Being a dissertation [including poor attempts at humor] in multiple parts by one semi-crazed Spider-Man fan.
Allow me to preface this article with note for those that missed the first part, or just found it forgettable.
The purpose of these articles is to entertain. To offer a (hopefully) amusing critique of the new Spider-Man movie, or at least what we know of it so far. A critical (devils advocate) view if you will.
The core of this critique is the argument that those responsible for this new movie have little respect for the source material and are changing who the characters are to the point that they are our beloved characters in name only. If you are the kind of Spider-Man fan that is OK with a re-imagined Peter Parker, one that is nothing like the Peter Parker from the 616 universe, then you will of course disagree with the premise.
Or maybe you are just at odds with my conclusions, either way I hope you can still enjoy this article without feeling you have to agree with it, and I look forward to pleasing you in my “Why The Amazing Spider-Man movie is going to be awesome” article that completes this series.
So please bare with me for one long final diatribe, and you will receive relief in my final article that offers a counter point.
And now, for those that stubbornly believe that who Spider-Man and his alter ego Peter Parker are is essential to what makes them so great. It is for those fans that I continue to offer the argument that this is not your Spider-Man movie, and in fact that it will suck.
Let us begin…
Part 2b – A small follow up to part 2 – The soul of Peter Parker.
Before we get to the next section I do want to address an argument made by some in regards to the Ultimate comics. That is the claim that the movie is being mainly based on the Ultimate comics and therefore should not be criticized for it’s deviations from who Peter is in the Amazing universe.
Despite my distaste for the Ultimate comics, I did read and collect the first 90 issues, and I did not remember Peter being changed to the degree Marc Webb seems to describe (and other information seems to support that I will get to later). So I went back and reread those first few issues.
To my surprise I found Peter is as much the bookish science nerd as he is in the Amazing comics. And in fact the first issue bares more than a passing resemblance to the first Raimi movie. And Marvel’s own Universe Wiki describes him as a “quiet, bookish, boy”.
Mr. Punk Rock Ethic himself
For the most part who Peter is in the issues covering his origin as Spider-Man is pretty darn faithful to the core of the character seen in the original comics. Sure he has a sweater now rather than a suit and tie. But as far as who Peter Parker is, it is very respectful to the source material. So any argument that says “Ultimate” is the inspiration for this movie and therefore these changes are OK, is one that I think holds little weight.
If the new movie portrays Peter the way he is in those first issues of Ultimate, we shouldn’t have any complaints in that regards.
However I believe the interview with Marc Webb clearly shows that not to be the case. Along with other evidence that supports this that I will get to later.
In fact I think that calling the movie “The Amazing Spider-Man”, without being very faithful to the “Amazing Spider-Man” comics is a bit insulting. Maybe I would be more open to these changes if it were called “Web of Spider-Man” or “Spider-Man Begins”.
However for the next section I am going to concentrate on an entirely different offense against the source material (don’t worry I’ll get back to what they are doing to Peter in the next section). Something that seems to have gained far more traction for controversy on the internet.
I am of course talking about the costume…
Part 3: The costume SUCKS! AKA: Basketball head strikes back.
Let me be clear, a bad costume design is not going to ruin this movie. But I feel that it does once again illustrate a lack of respect for the source material and the arrogance with which those responsible think they can reinvent these characters. But for those that think it is unfair to say the movie will suck based on the costume, well please bare with me. I offer this only to add small weight to the argument, not as a central thesis.
So no matter how bad the costume is, it cannot make it a bad movie and the creators know that. However it seems they felt up to the challenge of disproving it, because boy is this costume ugly.
This has got to be the worst Spidey costume ever, right?
OK fair enough, this is the worst Spidey costume ever.
Although it is a little more faithful to the comics.
Part 3a – Ch-ch-ch-changes. AKA: What happened to the Web heads webs (on his head!)?
While it is true that Spidey has had a whole host of gimmicky costumes over the years, they were always temporary fixtures rather than redesigns. Usually not much more than an attempt to boost sales. The black costume stuck around for a while and has returned at times due to popularity, but for the most part the classic costume has not been messed with.
Sure different artists over the years have drawn it in slightly different ways, the eyes are now bigger and the underarm webbing is seen less often these days. But I think the vast majority of Spidey fans agree, the classic duds are close to perfection.
So why would they make such big changes to it for the movie? Is it change for change’s sake? Do they feel the need to differentiate from the Raimi movies so strongly that they are OK with such deviations from the iconic costume?
