If There’s a Live-Action Spider-Verse, There Needs to Be a Ben Reilly

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We live in a world where three different live-action Spider-Man actors, all of whom have had their own film franchises, are likely to appear on-screen together; Miles Morales is leading an acclaimed animated franchise that features yet another Peter Parker, along with Spider-Gwen and several other Spider-Beings; and the multiverse has created an opportunity for different variations of the same character to appear alongside one another at the same time. All of this, and still no sight of Ben Reilly.

If you’re not familiar with Ben Reilly, he’s a genetic clone of Peter Parker who was originally created to be a thorn in Spider-Man’s side. After disappearing for a few years, Ben came back around to help Peter and took on the mantle of the Scarlet Spider for himself.

Though the character has an amazing codename, it’s his costume that’s stood the test of time. Ben’s most common design is an all-red spandex suit, a utility belt, and a cut-off blue hoodie with the spider insignia sprawled across the chest. It’s a style from a different era, a time capsule back to the birth of grunge and Todd McFarlane webs.

The Scarlet Spider costume could make for an incredible appearance in live-action, and at this point, the character is a perfect fit for an on-screen Spider-Man who wrestles with his own identity. So the real question is, why haven’t we seen him adapted yet? There was probably an argument at one time that the idea of clones would be too complicated for a Spider-sized blockbuster, and that may have been true before. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 put a mirror in front of Peter in the form of Venom, but it delivered mixed results. And now, years later, that argument doesn’t hold much water.

Marvel Studios has introduced the multiverse to its canon, a concept that is likely to baffle a large chunk of its audience for years to come. Infinite parallel timelines and universes that allow for any and every possibility, including characters from other movies that weren’t intended to be a part of the long-running franchise we already know. If that’s not complicated, I don’t know what is.

There’s a good chance Marvel and Sony successfully pull off a live-action multiverse, but that’s not the point. The mere idea of this concept is difficult and complicated, much more so than any kind of clone conspiracy. So if “difficulty” was the only roadblock preventing Ben Reilly’s path to the screen so far, it should no longer be a problem.

Ben is a great addition to the mythos for all of the same reasons he was great in the comics. Peter needs to spend real time contemplating his heroism and how it affects the world around him. Ben gives him a tangible way to see that in real time.

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