WARNING: The following contains obnoxious opinions, strong language and/or potential SPOILERS!
Most people would just get sick if they were bitten by a spider. They would probably get multiple illnesses if that spider was radioactive. By that logic, Peter Parker is the luckiest unlucky man in history.
So the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer came out this week to a welcome and enthusiastic reception. I will be coming back to that and the end of the blog, but upon seeing the trailer, I noticed something amazing. 2018 ended up being some kind of Spider-Man renaissance. He never really went anywhere, but his popularity has suddenly skyrocketed amid multiple multimedia materializations. Last year he appeared in several new comic series, a massive comic book crossover event, one of the most well-received Playstation games of the last 5 years, a critically acclaimed animated movie masterpiece and the most ambitious comic book film in history. It was easily the biggest year for our New York hero since his initial creation in 1962. So let's dissect this year a little bit and take a look at Spidey’s dynamite 2018.
In the Month of May, Spider-Man was a welcome addition to Avengers: Infinity War. The film was a massive undertaking, bringing in virtually every character from the many films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was obviously feeling the hype for this film. I still remember seeing Iron Man for the first time in 2008 and watching that universe unfold and reach these heights was a genuine treat in my life. If you know me, you’ll know that my favorite moment in any of these 20 films was watching Spider-Man join in the fray of Captain America: Civil War. I enjoyed Homecoming, but I knew Infinity War would be a big moment for Spider-Man. He was at his very best, throwing down hilarious one liners, but also dazzling heroics and was christened an Avenger by Tony Stark. He also delivered one of the best lines of dedication in the film and in the character’s history; “You can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood...” The line was the moment that I knew Tom Holland was and will continue to be an excellent representation for the character. No matter what happens in future MCU films, I’ll always buy a ticket for the Webhead and I CAN'T WAIT to see what happens to him in Endgame!
September brought us the INCREDIBLE Spider-Man video game on Playstation 4. I was so blown away by the early footage shown in 2016 that I bought myself a PS4 just to play it (and several other exclusive games, but mostly that one). When I finally got to play it, my jaw dropped to the floor. Beautiful graphics, intelligent writing and intuitive controls let you take control for the character and be the character more than you’ve ever been. It was also refreshing to experience a Spider-Man at his prime, who in the storyline had been Spider-Man for 8 years and left you with many resources at your disposal. I laughed, I cheered and I cried. This game hits with its story and it hits hard. Insomniac Games has been generous in additional content as well. The game comes with over 25 unlockable suits for the character from various comic sources. Since launch, there have been 3 downloadable story add-ons with new activities and suits to unlock in your game. They even gave out a free suit from the 2002 film just because fans asked for it. Overall, it was a massive success. So much so that the PS4 version of the character was brought into the comics and will have his own running series in March 2019. I may have already pre-ordered the first issue…
Spidey also had some fun in the comics last year. “What If” printed some new issues after a LONG hiatus. They showed us a universe where Flash Thompson became Spider-Man and it predictably, he wasn’t very good at it. We all saw a universe where Peter Parker ended up becoming the Punisher, which was very interesting. In the end though, his ethics won out and he hung up the mentality rather quickly. Both of those were extremely enjoyable reads. Amazing Spider-Man crossed another milestone in releasing its 800th issue of the series, and it was a doozy. Spider-Man is forced to team up with enemies and a couple friends to fight Norman Osborn, who has bonded with Carnage and become the nearly unbeatable Red Goblin. It was absolutely epic and I loved every page. Finally, after the success of the Spider-verse crossover a few years back, Marvel ran a follow up event called Spider-Geddon from August to November. I’ll give you the short version on this one. Dangerous beings that can travel between universes jump to them one at a time and kill the Spider-Man that resides there to gain power. It’s pretty basic but what makes it fun is the 30-something different kinds of Spider-Man that the writers brought together. Some we were familiar with and some brand new, but all very interesting. There was a universe where Bruce Banner (normally the Hulk) was Spider-Man, there was one who grew to become a killer, an Aunt May Spider-Ma’am, an Uncle Ben Spider-Man and even a steampunk-era hero called Lady Spider. The Playstation 4 Spider-Man not only joined in, but was a major player. It was just as much fun as the first event, but like the first event there were casualties and I have the worst luck with my favorites every time. Overall, I’m just glad to see Spider-Man still has the ability to captivate from the pages he started out in so many years later. I hope it remains that way for years to come.
