Story Pitch: Marvel's Strange Tales Presents - Spider-Man (Part 1)


It is now summer vacation here in the Philippines, and finally, for the first time in a really, really long time, we are back with another movie pitch. Only this time, I am not here to pitch to you a movie, but rather, an animated web-series. So yes, you can forget about that one pitch about the The Mighty Avengers, because we believe that what the Marvel Cinematic Universe really needs is something else entirely. (Also because, in retrospect, my Mighty Avengers proposal needs a lot of work). Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our series proposal for Marvel's Strange Tales Presents - Spider-Man!

Also, while the story is completely original, I might give out a barrage of potential spoilers for upcoming films and series, since I have no idea what is cooking-up within the creative minds of Kevin Feige and company. Hold on to your seats, boys and girls, because this is going to be one heck of a long post.


The Concept:

Now, what is "Strange Tales", you ask? Based on the former Marvel Comics title of the same name, this version of Strange Tales will explore currently uncharted territory in the M.C.U., and this place is explored by neither the movies, although they did hint about them, nor the television shows. This animated web-series will be darker and much more serious in contrast to the films, but it will not reach the same amount of grit as the Netflix shows have reached, and will still retain some of the lighthearted elements that the films have been known for. Each season, such as this one, will give in-depth exploration of usually underdeveloped characters, be it villains, supporting cast members, and even main protagonists. Unlike the movies, the web-series would actually address the events of coinciding in-universe events from other media, which means that characters prohibited from interacting with The Avengers such as Daredevil, would be referenced explicitly, or even cameo, so as to establish a stronger sense of continuity.

For Spider-Man's case, there is not that much ground to cover, with the exception of that one glaring timeline plot hole. (See our review of Spider-Man: Homecoming for more information) And heck, the characters have only begun to grow. However, given that Tom Holland, the actor playing Spider-Man, is only contracted to do a limited number of films, the one thing that bothers me is that we would not be able to see all of Spider-Man villains come to life, and done justice. This would be a huge shame, since the web-head has one of the greatest rogues' galleries in history. Plus, the hero has numerous stories that are yet to be adapted. As such, this season of Strange Tales could hopefully answer those concerns.

I propose that the animation should be done by the same people who did The Spectacular Spider-Man animated show. We really cannot trust Disney to handle that, considering how awful the animation for the new Spider-Man animated show is. The duration of each of the thirteen episodes per season would last from 30-40 minutes. Finally, although it might be a little costly, perhaps the best way to truly establish continuity is by having all actors and actresses reprise their roles from the films. In turn, those who voiced newly introduced characters here should be able to translate their roles in live-action format.

For the story, I chose Mysterio as the main antagonist, who was supposed to be played by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead Series) in the unmade Spider-Man 4, simply because I would want to see Spider-Man fight-off a realistic, semi-non-comical villain. The characters from the M.C.U. that will receive character development through this series include Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), The Tinkerer, played by Michael Chernus (Men in Black 3), Virginia "Pepper" Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion), The Prowler, played by Donald Glover (Solo: A Star Wars Story), The Shocker, played by Bokeem Woodbine (The Rock), Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders (The Intervention), and one other mystery character who I am not directly going to mention, since it will ruin the twist later on. I am pretty sure that you have an idea on who it might be. I would also not be using villains that we have already seen before in the big screen, like the Green Goblin. Note that its storyboards, made by Jeffrey Henderson, are used for this post as visual aids. 

