Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Will Spider-Man Meet "The Avengers" After All?

Source: Crave.

No. No, he probably will not. That's a sensationalist, nakedly traffic-baiting headline and I feel bad about it. Or, at least, I recognize I should feel bad about it. Anyway, keep reading because this is actually kind of fun...

IP rights can be a funny thing in the multimedia age. Case in point: The reason Spider-Man is NOT part of "The Avengers" movie/continuity - and that Sony is haphazardly slapping together a quickie "reboot" of the film series - is that Marvel sold the "movie rights" to his character to Sony back before they had their own studio (and then became part of Disney.) So, while Marvel still owns Spidey, SONY owns the right to put him in movies... so long as they keep making them, of course.

But Sony ONLY owns the movie rights - TV, video games etc are an entirely different set of contracts and arrangements. Did you see the "Planet Hulk" animated movie? Did you notice that during the quick shot of "The Illuminati" from the comics only two of them did any speaking and the other figures were hidden in shadow? Same issue: The 'shadowed' characters were guys whose movie rights (since PH was a movie) someone other than Marvel Films owned.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, Disney/Marvel have a new cartoon series on deck for their DisneyXD cable channel: An adaptation of "Ultimate Spider-Man" headed up by Paul Dini. Early images and trailers for the series have already revealed that what appeared to the be the "Ultimate" version of Nick Fury (which is, of course, also the movie-verse version) playing a role in the series... but in a (really fun) interview with CraveOnline, actor Clark Gregg - who plays the omnipresent "Agent Coulson" in the majority of the Avengers tie-ins thus far - confirms that HE has a part in the show, too... as Coulson!

According to Gregg, "Agent Coulson" appears on the show as the principal of Peter Parker's high school... or, rather, Coulson is undercover at the school posing as the principal but actually acting as a S.H.I.E.L.D. "handler" keeping tabs on various super-powered teenagers in attendance. Heh.

Clever fanboy gag, to be sure, but is that all it'll be? No, Marvel (probably) can't loophole Spidey into "Avengers 2" by claiming that he's "Ultimate" and therefore a different character; but can anyone imagine Marvel/Disney, who've already pushed all their chips and then some onto the shared-universe gambit, NOT dropping even more slivers of reference and/or callbacks to "Avengers" or other films and declaring this series part of the "canon?" It'd be remarkably easy to do, an IronMan/Cap/whoever walk-on here, a line about "that time Loki showed up" there, and it'd likely pay big dividends as fans of the films tune in to hunt for clues as to who (or what) else might be showing up in the future.

I think that'd be kind of cool, so long as they don't overdo it, and I bet the younger fans it's aimed at who may only just be getting into the movies would get a real charge out of it. I remember watching the "Ghostbusters" cartoons as a kid and getting a big kick out of every time they offhandedly mentioned Gozer.

Oh, incidentally: In the same interview, Gregg jokingly "reveals" The Skrulls as the other big-bad of "Avengers"... only to immediately walk it back and instead claim he meant The Kree. Which makes me wonder... is he a fan, or are The Kree actually in there somewhere and thats how he knows them?

As a sidebar... I really think people underappreciate just what Gregg brings to the movies. He gives a great deadpan "suit" reading of his dialogue, and I think having a guy around who A.) moves between films without needing an explanation why other than "government agents get around" and B.) always appears somewhat "level" about it - as though reaffirming that the Marvel Universe is so big and strange that even THIS mid-level field operative has seen enough to not be all that "fazed" by Viking Gods and aliens or whatever - is a major part of why this should-not-work continuity experiment is actually working.

Thinking back on it, I really wish he'd been around to liven-up some of the dryer expository scenes in "Hulk;" and the fact that we only see him break his disaffected rigidity ONCE, when he finds a Captain America shield among the junk pile in "Iron Man 2," now feels like kind of a big 'this is how important the legend of THAT guy is - even Coulson is impressed' moment when you see it after having seen Cap's movie.

36 comments:

Drunken Lemur said...

Personally I'd be more interested in them bringing Spider-Man into the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes continuity, which I doubt they'll do. I honestly don't think this Agent Coulson will be the same as the one from the movies anymore than Harley Quinn from Batman:TAS is the same one they brought into the comics.

TheDVDGrouch said...

I'm still going to miss Spectacular Spider-man I think Greg Weisman was delivering some truly knockout stuff.

Although ever since that show broke up he is doing Young Justice so guess it all worked out in the end.

Aaron said...

This isn't going to win me any friends but

Spectacular Spiderman> Batman TAS

Jwillx70 said...

