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Thursday, May 23, 2024

With Florida’s presidential primaries and Gainesville city elections finally over, we can take a sigh and briefly shift focus toward a non-political issue worthy of discussion: Spider-Man. For those actually invested in the real world who may not have heard the breaking news from last week, Marvel Studios released a new trailer for “Captain America: Civil War,” which featured the return of everyone’s friendly, neighborhood web-slinger. This is now the third movie installment of Spidey, which automatically raises a number of concerns for all of us, particularly for an anxious opinions edito — uh, many staffers at the Alligator.

In our latest Darts & Laurels segment, we highlighted Marvel’s missed opportunity to follow the lineage of post-Peter-Parker Spider-Man and cast an African-American or Latino actor for the newest wall-crawler, not as a catering to the “PC police” but as both a statement of redemption from the newest Fantastic Four’s fumble and a worthy addition to the non-white-male-lead trend beautifully executed in the newest Star Wars.

Our curiosities also lead us to question the direction of the new web-head’s character. While Marvel’s president, Kevin Feige, revealed last year that the new Spider-Man will feature a teenage Peter Parker thrown into the greater, Avengers-centric conflicts of his world, we question how the writers’ choices and how actor Tom Holland’s performance will fare in comparison to past installments. For instance, will Holland’s Spidey channel that of the conservative, nerdy Tobey Maguire or the smooth-operator, cheeky Andrew Garfield? Or perhaps Holland and the directors of “Civil War,” the Russo brothers, will give us an iteration of Spider-Man beyond our expectations.

Another concern we have pertains to the role Spider-Man will play in the new movie’s plot. Fans of the original “Civil War” comic series recall how Spidey originally started on Iron Man’s side but then led a mass exodus over to Captain America’s team, forcing Iron Man to build a new army by releasing Marvel’s worst villains from a high-security prison. But given the movie’s significantly smaller cast of heroes, as well as its focus on Captain America’s personal story and additional debut of the character Black Panther, we wonder if the movie’s Spider-Man will follow the same path as his comic book equivalent. All of this excitement and angst is enough to make that one opinions edito — uh, us Alligator staffers — crawl underneath a Spider-Man blanket back home and await the midnight release of “Civil War” on May 6.

Ultimately, no matter how the movie pans out, the mythology of Spider-Man will live on in fans’ hearts. For instance, even though Marvel devastated the Deadpool community by unofficially and poorly casting him in the Wolverine stand-alone film, fans enthusiastically held out for the most recent redemption installment. And no matter how many times Michael Bay ran the Transformers series into the ground, fans can unashamedly crawl back to their ‘90s animation series and action figures.

The allure of superheroes in general is the source of imagination, inspiration and revelation they provide. Not unlike the novels or the films, superhero tales offer us a medium through which to engage our youthful spirits. At its best, the newest Spider-Man will evoke such joy within viewers, and at the very least, his reemergence will hopefully provide a few witty remarks and a decent showcasing of tight red spandex.

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