In the wake of the historic deal struck between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, comic book fans are already salivating at the possibilities of how Spider-Man may be used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. It appears fairly certain that Spidey will appear in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, but when you consider the history and popularity of Spider-Man, there are truly a countless number of ways the character could be utilized by Marvel Studios going forward. With an eye towards Marvel's Phase 3 and beyond, we highlighted 10 iconic comic book moments that could now be feasibly adapted to the big screen because of this new deal.
10. Spidey Smahes the Hulk
From: Amazing Spider-Man #328
This summer, moviegoers are going to get Hulk versus Iron Man in the “Hulkbuster” armor, but an even better fight for the big screen might be Hulk versus the Cosmic Spider-Man. That’s right true believers, back in the early 90s while David Michelinie was writing Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey – certainly not a weakling, but definitely not one of Marvel’s true powerhouses – was randomly given the cosmic power of Captain Universe. After using this extraordinary gift to defeat such foes as Gravitron, Magneto and Goliath, Spidey gets into an altercation with the Hulk (in what also ended up being Todd McFarlane’s last issue providing pencils/inks for ASM). Hulk, in his arrogant gray phase, goads Spidey into taking a swing, not realizing that the Wall Crawler is significantly stronger than he once was. Spider-Man’s punch sends Hulk into space.nFortunately, since this is Spider-Man we’re talking about, he goes into orbit to retrieve Hulk.
The odds of Marvel adopting the “Cosmic Spider-Man” story as part of its Phase 3 of movies (or ever, if we’re being honest), are slim to nil. But it’s also one of the all time great Spidey arcs. And while everyone always seems to be clamoring for a “Planet Hulk” movie, maybe a cosmic-powered punch from Spider-Man could be the moment that kicks off that storyline (again, not likely).
9. J. Jonah Jameson Trashes the New Avengers
From: New Avengers #15
While details are still trickling out regarding the specifics of the Marvel/Sony deal, one would have to assume that such a collaboration would open up the possibility of utilizing each property’s respective supportive casts and rogue’s gallery in future projects. And when it comes to the world of Spider-Man comics, there may be no better supporting cast member (and a rogue too if we’re being honest) than J. Jonah Jameson, editor/publisher of the Daily Bugle (and later mayor of New York City).
Fans of Jameson will note that the character has long harbored an obsessive resentment of the city’s super-powered folks. Of course, his hatred for Spider-Man trumps everything, but Jonah has had his moments of using the power of the press to take down “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” as well. In an issue of Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengers, the newly assembled heroes meet privately with Jameson before announcing publicly that the team has reformed. The Avengers call the meeting, primarily because they’re concerned about how Jameson might react to the fact that Spider-Man has been added to the roster. In what appears to be a historically shocking moment, Jameson and Spidey shake hands and the newsman agrees not to slander Spider-Man’s name in the Bugle. But the Avengers learned quickly that you can’t trust a snake in the grass like Jameson. In his editorial about the Avengers’ reformation, he trashes the entire team.
Just imagine the scene in Avengers: Infinity War where the city is going to pot thanks to Thanos taking over, but Jameson (as portrayed by J.K. Simmons, ‘natch) still takes the time to publicly trash the Avengers. Gold.
8. The Siege of Asgard
From: Siege #3
In the same vein, if the Marvel/Sony deal opens the portal for a total cross-pollination of cinematic properties, that means that once the Avengers are done taking care of Thanos, they can turn their attentions to the domestic threat of Norman Osborn and his band of Dark Avengers.
During the fallout of the Secret Invasion storyline, S.H.I.E.L.D. is disbanded and Osborn is appointed head of a new security agency dubbed H.A.M.M.E.R. In one of his first acts, the former Green Goblin (who swears that whole supervillain thing is all in the past), forms his own Avengers team filled with other villains including Bullseye (dressed as Hawkeye), Moonstone (dressed as Ms. Marvel) and Venom (dressed as Spider-Man). Towards the end of the “Dark Reign” arc, Osborn finally snaps and decides that it’s completely appropriate for him and his Avengers to take control of Asgard (which is floating over Oklahoma at that point in time). He, of course, fails and the good old fashioned Avengers eventually reassume their position as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”
Lots of wacky stuff happens during the Siege storyline – including Sentry ripping Ares in half – but watching Osborn finally bite off more than he can chew after his reign of terror is most satisfying.
