Spider-Man's Synergy: From Hollywood to Broadway

April 19, 2007–Spider-Man, one of Hollywood's most successful franchises is going to Broadway. Marvel Entertainment announced Thursday that the iconic web-slinger will be the subject of a major Broadway musical to be directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, who adapted “The Lion King” to stage, and feature music and lyrics by Bono and the Edge of U2.

Readings start this summer. There's no official date for the premiere or any info about casting choices for Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson or the other characters from the popular spandex soap opera.

It won't be the first time a superhero has made it to Broadway; “It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman” was done in 1966 but failed. Spidey is the first Marvel Comics character to leap to the stage.

The wall-crawler, created in 1962 by the team of artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee, has already proved to be titan on the silver screen. The first two films in the popular Sony franchise have grossed $777 million in the U.S. alone, while the third installment is poised to hit theaters on May 4, with the hero tussling with two shape-shifting foes (the gritty Sandman and the oily Venom), as well as vengeful son of the late Green Goblin.

Spider-Man is a cross-media property too. He will be a linchpin presence in the recently announced $1-billion Marvel Comics theme park in Dubai, set to open in 2011, and he will be the star of new animated television series for the Kids WB, which is scheduled to launch next year. There's also the “Spider-Man 3” video game from Activision due in stores May 4.

Since Spider-Man has the most visually exciting villains in comics, it would be a challenge for Taymor to deliver a viable stage adaptation of the mechanical tentacles of Doctor Octopus or the flying glider of the Green Goblin. But the director did win Tonys for direction and costume design for the wildly popular adaptation of “The Lion King,” which used puppetry, stilts, mechanically enhanced costumes and other tactics to create its complex vision of the jungle fable.

David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, is the former president of Livent Inc., the Broadway production company behind the Tony-winning show “Fosse.” The Spider-Man musical is being produced by Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle, Martin McCallum, Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The return to Broadway for Taymor follows a turbulent Hollywood experience as director of “Across the Universe,” clashing with producer Joe Roth of Revolution Studios, which is based at Sony, over the final cut of an offbeat film built around Beatles songs.

Bono and the Edge have done movie soundtrack work, but the rock heroes are newcomers to Broadway. They do have some super-hero rsum lines however: Edge wrote and played the slinky theme song for “The Batman,” the stylized Kids WB cartoon series that premiered in 2004; U2 also contributed “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” to the “Batman Forever” film soundtrack in 1995.