My third and final article in this series is my best attempt to look on the bright side of the new Spider-Man movie. For anyone that missed my first two articles please be sure to go back and a take look lest you mistakenly think that my expectations for this movie are mostly positive. Find them here -
So as I made clear in my previous articles, I have some serious reservation about this movie. Mainly that they are taking far too many liberties with the source material and offering a completely different take on the characters. Something I do not want. And I especially find the use of the classic comic books name to be in poor taste if you are not going to be faithful to important character aspect of the original comics.
But with that said, there are many things about this movie that bode well for it insofar as it being a good superhero movie. Even a good “Spider-Man” movie, if you are ok with your Spider-Man movies being alternative universe (because what else could it be when the characters are so far from those found on the pages of the comic). I know some people are still arguing that the characterization won’t be untrue to the comics and disagree that the evidence already in the public domain disproves their opinion, well time will tell on that so let’s save those arguments for another time.
But I do feel that anyone willing to view the movie with an open mind to reinterpretation of the characters does have a lot to look forward to in this movie. And it is those things that I wish to examine while I make a case for why this movie might be awesome.
Part 1: The Spider casts his web
By far the most promising aspect of this movie for me is the cast. While I feel some choices are better than others, and some people would have been more suited to other roles (see below). For the most part we have a solid cast with some wonderful actors. Let’s take a look.
My goodness all of the big three superheros are now being played by Brits (Christian Bale as Batman & Henry Cavill as Superman)! OK so Andrew is actually only half British, being born in LA (to a British mom and American father) but raised in England from 3 years old. Even so he’s British enough to be considered one (and a citizen). As a Brit myself I like this trend, after all how many classic British hero’s have been played by Americans over the years (Robin Hood, Lara Croft & Sherlock Holmes to name a few)? And we have been playing the villains for far too long.
I am very pleased with the casting of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. I think he has the perfect look, a handsome nerd. Maybe even more so than Tobey. He is an excellent actor and as a plus he’s even been in Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction show in the world (true geek credit).
For anyone that has even the slightest trepidation over Andrew, I beg you to watch the Comic-Con panel and his pre-panel fan letter. His giddy excitement to be playing the role and obvious passion for the character is infectious. I was very fond of him before this panel. Afterwards I was as head over heels in love with him as any hetro-sexual man can be for another man. He is quite simply adorable in the exact way that I feel Peter Parker’s character should be. And while I will admit I not fond of the hairstyle chosen for the movie and feel it does not suit Peter Parker at all, I am 100% happy with this choice of actor for Spider-Man.
I also recommend this EW interview for more observations of Garfield’s adorableness and fandom for Spider-Man (we’ll not mention Marc Webb’s cheeseburger comments)-
Oh Emma Stone, allow me to count the ways I love you. Not only is she one of the most exciting young actresses around, she is also one of the most likable. Wether it be her roles in movies or in interviews, she seems to be so instantly loved by everyone and has already built quite the online fan base. She’s funny, beautiful, talented and down to earth. She has improved every movie she has appeared in in my opinion and has at least two movies with a bonafide claim of being considered all time classics (Superbad and Easy A). And she has been in a great Zombie movie too (massive geek cred).
I would go as far as to say that I feel she was born to star in a Spider-Man movie. Unfortunately I think the role she was born to play was Mary Jane Watson and not Gwen Stacy. And I’m not just saying that because she’s famous for being a beautiful red head (even though she is naturally blonde). I’m saying that because the spunky girl character she plays so well reminds me so much of the Mary Jane from the classic Romita comics, and not at all of the sassy Gwen of the Ditko days OR the needy daddy’s girl of the Romita era. Now as I have stated before, it appears the Gwen of the movie will be a big departure from the comics in everything but looks. In fact I would not be surprised if this movie Gwen is more like MJ than Gwen in personality. Which is a shame because it adds to the argument that there is nood good reason for Gwen to be in this movie over MJ. The only good reason to use Gwen is either fan service as a bit character or to kill her at the hands of the Green Goblin at some future point. If they intend to kill her in a following movie then I applaud them for telling that story, however that makes me even sadder that Emma Stone will die in a future movie ans that she can’t play MJ in a sequel.
But all that said I have no doubt that Emma will be wonderful in this movie and that the movie will be better for her being in it.
And a Brit as the Villain too! Weird.
I have been a long time fan of Rhys, first seeing him in various British TV Shows and then the wonderful off beat Welsh movie Twin Town. So I have been very happy to see his star rise in America. And this is probably his biggest role yet.
Rhys is wonderful as both a menacing character and a comedic one. It will be interesting to see how he is used as the Lizard. I do not consider the Lizard or Curt Connors to be a character with much of a comedic personality, so I am unsure if Rhys talents in that regard will be utilised. But there is no doubt he can play a villain that is both charming and menacing (see Twin Town). So am very happy with this casting.
I’m also a big fan of Martin Sheen too, a truly inspired choice for the role of Uncle Ben. I imagine any inspiring words delivered to Peter from Martin Sheen will be very impressive.