The Series:

Episode 1: Lift Off

Set between the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War, Peter Parker, more popularly known by his alter-ego Spider-Man, is now working full-time for Stark Industries, as an intern for Pepper Potts, the wife of his mentor and fellow superhero, Tony Stark. In preparation for the upcoming commemoration of the annual "Stark Expo", which will introduce the world to "Horizon Labs", the latest subsidiary of Stark Industries composing of recruited child proteges from Stark's spearheaded "September Foundation", of which Peter, his friends Edward "Ned" Leeds, who now works as a freelancing reporter for the "Daily Bugle", outcast students Quentin Beck and Clayton Cole, and Michelle "M.J." Jones, and rival Eugene "Flash" Thompson are members of Stark Industries, in partnership with several other major companies and geniuses have come together to build the "Apogee-1 Space Station", an orbital space colony expected to launch during the Stark Expo, which is to be done in the newly constructed testing site for the project, located right next to Midtown School of Science and Technology. The crew of the station is lead by the son of former Daily Bugle editor-in-chief Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, astronaut John Jameson, accompanied by Pepper's bodyguard, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, Peter's classmate Alistair Smythe, and Alistair's mentor and father, Spencer, who, alongside his son, developed the "Ultron Problem".

The Ultron Problem, a favorite topic of M.J.'s and Quentin's, refers to how one, who is feeling unsafe, can lead to even more catastrophic results, similar to the Domino Effect. In this case, machines have reached a level which intimidates people, inviting chaos in the process.

However, the testing site is being attacked and robbed by gangster Aaron Davis, also known as "The Prowler", who has been hired by the designer of his newly obtained re-purposed Chitauri weapons, Phineas Mason, "The Tinkerer". To make things much more complicated, one of the lead designers of the project, Pepper Potts, an expected member of the expedition, has been missing for two weeks already, delaying the launch of the space station for several days. Peter, as Spider-Man, is able to foil The Prowler's theft of the space station's supercomputer.

As Peter celebrates the final phases of their project, his Aunt May Parker, resuming her career as a nurse at Metro-General Hospital, gets into an argument again over the phone about his own safety, which he scoffs, saying that he has a project to handle in his private workshop by the piers. They also argued about May's decision to buy a revolver, due to her fear that "he'll be needing his help soon, and not the 'buying a new bag' type", Unknown to Peter, however, the robbery was a success, and the supercomputer that he retrieved was merely a decoy.

Meanwhile, Pepper creeps her way to the testing site, then suddenly passing-out from high fever, and is retrieved by security personnel.


Episode 2: Failure to Launch

Only two days until the space station launches in front of an adoring crowd, and Ned, M.J., Flash, plus a surprising appearance from Justin Hammer, now in an embarrassing role as the unwilling public-relations officer of Horizon Labs, continue to reassure Mayor Jameson that Apogee-1 will indeed be a success. Hammer admits that "it's a long story". Much to everyone's almost surprise, Peter does not attend the meeting, because secretly, he is fighting against Herman Schultz, The Shocker, who has been hired also by The Tinkerer to damage the communication satellites for Apogee-1, and to torture Spider-Man with a new invention of his and his other partner's experimental hallucinogen. The powerful, upgraded weapons of The Shocker, who is furious at Spider-Man for costing him his job, leading The Shocker to lose custody of his two daughters, and for having him be the butt of every other prisoner's jokes for being webbed-up by "Spidey's pal", are enough to give Peter a hard time, forcing him to chase The Shocker all throughout the subway tunnels of New York City. Eventually, Spider-Man succeeds in defending the satellites, but is unable to apprehend The Shocker after being knocked unconscious on their final battle.

As the Stark Expo arrives, everyone is thrilled to see the beauty that is the Apogee-1 Space Station. Pepper, despite experiencing serious headaches and other symptoms, insists to partake in the deep space exploration operation. As Apogee-1 launches on the gala night, Pepper suddenly passes-out once again, and as communications between the control room and the space station are being interrupted by static, Pepper suddenly bursts, horrifying John, Alistair, Spencer, and Agent Hill.

In reality, Justin Hammer, frustrated at having to see that Stark Industries had to buy his entire company so as to limit the manufacturing of illegal weapons,  is working behind Peter's back. After evidence was discovered that Hammer was involved with funding The Vulture's operations to build new Chitauri-based weapons recovered from "The Incident", which he also sold to other criminal organizations from prison, Hammer, desperate for money, is humiliatingly made into an employee of his own corporate rival. Hammer simply smiles through his laptop in his private office, being in contact with Mysterio, The Prowler, The Shocker, and The Tinkerer, the latter three are former employees of his whom he promised free lives, and muses that it is time to begin the next part of their plan.

