Editor’s Note: GEEK PITCH is an irregular column on ScottWaldyn.com that re-purposes what would normally be a nerd-fueled fever dream into a movie pitch.
We all know a new Spider-Man film is coming now that Spidey’s been welcomed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (through a deal reached between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures). With the little bits of news filtering through the pipeline, we’ve learned that Tom Holland is our new web-head, with Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. We also know that the joint film team is eyeing a new villain audiences haven’t seen on screen yet, with the rumor on the street fingering Kraven the Hunter as our criminal operator.
But that’s it. Beyond these small morsels, the doorway is wide open, with a plethora of questions waiting to be answered. Who will write it? What’s the story about? Are Sony and Marvel interested in reading a movie pitch from some guy on the Internet?
Before anyone can say no to that last question, I’m going to lay my cards out on the table. Take a moment to grab some popcorn or refill that soda. You ready?
In this universe, Peter Parker is still new to the dual identity game, having been Spider-Man for only a year. Uncle Ben has already passed, and the funeral is long behind Peter and his Aunt May. They’ve moved on, picked up the pieces, and are now making life work. At school, Peter is just another forgettable face, tucked away in a sea of students. Only Harry Osborn pays him any attention, and at that, it’s mostly to “study” Peter’s homework. It’s okay, though. Harry is dating Gwen Stacy, the nerd queen, science geek, and idol of Peter’s eye. When she comes over during their “study” sessions at the Osborn place, those few moments of nirvana are enough to keep Peter perilously toeing the line of expulsion.
Outside of school, Parker’s a low-level hero who’s a thorn in the side of common crooks, bank robbers, and police officers — he’s more of a nuisance than a revered superhero, frequently stepping on the toes of the local law enforcement. But Peter’s trying. He sees heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow, thinks of his murdered Uncle Ben, and dons the homemade Spider-Man mask anyway, looking for ways to aid New York however he can. It’s a compulsion at this point, a way to fill a void.
One way Spidey decides he can help is with a rampant drug problem. With all of New York’s daily problems, the police don’t have enough manpower to bust up the ebb and flow of drug trafficking, and not only are illegal drugs hitting the streets hard, Peter’s been seeing them in his school, too. Especially a new drug, one with a scorpion logo on the packaging. It’s like a calling card, the symbol of one of the most powerful cartel bosses in the Americas. Peter’s sure a few of his classmates have been using it. He’s seen it in their surly, strung-out demeanor. He’s seen the packaging buried in the locker room trash can. Peter’s even seen it in the hands of Harry Osborn.
After taking note of some professional hunting tips from the Discovery Channel program Kraven The Hunter, Spider-Man suits up and wages his one-man war on drugs. Much to his own surprise, he’s actually successful, so much so that Spider-Man begins appearing on the front page of local newspapers. And it’s fun… for a while.
Renown TV star Kraven the Hunter comes to New York amidst all of this Spider-Man hubbub. Is Spidey a hero? Is he a menace? Will law-abiding citizens permit vigilantes as a part of society? Riding on the heels of the debate, Kraven announces on live television his intentions to hunt his greatest prey, this Spider-Man, and bring Spidey before a televised court, so the great people of New York can answer these questions.
Meanwhile, Spidey’s meddling in Nthe city’s underbelly finally overturns the wrong stone. In what seems like a routine drug raid, Peter meets the leader of this powerful cartel, the crime boss known as The Scorpion. And he’s big. Muscular. Imposing. Marked with scars. The Scorpion wields a chain with a ball on the end of it shaped like the stinger of a scorpion.
The two battle it out. Inexperienced in combat, Spider-Man can barely stay grounded. He takes a beating. The merciless blows of The Scorpion’s massive fists crack his ribs. Our wall-crawler is eyeing death in the face when the hand of fate grants him mercy. The police arrive. With Kraven the Hunter in tow. Scorpion bails, giving Spidey the opportunity to escape.
