Only a decade has passed since the first Spider-Man hit theaters and already we find ourselves mired in another Marvel comic book movie reboot. While that concept might be cause for confusion (or dread that a too-soon restart will invoke the same blasé as 2008’s Incredible Hulk or Punisher: War Zone), it stems from a notion that most can agree on: Spider-Man 3 dropped the damn ball.
Could Raimi have gotten back on the right track with a fourth installment? Hell yeah. Sure, the movie fell off compared to the previous two, but it didn’t exactly tread in Batman and Robin, anyone associated with this movie should drown themselves in a bathtub-tier turd territory either.
But the powers that be dictated we be given a clean slate, and so we have The Amazing Spider-Man due in theaters July 3rd, 2012, right around the same time as The Dark Knight Rises. The film aims to restart the Spider-Man mythos in much the same way as Nolan’s lauded trilogy and shift the focus back to the epoch of Peter Parker’s high school days, as well as explore his origin and formative adventures as Spidey. Gone are Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and director Sam Raimi. We’re given a whole new crew; Andrew Garfield of The Social Network fame as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, a and Rhys Ifans as the Dr. Jekyll-influenced main villain Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard.
Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Voted Midtown High Class of 2011’s “Couple Most Likely to be Torn Apart by Some Disastrous Misfortune due to the Perilous Nature of Peter’s Alter-Ego.” Congratulations, guys!
Best of all, the new films present an opportunity to ameliorate upon what the original trilogy carried out poorly. Such as:
1. Less moping around, more fun
Much of Spider-Man’s (50 years of) enduring success can be attributed to the fact that, although he is a guy blessed with form-fitting spandex and the proportional abilities of a spider, he’s one that still goes through his fair share of rough patches; he has trouble paying rent, his girlfriends break up with him thanks to the imbroglios associated with leading a dual life… and his radioactive spider-semen can potentially kill whomever he knocks Spider-boots with.
Hey life is tough, we can all relate.
But that’s just one half of the equation; the brooding motif is not the one to dwell upon for a whole two and a half hours. Fans love Spidey because he’s down, but never out. When an entire movie consists of the superhero protagonist moping around, repositioning his bangs in the reflection of city buildings, wearing enough emo brand guy-liner to resemble a band member of Good Charlotte to show how “edgy” has has become, and having a tear-filled hugfest with the murderer of his uncle, (and then letting the guy go with complete impunity for said murder!) then we’re treading away from the elements that make Spider-Man the wise-cracking guy we know and love. (And more into the realm of complete and utter dogshit.)
More scenes like Spider-Man vs. Bonesaw in the reboot, please.
Less emo. More breakdancing like a boss.
2. Not including scenes like this:
Because we want to see Spider-Man use his abilities to scale buildings and punch criminals in the aorta; not tickle the ivories of a piano or show us his jazz hands. Raimi was trying to show us the “contrast” of nerdy Peter and “suave, lady-killer” Peter here on account of the alien symbiote; but when even an early 90s sitcom called Family Matters can do a better job of portraying diametrically opposing personalities (via Steven Q. Urkel sipping a serum called “Cool Juice”) than a movie on a $258 million budget – it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
3. These fine ladies as Mary Jane:
And no, I’m not referring to the two massive chest zeppelins crammed into that gossamer thin dress.
I’m talking either Christina Hendricks or Elena Satine playing Mary Jane Watson, when the iconic ginger ultimately wanders her way into the story to cause a heated, web-splattered love triangle.
Sure, the typecasting of her character might seem like nitpicking. (Or shallow, pitiable fanboy fantasy lust.) And while I find it ironic that Kirsten Dunst takes a ton of flak for not being “hot enough,” and [insert snaggletooth joke variant here] from fanboys who are unquestionably far uglier in comparison, the frustrated logic of these hypocritical basement dwellers is hard to refute: she wasn’t the best choice for Mary Jane.
In the comics, Mary Jane is a supermodel. Depending on how horny the artist is that week, she looks something along the lines of this:
Sure, she starts off as the girl next door type when she’s in her teens, but the bottom line remains: She’s supposed to be smokin’ hot. Kirsten Dunst is an attractive girl, don’t get me wrong. But she didn’t “wow,” me every time she was on screen like she should have.
