That movie will never happen, and it’s all Marvel’s fault.

4 Awesome Marvel Movie Scenes You’ll Never See (And Why)

#3. You Can Forget About Seeing Spider-Man or the X-Men Working With the Avengers

There’s no reason we shouldn’t expect Tony Stark and Thor to come help Spider-Man even the odds against Electro, Green Goblin, and Robo-Paul Giamatti this Friday, right? … But we’re never going to see it, just like the only way Iron Man is going to show up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is if you bring an action figure into the theater. This is because Marvel spent the previous four decades selling their characters’ film rights off piecemeal like Michael Douglas in Wall Street.

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Philip Wylie may be one of the most important subterranean sources of pop culture. He was quite possibly the best selling science fiction novelist of his time, the Michael Crichton of the 1930s: a top seller in a time when scifi was ghettoized. It’s safe to say nearly every single one of his contemporaries knew who he was. 

Being the most popular genre writer of your time doesn’t necessarily mean immortality. For instance, if you were to ask someone in the 1950s who the greatest fantasy novelist of all time is, they’d tell you James Branch Cabell. Who? Exactly. So Wylie is better known for his influence on others than for himself.

And boy, did he have influence. Every disaster novel and disaster film owes a debt to his When Worlds Collide (1933), a novel about the end of the world, where a rogue planet is going to collide into the earth, and it’s a race against time to build a rocket with the last survivors off the earth, Noah’s Ark style. I think something like five movies have been made with this idea in the past 10 years. Like Matheson’s I am Legend, a novel about the last man on earth surrounded by oceans of undead, or Heinlein’s paranoid Puppet Masters, When Worlds Collide had influence that created a whole film genre.

Earlier, I compared Wylie to Crichton. Like Crichton, he had a great relationship with Hollywood. He wrote the screenplay for the film version of the Invisible Man, and the earliest (and best) version of the Island of Doctor Moreau, the Island of Lost Souls (1933).

Maybe his most important contribution was that of the superhero, in his novel Gladiator (1930).  Funny story: in high school, I actually met Philip Wylie’s grandson, a huge anime nerd who I met through all kinds of geeky anime clubs. We only met a few times, but he was so thrilled to run into someone who actually believed him when he said his Grandpa inspired Superman.

Gladiator (1930) was about Hugo Danner, a man who grew up with superhuman steel bending strength, invulnerability, and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Obviously, that sounds like Superman, but you can see the beginnings of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Incredibles. Like Spider-Man,  he was a hard luck type who’s efforts to help often backfired (and like Peter Parker, he initially used his powers for selfish gain before realizing how empty that was), like the X-Men, he was an angsty misanthrope who resented being different, and like the Incredibles, the overwhelming message of the story is that great strength and being extraordinary is a tragedy, because there’s no place for you in the world.


The trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming came out a few weeks ago, and it made me want to do a backflip off of my porch in joy. Sure, I’d probably fail that backflip and wind up in a broken heap on my front lawn, but at least I’d be a broken heap in a world where the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming exists.

“But it’s just another superhero trailer. Three new ones came out in the time that it took me to read the first paragraph of this article.” Yes, it is. And yeah, that’s oddly probable. But if you look at the last decade of Spider-Man media, you can see why Spider-Man fans are treating this new trailer like it saved their children from a house fire.

Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007, and it’s not terrible so much as it’s just not good at all. If I had to work in a group school project with Spider-Man 3, I wouldn’t hate it, but I would complain about it to Spider-Man 1 and 2 whenever I passed by them in the classroom. After it came out, director Sam Raimi was gearing up to make Spider-Man 4, but realized that he couldn’t construct a good movie in the time that he’d been allotted. So, the studio decided to reboot the franchise, and we got The Amazing Spider-Man, a movie so bland that it forces you to reconsider whether or not it was actually made to entertain people.

I’m Ready To Believe In ‘Spider-Man’ Movies Again