Archive | February, 2013

‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ all dressed up and…ready to fail?

5 Feb
Cover of "Spider-Man 3 (Widescreen Editio...

Spider-Man 3

Like most, I was a fan of the first two Spider-Man movies by director Sam Raimi. The CGI seemed a bit obvious at times when Spider-Man was jumping and swinging on occasion, but overall was acceptable. The story had some heart along with the action.

But before the release of Spider-Man 3, I predicted the movie would fail. Not necessarily from a monetary standpoint, but as a movie.

Spider-Man 3 had way too much going on. Gwen Stacy (Peter Parker’s first true love), Harry Osborn as the New Goblin, the Sandman, Venom, Parker’s ego struggle as a result of the new black suit, his attempt to propose to Mary Jane…that’s enough for at least five movies!

Any film student will tell you that the more elements you add to a story, the more difficult it is to get much depth of any of them. A “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of thing.

Sure enough, fans and critics alike loathed the movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, only 63% of critics liked Spider-Man 3 and even fewer moviegoers (54%) liked it—a steep drop from the 93% critic and 81% audience rating for Spider-Man 2.

I didn’t like it either, despite making the effort to see it in the theater rather than wait for the DVD.

The dislike for the film was so strong that fans actually demanded an apology from Raimi—even two years after Spider-Man 3 came out in theaters! And Raimi, to his credit, did admit it was too much crammed into the movie.

“I think having so many villains detracted from the experience. I would agree with the criticism… I think I’ve learned about the importance of getting to the point and the importance of having limitations.”

But in an interesting interview before Spider-Man 3 was released, Raimi revealed that the original Spider-Man 3 story was just to have the Sandman as the villain.

“I had worked on the story with my brother Ivan, and primarily it was a story that featured the Sandman. It was really about Peter, Mary Jane, Harry, and that new character.”

Turns out the former president of Marvel, Avi Arad, pressured Raimi into adding Venom and Gwen Stacy. Raimi read up on Venom and didn’t find the character to be very interesting. Arad insisted that Raimi include Venom, arguing that all Spider-Man fans love Venom. So Raimi tried to fit Venom and Gwen Stacy into the movie to “maybe incorporate this villain to make some of the real diehard fans of Spider-Man finally happy.”

That would explain why Venom and Gwen Stacy are minor characters in the film. Gwen Stacy could have been substituted with any female character since her role as Peter Parker’s first real love interest isn’t on display in the film. And Venom is more of a sidekick to the Sandman (restraining Spider-Man while the Sandman delivers the blows), rather than a lead villain character.

History repeats itself?

The Amazing Spider-man movie still

The Amazing Spider-man movie still (Photo credit: marvelousRoland)

I’ve recently found out that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is following the same tragic movie formula as Spider-Man 3.

ASM2 will introduce Mary Jane Watson (in a minor role) and Harry Osborn, with Electro and (supposedly) Rhino as villains.

[Side note: Electro will not be in his familiar green-and-yellow suit; actor Jamie Foxx, who will play the villain, said Electro’s suit will be black and won’t wear the infamous yellow electricity mask.]

So let’s see: both Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have some sort of love triangle, an Osborn, and two villains.

Sigh.

Maybe ASM2 director Marc Webb, who is reportedly going to start production this month, should get his apology ready beforehand.

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How comic books reflect our society

2 Feb

Mary Jane gets married to Peter. Cover to The ...

We interrupt this blogging of inane Obama socialism (of which there is a lot going on recently) to blog about inane comic book writing.

I was a big fan of Marvel Comics from the late 70s. I watched Marvel Comics superhero cartoon shows on TV (Spider-Man and The Marvel Super Heroes). And my favorite superhero was Spider-Man.

As I grew older, I stopped following the comics. With my kids, I thought it would be cool to introduce them to Spider-Man.

Imagine my shock a few years ago after subscribing to then-new Amazing Spider-Man comics (we got issues #544-547) that the Spider-Man I knew and cheered for no longer existed.

One More Day: Peter and Mary Jane's marriage never existed

The Spidey comics I bought were the last in a series called “One More Day” and the start of a new series called “Brand New Day.” In it, Spider-Man agrees to a deal with a demon called Mephisto to save a dying Aunt May (even though she supposedly died back in issue #400) in exchange for making his marriage to Mary Jane to have never existed, thus rewriting that part of their pasts.

Demons? Seriously? Are writers really that desperate? And Peter Parker agreeing to save an old Aunt May’s life in exchange for the eradication of his marriage? Preposterous. Would even Aunt May herself want Peter to do that? Of course not. What’s more, while saving the elderly is noble, undermining the permanence of marriage is not.

So now Peter Parker and Mary Jane basically barely recognize each other. Say what?!? Talk about an infuriating mental disconnect for Spidey fans.

I couldn’t take it. I stopped reading and cancelled my subscription. I also started reading with my kids the old-school 60s and 70s Amazing Spider-Man comics instead—the ones commonly referred to as being from the Silver Age of comics.

But wait. There’s more nonsense since my comics subscription cancellation. According to Wikipedia, The Amazing Spider Man comic no longer even exists anymore. Apparently, in issue #700, a dying Peter Parker (magically) swaps bodies with Doctor Octopus. This ended the iconic Amazing Spider Man title and launched a new replacement comic book title lamely called The Superior Spider-Man. So Peter is supposedly dead while Otto Octavius is Spider-Man.

Huh?

And, oh yeah, when Spider-Man is trying to woo Mary Jane now, it’s really Doc Ock trying to woo Mary Jane.

Can you say, ‘Ick’?

Am I the only one who thinks comic book writing gets more sick every passing year?

Whatever. We’ll see how long that ridiculous idea lasts before things change. Again.

Comics routinely rewrSuperior Spider-Manite their own history through retroactive continuity, which further makes it hard to trust what happens in comics. After all, how do you know that anything you’re reading right now might be wiped out in a future issue as “Oops, that didn’t really happen.” Dead people didn’t really die (right, Superman?). Clones, fakes, deals with the devil, alternate universes and much more are typical comic book copouts that pass as new story arcs.

There’s no longer a delineation between good and evil, as there was in the Silver Age of comics. Good guys can become bad guys (see Marvel’s Civil War story arc in various titles), good guys can swap bodies with bad guys (Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus), good guys can team up with bad guys (Spider-Man with Venom), good guys can fight to the death against other good guys (Avengers vs. X-Men), and more. This moral relativism in comics reflects the same in society.

Those who long for “the good ol’ days” will find that to be sadly true in comics as well.