Retcon this! Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark

In the ever-evolving landscape of fandom, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This!, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved geek properties.

When I first heard about Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, the multi-million dollar Broadway musical with music from Bono and the Edge, I could have cared less. At that time I could have cared less about Spider-Man, musicals for the most part, or anything on Broadway besides Avenue Q. Then I started reading Dan Slott’s Big Time arc in Amazing Spider-Man. It rekindled a long buried, genuine fondness for Spider-Man as a character. Spider-Man was one of my first comics as a kid, gifted to me by an older cousin.

Being on the PoP!Cast most weeks I was there to hear all the news gathered by our resident news hound, Jason Knize. It seemed every week there was news of the Spider-Man musical, and none of it good. First we got the news that Bono and the Edge would be doing the music, and Bono would be producing. Really? Bono? If this was an African health crisis, or a Unicef Fundraiser, Bono would be my man to go to. For a musical, not so much. Then we got the name. How exactly does one go about turning off the dark? I’m sure a light switch may be involved, but what does that have to do with Spider-Man?

Then we started getting the news of the injuries involved with the show. Actors and actresses started dropping like flies. As a wrestling fan, my mind went immediately to Owen Hart’s tragic death, and I started to wonder when enough would be enough. With the musical still plugging away at full steam, it seems we haven’t reached that point yet. Please join me in wishing all involved safety, and those already hurt a speedy and full recovery.

The question quickly becomes should this abomination have even been started? Comics and film have been in bed together since the 40’s. It’s a proven marriage, that while having it’s troubles, has been a boon for both mediums. Cinema, with it’s CGI and special effects is the medium that can suspend our belief enough for a comic book story to work. Actually seeing the wires attached to Spidey as he vaults across a 100 foot stage over and over again really can’t compare. Peter Parker singing his troubles away isn’t really going to work either.

There’s a huge money component to this as well. So far Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark is the most expensive musical of all time. Unfortunately, Broadway is having a problem right now trying to fill seats. The logic of producing an extravagant, unproven Broadway show right now escapes me. This musical is guaranteed to lose money.

Right now the average comic book is $3.99. The average price for a movie is $18 per person, after you take into account concessions. Looking for a ticket to S:TOD today, the cheapest I could find was $275. While I’m sure there are some comic fans are huge fans of Broadway, how many of them will be willing to outlay that type of cash to see this show?

Marvel should have been smarter. They should have kept Spider-Man where he belongs. Spidey works in cartoons, movies, and comics. Hell, Spider-Man has even had a few successful video games. The reason Spider-Man works in these mediums is the lack of space restriction. Peter Parker constrained to a stage just isn’t going to work. Spider-Man is one f the most acrobatic characters in comics. Web-Slinging is Spider-Man’s thing. In a movie I can see Spider-Man dart around New York City. Constrained to a stage how does that work? More importantly, can it work without killing someone?

I think that Broadway could take a lesson from Hollywood on this one. For years, Spider-Man was said to be unfilmable. The rights drifted from studio to studio, until the technology was there to make a believable Spidey movie. The stage should know it’s limitations, and leave this one on the back burner until they can do it right.

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Who ARE these people!?

Nick Brammer is a contributing writer for Panelsonpages.com and sometime co-host for the Panels on pages PoP!Cast. Originally from Bedford MA, Nick now makes his home in sunny Florida.

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  1. Tito Cruz says:

    I agree that this show is an abortion but Nick I think you underestimate what Broadway can do. When it was announced that The Lion King was being produced for Broadway many people didn’t think it could be pulled off and it was done brilliantly! Living in NYC I’ve had the benefit of seeing many shows and it amazes me to see what they can pull off.

    The issue I see is making it into a musical. I don’t know how they can incorporate the music and still keep the common fanboy interested and still draw in the common Broadway fan. It’s a tough to find a balance for both. I think if you are going to put on a show based on a superhero comic book character you should go the route of a stage show. This is what is being done with Batman.

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