10 Reasons Why Ben Reilly Should Star in the Next Spider-man Movie
Spider-man’s had many forms.
First, there was Tobey Maguire, then Andrew Garfield in the reboot. One Peter Parker was awkward, shy and — let’s face it — weird and creepy and not very bright. The other was dating Emma Stone.
To date, the four Spider-man films have grossed millions of dollars and, as long as moviegoers are attracted to the man who can stick to walls, the movies will continue. Next year, Spidey faces off against the Rhino and Electro, played by Ray Charles.
But make no mistake, since movies and movie studio love to reboot storylines, the next Spider-man reboot is coming. But in what form? We’ve already seen Parker in high school and Parker at the Daily Bugle, so what’s next?
Here’s a thought: Let’s scrap Peter Parker entirely. It’s time for Ben Reilly.
Yes, Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider, the forgotten clone of Peter Parker, would be the perfect lead for the next series of Spider-movies. And here’s why.
If every hero is defined by his villain — Batman has the Joker, Othello had Iago, Kim Osorio had Benzino — than Ben Reilly comes with one of the greatest, most-overlooked villains in Spider-man lore.
Miles Warren, aka, the Jackal, is the scientist who’s done as much to wreck Spider-man’s life as Dr. Octopus and Norman Osborne. As a villain, he is perfect, and needs to be on screen.
Basically, the Jackal, evil scientist galore, falls in love with Gwen Stacy, blames Spider-man for her death (overlooking the real killer. Whoops!), and sets about on the time-honored task of destroying the hero.
But not merely by killing Spidey outright. Instead, Warren decides to clone Spider-man and his dead girlfriend, creating perfect copies of both. The Hobgoblin wishes he had that dedication. The experiments are a rousing success and Ben Reilly, the perfect clone of Spider-man, is created. Spider-man is forced to battle his own clone.
So, the sum up: lovesick genius scientist has the hots for a hero’s girlfriend, clones her dead body and forces the hero to fight himself, to the death. All while dressed up like a stray cat.
Top that, Loki.
After wandering in the wilderness of the great flyover states for years, Reilly suffers from a serious identity crisis. If you’re the duplicate of another person, than who are you, really? It’s a theme tailor made for film.
Movies typically deal with interior and exterior conflicts. The exterior conflicts are those the hero has to struggle against — the Galactic Empire, the secret plots of Fredo Corleone, the dragon Sauron, etc. — but the interior conflicts are what hold audiences.
The interior conflicts almost always revolve around the hero’s struggle to accept some aspect of his own personality and, for Ben Reilly, the struggle to define himself in the world makes for a perfect conflict. How does he create a life for himself? Who are you when you’re a clone of someone else? It’s a science fiction plot waiting to happen.
Let’s face it, a lot Spider-man’s story lines have gotten, well, old. He’s been to outer space, been buried alive, been killed, been married, been divorced by Satan, the whole bit. After more than 50 years of storytelling, the webslinger’s stories have been told. And some of them, frankly, told pretty badly.
But with Ben Reilly as the Scarlet Spider, there’s a whole new avenue of stories and plots to explore. New adventures, new drama, new personalities. Ben Reilly isn’t tied to the same adventures and story arcs that have bound Spider-man. How many incarnations of the Green Goblin and Venom can we see? Isn’t time for something new? Simply put, there’s an all-new world to explore out there.
Along the same lines, there’s also a new world of characters and villains for filmmakers to explore. Spider-man is a comic that’s always been defined by it’s supporting characters, from Jameson to Kurt Connors to Felicia Hardy, and creating new relationships for Ben Reilly would be a challenge for filmmakers.
Case in point: Reilly’s relationship with Seward Trainer. A genetics expert turned dupe by the Jackal and Norman Osborne, Trainer eventually became something of a father figure to the confused Ben Reilly — the kind of guiding character that’s rare in the established Spider-man universe.
Of course, Trainer would later go on to betray Ben Reilly and wind up getting killed, but he’s a new character who’s desperately needed to perk up decades of Spider-man mythology.
Captain America did it. Superman did it. Hell, even Kobe did it. They changed their uniforms.
It’s a great way for movies to market and sell new images — a new costume! A new attitude! — and Ben Reilly’s Scarlet Spider is the perfect chance to sell new merchandise! Hell, it even worked for Spider-man after Secret Wars.
Reilly’s Scarlet Spider costumes would be the perfect new tie in for a whole line of new pajamas, Halloween costumes and action figures. Keep in mind, the Scarlet Spider has two costumes, and any merchandising company would have a field day. Remember the Star Wars figures you collected as a kid? There’s a reason George Lucas kept the merchandising rights for that stuff.
Watching Ben Reilly as the Scarlet Spider on the big screen would just be downright cool. And not because he’s bigger or stronger than Spider-man.
No. He’s just got cooler stuff.
Not content to settle for just a pair of fancy web shooters, Reilly significantly upgraded his web shooters in the Spider-man comic, turning themselves into a pair of weapons in their own right.
Since the movies rely heavily on Spider-man’s use of his web shooters, having a device as versatile as Reilly’s shooters could be movie gold.
Consider: the Scarlet Spider’s web shooters can fire balls of webbing that explode on contact. They can also unleash tiny darts that can paralyze enemies and fire tiny micro-transmitters, allowing Reilly to track his targets. Sure, Spider-man’s spider tracer already does the same thing, but when have you seen Tobey Maguire use them in a movie? You haven’t, but you should.
Little known fact: Ben Reilly was once a member of the New Warriors, the teen supergroup (no, not this one), that once implausibly fought Terrax the Tamer to a standstill and blew up Stanford, Connecticut. But never mind that.
Basically, Reilly’s membership in that group could open the doors for an entirely new franchise for Marvel, allowing them to introduce characters such as Night Thrasher, Vance Astro and Nova in the movies. It’s a perfect jumping off point for phase four of the Marvel movies, headlined by a new, super-cool hero team.
Also let’s admit it, you want to see Namorita in a movie. Who wouldn’t?
Spider-man is almost synonymous with New York. Born in Queens, raised in Manhattan, Spider-man is as New York as it gets. But as great as the city is, the character’s location limits him. He’s stuck on the wrong side of the George Washington Bridge.
But Ben Reilly doesn’t have that problem. Since Reilly spent five years finding himself out on the open road of America, his travels lend themselves perfectly to a whole range of stories and locations across America.
Imagine: the Scarlet Spider fights crime in Chicago, battles super-powered meth dealers in Arizona, A.I.M hordes in California, crooked politicians in Florida! His adventures could be like the Shazam show from the 1970s (without the uber-creepy uncle), where our hero travels the highways and byways of the United States, battling crime where he sees it. Or, his adventures could be international, a globe-hopping superhero, like the Jason Bourne movies.
By having a mobile superhero, there’s no telling where his adventures could lead. He’d only be limited by the imagination. And not a subway in sight.
A New Face
Let’s count the actors who’ve played the wall-crawler, shall we? Nicholas Hammond, Maguire, Garfield. All very capable, all very brown-haired.
But Ben Reilly, with his dyed blonde hair, throws a wrench into that whole imagery, allowing filmmakers to cast a new, vibrant actor, without being married to a brown-haired actor.
Think about it, and say it with me: Ryan Gosling, as Ben Reilly. See? You bought your ticket already.
Essentially, Ben Reilly pulls the Spider-man mythos out of the doldrums and injects it with new stories, new characters, and new themes. And isn’t that what movies should be about?