Does <B>SPIDER-MAN</B> Measure Up? -


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Does SPIDER-MAN Measure Up?

We dust off a 21st century relic known as the Accurometer and find out for ourselves

By Arnold T. Blumberg     June 08, 2002

The end of the road for the Green Goblin...or was it? AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of Cinescape City, the vast metropolis built in the late 21st century to house all genre entertainment artifacts after the great Pop Culture Wars of 2077, there lies a machine unlike any other. Sitting patiently under a dusty shroud in a chamber that also houses Green Lantern's power battery, Batman's giant penny and Wolverine's adamantium skeleton (on loan from the Rick Jones collection), there waits...the Accurometer!

The cover that dared readers to guess the tragic truth. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121.

Invented by an enterprising band of comic book fans in the mid-2010s, the Accurometer can analyze any movie or television show derived from comic book source material and score it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least accurate rendering of the original comic and 10 being the most accurate. Naturally, such a machine was a boon to comic book fans and movie executives alike, who were now capable of producing and viewing the finest, most accurate comic book films ever made. Such a shame then that a few short years later, comics were banned thanks to the Anti-Comic Book Juvenile Delinquency Act imposed by President-For-Life Bush, forcing fans and the inventors of the Accurometer to head underground. It was never seen again until the denizens of Cinescape City unearthed it and placed it in storage here.

Now let's remove that tarp, fire up the Accurometer and see if things still work, shall we? Yes, it appears to be humming along nicely - that's nuclear power cells for you. We should test it on we are! A rare copy of the Ultimo-Super Special-o-Matic Edition of the very first SPIDER-MAN movie from way back in 2002. We'll just set the holo-crystal matrix into the Accurometer's detection well, twist this dial, throw this lever, press this button, wait, it stopped working. Oh well, we can still analyze the movie for accuracy by talking about it. Let's see if I can remember how it went.

Metallic and mean, it's the Green Goblin!

Rather than list everything that was accurate about the movie in relation to the original source material, we'll focus on five major points of departure and assign them a minus grade, just as the Accurometer would. Then we'll apply those to a total of 10 and see where the accuracy of SPIDER-MAN falls.

1) The first issue of note, of course, is the organic webbing. On a purely empirical level, this is hardly accurate, since in the comics, Peter Parker built his own web shooters and mixed up his own chemical formula-based webbing. Here, it's intrinsically a part of his biology, but it sure made a hell of a lot of sense. Granted, it's even harder to justify hiding it from everyone over a long span of time - won't a doctor ever notice the strange gland in his wrist, or that he internally produces some kind of sticky adhesive fluid in his system? - but it solves a lot of other problems, like having to carry extra web cartridges or getting web shooters crushed by overzealous opponents. With the positives of this change outweighing the negatives, I'll just give this a -.5.

Peter Parker and his readers hit the jackpot, courtesy of artist John Romita Sr.

2) On to the costumes. The Spider-Man suit is as near to the real thing as makes no odds (but where did he get the materials and how did he construct it?), but we all know the Green Goblin's duds are not the purple and green latex togs we all knew and loved. In this case, however, it's the spirit of the source that's a bit more important, and damn if this new high-tech Goblin suit doesn't capture the essence of the character in many ways, from his devil-may-care murderous attitude to the demonic lunacy lurking beneath its burnished metal surface. And while the helmet does look a bit goofy, it is trying to echo the lines of the original Goblin mask - notice the 'widow's peak' lines and pointed top reminiscent of the comic Goblin's pointy pixie hat? We'll give this one a -1 also.

3) Gwen Stacy. Some of us still remember her very well indeed, but the movie folks clearly decided that Mary Jane was the way to go. Yet they went ahead and adapted much of the classic Death of Gwen Stacy story from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121-122 anyway, sticking Mary Jane in Gwen's place, substituting the Queensboro bridge for the George Washington (or Brooklyn or wherever they claim it took place now) and letting the falling victim live at the end. Fans shed a tear back in 2002 that they may never see a dramatization of that quintessential Spidey/Gwen story in their lifetime, but the elements of it were familiar and resonated powerfully nevertheless. And when it came down to the last battle between Spidey and the Goblin, it was virtually a beat-for-beat re-creation of the #122 fight, right down to the Goblin's ultimate fate against a brick wall. Let's say -1 again and leave it at that.

Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in SPIDER-MAN

4) The Uncle Ben sequence is next on the list. Moving the shooting from Ben and May's house to an outside carjacking smacked of lazy writing to compress events and get Peter to the scene faster, but it did play fairly well. The subsequent chase to capture Ben's killer was suitably energized, the warehouse sequence as eerie and Ditko-esque as we could have hoped, and the confrontation was hard-edged and lacking in uncomfortable camp. Interestingly, the movie doesn't leave the crook alive, choosing instead to write an ending to this first chapter in Spider-Man's career, but it felt right. Again, the alterations suited the story, so we'll only give it a -.5.

Tobey Maguire stars in Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN

5) What's the deal with Flash Thompson's hair? He's a blond, he's always been a blond? Black hair? Why? And we all know that Harry and Mary Jane didn't meet Peter in high school, right? Right. So for these minor transgressions let's give the movie another -1.

So let's see, tallying all this up, we get:
SPIDER-MAN Accuracy Reading: 6

Not bad, not bad at all. Well, I hear the mutants nearing the citadel again, so we better get back up to the surface and drive them away from the city borders. Maybe when that's done we can come back here and give the Accurometer another shot. I'm dying to know what rating it would give to those other old Marvel movies - DAREDEVIL, THE HULK, SUB-MARINER, and most importantly, NIGHT NURSE!


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