Moviegoers have seen Spider-Man swing across Manhattan in three hit films already, but when the hero returns next July, there will be a big change in the webs he uses. The franchise’s aptly named new director, Marc Webb, is going back to the traditional comic-book portrayal in which the super strands are a product of web-shooter devices built by the young and inventive Peter Parker.
When Sam Raimi took Spider-Man to the screen in 2002, he made a major departure from the classic mythology of the character by portraying the webbing as a organic substance created by Parker’s mutated biology. The move seemed to smartly streamline the origin but some purists complained that it tampered too much with tradition. Webb says that when he took on the reboot project he wanted to go his own path, which meant breaking from the Raimi movies in places where it made sense — and when it came to the webbing he sought out some very specialized counsel.
“I had a meeting with Stan Lee and we talked about the web-shooters,” Webb said. “I was curious about the incarnation of them [because] of course in the previous films [they went away from them] and we wanted to reestablish ourselves. That was one thing but the other thing was the fact that the web-shooters were able to dramatize Peter’s intellect and I thought that was really cool. … It was in the comics and we have a different design but it’s a cool element to have. It’s not something we over-use or over-exploit. To me, it’s something I remember from when I was a kid and thinking ‘It would be cool if I could build those.'”
Webb said the webbing issue was bundled in his mind with the Spider-Man costume.
“We paid attention to the question of ‘How would a kid make it?’ And obviously we took some license with it. We also wanted a design that would make the body longer and more lithe, more of an acrobat, someone incredibly agile, and the legs of the spider [symbol on the chest] were something we used to emphasize that. We made a bunch of different suits for different lighting conditions. I wanted something that worked in the night a little better. We paid attention to that and also made the webbing [on the costume] a little bit darker. With the costume and the web-shooters we wanted to emphasize that these are things that Peter Parker made and that he is special himself even if he feels like he’s an outsider.”
For more on Webb’s thoughts on Peter Parker, read the extensive Hero Complex Q&A with Marc Webb.
— Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED