Spider-Man finally back home at Marvel in film

Back when Sony bought the movie rights to Spider-Man movie, the world was a different place. The movies started strong but their success has creatively and financially diminished over time while Marvel has enjoyed a steady string of hits (even with a talking raccoon). So it should come as no big surprise that Sony would see the benefit in handing the character back to Marvel.

But feel free to join me in punching the sky.
spider-man-comic-covers Official press release:

Marvel’s Kevin Feige to Produce Next Installment of the Spider-Man Franchise with Amy Pascal

(Culver City, California, and Burbank, California February 09, 2015) – Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.

Spiderman_MarvelUnder the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.

Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.

The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel’s world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: “Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world. We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”

“We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans.”

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

“I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “Amy has been deeply involved in the realization on film of one of the world’s most beloved characters. Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”

Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.
/blockquote>

One of the unfortunate casualties of this deal is Andrew Garfield, an actor who breathed new life into Spider-Man. It’s probably down to two things; Garfield burned his bridges with Sony by openly criticizing their handling of the second movie and co-producing a moving with Disney/Marvel is probably a minefield of legalities so a new contract/actor is likely a necessity. Whatever the reason, the identity of the next Spider-Man is a big deal… and an opportunity to shake things up (yes… it could be the Miles Morales Spider-Man, especially if Brian Michael Bendis is involved in any way).

ultimatespiderman_Milesmorales

The rumor that Spider-Man could be one of the Avengers in Infinity War part one is very likely, but I think Marvel and Sony need to move fast to keep the interest of fans.

The big question is when Spider-Man will debut on screen. There is a strong possibility that the web-slinger could appear in the third Captain America movie, Civil War. However, that movie is likely at such a late stage that any appearance would be minimal (unless Spidey has been part of that movie all along). Perhaps a post-credit scene?

Another downside to this announcement is that we are getting a ‘younger’ Spider-Man all over again.

It’s like Groundhog Day as an action fantasy told over several movies! Spider-Man’s life is a non-stop living nightmare in which he goes back to high school over and over, watches his uncle die, gets the snot kicked out of him by crazy monsters and mad men and falls in love only to see those close to him die.

Enjoy!

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Amazing Spider-Man 3 may be on its way

spiderman mainIn 2002, Sony Pictures broke the mold with superhero films by introducing Spider-Man to moviegoers, Sure, Superman and Batman were already firmly established but this was a creature of another color. A vibrant, dynamic and character-driven adventure story with gravitas and comedy spinning about wildly, it garnered a still impressive $200.9 million profit and four subsequent films (along with a reboot). Amazing_Spider_manUnfortunately, Sony has witnessed diminishing returns for the web slinger with Amazing Spider-Man 2 limping along with a mere $24.5 million profit. Rumors abound that Garfield is out of the suit after two films and Sony has reached an agreement with Marvel to co-produce the wall-crawler alongside the Avengers. Or are they? This week, news broke that Amazing Spider-Man 3 may be moving forward with the sixth film in the Spider-Man series:

spider-man… a recent casting call made last January by Bill Becham Casting suggests that Sony are reconsidering their plans for the third film in “The Amazing Spider Man” film franchise. Andrew Garfield and Dane DeHaan will also reprise their role as Spider Man and Green Goblin according to the report. However Sony has yet to issue their official statement regarding the release date for “The Amazing Spider Man 3”. Speaking of Cast, International Business Times reported that Felicity Jones has expressed her interest in reprising her role as Felicia Hardy aka “Black Cat” in the upcoming “Amazing Spider Man 3” film. According to their source, Hardy expressed her thoughts on Black Cat saying that “Well, she’s such a great character in the comics. I mean, if that happened, that would be lovely. There are no plans, but I’d love to play her. She’s a fantastic, awesome female characters”. Rumors on the possible main villain for “The Amazing Spider Man 3” start to circulate among the fans. Movie Pilot reported some possible villains for the upcoming film and it is an extensive list based on the comic book and the previous “The Amazing Spider Man” movies. Rhino and Venom is a good possible villain according to the report. Carnage is also a favorite Spider Man villain in the comic book who is the alter ego of Cletus Kasady when he came in contact with Venom. Kingpin might is also a good villain for the third film and he can team up with Kraven the Hunter to hunt down and eliminate Spider Man. “The Amazing Spider Man 3” may not see a 2015 premiere, release date but preparation for the film started this year. Fans may be able to see the third film in “The Amazing Spider Man” franchise earlier than they might expect. Stay tuned for more updates for Sony’s official statement! Read more: http://www.vcpost.com/articles/38040/20150120/spider-man-3-premiere-date-earlier-garfield-jones-villains-revealed.htm#ixzz3PgMZek9j

At this state of the game, I have no idea what to say other than watch this space for further news.

