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SPIDER-MAN Gets Ready to Swing
Sony Pictures rolls out the red carpet to announce the beginning of filming.
By Craig Reid
January 04, 2001
Inside a makeshift, Wrestle-Mania, steel death cage, a giant 'Spider-Man' banner dangles above 9 empty chairs. On the hardwood floor, lies the insignia 'NYWL,' surrounded by a single thread of tattooed barbed wire. The anxious, pastry-totting media representatives sit in front of the cage like Morlocks waiting to dine. Music blares as the cage walls rise and spread like opening blossoms. The only thing missing during this ultra-hyped introduction to the SPIDER-MAN film's lead actors and filmmakers is the famed 'Let's get ready to rrrrumblllllle' announcer. In step producer Ian Bryce; visual effects supervisor John Dykstra; Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker's girlfriend); director Sam Raimi; Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire; and Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin, a.k.a. Norman Osborn). As if by fate, when actor James Franco (Harry Osborn, Parker's roommate) attempts to step up onto stage, the slap-dash stairs collapse, making Franco do a live version of the old 'tripping over his own feet' gag. As maintenance people stare nervously at each other, producer Laura Ziskin and executive producer Avi Arad do high wire acts to get safely on stage.
After a brief introductory statement, Raimi is immediately queried about the 'web-shooters' controversy. With an even voice he relates, 'I'm familiar with the debate. I know that in the comic books Spider-Man is vested with these powers, builds these web-shooters, and develops a web fluid that he puts it into these web-shooters, and that is how he spins his webs. In this picture, we're not just sticking to the letter of the comic book, but we're trying to capture the spirit. We've all seen the great strength of Spider-Man. The fact is, he's a real person, a kid from Brooklyn that doesn't have a lot of money. He doesn't get the females; he's got acne, and he's a fairly average looking kid.' (At this point, Maguire gives Raimi a funny look; Raimi jovially smiles, and the crowd laughs. 'Unlike Superman and other super heroes, he's really a kid we can identify with. He has these powersperhaps cursed with thembut the important thing is, he's one of us.
'In the comic book, which I'm giant fan of, he's a genius and we're going to use that. But when he can develop a material that even 3M corporation can't, that distances him from the average kid in high school. Since he's been bitten by a spider and takes on the powers of the spiderclimb walls, the ability to leap like some living spiders, the great proportionate strengthwe felt that it was a logical progression to let him also spin his own web and be consistent with [the idea that], once he has been bitten by the spider, he takes on all of these powers. In addition, it's another device that creates alienation because Peter Parker has always been an outcast and Spider-Man a misunderstood hero. I think that's a lot of the appeal of Spider-Man. Teenage kids feel like they are misunderstood. I think the greatest part about Peter, is that he's a human being faced with the problems of these powers. I never saw his ability to make the web was a great problem for him; I saw it as something that distanced him, but it was a great advantage that he had. It's a great choice, inspired by the James Cameron treatment, and it embraces the spirit of who Spider-Man isa hero who's an outcast, cursed with these powers.'
Tune in next week for more in depth SPIDER-MAN buzz from Raimi as well as comments from the cast members on their characters. You'll also get the low-down on a few interesting tidbits about Dykstra's visual effects, the budget, and even some bizarre inquiries into spider attack strategies and fighting behavior.