When Sony first mentioned that they were going to reboot Spider-Man two camps formed; the “this is completely unnecessary” camp and the “sounds cool” camp. I found myself in the “this is completely unnecessary” camp. I mean Sam Rami got it right in two out of three films. Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were great ‘comic book’ movies; even Spider-Man 3 had its plus side (i.e. everything not Venom related). He had captured the essence of who Peter Parker was and why he did what he did. Yes, Uncle Ben was right, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Than I saw the design of the costume – the piping and the boots and I began to get worried. I felt that an unneeded re-launch for the series was nothing more than a blatant money grab. I understand that that’s show business and that Sony is in this game to make money. As a fan, however, I am very concerned with story and characterization and how these iconic figures are used. Dare I say, the saga of Peter Parker has always been near and dear to my heart and to a young, not yet jaded, Evil Chicken. It was from this perspective that I firmly planted myself in the “this is completely unnecessary” camp.
All that changed when I saw this video from Hall H at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.
This was my first glimpse of Andrew Garfield and his passion for the role right there in the legendary Hall H at Comic Con that started to change my view. I started to hope that maybe – just maybe, Andrew Garfield and this new director, Marc Webb might be onto something.
Ok we have come this far without any spoilers. All that is about to change. If you wish to remain pure; leave now. I’ll see you next time. Thanks for stopping by! That being said…
S P O I L E R S
Perhaps the best way to describe Marc Webb’s, The Amazing Spider-Man is to describe what it has and what it does not have when compared to Sam Rami’s, Spider-Man. The sands of comic book history shift from writing team to writing team. One could argue and say that Rami is more classic while Webb’s is more Ultimate Universe. You could make the case but the fact of the matter is that both of them borrow heavily from both of those universes and synthesize a LOT of comic book history into their respective films. That being said, who serves the Stan Lee & Steve Ditko origin story best? Both have a teenager nerd / outcast being bitten by an enhanced spider giving him the power of great strength, agility, and the ability to stick to walls. Therefore, I will list some iconic factors and give the advantage to either Webb or Rami. Why do this? I’m a fan. I’m a geek who cares. That’s why. So without further ado…
Both versions of Peter Parker are pictures of a nerd / outcast; however, the motivations are different between Rami’s and Webb’s Peter Parker. Justice motivates Rami’s Parker while Webb’s is motivated by vengeance. Rami’s Parker gets the man who kills Uncle Ben and it changes his life. Webb’s Parker is still looking for the man with the tattoo on his wrist. That is his motivation. True he comes to realize that his powers need to be used to make a difference and that there is a burden of responsibility to do something with the gifts he has been given but without that resolution concerning Uncle Ben’s killer his motivation becomes vengeance. Webb’s Parker accepts the stolen milk, lies, & steals the formula from Oscorp concerning his own web fluid. Sure we’ll find out in the next movie that the web fluid just may have something to do with Peter’s own DNA but for now – he stole it.
“With great power there must also come great responsibility.” – Ben Parker (retroactively attributed to). It’s one of the greatest lines in all of comic book history. Rami’s version has it. Webb’s does not. Yes, Webb’s Parker demonstrates this principal in what his life becomes but Uncle Ben’ words are not uttered. Advantage should go to Rami here. However, I ask you, could you find a better Uncle Ben and Aunt May than Martin Sheen and Sally Field?
In Rami’s version Peter’s web shooters were organic and grew out of his wrists as a result of that spider bite. In Webb’s version Peter constructs web shooters just like Lee & Ditko wrote back in 1962.
Rami jumped into the Mary Jane Watson romance while Webb went directly to Gwen Stacy. In the books Peter meets Gwen in issue #31 while Mary Jane’s first full appearance is in issue #42. Further, Emma Stone is pretty much perfect in the role; Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy from the NYPD, is portrayed by Denis Leary and does an amazing job with the role. The problem is the same that I have with the Star Wars prequels; you know how this is gonna end. Still…
In Webb’s version Peter has clear recollections of his parents and the night that he is left at Uncle Ben & Aunt May’s house. There is much more to Peter’s parents than meets the eye. This device is utilized in the Ultimates Universe. In Rami’s version Peter was raised by his Aunt & Uncle with little or no mention about his parents at all. Rami’s Parker is closer to the classic Lee & Ditko Peter Parker. This is not to discount the Ultimates or Webb version of the story. No. Fact of the matter is I like their connection to Oscorp and what that will mean to Peter in the future. Still, if we are going by classic characterization then…
So who wins the battle of the storytellers? The fans do. The fact of the matter is I love Spider-Man. I always have and I always will. I discovered Spidey as a wee little lad and have enjoyed his adventures ever since. Rami’s films (at least the first, second, and about half of the third) capture who Peter Parker is in the classic sense of the character while Webb’s version appears that it is going to swing into Ultimates territory. And you know what? That’s ok.
The Amazing Spider-Man lends itself to being seen on the big screen in 3D. If ever there was a character that deserved to be seen in such a fashion is it Spider-Man. If you’re a fan, you’ll dig it. While Sam Rami’s version is near and dear to my beating geek heart I can’t throw too many stones at Marc Webb’s version. The cast is excellent and the storytelling has me looking forward to the next one. That’s something I couldn’t say when I first heard of this most recent reboot of ole Web Head. Go see it for yourself and let me know what YOU think.
Excelsior, True Believers!