From IMDB: 

-The film was originally scheduled to be released on June 10, 2016, but Sony announced in summer 2014 that they had pushed the movie back to 2018 in order to release the Sinister Six movie, which is scheduled to premiere on November 11, 2016.

-On March 15, 2014, director Marc Webb confirmed that this would be his last film in the series. Although, Webb claims that he will still be a “consultant” for any future sequels.

-According to an interview with Indiewire on May 2, 2014, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach say that as long as they are in control, Peter Parker will remain as the cinematic Spider-Man. Although, since Andrew Garfield’s contract expires after this film, and he has heavily implied multiple times that he won’t extend it, the producers might not have much of a choice in the matter.

-Mark Webb has confirmed that both Norman Osborn and the Rhino will return for movie.

JJonah_Spiderman… and this is my favorite silly rumor:

“It looks like Tobey Maguire is replacing Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in the new Spider-Man film, if the reports and rumors are to be believed.”

Who will Spider-Man fight next?

Who will Spider-Man fight next?

Here comes the all-new all-different Spider-Man!

AlexRoss_SpiderManSpider-Man has always been Marvel Comics’ flagship character, so his absence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been more than noticeable. After five movies (including a two-part reboot with Andrew Garfield), the web-slinger may finally be getting his Marvel Universe debut alongside the Avengers in an all-out galactic war with Thanos.

Finally, web-head could be standing alongside the a-listers where he belongs!

This would inevitably involve a recasting (our third Spider-Man since 2002!) but hopefully not yet another origin story. Also, it may pave the way for a Marvel/Sony co-production for Spider-Man 6!

The rumors are very specific and span through the next 6 Marvel Universe movies which, if true, would kill any worries that the MCU will get stale! This would impact Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and many more… and could mean a Planet Hulk movie is a possibility. 

nobody-invited-spiderman-to-avengersThe story goes that Sony and Marvel have wanted to work together since the first Amazing Spider-Man film by including Stark Tower (seen in that year’s Avengers movie)  in the New York skyline. It was to be a subtle hint of things to come but alas it never occurred. Instead, Sony bravely launched a multi-picture project that would see several Spider-Man spin-offs, developing a rich Spider-Universe. But that may have gone the way of Toby Maguire as there is a new… much more interesting rumor (via Comicbook.com)

According to news and rumor site Latino Review (lots of potential spoilers at the link), a deal has been struck that will bring Spider-Man to Marvel Studios in time for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War mega-event.

spider-man-avengersThe word is that the long talks between Marvel and Sony have finally yielded results in the wake of a wave of criticism aimed at Sony’s handling of the franchise following the recent Sony hack.

The report emphasizes that a recent rumor that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield could meet up in a Spider-Men-style movie mashup is just as unfounded as you would think, but claims that they’ve got it on good authority Spidey will be wall-crawling his way into the next two Avengers movies after Age of Ultron.

“I don’t have the exact details nor a paper trail, but I’m told we’ll see an MCU Spider-Man in Infinity Wars Part 1, as that was the next logical place to insert him after they missed the window to logically include him in Civil War,” the report claims.

The planned 2016 Spider-Man movie may be cancelled or may be a co-production between Sony and Marvel, says the report, but it won’t go forward as originally planned. Given the relatively short production time on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it’s unlikely any immediate announcements will clear all this up, as they would have no need to do so right away.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer

Amazing_Spiderman_2

Spider-Man has traditionally been a comic book that was a reaction to the established ‘man in tights fighting evil’ published all over the place back in the 60’s. Rather than a dashing bachelor, Peter was an angst-ridden teenager. Instead of putting the bad guys in jail, Spider-Man would discover that the nature of evil was much more complicated as his villains were unmasked and revealed as close friends. His crime fighting career has been against a veritable horror show of goblins and man-machines, yet he has barraged them with self-aware quips rather than just taking them at face value.