Sally Field (Aunt May)
While I am a big fan of Sally Field (Smokey and the Bandit for life yo!) and her age is appropriate, she looks a little too young and healthy for the frail Aunt May of the original comics. Mind you the age and frailty of Aunt May was always confusing in the original comics. If Aunt May and Uncle Ben were over 60 and Peter was 15/16, then how old was his parents when they had him? Uncle Ben’s brother must have been some years younger than him or had a child very late in life. Say Richard Parker was 10 years younger than his brother (which is uncommon) when him and his wife had Peter, that would still make him at least 35 at the time. Not unheard of, but strange nonetheless. Well checking Campbell Scott’s (Richard Parker) age on IMDB confirms they got the ages right in this movie at least.
But I digress. Sally Field should be wonderful as usual and will breath some much needed life into this character.
Dennis Leary (Captain Stacy)
This one I have a big problem with. First of all he looks nothing like the Captain Stacy of the comics (who I admit also suffers from a strange age inconsistency with his daughter). Second of all he is not a very good actor in my opinion and will be upstaged by the rest of the cast. And worst of all as a massive fan of the late great Bill Hicks, I have nothing but contempt for Denis Leary as a plagiarist and a hack*. And as he has never apologised for stealing his “friends” material, I wish him no further success. Sorry Leary fans.
I was pretty outspoken about my concern over Marc Webb’s vision of Spider-Man in the last two articles, and to be honest nothing he has said since I wrote them has changed my mind. In fact I could write an entire third article under the “why the new Spider-Man movie is going to suck” banner based on his recent interviews.
But my respect for him as an up and coming film maker is not an issue I have with him. I was a big fan of 500 Days of Summer. However I am unsure of what he has done to deserve to be responsible for such a beloved franchise, one great romcom and a bunch of music videos does not a great superhero director make. However he has proved he does direct characters and romance very well but can he do action?…
Well I don’t think it matters if Marc Webb can direct action because legendary stunt man Vic Armstrong (Indiana Jones, Superman, James Bond) is going to be the stunt coordinator and “second unit director”. For those that don’t know the lingo, “second unit director” means he will essentially be directing all the action scenes. And since he has a very impressive resumes as both stunt man and second unit director I have no concerns that the action scenes will be anything but brilliant.
While I am always concerned when a studio hires several writers to improve a script, there is not too much concern over the quality of writer they have chosen. No my concern is what they have asked them to write. But it’s worth noting that while “Amazing Spider-Man” credits one man with the story, it took 3 to get the script right (although one of them also wrote the story). While Spider-Man 2 for instance had 3 people write the story outline and only one to get the script right. Take from that what you will.
The biggest concern would be the story by James Vanderbilt, whose only credit of note is the screenplay for David Fincher’s excellent Zodiac. Here he is credited for the story and a screenplay credit. I assume he wrote the original screenplay and two writers were brought in to improve it afterwards.
One of those writers was Steve Kloves whose most notable credits are Wonder Boys and most of the Harry Potter movies. However the final writer credit is the one that should ease most of our concerns, Alvin Sargent the man who holds the single credit for the screenplay of the almost perfect Spider-Man 2.
While I had no problems with the organic web shooters in the Sam Raimi movies, I do like the idea of Peter making his web shooters as an example of what a genius he is. So I do think having web shooters in this movie is a cool thing if handled well in the context of the movie.
But far more exciting to me is the information we have learned in regards to Spidey’s witty banter. One of the few pieces of criticism I had towards the Raimi movies was the lack of funny from Spidey. Sure there was a little, just enough so Spidey felt accurately portrayed not not close to the amount we expect in the comic books. And as talented as Raimi is with physical comedy his failure to get some classic banter from Spidey was something I noted.
So it is with great pleasure I read reviews of the comic con footage that discussed some great lines Spidey had, here is a sample -
- Spidey joking around and making light of catching robbers. He falls to his knees, mocking the guy and begging, “A knife?! No, no, no! Please! Not a knife!”
- Another scene has a criminal in a car. Spider-Man is already sitting in the back. The criminal freaks out. “Are you a cop?” “Really?!” says Spider-Man. “You think the guy sitting here in red and blue spandex is a cop?”
Sounds great. My only concern is that this could come across really cheesy, which I think is why Raimi chose to be conservative with the banter and didn’t use too much. But all reports from the San Diego comic con I saw said it worked well and got good laughs. Hopefully the movie has a lot more of this.
Why is it that movie studios feel superhero movies can only have one villain when they also include an origin story? I think the fanbase is almost always united in thinking having one villain a movie is the best chose, maybe with a C lister thrown in to be dispatched earlier in the story. Anyway this movie has the hero’s origin story, and the one good side to that is that we get to concentrate on a single villain again.
I think The Lizard is a great villain and perfectly suited as a single rival for Spidey. And his alter ego is perfectly suited for an engaging story between himself and Peter that will compliment the hero vs villain stuff. Although I worry it may have a little too much in common with the story of Spider-Man 2.
The blurry picture next to this text is the leaked photo of the CGI Lizard from comic con. What you are seeing is the Lizard terrifying some girls in the high school bathroom. Looks very cool.
I’ll have to admit to being something of a Spidey purist. I want my Peter Parker to be as close the Peter Parker I grew up with, and it is because of this that I never liked the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. It is also because of this that I am extremely weary of the direction this movie is taking in regards to it’s respect for the source material and the creators apparent desire to try and modernise Peter and Spider-Man. But outside of that aspect, everything else is looking very promising. And I truly hope that when the movie comes out, that I can put aside my desire to see the Spider-Man I want on screen and enjoy this movie for what it is. And it does seem that what it will be is something that may be very good in it’s own right.