox. Meanwhile, Sony was able to acquire film rights for Spider-Man and a number of his supporting characters, heroes, and villains.
As a lot of readers probably know, there was a recent hack that exposed a number of Sony corporate e-mails. Among these e-mails were a number of letters discussing the future of The Amazing Spider-Man film franchise. Sony had planned for these films to do better than the original trilogy that starred Tobey Maguire. At their best, they’ve only been about as profitable. According to the hacked e-mails, this has led Sony to reconsider the franchise in a number of ways. One possibility was to sell it all back to Marvel, reverting the rights and allowing Marvel to put Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Another option was to work alongside Marvel, allowing Sony to retain the rights but get a piece of that sweet, sweet MCU money. Regardless of the plan, it seemed Marvel did not want to work with current Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield. This is surprising since the one thing people seem to unanimously enjoy about the new films is the man playing Spider-Man. Perhaps Marvel just wants to distance themselves from a film series that wasn’t their own. Another possibility is the fact that Garfield hasn’t had very nice things to say about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Another possibility is Peter Parker may not even be Spider-Man nor even the Peter Parker we’re used too in the films.
Marvel has been known to dip into their alternate material when it comes to building up their cinematic universe. Instead of the typical list of twelve attractive white males in their twenties, we’re going to take a look at other popular incarnations of the ol’ web-head and see if we can’t come up with something a bit more interesting. We’ll break the list into three categories:
Teenage Peter Parker
This is the one we know from the start of both film franchises, the early comics, and the early start of the Ultimate line.
Adult Peter Parker
This is the one that has been in the standard Spider-Man titles for quite some time. If you’ve read a Spider-Man title from the regular Marvel line in the last 35 years, this is most likely your Spider-Man.
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man
If you are a fan of the Ultimate Marvel line, you have probably grown to love Miles Morales. Miles took over after Peter Parker was killed off in Ultimate Spider-Man. The Ultimate line revamped a lot of Marvel characters in a modern day setting. The films borrow heavily from those books so Miles is not out of the question.
Let’s get started!
12. Teenage Peter: Asa Butterfield
Asa Butterfield could very well be one of the best actors on this list despite being the youngest person on the list. He floored people in The Boy In the Striped Pajamas and Hugo was a highly underrated film. Butterfield also has some experience in special effects heavy science fiction films after his work on Ender’s Game.
Asa is eighteen-years-old, definitely a good age for the role, but some might think that he looks just a little bit too young. That’s a fair complaint – mainly because it’s true. However, in the comic books Peter Parker was fifteen when he first put on the mask. It might be interesting to see the film address such a young person entering a world of heroes that’s presently filled with adults in their thirties.
11. Teenage Peter: Logan Lerman
One of the things that has defined Spidey through the years is he is generally drawn with a wiry and lanky form. He isn’t your typical bulked-up muscular superhero and it’s always provided some nice contrast when he’s put next to another super-powered individual. This is one of the reasons Garfield was a better Spider-Man than Maguire: he looked the part.
Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) isn’t a teenager but he can play the age, he has the Spidey build, and he is a great enough up and coming talent that there shouldn’t be any worry if he could play the part. He also has experience in effects heavy films due to his role as Percy Jackson.
Marvel made big changes in comic books by making a teenage hero in an industry that only used teens as sidekicks at the time. Since most cinematic heroes are adults, keeping Peter a teen is pretty likely.
10. Teenage Peter: Freddie Highmore
Freddie Highmore is a terrific actor so it would be very tough to imagine him not being able to pull off any role that is thrown at him. He can do high drama as we’ve seen in Bates Motel and August Rush, and he’s no stranger to fantasy with his roles in The Spiderwick Chronicles and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With Highmore we once again see an actor in their twenties, but he generally plays teenagers as it is. Highmore also has the lanky build that is a must for anyone putting on the suit.
Granted Highmore doesn’t look exactly like Peter Parker, that’s not that big of an issue. Even if Marvel didn’t go with Highmore for Parker, he is the kind of actor that Marvel seems to go after for their films. If not Spider-Man, maybe Nova?
9. Teenage Peter: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
One thing the Ultimate line played up pretty well was the fact that Peter was very young, gangling, a geek, and was not someone that many would consider conventionally attractive. There was even a moment in the comics when Black Cat lifted his mask for a kiss and when she pulled back she noticed the acne and spotty facial hair of a nerdy teen. She then proceeded to throw up and run away in shame.
If Marvel really wanted to play Peter up as a totally hapless nerd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse would be perfect. He always plays younger characters, he usually plays nerdy characters, and he’s no stranger to superhero films as we’ve seen with the Kick-Ass movies. If we have to go through yet another Spider-Man reboot in a ten year period, this could help make things a little different.
