Monday, July 9, 2012

Why Did Spidey Need a Reboot?

Was That Really Necessary?

Spidey's next reboot.  Awww yeah.

The critics have spoken, the money is being counted, and it's time to end the debate. What debate? The one regarding Sony's decision to re-boot the Spider-man franchise. Was this really necessary? The cynical man would say they did it for money, and although that may be true, they did have a choice between a 4th Raimi film, or a new story altogether. They went with the second. Still people are crying out that the reboot was unnecessary, that it wasn't good, and that Raimi's films were fine. I'm here to throw in my two cents, and will do my best to settle the score once and for all. Although there are at least a dozen good reasons I can think of why Spidey needed a reboot, and why The Amazing Spider-man did the job, I'm going to stick with 3 reasons only. The faults come first, and tomorrow will feature the success of The Amazing Spider-man.

The Shortcomings of Sam Raimi

3. Casting of the Leads

Tobey's reaction to the reboot.
Just kidding! He's proposing.
At first glance, the cast of the original series looks solid. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Willem Dafoe, Rosemary Harris, and many other great actors were in that movie. That's some solid talent right there. The issue wasn't with the acting talent itself, it was with the original characters from the comic books.  Although Tobey Maguire may look a lot like the original Peter Parker, he didn't have the character down right. We didn't get to see the intelligence of Peter as much as the romantic side, and the romantic side was lacking.... romance. He was a decent social outcast, but in the comics Peter Parker is quite attractive, charming, and engaging. This Peter spent most of his conversations with Mary Jane stumbling over words and making everyone feel rather uncomfortable.

Speaking of Mary Jane - Kirsten Dunst? Mary Jane is supposed to be a rebellious girl, who has a smoking problem, models because of her insanely good looks, is quite forward and overall is much more of a "bad-girl" that KD could ever play. She was too sweet, wasn't good-looking enough in my opinion, and was repeatedly the damsel in distress. Kirsten had very few similarities to Mary Jane from the comics, and two of them were red hair (which should have been a much darker red) [Editor's note: Let's be honest, having the wrong shade of hair color isn't a real critique] and that she is female.

There are other casting issues I had, but for the sake of the article, as well as my sanity, I'm just going to post this picture instead.

Some images speak for themselves.

2. The Story

Sam Raimi is not a bad director, and I don't think that even a film like Spider-man 3 should discredit the man who brought us the Evil-Dead Trilogy. Spider-man 2 was a wonderful comic-book movie, despite it's flaws. However, he made some big mistakes regarding the source material.

Organic webbing was something that took along time to happen in the comics. Peter needed extra powers to make it, or the use of the symbiote suit. The web shooters were a way to show Peter's genius. In Spider-man 2, we got to see what happened when Peter ran out of web, but in the comics it was a lot more challenging to be Spider-man, because he could run out of web, his shooters could break, or they could be taken from him.

Green Goblin, the Daily Bugle, Mary Jane, Harry Osborn, Peter's move to the city, and the death of the Goblin were all some pretty huge and popular elements from the comics.  Sam Raimi decided to put all of them right into his first film, and because of that, he set the bar too high for himself. The one time he took a villain that would take Goblin to school (that being Venom), he ruined the character completely. Since so many things were crowded into his first film, none of them got proper development, and everything turned out to be quite superficial.  There isn't enough time to really connect with any of the characters. Sam should have taken small stories and plot points straight from the comics, and not tried so hard to make his own story.

1. The End

The number one reason why these movies needed a reboot was the third installment in the series. From casting errors to story errors to drastic character changes, Spider-man 3 did a fantastic job of showing the world that a movie can make millions of dollars and still be horrible.

The casting for Sandman was good, but they messed with the death of Uncle Ben, which in my opinion should never have been re-visited. Uncle Ben's death was rushed, cheesy, and they ruined it by having Peter "kill" the guy who "murdered" Ben. Then Peter decides that he never learned any lessons from the first two movies, and "kills" the Sandman! I read a review of The Amazing Spider-man claiming that through the 3 Raimi films, Peter Parker always lives by the "with great power comes great responsibility" mantra, and he doesn't in the new film. Besides being wrong about the new film, they are also incorrect about the first 3. In every movie Peter stops living by that code, and has to fix that error. It got old to see him have the same character arc in each film. It was better in Spider-man 2, but if I never see emo-Peter again, it'll be too soon.

