Third time lucky
Sony and Marvel are uniting for the third attempt at kickstarting Spidey's big screen presence. A co-operative effort that's a first for both studios boils down to one important fact: Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is swinging into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Youngster Tom Holland has been cast as the brainiac teen bitten by a radioactive spider, and is soon to be sharing the screen with The Avengers in Captain America: Civil War for his introductory cameo.
So where will Peter Parker venture after that?
Director Jon Watts is already in place to helm the first Spider-Man solo movie in 2017. And Marvel and Sony's creative brass will no doubt be agonising over the vast back catalogue of stories for the webhead's next adventure. While there's many fan favorites not included in our list, here's ten that would translate to the big screen and provide an energetic reboot for the young wall crawler.
Ultimate Clone Saga (Ultimate Spider-Man #97-105)
Forget the confusing and lacklustre clone saga from the mid-'90s. That iteration of the multiple Spider-Man arc held great promise but poorly executed its winning idea. An idea which was given a much-needed upgrade from Brian Michael Bendis, who turned to the Clone Saga for inspiration when he took over on Ultimate Spider-Man.
The various clones of Spider-Man each manifest in slightly different ways - one is dubbed Tarantula for his additional limbs, another named Kaine bears an ugly disfigurement - but they each harbor the same love for Mary Jane. Peter Parker squares off against all of his counterparts, while dealing with the apparent reappearance of his presumed dead father and revealing his true identity to Aunt May. There's a ton of action here that could easily be siphoned into later instalments.
Notable villains: Dr. Otto Octavius, who appeared in Spider-Man 2 as Dr. Octopus, is revealed to be responsible for the clone program, alongside Ben Reilly, a seemingly-innocent lab tech.
Maximum Carnage (Spider-Man Unlimited #1-2)
This 14-part story event began in Spider-Man Unlimited and straddled all the Spider-Man comic titles in 1993. It's that extensive. As the title implies, Carnage returns to wreak havoc on New York City - but this time he doesn't do it alone. Instead he launches a massive attack against Spider-Man and his cohorts by raising an army of devotees to carry out his task.
It's a pretty bloody affair from start to finish, and even ropes in a bunch of familiar Marvel faces - Venom and Captain America included - so there's possibilities for even more crossovers. Also, Sony's plans for a solo Carnage movie still have yet to be officially cancelled...
Notable villains: A much bleaker version of Venom - Topher Grace's razor-toothed alterego in Spider-Man 3 - the Carnage symbiote takes villainy a step further by bonding with serial killer Cletus Kasady.
Spider-Man: Back in Black (Amazing Spider-Man #539-543)
The appeal of this short-run story for the new solo movie is its location on the Marvel continuity timeline. It takes place just after the Civil War event - which we know is where the new Spider-Man will make his debut. The story arc traces Peter Parker as he vies to bring Aunt May's shooter to justice. Channeling his darker, vengeful side he throws on his black costume - loosely based on the same outfit adopted by the Venom symbiote - and tracks down the wrongdoer.
This isn't the happy-go-lucky Spidey from the Silver Age, instead J. Michael Straczynski depicts a vengeful Parker who'll do anything to help his injured aunt.
Notable villains: A baddie whose recent small screen appearance marked him as one of Marvel's most feared villains - Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin. It's not out of the realm of possibility for Fisk to crop up in the Spidey flick, as rumours abound that Marvel's TV actors have crossover film work inked into their contracts.
Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut (The Amazing Spider-Man #229-230)
Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut appears to be a typical Spider-Man tale of good vs. evil. And there's nothing wrong with that simple central idea when it's executed with precision, as is the case with writer Roger Stern's brilliant two issue arc.
The winning part of this formula is given a huge shake-up by pitting Spidey against a rogue who's nothing like his previous opponents. Well, as the title suggests, nothing can stop the juggernaut, a Marvel foe who taunted the X-Men for years, until the young fearless Parker takes on the challenge. It's a testament to the adventurous writing, sidestepping the normal hurdles in Spidey's path, that establishes this arc as one of Spider-Man's very best.
Notable villains: The titular Juggernaut, a domineering presence who possesses superhuman strength and durability. Should either of those two powers fail he's able to conjure up an impenetrable force field to stave off attacks.
The Petrified Tablet Saga (The Amazing Spider-Man #68-75)
The story of the Petrified Tablet unraveled over half a year in The Amazing Spider-Man, beginning with Kingpin's attempt to steal an ancient tablet from the Empire State University. The promise of eternal youth held within the artefact prompts a Faustian grab by every villain in town keen to harness its properties. Presumably to enact some sort of never-ending evil plan.