In Mark Millar’s Marvel Knights Spider-Man series, one of the web spinner’s chief villains, Norman Osborn (who fought Spider-Man as the Green Goblin), was further developed. Millar hinted that Osborn’s government contacts were not coincidental and the man supervillains that appeared at the same time were all connected to his development of a secret project. This retroactive continuity style of writing can be heavy handed, but I think that Millar’s story is an exception to this and connected the dots in a way that made Osborn into a supervillain in or out of costume, paving the way for the character’s path in the years to come.

It appears that Marc Webb has read this series (and good thing, too) since the trailer makes the same case and includes Peter’s father in Osborn’s mad scientist lair of monster weapons. I think this is a great direction to take the new revised theatrical Spider-Man franchise rather than the traditional character-driven film we have seen time and time again. However, this first glimpse looks more like a video game than a movie. I am hoping that the negative response online will prompt the production company to revisit the effects before the film is released.


Via SuperHeroHype:

Sony Pictures has released the teaser trailer for director Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and you can watch it in the player below! Swinging into theaters on May 2, 2014, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti and Sally Field.

We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into theaters on a cgi web strand on My 2nd 2014.

Quick review: Superior Spider-Man 11-13 ‘No Escape’

Superior Spider-Man #11-13
By Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell

Superior_Spider-Man_Vol_1_11_Textless

Alistair Smythe the Spider-Slayer is about to be executed on the maximum security facility known as the Raft. In order to insure that everything goes smoothly, Spider-Man is present. He has made sure that nothing will prevent the prisoner from escaping and that none of the witnesses to the event will come to harm. Then… everything goes wrong and it gets worse from there. Using his wits and brilliant tactical mind, Spider-Man must defeat a threat in several fronts and be prepared to go an extra mile when needed.

But this is not really Spider-Man at all, at least not the Peter Parker version. Otto Octavius, formerly at death’s door, has found a way out of the trap of his ailing body into that of his arch nemesis and is not only Spider-Man, but a superior breed of crime-fighter, using spider-bots that trawl the entire island of Manhattan at all times looking for suspicious activity and reporting back their data. Not content with responding to every red alert, Spider-Man instead treats this like a game of chess, only acting when the time is right and how it suits him. He is not like Peter Parker, who would remain in an unwinnable battle, escaping a hair’s breadth from death’s door.

Otto is smarter, wiser and more practical. A former prisoner of the Raft, he knows the ins and outs quite well and can anticipate any move that Smythe may take to escape. By his side is Mayor J Jonah Jameson who is eager to see Smythe die for killing his wife in cold blood. When Smythe makes a move to escape using miniature robotic spider-slayers, he draws swords with Spider-Man who is using spider-bots to contain him.

What’s more, Otto is a man who has cheated death only to find himself a new life. This isn’t a case of Doctor Octopus losing one body to re-emerge as the same character wearing a red and blue costume. He can appreciate the opportunity and challenge to create a new life, one in which he plays the part of the hero, and all evil-doers must pay.

Dan Slott has been at Spider-Man for some time now and has become a writer that one either loves or hates. He has reinvented the Spider-Man book several times over, but by placing Octavius in Parker’s body, he as raised the stakes for every issue simply because the reader has no idea what to expect next. The tension has never been higher before and that makes this a must read monthly book.
3102106-superior+spider-man+011-014

The real turning point in this trilogy is when Smythe is loose in the Raft and Jameson gives the web spinner an edict to kill the prisoner using any means necessary, For JJJ, this is a moment where his pain is revealed.  He has lost so much and for all of his ranting and bravado, is a broken man. For Spider-Man, it is a golden moment that he has been waiting for. Given a free hand by the Mayor of New York, Spider-Man has become judge, jury and executioner, sanctioned by the Mayor himself!