8. Adult Peter: Lee Pace
Sure, Lee might already be part of the MCU as Ronan the Accuser from 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but in all fairness he’s covered in pounds upon pounds of make-up. With his work in shows like the highly underrated Wonderfalls and the even more underrated Pushing Daisies, Pace isn’t a stranger to the nice mix of dark and whimsy that Spider-Man seems to capture. It also wouldn’t be the first time an actor has had two roles in MCU films if the images of Blackbolt the Inhuman Vin Diesel has been posting through his social networking apps mean what they think we mean.
7. Adult Peter: Jay Baruchel
If you read Spider-Man through his “second Renaissance” in the 1990’s (when he was still Marvel’s flagship character) and so forth, you know Peter Parker best as an adult, married to Mary Jane, and a man who would eventually become a teacher at his old high school. The Clone Saga, Maximum Carnage, and Civil War were all huge stories, and they all featured an adult Parker.
Jay Baruchel would be perfect for this role. Once again we see the right build, the inherent geekiness, and most importantly Jay is known for his comedy work. Spider-Man was always known as more of a wise-cracker, and though a lot of bad things happened to Parker through the years, he was always a more light-hearted character that was never running out of good one-liners. Could you imagine a Spider-Man film from the Judd Apatow crew?
6. Adult Peter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Marvel has announced the mega-popular Civil War event will make its way into the MCU through the third Captain America film. The event focused on a government bill that required every super-powered individual to turn their identities over to the U.S. government or face imprisonment. The debate split The Avengers down the middle and Iron Man talked an adult Peter Parker into giving up his identity to the public. Spidey played such a huge role in the story-line it would be a shame if he didn’t have a similar role in the MCU. Joseph Gordon-Levitt could pull off the drama for the situation and pull off Parker’s sense of humor. Now that he’s out of the Batman films, he’s one of a number of actors that would fit so well into the MCU. If he can’t play Spider-Man, he’d make a great Iron Fist.
5. Adult Peter: Chris Pine
Why the heck not? Chris Pine already has a taste of what it’s like to be a part of a huge mega-franchise in the world of geek-culture with his role of Captain James T. Kirk in the theatrical reboot of the original Star Trek series. Considering big blockbuster movies tend to make films in trilogies, Pine might be looking for another big franchise to join once the third Star Trek movie wraps up filming. Mr. Pine would also look good standing next to the other members of the Avengers roster. Let’s not downplay the fact that Marvel also seems to strike gold with people named Chris!
4. Miles Morales: Brandon Smith
Brandon Smith is an up and coming actor that rose to fame on Disney shows like Sonny With A Chance and So Random. Since then he’s joined the highly rated show You’re the Worst and has recently started to enter into a film career. Smith was a fan favorite as Nico Harris on his two Disney comedies, and comedy chops is the most important part of anyone playing Spider-Man, whether it’s Miles or Peter. He also has the tall and thin build that just looks right for the character while in costume.
3. Miles Morales: Michael B. Jordan
Let’s face it. The upcoming Fantastic Four movie is going to be an absolute disaster. While many are complaining about the non-issue of Jordan playing a traditionally white superhero, there are much bigger issues with the film. Dr. Doom is a chat-warrior, the family dynamic is being pushed aside, and the actors were told not to read the source material. There are even rumors that there won’t be costumes. A teaser hasn’t been released and the film is less than a year away. When the film tanks, Marvel Studios should call Jordan for one of their in-house films.
Michael B. Jordan is a great actor who has already done a great job as a super-powered teen in Trank’s Chronicle. He’s also appeared in highly acclaimed shows like Friday Night Lights and The Wire. For all the flack he’s getting for being in the role of a traditionally white superhero, Marvel should seriously consider Jordan for a Spider-Man reboot.
2. Miles Morales: Tyler James Williams
You probably know Tyler James Williams best as a young Chris Rock in the comedy Everybody Hates Chris. Outside of this series, Williams has appeared in another big adaptation of a comic book property with The Walking Dead. He’ll also be appearing in the anticipated comedy/drama Dear White People. He’s an up-and-coming big talent that could breathe some new life into the MCU, which is currently filled with big names and highly recognizable faces. Sometimes a relatively unknown actor can increase the believability factor in fantastical films of this nature.
1. Miles Morales: Donald Glover
There was actually an internet campaign for Donald Glover to play Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man films. This campaign was met with a lot of people making the obligatory statement that Peter Parker isn’t black. While that shouldn’t entirely matter anyway, what a lot of people seem to forget is that not every Spider-Man is Peter Parker.
Comic fans have been reading about the exploits of the Miles Morales Spider-Man for years now and readers seem to love him. In fact, Donald Glover has already played the character. He voiced Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. Glover wearing Spider-Man pajamas in an episode of Community was even part of the original inspiration for Miles.
Heck, Donald Glover could even write the script. A Spider-Man movie should have just as much comedy as action, and Glover is a self-proclaimed nerd who also happened to win an Emmy for his writing on 30 Rock.