The story is a real treasure, a captivating tale of Peter Parker's repeated run-ins with the law and J Jonah Jameson, while battling a never-ending stream of foes all emanating from the New York organised crime syndicate.
Notable villains: Question is, who isn't in the petrified tablet? Silvermane, Man Mountain Marko, Caesar Cicero, the original Kingpin and his successor Wilson Fisk and Shocker are just a handful of tyrants who make appearances.
If This Be My Destiny (The Amazing Spider-Man #31-33)
An early Spidey tale that covers the gap between Peter Parker in high school and college, the plot injects all the excitement and action Spider-Man is renowned for along with his usual teenage antics. Plotwise, the lynchpin holding it together is Aunt May's sickness after suffering a blast of nuclear radiation. A race against the clock ensues for Parker, who has to track down a serum to counter the effects.
Most acclaim for the arc is reserved for the artistry of Steve Ditko. His attention to detail, and ability to pack in tension in one particular scene - Spider-Man trapped beneath a solid structure while submerged in water - is stunning. That pulse-racing sequence alone would translate perfectly into Spidey's next big screen feature.
Notable villains: Doc Ock, aka Doctor Octopus, stirs up trouble as he is also after the coveted serum.
Breakout (The New Avengers #1-6)
There's no doubt that Spider-Man and The Avengers are going to cross paths. Trouble is, without knowing more about Peter Parker's appearance in Civil War it's tricky to gauge whether or not he'll meet them in the third Cap film -- or simply take a credits cameo.
The Breakout storyline merges those two worlds - the cohesive Avengers unit and the flying-solo Spider-Man. Parker's insistence on going it alone is shaken up when he combines his fighting efforts with a handful of Avengers to tackle an old enemy. The whole encounter proves to be a such a success for the team that Cap officially invites Parker to become one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Notable villains: Big bad Electro - who already made a somewhat uninspired impression in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as played by Jamie Foxx.
Ultimate Six (Ultimate Six #1-6)
The Ultimate universe bears a ton of resemblances to the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe -- there's even a Nick Fury modeled after Samuel L. Jackson. So lifting from the very first Spider-Man-Avengers crossover comic isn't a stretch of the imagination.
The short seven-issue run begins with the Sinister Six imprisoned in a special S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Doc Ock telepathically triggers his metallic arms (under lock and key elsewhere) into action and skewers a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The five escape, and Nick Fury sends the Ultimates to ensure Peter Parker's safety against Doc Ock. They team up and battle the titular baddies. The best part? Parker is a teenager - one of Marvel's stipulations for this version - and much of his interaction with the Avengers amplifies his youth. Throw in the action and story and you've got a solid fit for a big screen blockbuster.
Notable villains: Five members of the Ultimates version of Sinister Six; Electro, Kraven, Sandman, Doc Ock and Green Goblin.
Kraven's Last Hunt (Web of Spider-Man #31-32)
A crossover Spider-Man saga that spilled over into Amazing Spider-Man issues 293 and 294 and Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man issues 131 132, the tale of Spidey's long-standing foe Kraven is a masterclass in storytelling.
Spun out during the grittier '80s comic book era, the arc was cooked up by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck. The pair aimed to create a darker Spider-Man tale to rival DC's prominent anti-hero Batman and their efforts birthed one of the most popular story arcs. The story follows Kraven the Hunter, an adversary of Spidey who pumps Peter Parker full of tranquilizer then buries him alive. Kraven dons the iconic costume and sets about fulfilling his destiny as a true hero. Meanwhile Parker is trapped in a hellish underworld -- six feet under.
Notable villains: Kraven the Hunter. A superhuman entity blessed with strength, endurance, and the ability to take serious bodily harm without it affecting his combat performance.
The Death of Jean DeWolff (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)
A reigning fan favourite. The Death of Jean DeWolff raises the stakes for the typically black and white world view of comic book morality - it delves into the grey area between good and bad as Peter Parker hunts down the murderer of his police chief friend.
The titular demise serves only as an inciting event to kickstart a feud between Parker and Matt Murdock - aka Daredevil. Both operate on the side of justice, but the established boundary of where that ends and brutality begins is carefully explored. Spidey's campaign to take out the Sin-Eater, a deranged human villain, is cast in a somewhat dubious light by Murdock's commentary during their fights. A truly solid Spidey story that would serve as a nice palate cleanser after the arsenal of super-powered baddies in TASM2.
Notable villains: The Sin-Eater, an unhinged psychopath who wipes out those in the city he considers to be sinners. With a shotgun.