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Perhaps the most interesting thing about the résumé of new Spider-Man director Jon Watts isn’t the Eli Roth-produced Clown, despite the amount of attention that credit has received on social media. (Although the fact that the movie — which started life as a YouTube parody with a fake Roth credit — was made at all is definitely worth noting.) Instead, it just might be how funny it all is.
In addition to the parodic origins of Clown, Watts has directed episodes of two of The Onion‘s forays into television — Onion SportsDome and the much-missed The Onion News Network — as well as puppets-gone-bad crime comedy The Fuzz and the Comedy Central pilot Eugene!, featuring Flight of the Conchords and Bob’s Burgers actor Eugene Mirman. Even his upcoming Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon, has an element of the absurd when two kids steal a police car with something entirely unexpected in the trunk.
This is important, given that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously has suggested that movie audiences haven’t had a chance to experience just how funny Spider-Man is in his core comic book incarnation. “When he puts that mask on, in the comics, he has a nonstop wit that’s almost as troubling to the bad guys he fights as his webs and agility,” said Feige back in April. “We feel we haven’t really seen that yet.”
Feige is, of course, one of the producers of the new Spider-Man project and is said to be the one who made the final call regarding bringing Watts on board as director.
Does this mean that audiences can expect the new Spider-Man movie to be a comedy? Given the tragic overtones of Marc Webb‘s Amazing Spider-Man movies (and the increasingly melodramatic, uneven tone of Sam Raimi‘s trilogy), it would seem a smart move for the new film to differentiate itself from what went before, while matching the successful appeal of Marvel’s own Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man offerings — although the more obviously comedic trailers for Ant-Man have left many fans flat.
Of course, if Sony, Feige and Watts are aiming for a funny Spidey, it puts more pressure not only on Tom Holland, the new cinematic Peter Parker, but also on the writer(s) of the new movie to perform. After all, when it comes to the audience believing that Spider-Man is a “nonstop wit,” that has far more to do with the quality of his dialogue and delivery than it does with the direction. Perhaps it’s time for Sony to build a super team of comedy writers to help deal with that sooner rather than later.
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