Time for a sequel, and it’s called ‘Spider-Man II’. No subtitle, no mucking about just ‘Spider-Man II’, with Roman numerals to add a bit of class. Yes, we’re back with the second article in my series on what I’d do if I were in charge of a series of films about everyone’s favourite web-slinger. Now, between articles Marvel released the excellent Civil War, which was a better Avengers film than 50% of the current Avengers films and, in my opinion, is the second best Marvel film so far, after Winter Soldier.
Civil War saw the introduction of the new Spider-Man and he was actually really good. It’s an adaptation very true to the comics, and one which fits in really well with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Tom Holland nails both the portrayal of Peter Parker and Spidey, and adds even more quips to the most quip-laden super group of all time. If you’re yet to see Civil War, go! See! But also stay here and read the rest of this article as I continue to unfold my ideas for a Spider-Franchise aimed at an MCU-free world. As usual I will use the source material as inspiration, but look to create a new narrative and a new way of presenting the character.
Setting and Backstory
The sequel picks up where film one left off, with the strain on Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy’s relationship at breaking point following the death of George Stacy. Pete is unsure if being Spider-Man is the right way to go, but does he have a choice with criminals such as Doctor Octopus still at large? In terms of key locations we still have Aunt May’s House, the Daily Bugle and, as the leads are all still studying, Empire State University (which is undergoing repairs). They all live off-campus now adding their apartments to the location list, along with Oscorp Tower the heart of the Osborn business empire. There will be other locations used, but these are the main places of interest.
Characters and Dream Cast
Ideally the cast from film one would return, and in brief that uses unknowns for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson (see the first article for details on all the characters). Rising stars are used in John Boyega (Harry Osborn) and Jack Reynor (John Jameson), with star power coming from Meryl Streep (Aunt May), Seth Rogen (Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus) and JK Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson the greatest casting of all time). For the sequel there’s only really one new key addition to the cast:
Norman Osborn: The father of Harry Osborn (Pete’s flatmate and best bud), Norman is the owner of Oscorp, a multi-national corporation with fingers in many pies, but a strong bent toward research. He is in possession of a killer business instinct and genius-level intellect, and will stop at nothing to secure a bright future for his corporation.
Casting: Idris Elba the film’s only new player needs to pack some clout, and Elba certainly brings that. He’s a big guy with a big presence and can bring something new to the table.
As this is a sequel we’re kicking off with a pre-title sequence cold opening. The film opens on a space shuttle making its way to the moon. We see them landing, and hear the astronauts chat eagle-eared viewers might recognise John Jameson’s voice in the mix. When the shuttle doors open, Jameson steps out with two other astronauts their suits and equipment are designed and made by Oscorp, bearing their logo. They make their way across the surface, as the camera moves around them to reveal a crashed ship. It has a curious look to it very alien in its design.
They find their way inside through a damaged outer-wall and begin to explore the interior of the ship, when suddenly they hear noises from the bowels of the vessel. As they head towards the noise they are attacked by an alien of some kind it’s big, and its eyes look dead. There is a strange dark substance on the creature. In the attack one of the astronaut dies, but Jameson manages to draw a weapon and strike a killing blow. They press on and find what seems to be a cargo hold, and searching it they find alien weaponry and various artefacts, including a small, red stone (which attracts Jameson’s attention) and glass cube containing a viscous black liquid which reacts when the cube is touched. Jameson declares everything is to be loaded onto the ship, and we cut to the titles.
We pick up the story as Pete and Gwen are midway through a date in a classy restaurant. The atmosphere is awkward, and their relationship is very much on the rocks following the events of the first film. The scene should feel uncomfortable, and it is a relief when police cars, sirens blazing, speed past the restaurant. With a reluctant sigh, Gwen tells him to go. Pete says he’ll be back and leaves the table, and we cut to an in progress high-speed police chase. Spider-Man swings in and joins the chase, managing to apprehend the villains, make some quips, evade the police and even take a photo for the bugle. When Pete returns to the restaurant, Gwen is gone. The question of whether or not he can balance a personal life with being Spider-Man still hangs over him.
Pete returns home, no longer in university halls but now in an apartment down town. He lives with Harry and MJ (the latter still something of an unwitting, or certainly unwilling, cause of friction in Gwen and Pete’s relationship). As he walks into the flat Harry shouts a hello. Pete calls back that he is heading to bed, and an unfamiliar voice implores him to stay and have a drink. As Pete actually looks, in the front room finishing dinner are Harry, MJ and Norman Osborn, Harry’s father. Norman gestures for Pete to join them. They talk awhile, we find out about how things have moved on since film one, discussing how university is going, the latest research at Oscorp, and character building chat. Norman should come off as a serious, but caring man who loves his son and respects his friends. But there is a ruthless side to him.