And while I don’t want my criticisms of this film to be boiled down to Webb Vs Raimi. It does have to be noted that the Raimi costume was vastly superior. I know some people manage to find reasons to dislike it, and I’ll be honest the raised webbing needed to grow on me (although I was sold on the overall look when it was revealed).
But the clear fact is this, the Raimi costume was pretty darn faithful while also looking awesome on the big screen. I know, lot’s of people complain that it’s not realistic that Peter could have made that costume. And I have seen the same criticism of the new one too. But I have two issue’s with that criticism –
1. Didn’t you already suspend your disbelief to the point you were able to believe a radiactive Spider can give someone “Super Spider-powers”? I think that asking you to believe a high-school kid made that costume is really not a big request at that point.
2. Peter Parker is supposed to be a genius remember? A guy smart enough to create one of his best “powers” himself; his web shooters. Should not have too much of a problem creating a great looking costume.
Why he would come up with this ugly thing is another issue.
Let’s just have a quick look at the new costume, side by side with the one seen in the Raimi movies (along with some insets of comic Spidey for comparison).
Will the real Spider-Man please stand up?
Now I know these things like this are entirely subjective, but I imagine few people can tell me that they think that the new costume looks as good (never mind better) than the one from the Raimi movies?
And that shot actually hides the worst changes to the costume!
What have they done to the webbing on his head!? Was this necessary? It’s uneven and no longer even looks like a spiders web, like they entirely missed the point. And the way the web wraps around his head rather than circles round the front like an actual spiders web, makes it look more like some weird gimp mask.
As much as I dislike the weird gloves, the silly boots, yellow eyes, lack of front belt, ridiculous leg stripes and skinny back spider; none of those compare to my distaste for how weird the “webs” look on his face. They simply do not look like webs, and I do not understand why they would change something that has been set in stone in every iteration of the comic (with the rare exception of some bad/lazy artists). It is honestly like the designers did not understand that it is supposed to be a web. This is how this weird design looks when flattened and placed beside what an actual spider web looks like.
I honestly don’t even know what that looks like, but it’s certainly not a spiders web. I remember reading a very interesting article about a science experiment where they dosed spiders with different drugs and looked at the resulting webs they built. None of them looked this dumb.
Looking at this made me wonder what the spider signal would look like with this weird “web”.
To put it simply, it just does not look right. And is change for change’s sake.
I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt on the eyes though I presume that we will not be able to see his eyes in the final movie. And hopefully the costume will look a bit brighter and more colourful after post processing.
What the costume will look like after post processing effects (hopefully).
Part 3b – It’s filthy! And it’s rubber?
Why did they go with rubber? Such a strange choice. For a start wouldn’t it be very hard to breath through? Maybe it’s not rubber, but it sure as hell looks like it. In fact his head looks like a basketball to me.
This movie’s going to be a slam dunk!
And can someone explain to me why this costume is so damned filthy? Seriously take another look at this close up and how dirty it looks. Why would anyone consider that I good thing?
Does anyone have a wet wipe?
“How the hell did my crotch get so dirty?”
And I’m really not keen on the silly line down his leg either. Makes him look like he’s representing Serbia in the winter Olympics! I could spend more time on the other things I don’t like about the costume redesign, but you have all seen the images and it would just come across as anal and nit picky. At the end of the day, while I do think it is indicative of the movies problems. A bad costume does not a bad movie make. And it looks better in some promo shots.
“No seriously, this is embarrassing!”
Also did I mention that Spidey’s head looks like a basketball?
Part 4: The bad news from Comicon. AKA: Peter Parker on suicide watch.
OK I’ll be honest, the majority of information that came from Comicon actually made me feel much better about the movie. But I will save all that for the positive article and concentrate on the parts that I did not like (after all this is still called “Why the Amazing Spider-Man movie is going to suck”).
In the absence of the actual footage, I am forced to work from descriptions. I am going to use this article from Io9 as my main source –
So if you believe there are untruths in these descriptions, take it up with them. But I am going to presume they are describing it accurately.
After the trailer, the first footage shown at the panel introduces us to Peter Parker’s pre-superpowered life. His teachers complain that he’s tardy. He’s reprimanded for skateboarding in the hallway. He’s constantly bullied. He’s the kid who hides beneath his hoodie in the back of the classroom, the kid who always comes home with a black eye and can say he tripped and fell only so many times. But when he punches one of the boys who hit him in school, he and Uncle Ben are called into the principal’s office.
Ok I think this should be pretty supportive of my previous interpretations of Marc Webb’s quotes. This does not sound like the brainy, nerdy, bookworm, straight A student and wallflower of the comics. From this description Peter sounds like a very troubled youth.
