Last month someone asked me what my dream job would be, and for a moment I was incredibly sad. I was sad because you could quote Muhammad Ali and say that anything’s possible, or Jarvis Cocker and say that if you want something enough it’ll happen, but I’m also certain that I can never be Spider-Man.
Spider-Man’s a character I’ve been in love with since I was incredibly young and is a constant source of nostalgia, obsession and admiration. I feel like I’ve grown up with the character, from waking up on early Saturday mornings to cartoons, to queuing up for hours just to see if Tobey Maguire could pull off the classic Peter Parker wit. He couldn’t, but that’s beside the point. Spider-Man is the complete superhero, he’s the everyman and makes mistakes and this brings us to the point, quite nicely as well I think.
Last year something Amazing happened (if you pardon the pun), a great Spider-Man film came out. Kudos to Raimi, but he could never capture the wit, the heartbreak or combine the realism with the outlandish and make it work perfectly. Spider-Man one and two were good films, the less said about the third the better, but looking back I can understood why I had to champion them so hard, I was definitely fanboying but with the most recent installment this isn’t needed.
The main criticism of The Amazing Spider-Man was having to go through the oh so familiar origin story once again. But it managed to make it fresh in a way, this is definitely a film where you can feel Ultimate Marvel’s influence and thank God, because for the same reason the comic book series felt so fresh and reinvigorating, so does this influence. The films feel revitalised and truer to the original stories than Raimi’s ever could.
The story was good, the cast was better. I read a quote that said if Tobey Maguire was Roger Moore, then Andrew Garfield is most definitely Sean Connery and I couldn’t agree more. Garfield embodies so much more angst and wit than Maguire could. Even the way he skulks and looks so wiry makes him look like a spider-boy even before the bite. My favourite thing about the film though, was Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.
I’m not sure whether the producers just wanted to push that this is a new film with a new start and a new love interest to go with, but I like to think that in the same way Nolan was allowed some foresight with his Batman trilogy, there was a plan to have a set of films with a constant theme and continued story, instead of a series like Schumacher’s Batman where you just wheel on different villains and forget about the characters as you try and root through cinema goers wallets.
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazing Spider-Man was that the ‘untold story’ that was championed in nearly all advertising of the film was still untold for the most part. This is more than just a sign of lazy advertising, though. This is a sign that we’re about to see an actual arc of films come through. Where the Dark Knight trilogy adapted Year One, The Long Halloween and then The Dark Knight Returns, Amazing Spider-Man looks to be taking one big adaptation of the most infamous and easily recognisable stories definitely in Spider-Man history, and perhaps in comic books as a whole.
The Death of the Stacys is incredible story-telling and defines Spider-Man as a character that takes a punch and gets back up. Resilient, but damaged. Stripped of his innocence. If you’ve read it, you’ll need no commentary on it. If you haven’t, there’s nothing I can really say to sell it to you, you just need to read it. Seriously need to. That’s why I got so excited at the end of the film with the first hint of this storyline as Captain Stacy met his fate. There’s been a lot of speculation, ever since Stone was cast as Stacy, that we’re finally going to see this story arc put onto the big screen, or any screen for that matter. TV stations won’t touch it; it hardly makes for children’s viewing.
There’s a reason why the casting calls for Amazing Spider-Man 2 are so interesting, albeit slightly worrying. There’s been casting calls for a funeral scene, but none for Norman Osborn. Gwen Stacy has to die in these films. It’s going to be horrible when it happens, there will be tears but for her not to die would be cheating the fans and the creators. This is as pivotal a moment in Spider-Man history as the spiderbite itself. It can’t happen in the next film, though.
In film, and in particular comic book adaptations, the word adaptation has become very much exaggerated, ideas and stories that should be solid bricks for the rest of the film to be built on seem to be ignored. Inspiration from a comic book just isn’t good enough, I’d never want Spider-Man: The Comic, The Film. I want it tweaked, it has to be, but there are some things you just don’t need to touch and the Green Goblin being driven mad enough to hit Parker where it hurts the most is one of them.
The whole story of Harry Osborn’s descent into a drug addled state and forcing his fathers hand into regaining the glider is infamous, breaking down barriers and a lot of the rules of the Comic Code Authority, allowing the story to become so real and so desperate. If we’re accepting this trilogy of films to have something of a Batman Begins quality, of taking the story back to basics and a more rugged and dark theme then Harry’s addictions are surely an incredible inclusion. This next film should introduce Harry and his addictions, foreshadow the Green Goblin in the third film, bring in Mary Jane and tease her as a future love; it needs to be true to the stories.
I don’t want to spoil the comics (please please read them), but it’s an incredible story and the time has never been better for them to come out. With the best cast, production and cinematography that a Spider-Man adaptation has ever seen. I just hope Marc Webb feels no rush to pull the trigger on what could be this decade’s Dark Knight trilogy. But with Spider-Man, which is much better because who wants to be Batman? He hasn’t even got any powers. Or Emma Stone.