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5 Rules for a Spider-Man Reboot
How to Make the Perfect Spider-Man Movie
By Chad Derdowski
November 04, 2009
What do you do when a formerly successful film franchise has run its course? Do you hang it up and hope to find another diamond in the rough? Hell no! You reboot! It’s worked for James Bond, Star Trek, Batman, Jason Vorhees and even the Hulk… well, maybe not so well for the Hulk. But the point is, a reboot can be a great way to inject some vitality into a sagging franchise and filmgoers have proven they’ll accept it.
Does the Spider-Man franchise need a reboot? Maybe, maybe not, but with Sam Raimi signed on to direct the fourth installment (but not 5 & 6), we’re left wondering which direction the ship will sail once Captain Raimi has left the vessel. And because we’re all former Boy Scouts, we live by the motto “be prepared.” So here are our rules for the next guy to step in after Raimi: our Rules for a Spider-Man Reboot.
5. Skip the Origin Story
Who are you? Where did you come from? You seriously don’t know Spider-Man’s origin? The first Spidey film was an origin story and the second opened with a montage that recreated it. Every animated version of Spider-Man has retold the origin and next to Superman and Batman, he’s the most well known costumed crimefighter on the planet. A 10-minute sequence at the beginning of the movie with a Stan Lee voiceover explaining the story will be enough. Don’t waste our time by making us sit through it again.
4. Ditch Ditko – We’re Raving About Romita!
The whole puny nerd with powers thing was great in the first three movies, just as it was great in the first 38 issues of the comic. But once “Jazzy” Johnny Romita took over, the book took on a whole new look and feel, one we’d like to see replicated in the movies.
Romita was a veteran of romance comics and brought that style to Spider-Man, recreating Peter as a buff dude with hip hair and hot babes lusting after his web-shooters. Sweater vests and spectacles were out and a sexy, swingin’ Peter Parker was in. Tobey Maguire is a fine actor and completely fit the role of the classic nerd that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created in the early years of Spider-Man, but the progression of time saw Uncle Ben’s favorite nephew finally blossom into manhood and the movies should follow suit.
3. Be Conscientious of Continuity
Pete and Mary Jane were married in the comics when the first Spider-Man movie was made, so it only made sense to use her as the love interest in the film. But if the series is rebooted, we’d like to see the filmmakers adhere a little more closely to the events as they actually took place.
Let’s see Gwen Stacy as the love interest of the first of the new installments and maybe even a mention of the fact that Peter briefly dated Betty Brant. Then when the sequel is made, have Gwen die at the hands of the Green Goblin; don’t blow your wad in the first movie like Raimi did. Introduce the Black Cat as well as Mary Jane–don’t forget that Peter played the field.
And while we’re on the subject of continuity, how about J. Jonah Jameson as a villain? Take a look back at some of the earliest Spider-Man villains and you’ll find that a large number of them started out as common criminals until some crazy scientist was hired by JJJ to create a new supervillain to destroy Spider-Man. Bring back some of that wackiness.
And don’t let everyone and their brother find out Spidey’s true identity either! Yes, it’s logical to assume that a few people are going to figure it out and we loved the fact that Aunt May knew and let us know she knew, but never really came out and said that she knew in Spider-Man 2. But one of the biggest selling points of Spider-Man is that he can’t catch a break and a big part of this is caused by his double identity. When everyone knows who he is, they’re a lot more likely to let it slide when he breaks a date or shows up late to a play.
2. Keep the Mask On!
This is the biggest A-#1 issue we have with all three Spider-Man movies. Okay, the numerous dance scenes in Spider-Man 3 are the biggest problem we have, but this one is a close second… we’re not buying tickets to see Tobey Maguire-Man, we’re buying tickets to see Spider-Man, and the fact that he has ended every single film in the franchise with his mask off has never sat right with us.
If it’s a matter of the studio wanting to make sure they get their money’s worth and wanting to make sure we know who’s in the starring role: don’t bother. We know. We’ve watched the first 2/3 of the movie – the stuff where he’s Peter Parker and he’s walking around in street clothes. The actor’s name is plastered on the posters and in the credits. We know who the star is, but maybe the studios don’t–the star of the movie is SPIDER-MAN, not the guy who plays him. Yes, we want a good actor in the role, but we also want to see Spider-Man look the way he actually looks in the comics! With a mask!
If it’s a matter of an actor’s vanity: suck it up. You’re playing Spider-Man. Spider-Man wears a mask. If you’re not a good enough thespian to act with a full facemask on or if you’re the sort who refuses to make a film in which the viewers can’t see your face then take your ego and get the hell out of our Spidey movie. Take a lesson from Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta – real actors act and if you’re a good enough actor, you can do it with a mask on.
And while we’re on the subject of masks, would it kill the costume designers to get the eyes right? Spidey has rounded, bubble-shaped eyes that point in the corners, not triangle-shaped ones! It might seem like a minor nitpick, but the rest of the (incredibly iconic) costume is dead-on. Why not do the eyes the way they’re supposed to look?
1. Have Fun!
Our final rule for a Spider-Man reboot is to just have fun with it. Yes, with great power comes great responsibility and a big part of the appeal of Spider-Man is his everyman status: he’s been repeatedly crapped on and then kicked while he’s down. But the one thing Sam Raimi seems to have forgotten is that when Pete puts the costume on, it’s a release. The shy bookworm disappears and is replaced by a wisecracking joker. We got a few one-liners and a “whoo-hooo!” or two in the three Spider-Man movies, but it wasn’t nearly enough and frankly, it just didn’t feel like Spider-Man. We saw a whole lot of pathos and more than enough weeping (dear lord, it felt like Peter did nothing but cry in the first movie), but where were the laughs? Spider-Man is known as a character who takes two steps forward and then three steps back, but Raimi barely let him get one foot in front of the other before kicking him in the nuts.
As we suggested earlier, we’d like to see a more confident Peter Parker in these movies-the guy who met Gwen Stacy at the Coffee Bean or took Mary Jane out dancing. More importantly, we want to see a Spider-Man who mocks his enemies while dancing circles around them. We want a Spider-Man who not only infuriates the villains by defeating them, but also insults them the whole time he’s doing it. We want a Spider-Man who makes us laugh and makes us feel good about ourselves because he’s just like us: he has a whole lot of bad times, but like the comic-reading geek who finds release in the adventures of Spider-Man, Peter also finds that same sense of escape and excitement when he puts on the tights.
And for God’s sake, stop crying all the time!
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