Meanwhile, John Jameson and the rest of his crew barricade themselves in the medical bay of the space station, keeping themselves away from "Molten Woman", while arming themselves with standard weapons. Mysterio hacks into the communications hub of the station, and tells them that "the fun has only begun".

Episode 3: Web of Doom

As communication returns to normal, it has become apparent to everyone that the Apogee-1 Space Station has been taken over. Pepper Potts has transformed into something else entirely, complete with a shiny golden, metallic, lava-like appearance, and is seen to be manipulating and generating fire out of nothing. The ground control team have no power over the station, which is now stranded in the stratosphere. Peter and his friends are forced to watch a live broadcast by someone who is claiming to be "Mysterio", the master of illusions. He has come forward with a challenge for Spider-Man: play his game of survival, mockingly titled "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends", or blow the space station out of orbit, and have its remains crash over New York City. In addition, Mysterio sets-off some bombs all across the facility, engulfing the place with his hallucinogen, which everyone to feel a little bit more aggressive, and see various monsters, causing paranoia among Horizon Labs staff, except Peter, whose suit air0filtration system helps-out a lot.

With no choice but to accept, and with no aid from any other superhero or authority, because Mysterio forbid them to ask any of them, so Peter must find a way to keep his identity a secret, while also doing battle against Mysterio's employer, The Tinkerer's army of robotic "Beetle Drones", purple, beetle-themed humanoid automated suits of armor almost similar to that of Iron Man's, from its capabilities such as flight and repulsor-based combat, to its other features. He does defeat the first wave of attackers, which is lead by The Shocker, but he does not save Justin Hammer from being taken away by the Beetle Drones to another location in the testing site. As they fortify the basement level, Peter, Ned, M.J., Flash, and  Quentin plan their secret escape through the subway systems.

Meanwhile, after a lengthy, heartfelt talk with his daughter, Liz Toomes, who is staying with her mother Doris Toomes, and decided to show-up and admit that she will always love her father, Adrian watches as the hostage situation commences, with the police setting-up perimeters.

Episode 4: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

As Peter and the rest of his allies search for a safe haven, the group is ambushed by The Shocker, and his small army of Beetle Drones, and are forced to barricade themselves in the building containing the "Break Room of Tomorrow", an upgraded version of Tony Stark's "Binarily Augmented Retro Framing" (B.A.R.F.) technology which is supposed to let users travel 24 hours into the future, but only allows users to see various memories from their pasts, including all of their perspectives on the "Battle for New York".

As Peter, Ned, M.J., Flash, Clayton, and Quentin fight-off the waves of robots  through recreated memories, and while Peter does everything that he can for others to not discover his identity by rewiring the system, with various Stark Industries weapons hidden in the area, until they are saved by The Prowler, who has a proposal for Spider-Man. While this is happening, John is exposed to some toxins in the station, experimental "botanic preservatives" for the vegetation in the station, which have had some genetic alterations from their exposure to the station's Arc Reactor, which gives him some form of enhanced strength, which he then uses to fight an uncontrollable Pepper. The crew also has to deal with the effects of Mysterio's hallucinogen.

Peter then must help his friends defend themselves when they have to launch a massive air-filtration machine to remove the hallucinogen, and wait for a few hours for the effects to wear-off, which he succeeds in.