I understand that the process of choosing a leading actress goes beyond looks. (Yeah, sure, that’s something only ugly casting agents say.) Acting ability, and chemistry with the leading man, which Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst undoubtedly shared, are factors which come into play; but all I could think to myself when Dunst reared her nagging head on screen, even when the two shared their iconic upside down kiss and after I was done removing my hand from the nether regions of my trousers was, “Man, this sure would be better and make more sense if someone else was Mary Jane.”
You’ll do, Elena.
4. The symbiote story done right
Venom is one of Spidey’s most popular and recurring nemeses in the comic books for plenty of reasons: He is a frightening, bad-ass looking doppelganger of Spider-Man. The concept of a sentient alien symbiote which augments the host’s abilities based on the person’s demeanor and characteristics is fascinating. He refers to himself in plural pronoun form. He talks about eating people’s fucking brains.
None of these were actualized in Spider-Man 3. The biggest reason? Sam Raimi himself. Not to knock the guy’s directorial skills or the passion and understanding he has for the Spider-Man mythos, but what can you do when the director himself goes into the film with antipathy for one of the major concepts? Despite the fact that there may be no villain more appropriate for a renowned director of cult classic horror films to embody on the big screen than one that looks like this…
… Raimi still just straight up hated Venom: In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said:
I had never read Venom in the comic books, since they came after my time. Because of that, I didn’t have a natural inclination toward him. And when I read those comics, at [producer] Avi Arad’s urging, I didn’t understand where Venom’s humanity was. I know that kids think he looks cool, and they think he’s a good villain for Spider-Man. I actually didn’t. What was it about Peter’s own makeup that this villain represented some weaker or darker side to? Just looking like a dark version of him is not enough for me. The more I read [Venom stories], the less interested I became. But then Avi said, ‘Look, you’ve got to be less selfish. You’ve got to learn what it is these kids love about Venom.’ So I tried to open my mind up. Then Alvin developed a character that I did understand, and did appreciate.
Do I sense some bitterness there? Seems Raimi felt he had to capitulate to both the whims of the fans and Avi Arad and when that happened, he felt slighted, and it’s clear his motivation suffered as a result.
Which is sad, because Venom could be such an ineffaceable bad-ass; a character developed over the course of several movies where the reasons for Eddie Brock’s hatred towards Peter Parker and Spider-Man are given time to percolate. In the comics, his one burning desire over anything else is to kill Spider-Man. He doesn’t care about robbing banks, nor building nuclear reactors in abandoned warehouses, or dancing to Chubby Checker with Mary Jane. Add to those facts that he can negate Spider-Man’s spider-sense. This means unlike any other super-villain in the world, he can sneak up on our web-headed boy; he can stalk him; he could kidnap loved ones from right under his nose. His persistent antagonism of Spider-Man on screen could become a legendary performance.
Let’s see that Venom instead of the “Eric Forman wearing $2.50 Halloween novelty Dracula fangs,” Venom that Spider-Man 3 gave us.
5. Spider-Sense that isn’t so capricious… or straight up forgotten
Spider-Sense is one of the wallcrawler’s most defining and idiosyncratic superpowers. Any schmoe with played-out Herculean strength can toss around a few boulders and call themselves a super hero; but a “sixth sense” which warns the hero of impending danger? Now we’re talking.
But where was the spider-sense in the first 6 seconds of this video?
Did Raimi and the writers just sort of forget that he had one of his trademark abilities? Did James Franco smoke up the cast right before shooting that scene? Should any grown man really be driving a scooter?
Let’s see some more scenarios wherein Spider-Man’s is better exemplified and creatively utilized. (Instead of just dodging Flash Thomson’s haymakers.)
6. A Green Goblin Mask/Costume that looks like… the Green Goblin
Watch the following video and feast your eyes on this:
This menacing, demonstrative, fully realized Green Goblin mask design. When they finally get around to introducing the Green Goblin in the reboot series (which hopefully happens later rather than sooner considering how Goblin-centric the Raimi films were), something like this design would be worlds more suitable than that pine-tree green Coneheaded Power Ranger shit they passed off as a Goblin costume in the first Spider-Man.