The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) — not seen yet

So the new Spidey series manages to arrive in just the second movie at the place which the first series finally reached in the third: the battle against three villains at once, one of whom is made ridiculous. The latter is the Rhino, played by Paul Giamatti (!!) as a guy in a mechanical suit. A more important villain is Electro, played by Jamie Foxx (!) in a blue CGI glow which appears to be a direct visual ripoff of Doctor Manhattan, including black undies but, since this is PG-13, no swinging junk. And there’s yet another Goblin iteration. Feh.

Word of mouth is not good. “Movie Bob” Chipman, for one, described this as being not a movie, but a powerpoint presentation for Sony stockholders.

If you are such a stockholder, my advice is sell. The studio is massively disorganized, and also has a pattern of driving away important people. They dicked around with Sam Raimi until he went “screw you guys I’m going home”, then they fired the executives who had laid out the path for a long-running Amazing Spider-Man universe, and the story goes that one studio suit impulsively fired Andrew Garfield just because, when Garfield begged off of one personal appearance on tour, this exec took it as a personal affront. Word on the street is that the parent Sony corporation is now just looking for someone to take the former Columbia Pictures off their hands, since they clearly have no idea how to run it.

Perhaps this kind of loose-cannon management is a somewhat natural consequence of slapping overseas ownership and branding onto what is essentially still an American studio — the former Columbia Pictures. If, as some say, studios are essentially a highly specialized form of investment bank, then it can’t be a great idea to put an ocean and a language barrier between those responsible for keeping the outfit on a sound financial footing, and those who work with the creatives and know the ins and outs of how hits get made.

So yeah, all the much-touted plans for an Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4, plus various spinoffs such as the Sinister Six, are now null and void, even though the franchise was having no trouble making solid profits. The survivors left standing at Sony have given up on each other and thrown in the towel, deciding that the best financial use of the Spidey rights is to just lease the character back to Marvel Studios. And Marvel is wasting no time in establishing whose story universe now has Spider-Man in it: they’re skipping the whole question of how to re-reboot the story of Peter Parker, and just throwing him straight into the action in Captain America: Civil War.