Spider-man is one of the world’s most popular comic book heroes. With rumors (just rumors, for now) circulating that Spider-man 2099 is being considered for a live action movie; and a Clone Saga based film (Ben Rielly/Scarlett Spider) is also in the works (see here), now is a good time to assess other great Spider-man story arcs that have not yet appeared in live action form.
In this post, I’m sticking only to live action series; animated series don’t count (since they’ve already adapted almost everything on small, if not the big, screen).
At this point both Sony and the MCU have plans for many future Spider-man films. In what follows, I’ll first quickly summarize how many classic Spider-man story arcs have already made it to the big screen and then list five potential future story arcs worth trying.
Going back to the Sam Rami era films, we’ve seen the original Spider-man origin story and death of Uncle Ben (Amazing Fantasy #15/Ultimate Spider-man #1-4) enough times to satisfy anyone.
Of course the big story arc in the original 2002 ‘Spider-man’ film was the Green Goblin saga and his reveal as Norman Osborn, taken from the “How Green Was My Goblin” and “Spidey Saves The Day!” story arcs (ASM #39-40).
‘Spider-man 2’ featured the classic Stan Lee “Spider-Man No More” (Amazing Spider-Man #50) as a sub-plot, but primarily focused on Spider-man’s confrontation with Doc Ock (first appearance: ASM #3)
‘Spider-man III’, gave us a curtailed Green Goblin II saga, with Harry and Peter coming to blows (originally published in Spectacular Spider-Man #180-200), introduced Venom (originally presented in ASM #300), and hinted at a possible Sinister Six connection. Yes it was a busy film and not well-received mainly due to that fact.
The follow up series: two ‘Amazing Spider-man’ and the two MCU ‘Spider-man’ films, have covered everything from the Vulture (ASM # 2), to Mysterio (ASM #13), the Death of Captain Stacy (ASM #90) and even the uber-classic Death of Gwen Stacy (“The Night Gwen Stacy Died” in ASM #121).
What’s left you may ask?
5. Sinister Six:
This classic has never faithfully been adapted to the big screen. Created during the original run by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the Sinister Six (Doc Ock, Mysterio, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman and Vulture) debuted in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. At the time, and even today, this stands as a great dose of Spider-man action. It’s six times as good as you remember it.
4. Clone Saga:
Running in the pages of the various Spider-books from 1994 to 1996, the convoluted Cone Saga divided fans. On the one hand, it was exciting to see the series connect to its past and characters like Gwen Stacy, on the other hand, it gets pretty convoluted and involves so many clones of Spider-Man and others that it still leaves some readers confused. It did, however, give us Ben Reilly as the Scarlet-Spider. His first appearance, in Web of Spider-man #118 (November 1994), is the book to get from this series.
3. Back in Black:
I’m convinced that if “One More Day”, had never happened, “Back in Black” would be shown much more love than it is. J. Michael Straczynski’s Spider-Man story dealing with the fallout from Civil War features a darker Peter and more narrative punch because of that. Good Spider-man stories push Peter to his limit and this story certainly does that. The scene where he pummels the King Pin in prison is a high point.
2. Death of Jean DeWulf:
This Peter David written story appearing in Spectacular Spider-Man #107–110 (September 1985 – January 1986) is an under-rated masterpiece. Police captain Jean DeWolff, a close friend of Spider-man’s, is murdered by the Sin-Eater. What kind of super-powered monster is the Sin-Eater you ask? The worst kind: a simple deranged human being. DeWolff is killed by a psychotic mass-murder and then he decides to go after Betty Brant. This is another ‘Spider-man pushed to the limit’ story. Really, the formula for good Spider-man = the more problems and stress Peter has, the better the Spidey comic that results. In this case, it gets bad, and only Daredevil’s intervention stops Peter from actually pummeling the Sin Eater to death. A great story that would make for compelling cinema, if it ever appears…
1. Kraven’s Last Hunt:
Unfolding in Web of Spider-Man #31 & 32, ASM #293 & 294 and Spectacular Spider-Man #131 & #132, this is not only a Spider-man classic but one of the best Marvel comic story arcs. Period. Penned by under-rated comics scribe J. M. DeMatteis, here we get a sympathetic portrayal of old man Kraven, if you’re into Spider-man at all, you need to read this.