I am once again going to break down these quotes for comment.
His teachers complain that he’s tardy. He’s reprimanded for skateboarding in the hallway.
Here we have what I believe is the manifestation of Marc Webb’s “punk rock instinct” in Peter. He’s not merely talking about his DIY attitude to making his web shooters, but a rebelliousness that was simply not part of who the comic book Peter was in any way. I believe this is what Marc Webb described in regards to how they are making Peter an outsider. He’s not a socially awkward nerd, he’s the rebel kid who get’s into trouble skateboarding in the hall, shows up to class late and gets into fights.
Both the Amazing and Ultimate Peter Parker’s would not be getting into trouble for being tardy to class pre-superpowers. Peter is a straight A student, a teachers pet. One of the reasons he is picked on in the comics is because he is percieved as this by the bullies.
And skateboarding? I honestly cannot picture Peter Parker with a Skateboard pre-superpowers in either Amazing or Ultimate. Now I can see the Ultimate Peter take it up after he has got his powers, maybe as a modern alternative to the scooter in Amazing. But as I described at the beginning of this article, pre-spider bite Ultimate Peter was as much the bookish nerd as Amazing Peter.
He’s constantly bullied. He’s the kid who hides beneath his hoodie in the back of the classroom, the kid who always comes home with a black eye and can say he tripped and fell only so many times. But when he punches one of the boys who hit him in school, he and Uncle Ben are called into the principal’s office.
Peter was picked on in the Amazing comics, but not so much bullied. There was a hint of bullying in Ultimate, but no fighting. And in both it was for being a bookish nerd, not because he was anti-social in a late to class, sit at the back and hide kinda way. And while I’m not against Peter fighting back pre-superpowers rather than being bullied, it also does not sit right with the character on the pages of Ultimate or Amazing. In fact it would not take much effort to find examples of Peter talking about how he was never in a real fight before his super powers.
OK some more descriptions of the footage.
As they leave the office, Uncle Ben (played by Martin Sheen) asks about the boy Peter punched, “Is he the kid that hit you?” When Peter doesn’t answer, Ben continues, “So this is all about getting even. If it is, I guess you’re pretty proud of yourself right now.”
This just doesn’t sound like a the type of conversation I would expect to hear between Peter and Uncle Ben. I can’t imagine ben saying “I guess you’re pretty proud of yourself right now” in either Amazing or Ultimate.
The next scene shows us Peter holding his father’s leather briefcase. He searches through the case, taking out his father’s glasses, his OSCORP ID, his calculators, and finally, a mysterious folder of documents.
Peter’s father worked for Oscorp? Ok not a big deal I guess.
Peter visiting Gwen at OSCORP.
Er actually I have no problems at all with the spider coming from Oscorp, I do like foreshadowing for future villains.
Part 5: Dissecting the trailer. AKA: My god is that web coming out of his neck!?
OK so far I have only mentioned the trailers existence in passing. Because while it may be the the most we have sen of the movie. It does not contain the best clues if it’s direction. But the time has finally come to take a look at some scenes from the trailer and see what we can learn based on the information previously covered.
It’s interesting how many people commenting on the trailer say how dark it is. The truth is quite literal, I brightened every one of these shots in order to see them more clearly. As far as commenting on the movies “dark tone” based on the trailer, well a trailer can be very deceptive and can pretty much have any tone they want regardless of the final movie (see the happy “The Shining” trailer for example), so I won’t comment it further.
First we have Peter as a little boy being told by his father that he has to stay with his Aunt and Uncle because they have to go away for a little while. I think it’s pretty clear from what has been said elsewhere by Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield along with what we see in the trailer, that this event is going to be very important to the story in this movie.
I have a few issue’s with this. First of all if the loss of his parents is going to be the reason why Peter is so anti-social, well it is once again alarmingly out of character. As far as I recall, Peter never brooded once in the comics in regards to the loss of his parents. And certainly never pre-superpowers (Amazing or Ultimate).
My other issue is more minor but is an important reason why Peter did not brood about his parents in the comics. In the Amazing universe, Peter is left with Uncle Ben and Aunt May when he was a baby, not a little boy as seen here. As seen in Amazing Spider-Man Annual#5 (1968), the first issue to have any details on Peter’s parents at all.
So growing up, Aunt May and Uncle Ben are the only parents he ever really knew. He mentions always wondering who his parents were, but we are talking about 1 issue only and that came out around issue #67 in continuity. I couldn’t find any details in regards to Peter’s parents in Ultimate other than they were scientists. But he certainly did not brood about them pre powers.
