"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has made over half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. That's enough to make it the second highest grossing movie of the year (behind "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), but that hasn't stopped analysts from pointing out a negative trend.
Every Spider-Man movie has made less domestically than the one before it, and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," after a nearly 60 percent drop in its second weekend, is poised to be the lowest grossing to date.
But superhero movies have never been more popular, right?
While Marvel Studios' returns have been consistently growing with characters that were previously referred to as the "B team," the potency of the publisher's most popular character, Spider-Man, is waning. So what gives?
Having pocketed nearly $4 billion since 2002, Sony's Spider-Man franchise isn't exactly at DEFCON 1, but with the series' most ambitious moves coming in the next few years, some things have to change if the studio wants to reverse the current trend.
Character Comes First
Here's the change that would take the least amount of effort on Sony's behalf. One of the reasons that Marvel Studios was able to turn its "B team" into individual box office powerhouses is that it trusted the characters from the page. The greatest strength of "The Amazing Spider-Man" series is that Andrew Garfield is the best actor to ever play Spidey. He understands the character on a level that's so deep that he makes the movie around him better. Put Peter Parker — not conspiracy theories and villain — at the center of your story, and you'll have a character that people will root for and return to the theater to see again.
Use What You've Got
Marvel Studios was able to turn its film properties into a cohesive, multi-franchise world because it had the deep roster to fill its movies. Sony only has one character that's capable of supporting a movie, but he's a great character. (Give me a Venom movie based on the Flash Thompson arc, and I'll reconsider that last statement.) That being the case, the emphasis should always be on making Spider-Man the best he can be, and maybe distracting the audience with universe building and shoehorning villains isn't the best idea.
Take A Breath
A series' fourth consecutive domestic drop doesn't sound like the ideal time to double down and promise a Spider-Man movie a year, but that's what Sony is doing with "The Amazing Spider-Man 3," "The Sinister Six" and "Venom," all planned for the near future. Since only "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" has a release date (June 10, 2016), it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a page from the "Batman Vs Superman" book and push plans for future films back by a year. This would only give the audience time to reset and give the creatives behind the upcoming movies time to fine tune everything.
If handled properly, there's no reason that Spider-Man movies shouldn't be consistently successful. The character's enduring popularity on the page, on television and everywhere in between has proven time and again that he's someone audiences will always line up to see. The trick is living up to the legend.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is in theaters now.