7. Spider-Man Burns Kingpin
From: Ultimate Spider-Man #12
Switching gears to the early days of the Ultimate Universe, in Ultimate Spider-Man’s second arc, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley put together a killer of a story revolving around Spidey getting his feet wet as the new hero on the block. Part of Spidey’s “Learning Curve” (the name of the arc) is finding out the hard way that it’s tough to take down a well-connected mob boss like Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin of crime.
Not to pull the old whippersnapper card, but back in the day, Kingpin was actually introduced as an adversary for Spider-Man. It was until Frank Miller came along on Daredevil that anyone thought that ‘Ol Hornhead would want anything to do with the rotund bossman. With Kingpin already factoring into the Daredevil Netflix series in April (and Vincent D’Onofrio playing the part), Marvel/Sony might want to consider using Fisk as a villain in its 2017 Spider-Man movie. It would establish Spidey’s street level roots, while also tying into the larger Defenders universe the MCU is building out through Netflix. Plus it would provide an opportunity to recreate this classic scene from Ultimate Spider-Man where Spidey conquers the Kingpin’s goons and then proceeds to pull out a list of “you’re so fat” jokes that he delivers straight to Fisk’s stunned face.
6. Spider-Man and Daredevil Slug it Out
From: Spectacular Spider-Man #110
One of the truly great things about Spider-Man is despite the fact that he’s a hero with an extraordinary sense of honor and responsibility, he still manages to exhibit an impetuous side that makes him likely to get flip or agitated around other people – even other heroes. In the iconic “Death of Jean DeWolff” arc by Peter David and Rich Buckler, Spidey is tracking down the killer of police captain Jean DeWolff while Daredevil is chasing after the same person after the death of a judge. Once Spider-Man unmasks the Sin-Eater as police officer Stan Carter, he goes ballistic, severely beating the man. Daredevil intercedes, reminding Spider-Man that Carter deserves a fair trial like everyone else. That’s when Spidey turns his rage towards Daredevil and starts beating the snot out of him.
The two eventually resolve their differences and even reveal their secret identities to each other in the process. Spidey appreciates how Daredevil stopped him from doing something he might regret, while Daredevil is all like, “thanks, I really needed to get punched through that window” (paraphrasing here). As mentioned in the previous entry, while it’s going to be great fun to see Spider-Man interact with the Avengers and the cosmic threat of Thanos, one can’t forget that for the bulk of his career, Spidey has been considered a “street level” hero. With that in mind, it would be a huge missed opportunity if Marvel doesn’t find a way to work Spider-Man into its street level Netflix universe by having him swing by to interact with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones.
5. Red Skull Murdered Spider-Man’s Parents
From: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5
As part of Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, a peculiar amount of focus was placed on the origins and deaths of Peter Parker’s parents. In borrowing some of the content from the Ultimate Universe, these movies implicated the leadership of the evil corporation Oscorp as being the perpetrators of the Parkers’ murders. It’s was an interesting way to tie Peter’s origin more closely to that of Norman and Harry Osborn, but most fans dismissed the subplot as being unnecessary.
If the new Marvel/Sony arrangement wants to perpetuate the Parker family history/mystery, then perhaps the film could make reference to this big reveal from a late 1960s Spider-Man annual issue which marked the first time anyone attempted to explain the origins of Peter’s parents. In this version of Spider-Man history, Peter learns that his parents were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and were framed as American traitors by Captain America’s arch nemesis, the Red Skull. Spider-Man battles the Skull in this historic issue, and recovers evidence that would clear the name of his parents in the process. It’s a fantastic moment of vindication for Spider-Man while it would also provide Marvel/Sony with an opportunity to bring the iconic Red Skull back to the big screen after his one and only appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger.
4. Spider-Man Meets the Punisher
From: Amazing Spider-Man #129
While longtime Spidey scribe Gerry Conway likes to promote himself as “the man who killed Gwen Stacy,” that clearly shortchanges all of the other contributions he’s made to comics and the Spider-Man mythos. For example, Conway is also responsible (along with artist Ross Andru) for the creation of one of comic’s most enduring anti-heroes, Frank Castle, aka, the Punisher.