The police track Scorpion; Kraven tracks Spider-Man, with camera crews keeping tabs on both pursuits. When the two finally meet, Spider-Man pleads with Kraven to give it up, to just go home. Peter won’t hit a TV celebrity, let alone one he particularly enjoys. He tries to level with Kraven, but Kraven won’t have any of it, taking the first swing. Again and again Spider-Man dodges Kraven’s blows until he’s given no choice but to hit back. He lands a punch right on Kraven’s nose, knocking the TV star out cold.
The video plays endlessly on people’s phones the next day at school, as Peter sulks in the back of his classes. Kids are debating whether Spider-Man is a hero or a villain. On televisions in the lunch room, Peter can hear the pundits weighing in with their opinions, discussing how ineffective the wall-crawler is. Did Spider-Man capture The Scorpion? No, the police did. Spidey just made a mess of things.
That old Parker luck.
It isn’t until Peter sees Gwen arguing with Harry that he realizes his efforts made a difference. The Scorpion’s drug supply has been severed. Several students are going through withdrawals, weathering the storm of anxiety, but it’ll pass. Things will get better. By wielding his great power, Peter has improved the quality of life for those around him. It’s enough of a motivator to keep him from ditching the superhero suit.
Across the city, Kraven is nursing a broken nose and vowing revenge. His show’s been canceled. His status has grown from revered star to cheap joke. Even his wife, Sasha, a geneticist at Roxxon, tells Kraven that it serves him right, though she can help him regain his status. She’s invented a formula to help Roxxon catch up to the super soldier game. This is where The Scorpion comes in. Kraven, with the help of the drug lord’s broken cartel, springs Scorpion free, only to use the crime boss as a test subject for Sasha’s experiments. She combines scorpion DNA with the drug lord’s DNA, and thus a terrifying half-man, half-monster is born and released upon New York.
Witnessing the experiment’s success, Kraven is eager to repeat the procedure on himself, this time, using lion DNA. He will hunt this Scorpion, and when Spider-Man comes out to battle this renewed evil, Kraven will kill the hero, too. It’s a perfect plan, one that will not only restore his former honor, but elevate Kraven to the role of city savior.
The three have their stand-off within the precinct Scorpion was detained at. The police are overpowered and overwhelmed by this monster. Spider-Man hears their frantic updates on a police scanner and does his due diligence to save lives before engaging Scorpion for a final showdown. Kraven arrives as well, and the three brawl throughout the precinct, ultimately taking it to a construction yard down the block. Everyone is watching now. The news helicopter is streaming a live-feed from above. Kraven’s old team is filming from below. Bystanders gawk behind phones. All eyes are upon the three contenders when Kraven gains the upper hand and impales Scorpion with a make-shift spike.
Scorpion’s last glimpse is of Kraven grinning ghoulishly. The monster tries to remove the spike from his abdomen, but Kraven finishes the job with a pair of knives. “No beast can match this hunter,” he boasts. “No beast can slay this city’s savior.”
It’s just the two of them now, the hunter and his original prey. Spidey’s seen that look in Kraven’s eyes. He’s seen it every night since Uncle Ben died. It’s an absence of light, a void of evil. And it musters the courage to fight harder than Spider-Man has ever fought before. Not because he’s the more powerful hunter, but because he has to. The city needs him to. The world needs to see the fine line between vigilante and hero, between a murderer and a man doing his civic duty. When Kraven is finally defeated, Spider-Man ignores the hunter’s pleas for an honorable death.
At school the next day, Peter thinks about sulking in the back of the classroom again, of hiding in the shadows and riding out another day unnoticed. A sense of courage overtakes him, and he opts for a seat in the front row instead.
Just as class is starting, Gwen Stacy slides into a seat next to Peter. They make eye contact, and she smiles. Peter checks to make sure she’s not smiling at someone behind him, but before he can turn his head around, she says, “I never knew you were in my class.”
It’s the start of a new day.