Trilogy Thursday: Spider-Man
Hi everyone, Max from Impassionedcinema and Terrence from TheFocusedFilmographer are here to talk about a new trilogy. This week we take a look at the films of everybody’s favorite webslinger, Spider-Man.
Max: The moment I got excited that a Spider-Man adaptation was coming to the theaters was when Tobey Maguire was announced as Peter Parker. What a perfect fit. I had seen Tobey Maguire in Pleasantville previously and was impressed with his acting. Sure, I was familiar with the character, his origins, and the sweet Mary Jane played by Kirsten Dunst, but I hadn’t delved into the comics at that point. After this first movie I was hooked. I remember going to the theaters and seeing it two days in a row. Not a feat many films can claim. It was exactly what I wanted in an origin story and stands next to Superman, Batman Begins and Iron Man as one of the finest.
As I wasn’t too familiar with director Sam Raimi’s work, I would’ve cried foul at a famous horror director having the reigns to a A-List superhero like Spider-man, but I figured if Peter Jackson did wonders with Lord of the Rings, then it was possible. After being completely blown away by the film, I started collecting some anthologies of the earlier comics. What I discovered was that Spider-Man the movie was loosely based on the events in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 121-122’. Of course Gwen Stacy didn’t appear in this film franchise until the third film, so some of the events in those issues were radically changed.
If you ask me what I feel about Spider-Man today…I would say I still think it holds up well enough, but comic book movies took a turn towards even more dramatic territory after the success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man and could have used a little more dramatic emphasis in places. Spider-Man still holds relevance in superhero origin stories to this day and should still be considered an enjoyable ride.
T: Let’s travel back in time for a minute to when an 18 yr old version of myself walked into the theater to watch Jurassic Park III (July 2001). Sitting down waiting for the trailers to arrive…completely oblivious to the major surprise that was about to come my way. An AWESOME trailer for a movie I had wanted to see come for the longest time. As a super Spider-Man fan, it was surprising to me that (1) I didn’t even know a movie was on the way, and (2) that it looked so awesome. Do you remember that trailer? It got taken down after the unfortunate events on 9/11 because a pivotal reveal scene featured the twin towers of the World Trade Center. (I still love the trailer and it can be viewed HERE).
A few months later, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man hit theaters (I watched it 6 times on the big screen!), and the rest is history! Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Willem Dafoe it was a little silly at times, but ends up being one of my favorite superhero origin movies. The casting really worked in this introduction movie. Maguire embodied “Peter Parker” with talent, Cliff Robertson filled the role of wise Uncle Ben as if he was born for the role, and everyone else truly just fell into place. (I was also glad for the inclusion of the larger-than-life J.K. Simmons portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson, and the first of three separate Spider-Man film cameos from the great Bruce Campbell!)
While the Spider-Man enthusiast in me preferred to see a different villain other than the notorious Green Goblin and a different girlfriend (Gwen Stacy was Parker’s first), I understood why Raimi did what he did in order to maximize the amount of moviegoers and fans that would go see the film. Overall, Spider-Man allowed me to believe that Marvel could have good movies like DC Comics and made me look forward to the sequel.
Max: Some of the things that disappointed me in the first Spider-Man film were fixed in the second outing. I was much more interested in the villain because other than Venom, I believe Doc Ock is a top-tier Spider-Man villain. The relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane picked up steam and this time he gets the girl as opposed to the first movie were he decides he can’t be with her. While that’s a courageous sentiment, I don’t think it worked well for the film. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the second Spider-Man film, but I always remember this iteration the fondest. Looking back I remember an amazing train fight in the movie between Doc Ock and Spider-Man that simply blew me away. Sam Raimi also got to play with his roots a little, going b-movie horror sequence during the creation of Doc Ock. As far as sequels go, Spider-Man 2 holds up to the best of the superhero movies.
T: Considered one of the best superhero film sequels ever, the statement can be argued that Spider-Man 2 may even be better than its predecessor. Ironically, it did the least in the box office out of all three. This time, the cast is joined by the talent of Alfred Molina as Doctor Otto Octavius. Continuing where the first film left off, we follow our hero as he juggles all of the things he did in the comic books: grades, girls, gangsters, and gunslingers. The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, now settled into his role as masked vigilante, focuses his efforts in protecting the city and family that he loves.
The game of cat & mouse between he and Mary Jane continues as they seem to grow apart. By the end, this film left a great feel for the characters and their plights. Secrets are revealed as Raimi sets several little things in motion to excite and prepare audiences to accept the next in the series. Overall, a great sequel that I enjoyed.