Who would have thought that a movie about multiple Spider-People across various alternate realities would work as well as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse did? But a big part of that reason that movie worked as well as it did was because of producers and writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
These two guys have a knack for taking ideas and characters that seem preposterous on paper and not only making them work, but making them great. And now they are being given free reign to bring several Spidey characters from Marvel Comics to the small screen. But which characters, from the obscure to the often unloved, should get their shot? Here are five Spidey character that would benefit from the Lord and Miller magic.
We know from Into the Spider-Verse that Lord and Miller and the film’s directors have a soft spot for this guy, because the Peter Parker in Miles Morales’ world was blonde. Why is this significant? Because Ben Reilly, Peter’s genetic duplicate from the infamous ’90s “Clone Saga,” bleached his hair blonde as a way of differentiating himself from the real Peter. Because “The Clone Saga” was so maligned in its day, there are a lot of mixed feelings surrounding Ben Reilly and his superhero identity of Scarlet Spider. But if anyone can redeem the character whose costume is partially a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, we bet it’s Lord and Miller.
Iron Spider II
Gwen Stacy is Spidey’s best known love interest who went onto a heroic career of her own. Or, at least, a version of Gwen Stacy from an alternate universe did. But in the regular Marvel Universe, Peter Parker’s own longtime girlfriend (sometimes wife) Mary Jane Watson got a brief stint as a superhero herself. While working for Tony Stark, she got her hands on Peter’s old Iron Spider armor and used it on herself. I guess it comes in one size fits all.
Everyone knows the Stan Lee created Spidey villains like Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Sandman. But, does anyone out there remember the Kangaroo? Debuting in Amazing Spider-Man #81 in 1970, the Kangaroo was Australian (of course) boxer Frank Oliver who “lived, ate and traveled with the kangaroos, developing a leaping ability that rivaled the animals themselves.” After losing his boxing career when he illegally jump-kicked his opponent in the face, he became a criminal who fled to New York and fought Spidey. The Hoppin’ Adventures of the Kangaroo sounds like a Lord and Miller TV series I want to see.
In his long history, Spider-Man has fought a lot of villains with animal motifs. Rhino, Doctor Octopus, Jackal, Scorpion, Kangaroo. The list goes on. But no one ever seems to have much love for Frog-Man. Introduced in Marvel Team-Up, Eugene Paul Patilio’s father had once been a down-on-his-luck inventor who embarked on a brief criminal career as Leap-Frog. After a brief stint in jail, he did what he could to make ends meet. Then his son Eugene discovered the Leap-Frog costume, and decided to redeem the legacy of his dad by becoming the heroic Frog-Man. (Much like Kangaroo, Frogman mostly just jumps a lot.)
Not all the weird and obscure Spider-Man villains came from the Silver and Bronze Ages. In the far more recent Peter Parker: Spider-Man, we were introduced to Typeface, a villain who literally had letters printed all over his face. Gordon Smith was portrayed as a military vet and a signsmith with a happy life. And then life threw him a few curve balls that resulted in his losing his job and his wife leaving him, so he began a career as criminal. His signature look involved writing letters on his face with greasepaint. He later became more of an antihero after a few brief encounters with Spidey, and hasn’t been seen much lately, so he’s overdue for the spotlight.
Images: Sony / Marvel Comics