July 19, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman and Where I'd Like to See Them Go From Here

My husband and I went to see the new Spiderman movie last weekend. I'm going to try to do this without spoilers... but I can't make any promises.

I really enjoyed it, more than the Toby Maguire versions, and here's why:

While the T.M. versions were often very accurate visually and true to the story, they really got one major thing wrong: Spiderman.

Yep, sorry folks, but whether it was the writers, the directors, or Toby himself, they got Spidey all wrong, and that affected the entire trilogy.

Now, those who know me know I don't read comic books. So my reviews of comic-books-turned-movies are all based on the television cartoons I watched as a kid, and not on the comic books, so please keep that in mind as you read this.

In the cartoons I watched, namely the 1990s Spiderman cartoons, Peter Parker/Spiderman is incredibly quippy. He's sarcastic. He's got a great sense of humor.

In contrast, Toby Maguire's Peter Parker/Spiderman was a little too broody and vague. He sort of stumbled around as if in a fog. Everything was portrayed as being super hard. He couldn't keep a job, he couldn't make it to classes on time, he never showed up when he was supposed to, he was extremely unreliable, and he couldn't pay the rent on his apartment. Because of this, instead of being fast-paced, humorous, and fun, the movies felt tedious and almost depressing at times. The action and the visuals tried to make up for it, and they got a lot of the villains spot-on, but I still walk away from that trilogy thinking, "They ALMOST had it."

Even the "heroic" element of the original trilogy ends up being kind of a downer. Because of his psychological struggle over the difficulty of being Spiderman and still retaining a normal life, the Maguire trilogy turns its thesis: "With great power comes great responsibility" into rather a bummer of a deal. Instead of being uplifting and inspirational, the audience is left feeling like Peter is constantly thinking, "I have great power... DANG IT... now I have to be responsible."

Meanwhile, this new movie captures the humor of the Peter Parker/Spiderman character. If you've seen the previews, you're familiar with the scene where he confronts the car thief, "Oh no, you've found my weakness... it's small knives!" That sort of humor is laced throughout the new movie. And while Andrew's Spiderman isn't as intense and his road to becoming a true hero needs a little work, it's much easier and more enjoyable to watch. Laugh-out-loud humor, mixed in with poignantly sad/touching sequences, this movie was just enough over-the-top that I could suspend my disbelief without wanting to groan.

You can read a very well-thought out comparison of the two Spidermen here (I apologize in advance for the swears... I didn't write it). There's only one real place where I disagree with the author of that post - you'll have to read the post to understand the next couple of paragraphs... if you don't want to, just skip on down to the asterisks:

The Fighter - I wouldn't give this one to Maguire, and here's why. The villains he faced were nowhere near the strength of the Lizard in the new movie. Maybe, MAYBE Venom could compete, but all the rest were closer to "normal." Sandman? All he had to do was get him wet. Green Goblin? Sure, he had enhanced strength, but not more than Spiderman's enhanced strength. Doc Oc? Yes, he has extra metal arms, but he's always been a more cerebral than physical villain. Don't get me wrong, I loved the portrayal of these villains in the original movies, I thought they were spot-on. However, I don't think any of them held a candle strength-wise to the new movie's Lizard. Thus, you can't really compare the battle scenes.
Also, Spiderman has always been more of a Rocky Balboa than an Ivan Drago. While he can certainly dish it out when he needs to, his strengths have always been more in his speed (both physically and mentally). One of his classic moves in the cartoon was to get between two enemies and then jump out of the way at the last minute so that they hit each other instead of him.


I appreciated the new twists they put on the old stand-bys: how Uncle Ben dies, how he becomes Spiderman, they even put their own spin on the famous "with great power comes great responsibility" quote. And while Andrew Garfield is a bit "twitchy" when he's playing Peter... I can forgive that because it sort of makes sense given his new powers and his getting acquainted with them. I also really enjoyed the plot line about Peter's parents - it was new, and yet it fit right into the story easily (again, I don't know if that's addressed in the comic books, I don't remember it being a part of the cartoon)

LOVE that he makes his own webbing. That was a major fail in the T.M. franchise.

Where would I like to see the Spiderman franchise go now? Well, I'm glad you asked!

I'd love to see them grow Peter Parker up a bit. In the cartoons it always felt like he was older, a junior in college at the youngest, and it even seems more like he's a grad student at times. So I'd like to see a Peter Parker that's out of high school, not a freshman in college, and has figured things out a bit. Let's start the second movie in this reboot and make it apparent that four or more years have passed. What would this look like?

1. Peter already has a steady job at the Daily Bugle. He's solidly employed, and while Jameson hates Spiderman, he has no real problem with Parker (other than that he has a slight problem with just about everyone who crosses his path).
2. Peter is a good student, either in college or grad school, working as an intern/student with Doc Conners (who has been released from prison for good behavior)
3. Peter still lives with his Aunt May because hey, it's cheaper, and NYC isn't cheap!
4. Spiderman is an established entity. I'd love to see them continue the thread they began with the police officer and add a sort of grudging-respect relationship between Spidey and the police, sort of similar to the Batman/Commissioner Gordan relationship.

I'd like to be dropped back into the world after a few years have passed and he's grown up a bit. And I think this team of writers/directors/actors could do it, they've set themselves up wonderfully for something like that, and I think they could pull it off. The question is: will they?


Kaycee said...

I'm glad to hear that it was good. For a few weeks now I have been trying to decide whether to go see "Brave" or "Spider-Man." I think I have finally made up my mind. :P

I had the same opinion of the Maguire movies. They were okay, but I was never a huge fan because I felt like something was missing. And I did not like Mary Jane at ALL. One of the reasons I was excited about the new Spider-Man was because Emma Stone plays Gwen. I personally think Emma Stone is an amazing actress.

Thanks for posting this review...and sorry for the long comment. :)

Jenelle Leanne said...

Never apologize for long comments! I love comments!