Norman is intrigued by Pete being a photographer at The Daily Bugle, and suggests that when he’s got his degree he should apply for a job at Oscorp they could make much more of his talents than that hack, J. Jonah Jameson. Pete says he’ll think about it, and they continue to converse. When MJ asks where Gwen is he makes his excuses and heads to bed. Norman also realises the time and has to leave, telling Harry he’s proud of him, then leaving. In his room Peter slumps dejectedly onto his bed. It is clear that things are still rough from the end of the first instalment.
Meanwhile, Norman Osborn arrives at a military base where Jameson and the other astronaut have been debriefed, and are now based. Osborn talks with a researcher and then with Jameson about the black liquid. Osborn wants it for his research, and flexes his financial muscles to get it stating that his company paid for the trip to space, therefore the right to investigate the findings are his. The substance could be valuable, behaving like some sort of a living material and upon hearing the report from Jameson, Norman concludes that it might be some kind of natural armour. Eventually he wins out, but only after showing his more aggressive side. As Osborn leaves, taking all the findings from the crashed ship with him, Jameson reaches into his pocket and takes out the red stone planning to keep it for himself.
There’s always room to squeeze in a fun J. Jonah Jameson scene, as Pete delivers his latest Spider-Man photos. Jameson then goes on a rant about how he wants photos proving that Spider-Man is a criminal. If you want a hero they should be putting his son on the front page, he just went on a mission to space to the moon! But no, his work is top secret, because he’s humble he doesn’t need to run around in his pyjamas to prove a point! He’s a real American hero! During this rant, Pete gives up and decides to just leave but as he’s walking out of the building his phone rings. The call is from an unknown number, and when he answers it there is a familiar voice on the line. The voice belongs to Otto Octavius, also known as Doctor Octopus, and is is calling with a not-so-friendly warning there is truck coming into the city that night, and it is carrying equipment he needs (when questioned as to why he refuses to answer, there could be footage of his side of the conversation with him looking over plans for improving his arms, and the construction of robot minions. This could be cut from the final release). He is clear that he is going to attack the truck and take what he needs, and he wants Spider-Man to not show up, after all another battle might again result in innocents dying. He suggests it would be a shame were anything to happen to Aunt May, or Harry or even Gwen. Soon after, Pete meets up with Gwen who apologises for leaving dinner the previous night. She explains that she’s having a really difficult time, she’s not happy on her course and the death of her father has had a damaging impact Pete distractedly sympathises, and says nothing of Doc Ock’s threats.
Norman investigates the black liquid in his laboratory and discovers that it has the power to bind with a host improving them. He is adamant this could be used to create highly advanced armour for the military and wants to move to human testing, but his research partners refuse that. It’s too untested, too much could go wrong. Frustrated, he storms out of the lab. He needs a willing subject, someone in need of this technology who might have reason to take the risk. He sees a copy of The Bugle on the floor, and in its front cover is Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, Pete goes and talks to Harry about his dilemma, in vague terms, and Harry’s advice convinces Pete to take on Doc Ock. We cut to the truck driving along, with Spider-Man watching on. Meanwhile, Norman is in his car hacking into police radio. Back at the truck, Doc Ock strikes but Spider-Man is waiting and they do battle. Octopus is furious that Pete has denied him, and the fight is vicious. Meanwhile Norman has heard of the fight and drives after them. At the fight, ultimately Spider-Man triumphs but Doc Ock vows to exact his revenge on one of Pete’s loved ones.
As Peter escapes, wounded, he is intercepted by Norman Osborn, who says he has a desk to offer Spider-Man. He explains the new material he has found, and offers to Spider-Man believing it will form a new suit, a more powerful suit. You’ll be stronger, safer the people you protect will be safer. Pete is unsure, but knows that he is yet to defeat Doc Ock decisively. Ultimately, the fact this is Harry’s father sways him, and he agrees. He accompanies Norman to Oscorp, and is shown to the lab where the liquid is being stored. He opens the container and, hesitantly, reaches out and touches the liquid. Immediately it latches on to him, climbing up his arm, covering everything. The movement of the liquid has the look of a mass of long worms, wriggling and writhing over him, until he is completely covered.
We cut to some criminals who are criminalling about all over the gaff it’s not hugely important what they’re doing, something like robbing a jewellery shop. As they are looting the place they think they hear a noise, perhaps catch a movement in the shadows. There is a sense that they’re being toyed with, and sure enough suddenly a blacksuited Spider-Man is on them. The costume looks armoured, but in an insectoid way a natural armour, similar in design to the Spider-suit we’re using in this universe, but definitely alien.