Superior Spider-Man started as a dark series and has gotten progressively darker each issue. Watching Otto succeed as Spider-Man and become more ruthless and cutthroat is horrifying and fascinating all at once. Witnessing the final expulsion of Parker from Otto’s stolen mind is even more chilling.

Since Dan Slott swapped Octavius for Parker, he has come under fire from fandom. Nothing is permanent in comics, sure, but this era will be remembered, I can guarantee that.  Will it be known as a follower to One More Day or the Clone Saga? Who can say, but the stories have been absolutely amazing with a superlative guest cast, great villains and the aforementioned raised stakes which get much higher in these issues.

superiorspider-man012dkub5
The trilogy features amped up versions of Boomerang, the Vulture and Scorpion who threaten Jameson, the other civilians trapped on the island and Spidey himself. Having delivered a standard conundrum to hero of ‘save your friends or chase me’ Spider-Man makes the unexpected move to chase Smythe, surprising the villain immensely. But Spider-Man has a mission, kill the Spider-Slayer, and he will not deviate from that plan.
Superior_Spider-Man_Vol_1_13_fight
No Escape is yet another chapter in an ongoing story that Slott and company have been developing for years now. The status quot change at the end is significant and it also gives still more power to an evil villain operating inside the lie of a hero.

The artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell is a bit too tight at times (a close-up shot of the Lizard stopping the Scorpion becomes a mess of lines and green), but when it works it is excellent. If you are not reading this series, you need to seriously consider giving it a shot.

Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy

Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 2: A Troubled Mind

Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape

The Rhino and Electro team up to tackle Spider-Man in 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man has starred in four feature films and gone toe-to-toe with two Green Goblins, Doctor Octopus, the sandman, Venom and most recently the Lizard. Next year his feature film menagerie of enemies will be extended to include Electro and the Rhino (just announced last week).

Designed by John Romita, Jr. in 1966, the Rhino is a heavy hitter villain, a brutish Soviet secret weapon named Aleksei Sytsevich who was sent to the United States to steal secrets from astronaut John Jameson (son of the erstwhile Daily Bugle publisher J Jonah Jameson). An experimental process bonded Aleksei to a suit of armor and transformed him into a bullet proof and super strong monstrosity capable of challenging not only Spider-Man, but the jade-jawed Hulk as well!

So it is somewhat bizarre that celebrated actor Paul Giammatti will be playing the brutish character. But I am a fan of his and there is a tradition of renowned actors playing comic book supervillains including  Willem DaFoe as the Green Goblin, Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus and even John Malkovitch as the Vulture in the aborted Spider-Man 4 if you want to get sneaky.

Spider-Man-Rhino-Comic_0

Via Superherohype

Production has officially begun on Marc Webb’s sequel to last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man! Webb himself tweeted the below image with the message “Day 1. #anamorphic #film #philthecameraoperator”

Although the first film was shot digitally on the RED Epic, Webb seems to be going the celluloid route this time. There’s no word yet on whether that will continue throughout the production or if there’s something unique about today’s production.

Actor Paul Giamatti

Actor Paul Giamatti

The film will see Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Martin Sheen reprising with Jamie Foxx joining as Electro, Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, Paul Giammatti as the Rhino and Felicity Jones in an unnamed role.

The Amazing Spider-Man sequel is scheduled to hit theaters on May 2, 2014.

Superior Spider-Man #1 Marvel NOW!

Superior Spider-Man: ‘Hero or Menace?’

Superior_Spider-Man_-1_LSCC_variant

By Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman, and Edgar Delgado
Peter Parker is dead. After his most fiendish villain Doctor Octopus swapped bodies with him, Parker found himself trapped inside Doc Ock’s ailing body before finally succumbing the inevitable. Now Otto Octavius lives inside the super powered body of Spider-Man and the also lives as the brilliant young bachelor Peter Parker, who is dating super model Mary Jane Watson.

All in all, a bit of a downer. The villain has won in the most intimate manner and taken over his opponent’s life. It’s very upsetting that this new Spider-Man is secretly a villain with his own evil agenda and that he has all of the resources that Parker has built up over the past few years at Horizon Labs and as an Avenger. But fans are more horrified at the prospect of Otto dating MJ in Peter’s body than the damage he may do as a superhero. It’s terrifying, so much so that series writer Dan Slott himself has been vilified by the some members of the comic book community and has even received death threats.

