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The Amazing Spiderman & beyond

The Amazing Spiderman & beyond

A  couple of years ago, the much anticipated reboot (the new Hollywood label for remakes) of The Amazing Spiderman came. This was only a decade after the first reboot of the friendly neighborhood hero was brought back to big screen life. In 2002, an unlikely duo of Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and pint sized Toby Maguire, more known at the time for romantic fluff such as Pleasantville, teamed up for what became an instant hit and a bona fide international box-office blockbuster. Maguire flexed his acting ability as much as his muscles unveiling Peter Parker and his alter ego Spiderman to a new generation.

A pivotal moment as Spidy hangs upside down in a darkened rainy alleyway while his auburn haired love interest Mary Jane pulls up the mask uncovering his lips for one long kiss goodnight is up there with the romantic classics. Kirsten Dunst sweltered fanboys hearts in that see-through top. Unfortunately a proposed cameo by Hugh Jackman in full Wolverine mode was meant to happen but failed to materialise.

A rushed-into production sequel was released two years later with emphasis on action. Becoming even bigger than the original, it was actually a better movie, quite unusual for anything with ‘Part 2’ after the title. Studio executives with dollar signs in their eyes and a disregard of script perfection were keen to keep going and did in 2007. The ill-fated Spiderman 3 was a busy confused movie with too many villains and not enough substance. They had fans in raptures early by leaking pictures from the set of arch enemy Venom. Adding him into the mix should have been a winner, but the final product was deplorable and a classic case of bigger is not always better. I won’t even mention Sandman.

Kirsten Dunst at this point looked bored, delivering lines with about as much spark as a soaked box of matches, while in one infamous scene Peter Parker strolls down the street to the strains of jazz while singing – yes Spiderman sings. This was before the Broadway debacle, I’ll get to that. There has always been an array of cartoon versions since Spidy (as fans like to call him) since he first appeared in the 1962 comic Amazing Fantasy #15. Co-creator comic king Stan Lee has stated that this is one of his most personal characters.

Spectacled Peter Parker is a lonely and self conscious, a quiet individual raised by his loving Aunt May & Uncle Ben. We all know that after a radioactive spider bite what happens next, webs shoot from his wrists, his vision is immaculate and an urge to rid the streets of scum becomes a mission. He puts his school paper photographer experience to good use at the Daily Bugle and becomes the go-to link for Spidy in the media. His immaturity helps develop character flaws keeping him relatable.

Beyond the multiple cartoon and direct to video made animated feature films, The Amazing Spiderman had a live action prime time television series that lasted 14 episodes between 1977-79. The extremely low-brow production complete with a zipped up suit and ninja adversaries was a far cry from the source material. Ted Danson made an appearance long before his own show Cheers, as did Madeline Stowe, currently in the hit Revenge.

In a remarkable piece of casting nonsense, the hero was played by actor Nicholas Hammond, better known as none other than Friedrich Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. The only swinging from buildings he did was losing his balance falling out of windows and his webs were ropes thrown into the air by off-screen crew members. Though not quite as horrid, but ultimately a cursed disaster for most involved at the beginning, Spiderman Turn off the Dark was a 2011 Broadway flop and huge money loser. With music written specifically by Bono and The Edge of U2 fame, poor ticket sales were only the beginning – fans of the history of Spiderman were not happy with liberties taken by the writers of their beloved hero. Millions of dollars was put into lavish on stage lighting, effects, sound systems and stunts to amaze the audience. Cast members left the production in droves during rehearsals while more than one were physically hurt. It gained traction and ended up a show which lasted up until January this year. There are now plans to open it in Vegas which in fact I think would be more suitable for this notorious rock opera.

With The Avengers and X-Men part of the huge Marvel Comic universe, Spiderman has fallen a little behind. An intriguing looking Guardians of the Galaxy is a new, lesser known link to this superhero genre released later this year and could be a gamble for audiences accustomed to familiar faces. On April 17 comes the latest addition to this web spinning phenomenon – The Amazing Spiderman 2 is released in glorious digital 3D.

A medium I’m not always happy with, the recent Captain America proving a 3D conversion can be terrible and unnecessary. However a film like Gravity applauds cool 3D. Going by the impressive trailers of Spiderman zipping from roof top to roof top through the air could enhance the cinema experience for a change. British born Andrew Garfield is another unlikely first choice that proved effective in the 2002 in an otherwise straight forward film. Better known for a sharp dramatic role in The Social Network, Garfield held his own in what was basically a carbon copy of the Toby Maguire story. It missed much needed tweaks that producers assure are happening this time around.

New villain Electro, as played by a richly devious Jamie Foxx, is going to be good. Images of his incarnation paralyze with fear, something the bad guys in recent Dark Knight films had in their favour. Fan favourite Green Goblin is closer to the comic version here – unlike the last time as portrayed by the cackling Willem Dafoe. The big question for pop culture enthusiasts is will Spidy join The Avengers on the big screen eventually? Unlikely as three different film studios own various marvel copyrights, so until they join as one, I wouldn’t assume Spiderman will be saving the world side by side with Ironman and Thor anytime soon.

Shane A. Bassett

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