@Aron

That is debatable, but you have a very strong argument. Both those shows were unbelievably brilliant. Gut reaction: Spiderman had batter writing and direction, but Batman had better voice acting and art design.

Sssonic said...

Personally, I'll be a lot happier if the Coulson in the "Ultimate Spider-Man" cartoon has nothing to do with the Agent Coulson of the Movieverse. Or, more accurately, if the character of Agent Coulson actually becomes a character instead of simply a plot-device to tie all the "Avengers"-related movies together. In much the same way Harley Quinn and Renee Monota made the jump from "Batman: The Animated Series" to the actual comics continuity, I'd like to see Coulson actually get some roots into the Marvel Universe as a whole, not just the movies.

Incidentally, in response to the above debate re: "Spectacular Spider-Man" vs. "Batman: The Animated Series", I think I have to give the edge to B:TAS. Don't get me wrong, I love "Spectacular" with a passion, and the two are absolutely neck and neck, but B:TAS was so strong a force that it managed to re-shape the comics that inspired it. Harley 'n' Renee joining the comics, Mr. Freeze's origin and character being re-done to match the Animated version, and I'd even put good money that Liam Neeson was cast as Ra's Al Ghul in "Batman Begins" because his voice and mannerisms were so close to those of David Warner's turn as the character. "Spectacular" and "B:TAS" are both great series, almost equally so, but the incontrovertible impact TAS had on "Batman" as a whole gives it the slightest of edges over "Spectacular", at least for me personally.

TheDVDGrouch said...

@Sssonic

You took the words right out of my mouth. I could not have said it better myself.

David (The Pants) said...

So does this mean if the Spider-Man reboot bombs superbad, Marvel might be able to get the rights back? I like Stone and Garfield and all, but if it's for the good of Marvel's movieverse....

Drunken Lemur said...

Technically, no, the rights would not default back to Marvel/Disney. I don't know copyright law, but I'm certain that Sony will still own the rights for awhile after. As long as they keep making movies, they keep the rights. This might be why we're getting a Ghost Rider sequel so many years after the original fell into obscurity. If you hear any news about a reboot of the Fantastic Four from Fox, it'll be for the same reason. I'm sure Bob has done an episode on Comic/Movie licenses over at the Big Picture, or at least one for Captain Marvel.

Puddle Jumper said...

They probably can loophole him in because, you know, contracts are anally specific about that.

Aiddon said...

just let the Spider-Man reboot BOMB; it's nothing but a soulless cash-in and doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Chris said...

Who owns the rights to X-Men? One or two characters *coughWolverinecough* could cameo into Avengers.

thegoodcapm said...

if you think about it, Captain America has done the most impressive thing out of all of them. Hulk just kinda ran away from a bunch of people and saved New York from Abomination. Iron Man fought terrorists and Mickey Rourke. Thor saved his friends and Natalie Portman. Captain America saved the WORLD.

wsn said...

Lance Mannion reviewed Thor, and towards the end had a few bits about Coulsen in the movies. Good stuff.

Upshot...

...Gregg is now the connection tying the first four movies to Captain America by being, essentially, Cap’s representative.

and...

Agent Coulson whose job here is the same as it was in the two Iron Man movies, which is to keep a spoiled brat superhero in line. Superheroes don’t impress Coulson. They’re amateurs. If it weren’t unprofessional, he’d let himself get irritated by their childish and selfish misbehavior.

Just Gavin said...

I'd like the Avengers to work in a scene like with Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Some soldiers are going into battle and one casually says "Keep up James" and a character played by Hugh Jackman shows up and says a line which ends with Bub.

But yeah, continuity is fun when it doesn't get in the way much, if you've never scene the other movies Coulson is just a somewhat confident agent for some shadowy organsation.

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Popcorn Dave said...

Hold on, is this the first time Paul Dini's done a Marvel project? That seems far more awesome to me than some minor character showing up.

Kody said...

Although spider man did join the avengers later in the comics i doubt he will be in the avengers movie that is do to release in a few months but there is a potential for a squeal maybe then we will se spiderman with the rest of the avengers like black panther and others

Matt said...

@Kody, Do you know how to spell? "squeal" sequel. "se" see. Now you know.
P.S Nobody likes run on sentences that just keep going and don't talk about anything but they do talk about something.
See how it gets annoying?

Julayi Movie Review said...

Could anyone provide the link to Nick Fury's interview with Crave online,would like to catch up on it. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Telugu Film News reply

Nick Fury's interview is on Youtube.

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