Here’s a pretty funny footnote in the saga of the leaked Sony emails. Yesterday, a Twitter user unearthed a truly cringe-worthy list of suggestions for making Spider-Man more appealing to Millennials. As re-imagined by one Sony exec, Peter Parker is no longer a science nerd fighting crime on the down-low while taking care of his elderly aunt. No, the proposed Spidey does Tough Mudder events on the weekends, listens to EDM while he’s fighting crime, and uploads photos of his vegan dinners with the hashtag #NBD (No Big Deal). Sound insufferable? Read on!
The man behind this pitch is a Sony-affiliated executive whom former Sony head Amy Pascal has called a “brilliant Millennial research expert.” In November 2013, a few months before Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters, the exec sent Pascal an email with what he called “rando thoughts” about how to update Spidey’s image (possibly for a digital marketing campaign).
“A rising trend we see with Millennials are the really extreme forms of experiential exercise like Tough Mudder (a sort of filthy triathalon), the Color Run and even things like Hot Power Yoga, veganism, etc.,” he writes in his email to Pascal (which you can read on Wikileaks). “Millennials will often post ‘N.B.D.’ on their social media after doing it, as in No Big Deal, also known as the ‘humble brag’���..wondering if Spidey could get into that in some way….he’s super athletic, bendy, strong, intense….and it’s all NBD to him, of course.”
Of course! Everybody loves a humble brag! Particularly if it involves vegan food and yoga. Those are exactly the things missing in superhero movies.
Shore continues: “EDM (electronic dance music) is the defining music for Millennials. Wondering if there’s an EDM angle somewhere with Spidey? His movements are beautiful, would be awesome with a killer DJ behind it.”
Remember how 2003’s Daredevil was full of Nickelback and Hoobastank songs, because that’s what the kids were listening to? This sounds suspiciously like that. (Although, come to think of it, Skrillex would make a pretty good Spider-Man villain, what with the menacing mono-moniker and the black leather outfits. If an evil alien force weaponized his turntable, he’d be unstoppable!)
In fairness, this email is being seen out of context, and it feels more like these are marketing strategies to promote The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rather than suggestions for the films themselves. Nevertheless, the whole appeal of Peter Parker is that he’s a normal guy who struggles to keep it together in his daily life despite his celebrated crime-fighting alter ego. His spider powers make things more complicated for him; they are the opposite of NBD. Spidey is relatable in a way that Iron Man and Batman are not, and as a brand, that’s his real power.