This is unfortunate as Slott has also made the Spider-Man monthly comic so very interesting since he took over and this is just one more way that he has breathed new life into a character who had become so established in his mannerisms that he could never surprise readers. That is no longer the case, though. The new Spider-Man isn’t just the brilliant yet twisted Doc Ock, but he still retains some of Parker’s persona.

The series opens with an attack of the new Sinister Six who are thwarted by Spider-Man… until the wall crawler realizes that the fight is pointless and retreats. The team is a mish-mash of villains including the Beetle, Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, The Living Brain (??) and Overdrive. Doc Ock is not impressed by this group of nobodies sullying the good name of the group he formed.

It’s fascinating to see Ock experiencing what it is like to face odds that are not in his favor and decide instead of toughing it out as Parker would, he will instead remove himself from harm and rethink his strategy. As he makes ready to depart, a bystander is almost harmed before Spider-Man puts himself in the path of an exploding boomerang. Ock/Spider-Man is confused by his own actions, but it is clear that a part of Peter Parker remains inside the body that Octavius has stolen.

Otto moves on to impress his boss at Horizon Labs and woo his girlfriend Mary Jane who may as well be a living pinup for all he cares. It’s creepy to see Otto ignore MJ’s dialog and instead stare at her cleavage… something Dan Slott put in there no doubt to get the blood boiling for readers. It’s just edgy enough to be interesting without being overtly perverted.

I know this series has its detractors and many are decrying the ‘gimmick’ of swapping Doc Ock and Spidey as being too obviously temporary, but I really enjoyed it. The issue is really great and very quickly establishes that this is a new Spider-Man unlike the one we have seen before, yet all of the trappings of Peter Parker’s past are intact. It’s one of the more inspired ways to revive a comic that I have ever seen… far better than many others I could think of.

Superior_AmazingSpiderMan

The Superior Spider-Man has attracted a lot of attention as it involves one of Marvel Comics’s tent-pole heroes, a pillar of the superhero community transformed into a twisted villain. Yet he’s not entirely evil. We see in this issue that Octavius is using his position at Horizon to help society rather than harm it and we also see that he not only will protect the innocent and defeat the guilty but even though he has amped up his arsenal to be far deadlier than before, he will also restrain himself from using lethal force… because a little voice inside of him is holding him back and no doubt in the coming months that voice will get louder as Peter Parker struggles to regain control of his mind and body.

The artwork by Stegman looked far better in the previews than in the finished product, in my opinion, but it may grow on me. Spider-Man has attracted some of the biggest artists in comics so it is always a tough book to come into and make your mark without detracting from the look and feel of what has come before. As Stegman is taking over from Ramos, he inherited a lot of the overly ‘cartoony’ mannerisms of his predecessor which… I have mixed feelings about.

I am very excited to see what comes next and am hopeful that Slott, who is very aware of the expectations placed on him by readers, has a stack of great tales on the way.

Who is the Superior Spider-Man?

This January, the Web-Head embraces a new chapter in his life in Superior Spider-Man #1, kicking off the all-new ongoing series from the amazing creative team of writer Dan Slott and artist Ryan Stegman! As part of Marvel NOW!, Superior Spider-Man joins a number of titles that will take the Marvel Universe in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators join the top Super Heroes to deliver all-new ongoing series, great for new and lapsed readers alike!

Peter Parker has spent a lifetime living up to the responsibilities his powers foisted upon him but his Amazing story finally ends dramatically in the historic Spider-Man #700. NOW! the new Spider-Man has arrived and he is better in every single way. Smarter, stronger…Superior.

“This is still very much the world of Spider-Man. There may be a new Spider-Man here, doing things in a new and different way, but you’re going to see the Spider-cast reacting to this,” said writer Dan Slott in an interview with Marvel.com. “You’re going to see how this Spider-Man will deal with our Spider-Man’s villains. How will he react to this Spider-Man’s supporting cast? That is clearly the world of this book. The world hasn’t changed, just the hero.”

So… a ‘new’ Spider-Man?

As in, not Peter Parker?