He takes them down very efficiently, with a hint more violence than usual. Police sirens start screaming their approach, and Spider-Man sneaks to the back alley where the suit transforms into what looks like a black hoodie, jeans and boots. When Pete gets back home he has missed calls from Gwen, and texts asking how he is her having seen news coverage of the conflict with Doc Ock. He considers calling, but then hears the sound of crying. He texts that he is okay but can’t talk now, and goes into the corridor, where he can hear crying from MJ’s room. He knocks at the door and she let’s him in, explaining that John Jameson has broken things off with her, claiming that there is too much happening for him to give the relationship the attention it needs. He didn’t want her waiting for someone who might never be there (this interaction, had through video call, will be filmed but probably wouldn’t make it to the final cut). Pete comforts MJ, and the two rediscover some of the closeness they had instinctively felt in the first instalment.
The next day Gwen at university, heading into a meeting with her course tutor. She is told that she’s on the verge of crashing out of the course, and he just doesn’t understand it she was the most promising student they took on, and he doesn’t understand what has happened. Gwen is incredibly upset by this, she takes out her phone to call Pete but changes her mind and doesn’t call him. We now get a passage of time section, seeing Spider-Man going out and fighting crime in his black suit (becoming increasingly aggressive), reporting for tests with Norman (which reveal the suit is weak to fire, disrupted by sound, and can produce its own web), J. Jonah Jameson reacting to the new suit (it makes him more camouflaged, easier to be sneaky I say who knows what that menace is up to?). We also see the main four spending time together, with the new closeness between MJ and Peter causing yet more friction, and Harry is picking up on it. Meanwhile Doctor Octopus is in his base, licking his wounds and planning revenge on Peter choosing between his potential targets.
Pete is able to remove the black costume, but does frequently wear it in its disguised mode and it gets harder to remove. In a couple of sections that might be left on the cutting room floor (dependant on how they fitted with the flow of everything), we see him at one point struggling to take off the costume, building to a night where Pete is asleep and the costume moves across the floor and takes him out while asleep, with him seeing news reports of Spider-Man doing things of which he has no memory. Pete is getting exhausted and worn and the aggression is beginning to bleed into his normal life (not in that stupid way it did in SpiderMan 3- there will be no emo Peter Parker, no tosserish dancing down the street, and no weird jazz routines where he hits Mary Jane) and he grows concerned.
Pete goes to Norman in the lab and tells him about the concerns he’s having and how he can feel the suit making him more aggressive. Norman counters that surely that is good, the aggression will help fuel adrenaline and increase the desire to fight (Norman’s long-term plan is to use the material to forge soldier combat suits, for a new era of warfare). Pete explains that it is more than that, and they agree that the experiment has run its course with Norman offering to help remove the suit. Meanwhile, Pete’s apartment is attacked by Doctor Octopus, who is in a rage tearing the place apart. Harry and MJ manage to escape in what should be a tense action set piece. Doc Ock manages to acquire Gwen’s address and heads there. Harry calls his father to tell him what has happened, which begins Norman’s brain ticking why would Doc Ock go after his son? Pete knows what’s coming next, and he makes a tough choice he needs the suit to defeat Doctor Octopus, so he continues to wear it and goes after his old foe.
Pete knows exactly where he’s going and makes a beeline for Gwen’s apartment, and he arrives just as Doc Ock is taking Gwen. Doctor Octopus climbs to the roof to the building, and taunts Spider-Man stating he warned him this would happen. It is now that Gwen learns Peter knew this could happen, that the threat had been made but he didn’t tell her. She feels utterly betrayed, and heart-broken her trust in Pete gone. She loses it at Pete, much to the amusement of Doc Ock. Peter argues that he’s here saving her, isn’t he? There is anger and frustration in his tone, almost as though he resents being here. The anger takes hold of Pete and a brutal fight ensues, with Pete fully unleashing everything he’s got. The fight reaches a grizzly conclusion, with Peter battering Doctor Octopus, and ripping his mechanical arms from his body. The mortally wounded Octavius falls to the street below. Horrified, Gwen stares at Pete. When he tries to approach her she runs. Pete realises things have gone too far and tries to remove the suit, but can’t.
Gwen has fled to the church from the end of the first film, where her father his buried. She is in quite a state, her whole world collapsing around her. Meanwhile, Peter is battling against the suit controlling him. He is compelled to get the thing off him. At the church, Gwen confesses to her father’s grave that she hates Spider-Man she always has, and she blames Spider-Man for her father’s death. She admits that right now she wishes she had never met Pete, that he betrayed her and let her down Gwen is at her lowest point. The church bells begin to ring as she breaks down in tears. Pete hears the church bells ringing, and he remembers that the tests on the suit he did with Norman showed that the suit is disrupted by sonic waves. He makes his way to the church, and uses the bell ringing to weaken the suit and tear it from his body this is a literal representation of him rejecting the symbiotic relationship with the alien substance. Rejected, the alien slinks away, falling from the church bell tower to the ground where it finds Gwen Stacy, and latches onto her, creating Venom.