It will be interesting to see if there is any mention of Pete’s parents being Shield Agents, especially with Sony not having the license to use Shield. I think it’s more likely they will be scientists like in the Ultimate universe.
Also, did Peter not need glasses as a little boy?
Then we have a shot of Peter walking down the corridor at school. Virtually everyone turns to look at Peter as he passes them, like they are afraid he may have brought a gun to school. He’s clearly unpopular for reasons beyond being a science nerd.
Next we see Peter having dinner with the Stacy’s. He has a black eye. Either from being Spider-Man or getting into those fights described above. But as he is missing his glasses I think we can presume this is post spider bite.
Later we see this shot of Peter in which he appears to be discovering his fathers old brief case. A scene that is not disimilar to something seen in the previously mentioned Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5. As I said, it appears there are secrets involved with the disappearance/death of Peter’s parents that are central to the plot of this movie. Especially since on close examination, the photo in the bottom right appears to be of Dr. Curt Connors and Peter’s father.
We see Peter wander or break into to an area of Oscorp he isn’t supposed to be. Supposedly in search of more information on his parents. He is then bitten on the neck and we see him pull some webbing from the bite.
OK so I know it seems rather minor, but for what possible reason did they change the spider bite to his neck rather than his hand? It’s seems like change for change’s sake! I don’t recall seeing a single “incarnation” of Spider-Man before that changed the bite from the back of his hand. So why change it? What could this change possibly add?
When you have a change like this that can not reasonably add anything to the story, then what can it be but change for change’s sake and a lack of respect to the source material?
And why the hell is there webbing coming out of his neck? Did the spider bite him or climb in and build a nest?
Part 6: Gwen Stacy. AKA: I heart Mary Jane.
One final comment on Gwen Stacy in the movie before I offer a conclusion and follow up with my counter arguments.
First of all I’ll straight up admit my bias. I never really liked Gwen Stacy, she started off as a cruel beauty queen that was full of herself and had all the boys falling over her. Her only attraction to Peter was that he had no time for her (mainly because he was too busy with his sick Aunt or being a superhero). And when they finally got together, she became a sappy daddy’s girl that fawned over Peter. And despite Stan Lee and John Romita’s best efforts she just was not very interesting and Mary Jane stole every scene they shared. Worst of all she hated Spider-Man. As a reader I could never really root for Pete and Gwen’s relationship when she despised Spidey so much.
However, Peter was in a serious relationship with Gwen before MJ (although he did date MJ casually first, and Betty Brant more seriously before that). So while I have no problems with them having Gwen in the movie, I do feel that unless they have the guts to kill her off like in the comic and then develop MJ as Peter’s true love, they should have skipped her. And maybe they will, there has certainly been hints that they might. Both Marc Webb and Emma Stone have refereed to “Gwen’s story”, which I think most people would interpret as a reference to her ultimate death at the hands of the Green Goblin. If that is the case and they intend to tell that story in part 2 then my point on this is truly moot.
Also the casting choice for her is baffling in regards to the character seen on the pages of the comic. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Emma Stone, I think she is fantastic. I also think that her spunky personality would have been perfect for Mary Jane. But for Gwen?
And this image concerns me too –
It would appear from this image that Peter is still wearing his Spidey oufit from the waist down. Which forces me to conclude that Gwen is aware that Peter is Spider-Man and is supportive. Nothing could be more out of character for the Amazing universe Gwen. Although it would fit perfectly for the Ultimate universe Mary Jane!?
However as I have said, I’m not a big fan of Gwen. So changes to her character do not concern me as much. But it does seem like an unnecessary change. After all MJ did not know Peter was Spidey in the first Raimi movie. And in the comics Gwen dies having never known. But I am a fan of Peter having someone to confide in about is life as Spider-Man, I just prefer it to be MJ as it is in both Amazing and Ultimate.
I think I have provided ample evidence that there appears to be a serious lack of respect being shown to the source material in the making of this reboot. Especially in regards to Peter’s personality pre-spider bite. Also the costume sucks.
And I think taking this evidence into account and deciding that the movie will not be very good, especially for long time die hard fans of the comic; is not an unreasonable conclusion to come to.
Will it be an inaccurate conclusion? Only time will tell. And believe me, nothing would make me happier upon this movies release than to find that all my fears and reservation were completely unfounded and that the movie is fantastic.
However make no mistake, there are positive things that we know about this movie. And these things strongly support the argument that this movie will be good.
So with that in mind I hope you all join me next week, when I complete this series of articles with the final section titled…
Why the Amazing Spider-Man movie is going to be awesome!