The Punisher first appears in Amazing Spider-Man #129 when he is hired by the villain the Jackal to hunt down Spidey (who has been accused by the Daily Bugle of murdering Norman Osborn). Conway’s script immediately depicts Castle as an unhinged vigilante who is not afraid to resort to extreme violence/murder in the name of vengeance. Because of this story, Spider-Man and the Punisher have long been inextricably linked. In fact, it wasn’t until Frank Miller came along during his Daredevil run that Punisher started to spread his wings beyond the Spider-Verse.
Since Marvel reacquired the rights to the character last year, we still haven’t gotten a proper Punisher introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the powers that be have hinted that we’ll be seeing Castle soon enough. Having Punisher take a shot at Spidey based on some kind of misunderstanding, would be a proper homage to Conway’s story and the character’s roots.
3. Spidey Saves the Avengers from Thanos
From: Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2
In a two-part storyline by Jim Starlin that traversed Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, the ever-power hungry Thanos obtains the Cosmic Cube and uses it to enslave the Avengers in a containment chamber. Spider-Man and the Thing (who, as a Fox property, would obviously not make the cut if this moment were to ever be adapted to the big screen), are summoned to Thanos’s space palace to try and free the Avengers, and the process, save the planet from certain destruction. Thanos fends off the attack almost effortlessly, leaving Spider-Man with the choice of either high-tailing it and letting the Avengers figure it out for themselves, or standing his ground against a villain who is bigger and stronger than him.
Being the character who adheres to the mantra “with great power, there must also come, great responsibility,” Spidey of course sticks it out. But he also doesn’t stupidly elect to go nose-to-nose with a super powerful demigod holding the Cosmic Cube. Instead, Spider-Man uses his brain and his lack of consideration for his own well-being and throws his body into the containment chamber, freeing the Avengers. With the help of the cosmically-powered Adam Warlock, Thanos is defeated.
This is really one of those qunintessential Spider-Man/Avengers moments that would be absolutely wonderful to see in a film adaptation. Spider-Man is considerably outgunned, but still finds a way to save the day because that’s just what he does. It’s a moment that doesn’t suspend disbelief (like the time Spider-Man physically beat up Firelord, a herald of Galactus), but it also doesn’t make Spidey out to be a total chump either.
2. Captain America Offers Spidey a Hand
From: New Avengers #1
In the opening arc of the game-changing New Avengers series, Spider-Man responds to an emergency siren at the brand new Raft prison for superhumans. It turns out that longtime Spidey villain Electro has engineered a breakout at the prison, the moment that served as the catalyst for Spider-Man FINALLY joining the Avengers after years of Marvel teasing the idea.
While there are a ton of fun moments from this arc that are now possible thanks to the Sony/Marvel deal (Sentry flying into space to kill Carnage anyone?), the moment that always stands out above all others comes when Spidey swims across the river to the Raft and is greeted by none other than Captain America, who extends his hand to pull the Wall Crawler ashore. Cap questions “what’s going on here,” which prompts a smart-alecky retort from Spidey: “I give up, what’s going on here?” The Star Spangled Avenger makes note of Spidey’s poor timing for humor, but that doesn’t hurt his chances of joining the team later in the arc.
Intentional or not, the Cap/Spidey exchange at the raft comes across as Spider-Man finally being accepted by the upper crust of the Marvel Universe as one of its top tier heroes. Certainly Spidey’s longtime loner status played a role in him never being a formal part of the Avengers, but there was always something wrong about the company’s (arguably) most popular character never quite standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. “Breakout” changed that and changed it for good.
1. Spider-Man Unmasks
From: Civil War #2
It seems a near certainty that as part of this new deal between Marvel and Sony, Spider-Man is going to play a role in next year’s Captain America: Civil War. That makes sense since Spidey was such a pivotal player in the Civil War event in the mid-2000s, first siding with Tony Stark and the pro Superhuman Registration Act crowd, before recanting his support and joining Captain America’s “secret” Avengers.
Of course, the big moment from Civil War came when Tony Stark led Spider-Man out onto a stage and the character publicly unmasked for the first time in his career. While various heroes and villains had discovered who Spidey really is over the years, he had long been Marvel’s standard bearer for having a secret identity before Civil War upended that tradition. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has already indicated that Captain America 3 won’t focus on the registration act, especially since so many of their movie heroes don’t really have a secret identity. But this scene from the comics could still be adapted in some way where Spidey is initially embraced by Tony and his pro “whatever” side, leading to the character’s unmasking.