Via ComicBook.com:

Potential spoilers beyond this point, though, so don’t blame us if it turns out to be true.

Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)


Bitten by a radioactive spider, nerdy Peter Parker is granted weird abilities, the proportionate strength and agility of a spider and the responsibility to do something with his powers. When his uncle dies unnecessarily at the hands of a street hood that Peter should have stopped, he makes a vow to use his skills to protect the innocent in a city of a million stories and a million dangers.

Anyone who has not seen the movie should avoid this review as it is riddled with spoilers…

Spider-Man is the golden boy of Marvel Comics. Dreamed up by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, his comic book series was an ingenious experiment in romantic drama and pulp action/adventure. A teenager gifted with superhuman strength, endurance and agility bit with a smart mouth to boot was an entirely new concept. Comic books were mainly populated at the time with square-jawed stoic champions of justice, making a lanky kid from the suburbs of New York all the more of an oddity. A gifted scientific genius, Parker lived in a world of Marvels in which he was a perpetual outcast. The Avengers were too noble, the Fantastic Four too much of a family and the X-Men too militant. Of all the Marvel superheroes, Spider-Man is the most attractive to awkward misfits which may explain his long lasting appeal.

In my previous articles on superhero movies I talked about how they can either have some cultural significance or act as a marketing tool for toy manufacturers. In the case of Spider-Man, I think he falls between the cracks. Even the best of his cinematic outings isn’t as moving or cerebral as the Dark Knight trilogy, yet his worst film is nowhere near the pandering of Batman & Robin. Full of intense action, unrequited love and drama, Spider-Man was custom-made for the modern motion picture. It just took a while for the movie industry to catch up.

With several decades’ worth of stories to pull inspiration from, there are many different angles to the web spinner. The Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, for example, mainly drew from the look and feel of the John Romita Sr. comics, with the glamorous females and dynamic set pieces. They told an emotional story of young Peter Parker growing into a man in a world of mad scientists and horrific creatures. It’s a good story and it holds up well.

When Sony decided to start from scratch with the Amazing Spider-Man, I wondered what the point was. The previous trilogy was an enormous hit and made the comic book character a media darling for n entire generation. The only real reason to start over would be to tell a different kind of story and that is exactly what Marc Webb’s movie does.

Drawing instead from the early Ditko comics, this Spider-Man is lanky and spindly rather than buff and handsome with puppy-dog eyes as Toby Maguire was. This Spider-Man has an angrier, sharper edge and a drive toward justice that the Raimi/Maguire version lacked. He is also a mechanical and chemical genius rather than a mutant able to create webs from his arms. This Peter Parker has to work on his web shooters himself and develop schemes to take down enemies using the scientific method rather than luck and determination.

This is a decidedly different Spider-Man, more grounded in reality than the computer-generated and stylized world that Sam Raimi developed. I don’t want to cast judgement here as both work, but I am surprised at how tactile and realistic this Spider-Man looks in action.

In casting Peter Perker, the studio went with Andrew Garfield, whom I know from the magnificent Red Riding trilogy but others are familiar with from his appearance in the Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. An accomplished actor, I was still a bit distracted by the fact that he was a good 10 years older than the teenager he was portraying. Even so, the script made good use of the high school setting and established Peter as an angry confused kid with lots of pent up emotions and nothing to do with them.

Raised by his aunt and uncle, Peter Parker lives a secluded and protected life, but even so he is picked on and judged by his classmates, often the butt of a joke. He is gifted and brilliant, but it seems that he will never live up to his potential because he is too weedy and insecure. Even when the blonde bombshell Gwen Stacy shows interest, he cam’t bring himself to make a move. Again, Peter Parker is an emotional mess, but in this instance his anxiety is closer to the surface as opposed to the all-American sweetheart that Maguire portrayed.

The mystery of Peter’s parents plays a strong role in the film (and upcoming sequel), which some may be surprised to hear is a unique idea. In the comics, Peter’s parents are all but ciphers that few writers have ever bothered to explore. making Peter’s father the linchpin of the plot is inspired and also reinforces the importance of scientific intelligence. Peter uses his brains throughout this film, something that was sadly lacking on the Raimi trilogy. Seeking out an old colleague of his father’s, Peter encounters Dr. Curtis Conners who is on the brink of a brilliant discovery in cross-species genetics, but lacks a key piece of information. Researching his father’s notes, Peter gives up the info to Conners who in turn experiments on himself, becoming the Lizard.