So Peter and Sandman were ruined for me, as well as the death of Uncle Ben. Raimi decided to throw in Eddie Brock and Gwen Stacy as well. I don't know if he was planning on killing off Gwen or Captain Stacy in a later installment, but he won't get the chance now. Gwen was nothing like her comic-book counterpart. She is independent, has a strong personality, and as far as I'm aware, was never in a MJ-Peter-Gwen-Eddie love square.

Eddie. Brock. Was. Not. In. Spider-man 3. Why do I say that? Let's bring back that previous image.

It's okay, I won't do it again

Here is Eddie Brock/Venom from the comics.

Also sexy Spider-man

What might you notice here? For one, Spider-man is a skinny, lean twig. Some people might say that Tobey had exactly the right body-type to play him, because Spider-man is insanely ripped and on the buff side, but you need to compare your heroes. When you make a comic-book movie adaption for a hero like Batman, Superman, Captain America, or any of the massive guys, you have to remember that real people aren't that big. Those are the guys who are big and buff. Sure, Henry Cavil is huge right now, and Chris Evans is sickly buff, but they aren't close to the characters they play. With any hero then, you need to strive for similarity. If you take 50 pounds off Captain America, you need to take 50 off of Spider-man. In the comics, Spider-man is described as lanky, and in the Ultimate Spider-man comics, he's even more so.

But not like this. Never like this.
Now going back to the point I was making previously, compare your Brocks. In the comics, Eddie Brock is huge. Like, The Dark Knight Rises Bane huge. In the Ultimate comics, he isn't huge, but he's trashy looking, and has a long blonde ponytail. He's also very good friends with Peter before going crazy. So although Topher may be closer to the Ultimate version, he's still miles away. We won't even compare him to the Amazing Spider-man original character, because the lack of similarity will make me cry.

In either version, the character of Venom is massive, and the story surrounding Venom is one of the longest in either series. In the movie, Venom gets about 20 minutes of screen-time, never gets the name Venom, and is about the same size as Spider-man. If you're going to introduce a character like him in the final act of a movie, you can't finish him off at the end. You need to have him able to come back as the main villain in the 4th installment.

Here's my final beef with Venom and final part of this argument. Venom hates one person, and that is Peter Parker/Spider-man. This is because Peter discredited his work, and so Brock wants to see Spider-man dead. Thank you Sam Raimi for at least getting this right! However, besides that vendetta, the character of Venom is a superhero! Little-known fact, although he's more violent than other heroes, Eddie Brock spends most of his time doing the same stuff as Spidey, and he does a good job! For the most part, he's one of the good guys. Thank you Sam Raimi for screwing that up big-time.

In summary,

The Spider-man franchise needed a reboot because the characters and story differed far too much from the source material. They say comic-book fans are the harshest critics of films, and that may be what accounts for the lower audience percentage on rottentomatoes for all 3 films. So far The Amazing Spider-man's 84%  bests even Spidey 3, despite having a lower critic rating than 1 and 2.


  1. Sometimes, you just gotta know the comics to know why.

  2. Well but see the thing is that Raimi is really the only person to make a successful comic-book movie in the last 15 years that differed greatly from the source material.  Everything else has used tons of plot elements from the comics. I could dissect all of them act by act, scene by scene, and show you where the inspiration was from.  There is such a thing as TOO MUCH artistic liberty, to the point where Raimi actually changed the way Spider-man was. The Amazing Spider-man really pointed out the flaws in Raimi's films(yes, even SM2). Sam's films have made it so that people who don't read the comics have a distorted view of Spider-man, which is quite bothersome. It's also part of the reason some critics didn't rate TASM higher, because when they compared the parallel characters they compared them to Raimi's versions, as opposed to the original characters. Same goes with tone and story.


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