The Amazing Spider-Man Debacle
Forever gone are Tobey’s cheesy one-liners; no more are the citizens of New York City stereotyped (“HE TOOK THAT GUY’S PIZZA!”); and thank the lord no more tacked on silly romances. Well it’s been ten years since the original film, and you know what that means? Spider-Man has a reboot!
I have officially just returned to my humble abode after enduring screaming children and an onslaught of promotions to go see Spidey swing again. And I must admit, I am beyond pleased. The original Spidey films were fun and engaging movies to warch when I was a kid, but looking back at them now, they have become extremely outdated.
The dialogue is cringe-worthy, Peter Parker’s character is laughably geeky (not in the slightest relatable), and the effects are well beyond dated. Given some scenes in Spidey 2 gave us a few memorable action scenes, but we still need to treat ourselves to a Spider-Man who matured way too quickly.
The problem I always had with the originals is that Spidey becomes a hero straight out of high school. He skips college and goes out into the world. At the time, Tobey Maguire (and the rest of the high school students) are obviously from a visual eye much older than 17/18 years old. And because of it, Spidey never exactly gets to be Spidey in teenager mode. Through this he never exactly gets to learn much or mature as both a hero and a man. True he has that one wrestling match, and learns from Uncle Ben’s death, but after that it’s all really smooth sailing from the maturity perspective (talking about 2002 movie not Spidey 2).
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is able to take that large gaping problem, and fix it. Which puts this reboot in a much better position than its original counterpart.
In this version of the classic story, all of the characters have been well written, and on only the rarest occasion have their dumb moments. There was never a time in the reboot where I was rolling my eyes at a main character saying something beyond goofy, or questioning one of their actions or choices.
In “Amazing” they have been able to make the characters so much more human and believable. Suddenly Peter’s relationship with an attractive woman doesn’t feel so tacked on, and the chemistry doesn’t feel as forced as it did in the original. The beauty of their relationship is that because eventually Gwen Stacy will meet her demise, the couple’s relationship will never seem to become stale.
Peter’s romances are one of the most important aspects of Spidey’s story. Next to Aunt May, his romantic affiliations are the only thing that connect him to reality. Having such a well-written and well-acted character such as Gwen Stacy really helps us connect better with Peter’s character. Unlike in the original 2002 version where Peter had this creepy childhood crush on Mary Jane, he meets Gwen in high school. Where Mary Jane never notices Peter until he gets attractive and starts to talk to her, Gwen shows affection towards Peter nearly right off the bat.
They mingle as friends, but slowly develop into boyfriend and girlfriend. It’s Peter’s high school crush, and even though he has her as his background on his computer, there’s no odd/awkward scenes were Aunt Many proclaims to him that he once told her Gwen looked like an angel (like he did with Mary Jane in 2002), or something that completely alienates the viewer from the film.
By the end of the film, Gwen doesn’t get the full rejection like Mary Jane did in 2002. She knows that Pete is Spider-Man by the first movie, and because of this their relationship can grow stronger and again make it more relatable. Mary Jane’s rejection after Osborne’s death feels so cliched and anti-climatic, and again this can attribute to the fact that in 2002 Spidey, Peter is a much “older/wiser” person; he’s not the immature, madly in love character his younger 2012 counter part is.
This may seem like such a minute detail, but Gwen and Peter’s much better-written relationship is basically the heart and soul of the film, and one of the main reasons why “Amazing Spider-Man” works better than the original 2002 “Spider-Man”. But, let’s talk about the second most important reason the reboot works, the villain.
Having the main villain of your film be in some way related to your hero’s past, helps add more depth to their relationship, as well as heighten the tension. This was done well in such films as both initial Batman movies (Tim Burton’s first and Batman Begins), Superman 2, and the first X-Men film.
It’s a good way of making the villain even more evil in being some way responsible for the hero’s origins or in the loss of someone close to the hero. This works ten-fold with Dr. Curt Conners. He is the reason Peter goes to the lab and which eventually causes him to be bitten, as well as the fact that he is affiliated with Peter’s believed-dead father. Given the monster that is the Lizard has many faults in this film, the ideas behind him seem much stronger than the 2002 Green Goblin.
When Conners goes insane, his vendetta for Spider-Man runs much deeper than Gobey. Peter helps create the Lizard, and the Lizard is in someway linked to Peter’s entire past. Again given that some of their battles are not the most memorable, their relationship still helps pave the way for some form of rivalry that will go past this initial entry into this new saga of Spider-Man.
The best part about this new adaptation is that it fixes past mistakes. Spidey doing such deeds as rescuing a child no longer feel stupid or corny. The kid isn’t just staring at a parade float about to capsize on him (remember how stupid THAT looked?) this kid is in mortal danger he can’t control, and through this the film is able to give a more accurate representation about how Spider-Man can make a difference, and how his good deeds can be rewarded in the end (the assistance of cranes that lead him to Oscorp).
The citizens and cops of New York City for the most part have little to no dialogue, but when they do speak you don’t wish to shove ice-picks through your ears. They mostly sound like normal people. This time they don’t have victory parades, or videos on the street for Spider-Man. They tag buildings and wear viral shirts, which is such a better and more realistic approach towards their acceptance of him.
The sad part of this all will be that this poor film has a lot of expectations behind it, especially because people keep thinking that the 2002 “Spider-Man” was some form of masterpiece, when in reality it was basically on the same level or even lower than this version. Stop comparing and thinking about trailers/clips/marketing. Take the film for what it is, which is one that was made with care and admiration for its source material.
To close this out, I just want to say, I thoroughly enjoyed “Amazing Spider-Man.” The effects were an improvement, the acting across the board was wonderful, the story was fun & engaging, and it really sets the tone for future films. On the negative side however, the fight scenes are not as memorable as its original counterparts, Uncle Ben’s voicemail isn’t exactly as well executed/believable as his speech in the 2002 version, and most importantly of all: an origin story was not necessary!
Love it or hate it: “The Incredible Hulk” reboot got how to make a first impression perfectly. Show your origin story in the opening credits and just get into the action. Everyone knows at this juncture how 99% of these blockbuster heroes got their powers. And even if they don’t it only takes little traces of dialogue and a decent opening sequence to explain.
The reasons why such films as “The Dark Knight” and “Spider-Man 2” are much better recieved than their first films is because we don’t have an origin story, we can dive right into the action. And I guarantee if you gave someone Dark Knight or Spidey 2 with no prior viewing of the first films, they can still enjoy it for what it is. Because their characters are so iconic with our culture, it is no longer necessary to bore us with their origins. Everyone knows them. This could have saved “Amazing Spider-Man” a good hour of exposition that maybe could have given the film more room for memorable action, and even more character development. Still a good film, and worth checking out.