The upcoming ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ appears the latest cash-in to an ever-expanding brand.
Back in 2002, the release of Sam Raimi’s ‘Spiderman’ (2002) was an event to say the least. After decades of slinging wondrous webs through the pages of cult comics, Marvel’s iconic tale of high-school geek turned arachnid vigilante seemed poised for Box Office bonanza!
Indeed, it did. Being only aged 5 at the time, I unsurprisingly never caught it in cinemas! Though in the 15 years since, it was impossible not to be up-to-speed with the Spidey phenomenon!
Despite never being the most passionate comic-book aficionado, I couldn’t help, but feel rather agnostic about Raimi’s action-packed vision of the character.
No doubt I was fighting against the tides. The world’s dedicated fanbase lapped up the original film!
It was every kid’s wildest dream! And kickstarted a now rather tired catalogue of yearly summer superhero flicks!
Too bad Tobey Maguire couldn’t act and Kirsten Dunst’s teeth-grating Mary-Jane Watson was a death sentence for me!
The sequel ‘Spiderman 2’ (2004) was spiders ahead! A surreal spin on the superheroic saga, the film was deliciously notable for Alfred Molina’s slimy yet Shakespearian supervillain Dr. Octopus. More importantly, however, it asked grander questions than its slightly empty predecessor ever pondered. What does it mean to be a hero? What’s more important? Love or saving the world?
Sadly such stellar work was grossly undone by the ramshackle that was ‘Spiderman 3’ (2007). Perhaps the less said about that cataclysmic mess of cluttered storylines, overpopulated antagonists and toe-curling attempts at humour the better. Was there really any excuse for Maguire’s Peter dancing though?
Given the disaster of the third effort, you can’t blame Sony for cancelling any further productions! Ironic given their rampant studio interference was the core blame for Spidey 3’s downfall!
Nonetheless, Director Raimi was out and a reboot was on the cards.
Naturally, geeky superfans were fuming! No Raimi?! No Maguire?! No Dunst?! What a travesty!
It’s no surprise therefore that when ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ (2012) – directed by ‘(500) Days of Summer’s Marc Webb – finally emerged, the reception was, let’s just say, sniffy.
“It’s too soon”, “it’s too similar, “they’re doing it all over again!” they all said.
I admit, I myself initially fell somewhat into that category. While not abysmal, I struggled to shrug off a sense of “why?”.
Why were they treading lines so familiar so soon after?
It’s touching then that – in the years since – I have grown fonder and fonder of that much-maligned Spidey retread.
I don’t doubt this has something to do with my affection for Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone!
One of the major criticisms of ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ has been towards it’s overemphasis on indie quirks and ‘Twilight’-style moping.
On that second point, I am inclined to respectfully disagree. Whereas ‘Twilight’s teen vampire wimps were more miserable than a wet week in Wales, ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ wringed a light, breezy charm.
As far as the indie issue is concerned, however, it couldn’t be more tailored to my tastes!
Whereas Maguire’s caricatured excuse for a ninth grade nerd and Dunst’s whiney brat lover had less chemistry than 2 planks snogging, I could watch Garfield and Stone in the worst movie ever made and still have moved tears streaming down my face!
Recently, a friend of mine claimed Garfield’s pale Peter Parker was “too hot” and “too cool” to be believed as a socially inept outcast.
Really? Can’t a loner be handsome and quippy?
Frankly Garfield played Peter to perfection. Despite being at least 20 years older than Spidey’s adolescent origins, the British-born actor seemed indistinguishable from an awkward teen outsider. His sheepish face itself conveyed a mousy mix of shyness, anxiety and insecurity. Ideal for a story that is essentially an allegory of adolescent angst.
As for Emma Stone, what more can one say? Without descending into a fan rhapsody that is!
Her Gwen Stacy was a pretty love interest refreshingly concerned with more than the straightness of her hair!
The fact that Garfield and Stone were so sublimely screen suited for each other allowed me to overlook the lesser sequel’s rhino-in the-room problems.
Perhaps expectedly, fans lambasted ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2’ (2014) for its overstuffed plotting and committee-like agenda for setting up future instalments (none of which – as we now know – would ever happen!).
And so Summer 2017 welcomes ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’. A film which Spidermaniacs are excitedly counting the days for!
I myself, however, feel unusually uninspired by the prospect.
When Sony announced the scrapping of their planned ‘Spiderman’ universe, Marvel Studios brashly bought the rights to their original property.
This new, upcoming Spidey will finally take place within the gigantic Marvel Cinematic Universe. 20 year old Tom Holland is the youngest ever performer to take on the Peter Parker part (the text character was 15!).
Should be a recipe for success, right?!
Not in my book!
While I can completely understand fandom demand for a faithful adaptation, the trailers preceding ‘Homecoming’ reek of a corny ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ vibe!
Undoubtedly, this might be essential to Marvel mythology, but does it suit the silver screen?
Where’s the awkwardness? The angst? The anxiety?
What concerns one most though are the corporate fantasies that appear to coat the production.
For the first time in years, Marvel’s ever-expanding empire feels saggy and slogging. Can’t we simply have a solo super saga?
For all their bursts of balletic colours, the studio lacks depth. Every spin on their creations feel episodic and fast food-like; providing temporary escapism yet only to establish further franchise material. And thus milk the cash cow!
Most of all, the latest re-imagining features Robert Downey Jr. cracking his sardonic wit as Tony Stark/Iron Man!
He’s hilarious too, but we want Spiderman! And Spiderman only!
Of course, an open mind is a must for every release, but I’m going to miss Andrew and Emma!
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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