In talking about the Lizard, arguably the most ambitious CG villain to fight Spider-Man to date, I should bring up the special effects. Webb had stated that he wanted to step away from the 360 camera angles and hyper-realistic visuals that made the Raimi films so distinctive, Instead, we are given more tactile visuals which was a very risky decision. The Lizard must look believable and real at all times and in my opinion this was accomplished very well. The action sequences and Spider-Man fight scenes seem to be very sparingly enhanced with technological trickery and are therefore more impressive to my eye. In any case, this film needed to show movie goers a new kind of Spider-Man, one that stood out against the glittering imagery of the previous three films.

The central plot hinged mainly on the responsibility of science with Conners/The Lizard taking his discovery to an extreme and Parker/Spider-Man attempting to use his powers to help others. It was interesting to see Parker’s growth from vigilante as he hunted down his uncle’s killer become tempered by a kind of sanity as he realized he was interfering with the law more than helping it. His relationship with Gwen Stacy was an interesting twist as she became more than a lobve interest and instead a full-on confident and associate. Bold move there.

There were a couple of sore points for me but at least they moved the plot forward. I could have done without the prolonged sequence where Spider-Man saves a young boy from an SUV and offers up his mask so that the boy can ‘feel strong.’ It felt like an advertisement for the Target exclusive mask. The reunion with his ‘regular Joe’ dad (played by former 80’s star C. Thomas Howell of the completely undefendable Soul Man) was even sappier yet at least that plot thread developed further.

The fights between Spider-Man and the police as well as the sewer sequences and high school battles were astounding and made the character exciting all over again. The relationship between Gwen and Peter was far more interesting and believable for me than the Mary Jane/Peter Parker love story ever was and I think it has more depth to it as well. I was very wary of this film but hoped for the best. As it stands I was not blown out of my seat, but I was pleasantly surprised and look forward to the forthcoming Marc Webb films.

Throughout the movie, Norman Osborn acted as a kind of wraith, pulling strings off-camera and acting as the motivating factor in the development of the cross-species genetic trials. The work pioneered by Conners and Peter’s father should have saved Osborn from some mysterious ailment. At the conclusion, we see Conners confronted by a strange ‘Man in the Shadows’ who pumps the troubled scientist for information on how much Peter knows about his father. When Connors urges the mystery man to leave Peter alone, it is clear that is not in the cards. I’m tickled pink that anyone could think that this mystery man was anyone BUT Norman Osborn, but there it is. No doubt the mystery of Peter’s parents will continue to grow as the scientific advancements of his father’s research bears bitter fruit in the form of other monstrosities.

It should be spectacular.

Amazing Spider-Man designs

No, I have not seen the Amazing Spider-Man yet. Yes, I know it is getting rave reviews and made lots of money. I am a big fan of the character (esp the Ditko run) and avidly follow the series today so I am eager to check it out. When I do, watch this space for the best review ever.

In the making of these big budget movies, lots of decisions get made for various reasons. Along the way some beautiful artwork gets lost in the shuffle. The most appealing of these ‘almost-designs’ that didn’t make it is of Spider-Man by the legendary Alex Ross.

Spider-Man designed by Alex Ross

In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to see some of the initial designs that were passed on by the Aaron Sims Company (click on the link for many more amazing designs). The same studio also designed creatures and costumes seen in Green Lantern, Black Swan, Wrath of the Titans, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Sucker Punch, Transformers 3 and The Thing and their body of work is impressive.

From these images it is clear that the studio was trying to push the envelope on how far the design of the Spider-Man costume could go and how horrific the Lizard could appear on screen. Based on the outcome, what’s your opinion? Did the better designs win out or was gold left on the drawing table?

Below are a few samples:

Spider-Man- 1

Spider-Man- 2

Spider-Man- 3

Spider-Man- 4

17 year-old Spider-Man

The Lizard Vs. Spider-Man

The Lizard – 1

The Lizard – 2

The Lizard – 3