Episode 5: No Honor Among Thieves

Peter and the rest of the trapped guests and employees have found a way out through the subway systems, which Peter can hack through Karen, his suit's artificial intelligence. However, while Flash and some of the others are willing to run away, with May, through a secret phone call, just asking Peter, who is under the guise of Spider-Man at the moment, to let the authorities handle this, because "Since when has The Avengers not save the day?", Peter, Ned, an M.J. decide to stay and try to repair and recover one of the Horizon Labs' prototype projects, a space pod that is capable of travelling at fast speeds, which can be used to travel to Apogee-1, and have Spider-Man save John and the rest of the crew. Ned was initially hesitant, as his secret crush Betty Brant, is unwilling to go out of fear, but was convinced to help and come-up with a back-up plan. Unable to convince her nephew to stand down, May simply asks Spider-Man to "find Peter for me".

The Prowler then sends a transmission to Spider-Man, proposing to form an uneasy alliance. As Ned and M.J. head to Parker Industries, under the presumption that Peter might be there coming-up with a plan to fight back, and as Flash, Quentin, wanting to prove his worth by defending the group with his knowledge on chemistry and technology, make their escape with Clayton Cole, now possessing seismic-based technology.

There, The Prowler convinces Spider-Man to let him help in one of Mysterio's challenges, and that is to recover pieces of technology from the ship assembly area of Horizon Labs. Spider-Man reluctantly accepts, and as Mysterio indulges in his little games, both Spider-Man and The Prowler, who seemingly surprised Mysterio by pointing-out that he is merely looking out for himself. But once they both manage to fight their way through all of the Beetle Drones, The Prowler double-crosses him. Instead of helping him get the craft, he instead detonates a bomb in the vault, destroying everything, and gives Mysterio the coordinates of the escape route, provided by Clayton Cole, who is upset at Flash for belittling him, leading to Flash and others being captured.

While Spider-Man defeats The Prowler, he is again knocked-out by The Shocker, who sends him spiraling down to the sewer levels. The Shocker, infuriated that The Prowler destroyed countless priceless items in the warehouse area, yet impressed that he is able to trick Spider-Man, although it was Mysterio who told The Prowler, just wanting to also provide for his family, who sights that "the ghetto has only one lesson: survival of the fittest", on what to do, invites him to instead force the other members of Horizon Labs to locate the remaining experiments, which he accepts.

Meanwhile, Ned and M.J. decide to enact their back-up plan into fruition. By reprogramming a Beetle Drone, through the use of one of the projects there, a potential form of unlimited access to the Internet, "Webware", Ned and M.J. decides to locate The Vulture, and recruits him in rescuing the crew, which he accepts. John slowly loses grip on reality while fighting the Molten Woman, trapping Agent Hill in a fight between two seemingly deranged superpowered people, resulting in Agent Hill snapping John back to reality. May also begins to suspect that something is not right about the hospital, where she discovers that Hammer is secretly escorted there via ambulance.

Episode 6: Friends in Lower Places

With the use of the reprogrammed Beetle Drone, Ned and M.J. help The Vulture escape prison, and even help him locate his exoskeleton. However, he is faced with animosity in the form of other hallucinogen-infected prisoners who are either angry at him for selling them "defective" gadgets, or for having his devices be the cause of several deaths. They, lead by Toomes' cellmate MacDonald "Mac" Gargan, as a sadistic means of distraction for him to escape during the ruckus, all have Beetle Drones as weapons, which are hidden through various packages as if they were clothes. All of them are actually hired by The Tinkerer, noting that Spider-Man, being unable to reach The Avengers, knew that he would reach-out to his former boss. As a prison riot ensues, The Vulture manages to escape custody, after going through police barricades, leaving Gargan arrested again. Afterwards, The Vulture sneaks through Horizon Labs unseen, although his Vulture suit is heavily damaged, and heads straight to Parker Industries.