Pete is able to find some clothes in the church’s donation pile. A shadowy figure follows and watches him. He gets to the university, where he can grab some money from a locker and try call Gwen but there’s no answer. He calls his Aunt May, who is fine, and tells her about their fight (without mentioning that he’s Spider-Man). May suggests that he should try the Stacy family home, so he heads to the subway. There is a horror feel to the next set piece, as Venom follows Pete to the train. As it rides along, the lights begin to cut out. Pete gets a feeling something is wrong, and stands searching around himself. The lights cut briefly, and when they return Venom stands behind him, and attacks.
Venom retains many of the powers it had when bonded to Spider-Man and an emphasised form of the insectoid look his suit had. Venom is slender, tall and unsettling going hard down the creepy aspect of the character. It feeds on, and strengthens, Gwen’s negative emotions especially her hatred of Spider-Man. They fight through the train, Pete in civilian clothes Venom toying with him. As it is late there aren’t many other passengers, and Pete manages to take the fight out of the carriage, onto the train speeding through the tunnels. Pete manages to knock Venom from the train, and escapes himself returning home to collect his Spider-suit. He then messages Norman Osborn to meet him in the lab, and heads there.
Pete explains to Norman that the suit is alive and has taken a new form, he isn’t sure how but it has to be stopped. Norman suggests that it must be a symbiote, and has found a new host you rejected it, it will want revenge. From the shadows, a distorted voice replied “We do. We want revenge, justice for the things you have done. We are Venom.” At this point Venom attacks, and in the fight the facility is trashed machinery ripped up and thrown, the sonic equipment, used to weaken Venom is destroyed and a fire is started which spreads through the building. Venom stands and taunts Peter about the things he has done, allowing him to work out that it is Gwen inside the suit. Norman watches on his presence almost forgotten.
As the fight goes on, the fire weakens Venom and she is beaten on the brink of falling into a fiery abyss. Pete tries to save her, calling her by her name “Gwen!” but she chooses to fall, her screams echoing up through the inferno. Pete is stunned, but then Norman calls out and he comes back to his senses, helping him escape. Outside they share a moment, and it
is clear Norman suspects his identity but doesn’t state it, implying he will keep his suspicions to himself. Then he tells Spider-Man to be the hero that people need. Pete finds his resolve, and runs back into the burning Oscorp Tower. In the blaze he finds a critically injured Gwen. He takes her into his arms and carries her out, as emergency services begin to arrive and he swings away, leaving her in safe hands.
Gwen wakes up in hospital with Harry and MJ watching over her. They celebrate, with Gwen on the road to recovery. She asks where Pete is, and they tell her they haven’t seen him in days. Gwen processes this, unsure of her feelings. The three friends continue to talk. Across the street on a rooftop, Pete is watching from afar. It should be clear that he has already resolved to cut all ties. The world needs Spider-Man more than it needs Peter Parker.
Seeing her looking safe and happy, Pete walks away.
People in hazmat suits are inspecting the remains of Oscorp, and one of them finds something and calls out. One of the figures is Norman, and he goes to look at the finding the still living, but wounded, Venom symbiote. Norman smiles and states, “Got you.”
So, in this plan for a second film I made some pretty big changes from the source material, but largely tried to follow a fusion of various Doctor Octopus stories and the Birth of Venom plot lines. The first big change was Doc Ock dying especially at Spider-Man’s hands, but I think of that moment as being more at Venom’s hands, demonstrating that the symbiote is nearing control, and is dangerous. To embrace the darkness that comes with Venom, I wanted a major character death, and Pete’s mentor-turned-nemesis (who he struggled to deal with) seemed the prime candidate.
The second big change was turning Gwen into Venom, in place of Eddie Brock. I have various reasons for this, including wanting a strong, and unexpected, story arc for a female character. Gwen’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin is well-known and I also wanted a twist on that story. Additionally the film is already fairly crowded it doesn’t need a rushed introduction for Eddie Brock, especially not when we have a richly developed and increasingly damaged relationship present between Pete and Gwen. Build from what we have.
But these are just my thoughts for what I would do in a sequel to my own pretend film. If you agree or disagree let us know in the comments! If you’d like a Venom or John Jameson spin-off, tell us your ideas for how that might go down. Huge thanks go to Siôn Clarke who provided the artwork for the article, and you can find more of his work at http://flyingcubs.tumblr.com. Please share any and all thoughts in the comments below, and if you enjoyed – share and like! Hopefully we’ll be back soon with Spider-Man Part 3!