Ilya is a Cinephile...that means he is obsessed with everything in Movies and finally wants to talk about them!
What you need to understand about the Spider-Man films
Geek Culture article coming!
I know, it feels like all we see in theaters these days is the latest adaptation of another comic book character, and I would agree that sometimes it gets a little overwhelming trying to keep up. However, today I want to focus on one specific character; perhaps the most popular character Marvel has ever created. That character is of course Peter Parker, a.k.a Spider-Man.
It has been many years and many Marvel film franchises since the early 2000's release of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire. Recently, I went into the vault and dug out the trilogy and re-experienced the films and I think I came to an eye-opening realization...that I will explain shortly. First, I wanted to start off by stating that when that film first released in 2002, I was in my teens and seeing this particularly popular character show up on the big screen absolutely blew my mind. This is a movie I saw in the theater over 5 times, and there hasn't been a movie since that I NEEDED to see again and again since then. I did remain faithful to Spidey so I also went to the theater to experience Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 as well as Tom Holland's version in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Knowing all that, I will try to remain as unbiased as possible in the remainder of the article.
I think we can all agree that the landscape of modern cinema and Hollywood blockbusters has changed over the last 17 years. One thing that hasn't changed is the popularity of Super-hero themed films. From all the early versions of Batman, Superman, Hulk, and Spider-Man it is no surprise that we are still flocking by the millions to see these characters up close on the big screen. Naturally, as we continue to see new adaptations of a character, we will encounter a situation where we MUST compare each version to one another. Spider-Man is the latest victim to this unfortunate conundrum.
I want to preface the remainder of this article by saying that I think each version had their flaws and their shining moments. That said, the main focus of this will be analyzing the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man versus the other two.
Now, lets get to my epiphany. After completing the trilogy of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man, and really thinking about what made this one different compared to the other two, something became very clear to me. I think the creators of the franchise really wanted to stick to it feeling as much like a comic book come to life as possible. Yes, there were some details altered or left out all together; for example, Peter Parker invented his shooters, they weren't genetically modified into his wrists, and how they left Gwen Stacy out entirely was a bit curious.
Even with those origin details tweaked, I genuinely felt that I could see frames of this movie in the original comic books from the 60's. Take any scene from the movie and try to picture it in an old comic book; hand drawn characters and actions and you can visualize exactly what they were going for in 2002. This sense of homage to the comics was missing from the other two franchises. The other two movies felt very much like a bigger budget, Hollywood production that WANTED to be like the original comics, but ended up coming off as if they were a Modern Age comic re-telling of this character.
I know most of us aren't reading comics anymore, but I would encourage you to take a trip down memory lane and find an older issue and then pick up the newest version of Spidey and give my epiphany a genuine thought. It might change your perspective.
Now, call me crazy, but I still think the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films(except #3, because OMG what was that train wreck?!) were a better representation of The Amazing Spider-Man than the others. I will give Tobey Maguire a bit of criticism however, he is not my favorite Spider-Man(corny, scripted sarcasm) but he is my favorite Peter Parker. There was a genuine effort to prove that Peter was VERY smart, dorky, lost, and hopelessly in love; concepts I feel were lost in the other two versions, particularly Tom Hollands version.
Speaking of Tom Holland's Spider-Man, can we talk about it.
First, I want to state that there were a few rumblings online that had mentioned when Sony let Marvel use Spider-Man in the MCU, they put some restrictions on how he was to be used and how major characters would have to be altered if they wanted to re-tell the Spider-Man story. I cannot confirm or deny if that was true, but it would make sense as to why so many things were obviously changed that were very different from the comics. That being said, here are a few bullet points on why Tom Holland's Spider-Man will never be the best version:
- The classic theme of Hollywood trying to make movies appeal to the younger audiences and be more inclusive. So much so, they ruined several characters.
- Why is Aunt May a younger, weird sex symbol?! Also, Uncle Ben, no? OK?!
- I am all for diversity, but Flash is supposed to be a big, blonde, meathead jock. Not a wimpy, longer black hair, DJ(?!), who makes penis joke puns
- Michelle is not MJ's name, and they don't even give her Red hair?!
- I did not believe Peter was as smart as he should have been. He couldn't even figure out how to use the Stark Suit.
- They must have forgotten he is supposed to have Spider-sense, because there were several moments he was caught off guard easily.
- His identity is known by 6+ people by the end of the first movie, and then the rest of the world by the end of the 2nd movie!
- He has no connection to being a photographer really.
Those are just the few that I can think of off the top of my head as I am writing this. They may not seem like much, but they are major changes that were made to fit a completely different agenda than to try to tell a Spider-Man story.
All in all, I give my vote to Tobey Maguire and the ORIGINAL Spider-Man for keeping closer to the comics and still making it a big, box-office success film franchise.
Keep in mind, it was 17 years since that movie was released, give it the credit it deserves and remember my epiphany, because it might just make you feel different when you watch these movies over again.
Who is your Favorite Spider-Man?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Ilya Klimenko