Who’s your Spidey
Terry Hayes’ script for a Planet of the Apes reboot from the mid-90′s exemplifies how timing can be everything for a major film. Thought by some at Fox to be one of the greatest scripts they ever read, the film would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and focused on a pair of scientists sent back in time to combat a plague that would leave humanity extinct, having a dark, edgier tone like The Dark Knight trilogy. But the top dogs at Fox wanted a film that had more humor, like the Batman films of the 1990′s and The Flinstones film. Thus, the script was never produced, and we got Tim Burton’s Wooden Ape World.
When I saw The Amazing Spider-Man earlier this week, I wondered to myself, if this was the script that had been produced ten years ago as the first Spider-Man movie, would it have been more favorably received that it is being received now, or more so than the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire version was then.
To be fair, 2002′s Spider-Man was a good film, and he original Spider-Man had a budget $90 million less than the franchise reboot, which relies move heavily on CGI. But there are a lot of things that this film does get better, starting with the cast. There’s an edgier Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield compared to the straightless, 1930-is Maguire. Even though Garfield’s 28, he seemed very at home as a high school student. The cast has more name value than the original, with veteran actors Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Dennis Leary supporting Garfield and Emma Stone, who stands out more than Maguire and Kirsten Dunst ever did. I can’t even remember the actress who played aunt May in the original trilogy, and J.K. Simmons was costumed to the hilt.
The real triumph in The Amazing Spider-Man is that the script moves seamlessly through the key scenes of the Spider-Man origin, introduces the villain later in the film, and toward the end of the film, finds a believable crisis for Spider-Man to solve. To just throw in a bio-attack on New York that isn’t hinted at earlier in the film could have easily changed the tone of the film, but the tone remains consistent throughout.
Even though the reboot shows a different part of Peter Parker’s background (being left by his parents with his aunt and uncle at a young age), it doesn’t need to redo the spider-biting-Peter and uncle Ben’s death. Not that Sheen isn’t great in the film, but The Amazing Spider-Man takes about an hour to do the same thing we’ve already seen on film, costing the audience (and studio) a lot. If a Hulk movie gets something right that your movie doesn’t, that’s not good.
But underlying the first Spider-Man and this one are the respective Batman franchises of their times. While the first Spider-Man trilogy modeled Tim Burton’s blend of comic book humor and jarring action, this one is modeling Christopher Nolan’s method of gritty realism. The problem is, Spider-Man 2 was the definitive best comic book movie ever made before The Dark Knight. Not that a reboot wasn’t a good idea (Tobey Maguire was starting to look a bit too old), but Spider-Man needs to be its own franchise.
I do hope that The Amazing Spider-Man is successful and yields a sequel, mainly because have the material to make an even better movie. Consider how Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight, both second films of their respective series, improved upon their predecessors. I just hope that The Amazing Spider-Man continues to be its own franchise, even though it and a lot of other comic adaptions can learn a lot from The Dark Knight trilogy.
- Should the Caped Crusader be carrying Peter Parker?