Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Spider-Man Movie Reboot: My Thoughts

Well, it seems that Sam Raimi's hugely successful Spider-Man film series is finally at an end, and the franchise will be rebooted, with a new film tentatively due for release in 2012. As a huge Spider-fan I feel duty bound to comment on this shocking news, and give my thoughts on which direction the series needs to take. I realise that this post is appearing some time after the news actually broke, but I felt like taking a bit more time to collect my thoughts about the matter.

Firstly I should make it clear that I have no problem whatsoever with the Raimi films. The first two are great, the third less so, but they are all enjoyable enough. The cast is pretty much perfect as it is. Maguire isn't perfect, he still has yet to nail the wisecracking elements of the character and struggled with some of the more emotional scenes but I think apart from that he was pretty much perfect. However, he is possibly getting a little too old for the role so I'm not too dissapointed with the idea of a recast. A lot of people had major problems with Kirsten Dunst as Mary-Jane, but I can't say I agree with them. Dunst is a good actress and deserves little of the abuse that she gets for her portrayal of MJ, the vast majority of the problems with the character come from her characterisation, and overuse as a damsel in distress. There is little that any actress could do to overcome that. The villains were all perfectly cast in my opinion (Yes even Venom and Sandman), as were most members of the supporting cast. I would have no problems whatsover with the likes of JK Simmons and Rosemary Harris returning as Jonah Jameson and Aunt May respectively.

In terms of story, I can't see the reboot dealing with Spidey's origin. For starters, it is one of the most iconic origin stories in comic book history. Beyond a brief recap the vast majority of the audience will not need to see it again, particularly as the original Spider-Man was released less than a decade ago. Raimi as far as I'm concerned also told as good an adaption of the origin as I have ever seen, and I'm unsure of how it could be improved upon, something that is only going to harm the film.

It has been confirmed that the Reboot will deal with Peter Parker's time at High School, something that gets a big thumbs up from me. The High School setting was notably underused in Raimi's trilogy, and a Reboot will give potential directors a chance to explore it, hopefully giving more screentime and development to the likes of Betty Brant, Flash Thompson and Liz Allen, who comprised the bulk of the Webhead's supporting cast in his early years. In fact, I would not be totally adverse to leaving out Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy entirely, instead using Liz Allen and Betty Brant as love interests. Mary Jane was originally a mystery character in the comics, who was seen many times in silhouette or with her face obscured before finally making an appearance. This is an approach that I think a Reboot could easily take. In terms of supporting cast, I would be fine with limiting it to those that were actually around when Peter was at High School in the comics, leaving out Harry Osborn for one. It is often forgotten that the Peter Parker of these stories was a loner who had very few, if any friends. It could be interesting to see this sort of take on the character on screen, perhaps eventually introducing Betty and Liz as friends or love interests as he grows in confidence. However, Harry, Gwen and MJ are integral parts of the Spider-Man mythos and it would take a very brave man to leave the trio out entirely.

Villainwise I would be dissapointed to see any villains that have already appeared, with the possible exception of Dr. Octopus. While I loved the character in Spider-Man 2, it was a much more sympathetic portrayal than in the comics, with the good doctor actually befriending Peter shortly before his accident, and then saving the day at the films climax. I think it would be interesting to see him as more of a straight villain, perhaps an adaption of the critically acclaimed Master Planner storyline? However there are still a number of classic villains that haven't been seen on film, and the likes of Electro, the Chameleon and Mysterio would all be solid choices. Either way I think that Norman Osborn needs to play a part in the movie, perhaps as a man in the shadows behind the films main villain? This was an approach taken by both Spider-Man: The Animated Series and the Spectacular Spider-Man show, very successfully in both cases!

Most importantly, I want to be able to judge the new film on its own merits, and not to have it compared to the Raimi trilogy. Yes it was generally good, but I would love the relaunch to go in a completely different, exciting direction, showing us aspects of Spider-Man's life never before captured on the silver screen.

NEXT: FINALLY - My rundown of Spider-Man's top five foes

Monday, 11 January 2010

Spider-Man's Top Ten Villains - Part One

Most people would agree that Spider-Man has one of the best rogues gallerys in comics, most of which created by the genius team of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. I thought it would be fun to count down my top ten! If you disagree with my list...Tell me why!

10. Kraven the Hunter

Initially Kraven was probably one of the least impressive of the Lee/Ditko created villains. Overly camp with somewhat lame powers, he was never a credible threat for the webhead in his early appearances. All of this changed with JM Dematteis' groundbreaking storyline 'Kraven's Last Hunt', a deep, dramatic storyline that delved into Kraven's motivations and just nudges him into the top 10. Just try to ignore his increasingly lame offspring that keep getting introduced.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #15

Recommended Reading: Kraven's Last Hunt (Web of Spider-Man #31-32,Amazing Spider-Man#293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132)

9. The Kingpin

Although he was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man, Kingpin has since evolved into a more persistant adversary for Daredevil after his successful use in Frank Miller's run. Nonetheless his initial battles with Spider-Man are among the best in the characters history. Before his introduction Spider-Man had mainly faced off against colourful costumed villains (with a few exceptions), The besuited Kingpin's debut was a welcome contrast to this, and heralded many future gang based storylines.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #50

Recommended Reading: Amazing Spider-Man #50-52

8. The Chameleon

The Chameleon was the first ever villain to battle Spider-Man, and despite being physically inferior to many of Spider-Man's other enemies he has been a consistent danger to the wallcrawler since. Favouring carefully laid out schemes rather than the knock-out brawls of other villains, among his devious plans have been kidnapping and replacing Jonah Jameson and convincing Peter Parker that his parents were alive through the use of androids. The master of disguise has recently been revamped by writer Fred Van Lente in the 'Red Headed Stranger' arc of Amazing Spider-Man.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #1

Recommended Reading: Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #10-12

7. Kaine

On first glance a typical 90's 'mystery villain', Kaine is actually able to boast more depth than the vast majority of Spidey's rogues gallery. A failed, twisted clone of Peter Parker has also struck me as being a fantastic concept for a villain, a concept which has arguably never reached it's full potential (Beyond JM Demetteis' excellent Mini-series The Lost Years). Nonetheless, Kaine has recently been reintroduced to the Spider-titles, and appears consistently in Tom Defalco's Clone Saga loveletter Spider-Girl. He remains a huge threat to the Web-Slinger.

First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #119

Recommended Reading: Spider-Man: The Lost Years #1-3

6. Mysterio
Blessed with one of Steve Ditko's most gloriously goofy costumes (and that's saying something), the master of illusion has become one of Spidey's most persistent antagonists, even joining every iteration of the Sinister Six! While often being regarded as a joke, partly due to his rather silly name and appearance, when taken seriously by writers Mysterio has proven to be one of the more colourful, wacky member of Spidey's rogues gallery, while more recently being given some much needed emotional depth.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #13

Recommended Reading: Amazing Spider-Man #198-199, Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #1-3.

That's all for now folks, tune in next time for my top five Spider-Man villains of all time!