Extended Tweets: Mary Jane’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Redesign

The Miles Morales run of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man has proven to be decently entertaining so far, with a new cast of characters that don’t feel the need to be bogged down by too many nods to the source Spider-Man material. And the current arc involving the reintroduction to Spidey villain Venom proves that giving a new spin on things while keeping track of past continuity is always a good thing. Though I will say that one thing still bothers me… Read more of this post

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Accent on “Amazing” — The Amazing Spider-Man Movie Review

The most anticipated movie for me this year would hands down have to be The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, it doesn’t build off of the backstories built by multiple earlier released movies like The Avengers did, but its beginnings had just as much buildup and hype—mainly from the fact that they were re-starting the movie franchise from the beginning a mere five years after the last movie’s installment (the horrendous, horrendous Spider-Man 3).

Before the review, some pre-movie notes: 1) Nickelodeon apparently dipping their toes into the PG-13 realm is bad for everyone involved (seriously, not one, but two humping jokes in the same trailer?); 2) a polite “screw you” to the theater people for running out of ticket paper material and nulling out the supposed quickness of having fandango tickets sent to my smart phone (which just snowballed into more crap ultimately resulting in me getting a free movie voucher for putting up with all this). Anyways…

A major beef people had with this movie before it even came out was the fact that it was a reboot. Now, people wouldn’t have such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the Spider-Man mythos has been told so many times that even my parents get the gist of his origin story by now. That said, the movie actually does a good job of making sure a majority of the origin story isn’t treading the same ground that the Raimi’s Spider-Man movie did, giving things a more modern take (Flash’s bully scenes in Raimi’s film scream early 2000’s), altering them somewhat (the conflict leading to Uncle Ben’s expected death is significantly different), or making something new altogether (the whole dealie with Peter’s parents). The results make for a lot to handle in just a single movie, but as a whole, things are delivered efficiently enough.

Contrary to all the rumblings building up before the premier, Peter Parker’s character pre-spider-powers is not an emo douchebag. The film does an exceptional job at the start establishing his position in the brutal hierarchy that is high school in a number of scenes without coming off as too redundant. Parker is a nerd, but one without friends that is still willing to stand up for what’s right even though he doesn’t have the power to really do so.

His family life is a bit different. Since the movie has taken the route of weaving in his parent’s story with his origin story, you’re given a significant amount of screen time explaining his parents and how they relate to events unfolding in the present. This would be fine, but it does result in Parker’s Aunt and Uncle getting less screen time. And while this didn’t hurt Uncle Ben’s scenes, Aunt May was noticeably affected. While it isn’t said outright, Peter’s late-night patrols as Spidey seem like shady gang-related activity to people who wouldn’t know any better. Having her nephew come home late at night with bruises on his face and insisting everything is alright must be getting to Aunt May on the inside, so it’s a shame that we’re only shown a small scene building up her thoughts on the matter. If anything, there’s the one bit problem I had in this movie: sacrifice of some characters in favor of others. Speaking of which…

The interactions with the Stacys (Gwen and her dad, in particular) gave an interesting take on outsiders looking in on Spidey’s life that the Raimi films didn’t really have (at least not in this form).

Gwen starts off as a simple classmate of Peter’s but is able to develop into a love interest without falling into the generic pitfalls that MJ’s character had in the Raimi films. She’s a smart character (insisting she’s smarter than Pete on one occasion) and clearly makes the best use of her smarts when she’s in a pinch. Add to this the awesomely quirky chemistry between her and Pete and you have a love story you can root for that doesn’t hinder the plot any. It helps that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are crazy endearing as their characters and as actors in general.

As for her father, Captain Stacy, I was surprised that they went out of their way to flesh out his character as much as they did. Like all cops in superhero movies, he sees Spider-Man as a vigilante that’s taking the law into his own hands. He sends his men out to capture Spidey any chance he gets, and it almost reaches the point that if it weren’t for the Lizard being in this movie, you’d think the Captain was the main villain. Such a premise could have fallen flat on its head had it not been given the attention it needed. Thankfully that’s not the case this time around.

One thing I noticed throughout the entire movie is that the name “Spider-Man” is rarely said out loud. Over the course of the plot, you see Peter begin to grow into his role as a hero, initially taking on the Spider-Man persona as a means to get revenge on his uncle’s killer, taking down any crook in hopes that he’s the one that took his uncle away from him. It actually isn’t until well into the movie does Parker perform such a selfless heroic act. The buildup towards it makes the payoff worthwhile, and Spidey’s little quips every now and then at the baddies and police are a welcome addition.

As a little sidenote, I’m also glad to say that the new Spider-Man movie suit is nowhere near as distracting as promotional images suggested they’d be. With the amount of debris and running he does, you’d never even notice any changes to his design were done outside of his gloves and self-designed web-shooters.

And what’s a superhero movie without a superhero villain? Doc Connors worked alongside Peter’s dad back in the day, both receiving considerable heat from their colleagues for going into realms of science that were mainly considered possible only in monster movies (or in this case, comic books). His connection with the Parkers and Peter’s later involvement in the creation of the Lizard makes things more “personal,” but in the end his actions come off more as someone trapped under the foot of a superior rather than someone that’s a full-fledged villain in his own right. Though, considering the heavy amount of foreshadowing with Norman Osborne, I guess this is understandable (btw, stay during the first couple seconds of the end credits for some additional sequel seed-planting).

Lastly, while Amazing goes out of its way to separate itself from the Raimi films, it does share in the previous movies’ interest in working class heroes. From what I’ve heard, New York has an unreal pride in Spider-Man—probably the most pride you’ll get out of Americans towards a fictional character, even going as far as having actual celebrations in his name whenever a Spidey movie comes out (must have been awkward when Spidey 3 came out). As such, the films seem to tip their hat off toward New York and its patrons by giving some screen time towards the every-day man in the form of a scene or two where ordinary citizens help Spidey rather than vice versa. While it’s a nice gesture and it does fit in with the rest of the plot, I will say that for this film, it slowed down the action somewhat, which could be problematic considering that time was a factor by that point in the film.

Still, at the end of the day, Spider-Man remains one of the best representations of the common man faced with taking on unreal responsibilities. And it’s this simple connection that makes him and this movie so enjoyable.

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