Finally in December, came “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. My bias will show, but this was one of the greatest animated films that I’ve ever seen and one of the Webslinger’s biggest successes. It has seen endless praise from critics, reviews, won 3 Best Animated Feature awards (Producers’ Guild, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards) and is nominated for another 12 including the animated feature Oscar! As much as I enjoy what Disney has been doing with the character, this project from Sony had more heart and emotion built into it than any of the MCU stuff. The story finally centers around the highly demanded fan-favorite, Miles Morales. The familiar story of how Miles becomes Spider-Man gets turned on its head when a nefarious set of villains use a super collider to bridge dimensions and several other Spider-People (?) get stuck in Miles’ world, including the Peter Parker from our universe. Miles now finds himself having to learn what it takes to wear the mask with little time to spare before the collider causes a dimensional breakdown. It was one helluva ride. The animation style was something new and fresh, emulating the style of traditional comic books while also giving each Spider their own style of animation blended in. It was visually stunning, and Sony themselves is working on copyrighting the style due to strong positive response it has gotten. There was a grab bag of easter eggs as there are in all of these types of films, for fans who’ve read the comics and watched the movies. However, there were considerably more than the average amount and Sony even took a few jabs at their own shortcomings, leading to lots of laughs and nostalgic joy. The soundtrack was also excellent and gave you goosebumps at all the right moments. Most importantly, it will do what all superhero films are supposed to do; inspire and imprint on a new generation, keeping the comic industry alive. It was a perfect Spider-Man film to me, an absolute game-changer for the animation industry and I was completely blown away. Thankfully, Sony plans on running with the premise and already has at least 1 sequel and a spin-off in the works. I cannot wait to see what comes next or what Disney will do to avoid losing momentum.
Speaking of Disney let’s get back to that Far From Home Trailer because I have mixed feelings. Let’s start with the positive. Mysterio looks AMAZING! I’ve waited over a decade for somebody to finally put him in a film and the trailer reaction shows it was the right call. I can already tell it's gonna be a wild ride and we can’t know for certain if what we are seeing is real or if its Mysterio and his trickery. Tom Holland again shows that he can be this character with catchy quips and humor. I really like what he brings to the character. I’m also very excited to see Nick Fury and can't wait to see how Spider-Man works with him and other SHIELD personnel. Definitely looks like a fun film.
There are still some things I don’t like though, granted it's mostly whiney fanboy stuff. First off, why is this film in Europe? Why do we need Spiderman in a suit GLIDING past the London Bridge. Spider-Man leaps off the Chrysler Building and swings through NYC to chase after bank robbers while holding a unfinished bowl of cereal. That's who he is! C’mon Disney!!! Second, let's talk about the suits. Why do suits fall out of the sky in this franchise? In this one, he gets 2 new suits, and I don’t like how either of them look. I was hoping they’d learn something from the Iron Man Jr stuff they pushed through Homecoming and Infinity War, but now I can’t tell. Also, MJ needs to chill out already. The whole activism thing, like I get it, I agree with many of the points, but I don’t want it in a Spider-Man movie. That’s not the place for this stuff. I dunno if the Zendaya wanted that for the character or if she was written that way, but they gotta stop with that. It’s distracting at this point. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong about most of this. Maybe it’ll be incredible. Guess we will have to wait and see…
I already say 2018 was one of the best years of my life, and this was definitely a part of that. Spider-Man and his stories just hit me in a way that other stories can’t. They are a continuing source of inspiration, never letting me forget who I used to be and what I’ve come from. They hold me the mark, reminding me to always take the high road, and help people who need it. Honestly, I owe a lot to Spider-Man, more than most people understand and to me 2018 was definitely the year of the Spider.