While this is happening, Spider-Man is lost in the sewers, heavily injured from his previous battle, hallucinating his way out of the area, encountering nightmarish flashbacks detailing his motivations on becoming a superhero, while fighting endless waves of remote-controlled Beetle Drones. He is able to emerge victorious by creating an improvised electromagnetic pulse through the use of his experimental "Spider-Pulse", to deactivate all of the robots, but it renders his suit useless, and, for a couple of hours, he has to fight his way out without any costume, or even his web-shooters. Mysterio watches from the camera systems, remaining oblivious to Peter's real identity, due to the shadows obscuring his face, and taunts him. During the conflicts, Mysterio sheds light on what he is, and he reveals that is a huge fan of Spider-Man, and that he believes that it is his duty to keep him "relevant", which disgusts Peter, seeing that he does not want to be worshiped.

He eventually makes it out of the frying pan, and into the fire, after hallucinating, due to Mysterio's hallucinogen, "made of Beetle fuel", about Iron Man and all of his friends being disappointed in him, and later being encouraging. Mysterio also points-out that, through his commentary on the Ultron Problem, that his drug is made with hypnotic capabilities, which means that all they are seeing are products of him hypnotizing them. He also ventures through his past experiences before becoming a superhero, including nearly being killed by "the guy who hired the guy to make pre-Ultrons at the Stark Expo" in his youth, only to be saved by Iron Man, and during the time when he was rescued by his uncle Ben Parker from being crushed by debris during "The Incident".

As the captured students remain at the mercy of The Prowler and The Shocker, plus Clayton, now "Clash", Quentin is consoled by one of the students after being berated by Flash for being more or less useless, unlike him, who is going to be a soldier in the future. Quentin is contented with the fact that a smarter man like him who, despite wanting to be an actor like Trevor Slattery, will always find appreciation elsewhere. He is able to secretly hide a Beetle Drone fuel cell. Flash is also pretending to look not guilty, for contributing to Clash's turn to villainy.

Meanwhile, Justin Hammer makes contact to Mayor Jameson, who is having a meeting with The Avengers on the situation. Pretending as if he was tortured, Hammer prepares to bargain with Jameson for a solution to the problem: surgically-grafting Beetle Drone technology onto police officers, although they will be getting the latest version, complete with a more war-based aesthetic. This will make them stronger, since each will have their own unique fighting styles. May's attempts to search the hospital's records for any link to Hammer to the hospital is prevented by her superior, Dr. Norah Buddy.

Episode 7: The Price of Doing Business

Mysterio, who was actually stalking him all across the sewers, forces him to temporarily go out of Horizon Labs for another challenge. Still lacking a costume, but already having his web-slingers in hand, Spider-Man is then forced to locate five hallucinogen-based bombs scattered all across the city, each guarded by remote-controlled Beetle Drones. Two of them are located in trains that are about to collide on one another, and the rest are only hinted through Mysterio's vague tips. While this is happening, the media circus surrounding the laboratories is becoming more and more uncontrollable, and Mayor Jameson must contend with the idea that he might have to accept Hammer's deal in order to free his son.

During the meeting, The Tinkerer laments on his dissatisfaction at working for his former employer, who stole his rightful credit in the designs of the "Hammer Drones", originally made for construction purposes, and are the basis for the Beetle Drones. Despite this, he remains stern at the fact that he gets money from his endeavors, and also feeding his curiosity, and that eventually, The Tinkerer will have enough resources to overshadow his abusive boss. May follows Norah Buddy to her home, to learn that the hospital is funded by Hammer Industries, leading May to shoot her in self-defense, killing Doctor Buddy. May, while also helping Peter find the bombs via an ambulance, and also partly healing his wounds, updates her findings to Peter, and she returns to work.

Meanwhile, Hammer also laments to Christine Everheart, his one and only one night stand and current lover, about his plans. Christine, who has been interviewing The Avengers and Mayor Jameson about the Ultron Problem and the situation, has birthed a child, whom she named "Justine" in Hammer's honor, much to Hammer's delight. Promising to fund child support, and after sharing about his short-lived romance in prison, Hammer pleads Christine to keep the news outlets distracted, which she accepts.

Okay this post was becoming extremely lengthy. As such, please check-out the second part here, and also the theme song for the animated series, "The Spectacular Spider-Man". Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies.


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