Published at: May 9, 2007, 6:31 p.m. CST by headgeek
You know, sometimes there’s such an incredible wave of backlash against a film, that just frankly doesn’t deserve it.
Why has it taken me so long to write about my thoughts for SPIDER-MAN 3, I’ll tell ya. Frankly, there has been so much of a pissy attitude about the film be slung about, that I felt my happy feelings about the film would be seen as some bizarre bit of studio ass-kissing, but this is just how I feel.
Is the film perfect?
But here’s the thing – I had a blast with the film.
Dorky Dark Peter Parker?
Well, that’s dead on for me. Peter Parker, even under the influence of a malevolent evil – would only every be dorky bad. Because Peter Parker isn’t a geek, he’s a dork. He’s hapless, klutzy and.. well.. a dork. Kinda like Sam Raimi. Sam projects a lot onto his heroes, be they Peter Parker/Spider-Man or Ash or all the way back in 1982 with Cleveland Smith, Bounty Hunter:
Raimi is a mega-geek with dork tendencies and that really comes out in SPIDER-MAN 3, more so than in either of the first two films. I completely get why so many are reacting soooo negatively towards “dancing Parker” – but I’ve seen Peter get a little too much money in the comics and splurge on something truly dorky. I’ve seen Parker in print get the big head – and it always, but always serves to humble him and bring him back to Earth, feeling like a complete and utter dick.
Why does Mary Jane come across as a beautiful naggy bummer to live with and date? BECAUSE Mary Jane is the WRONG girl for Peter Parker. She loves SPIDER-MAN, look at her. She’s just like that cunt Lois Lane, remember when Superman gave up his powers for that twit… what does Lois do, basically you can see her interest instantly wane. She’s a Superman groupie. She likes a flying fuck, and Mary Jane loves the upside down kiss. That’s all these women want, they certainly DON’T want Peter Parker. And before you babe staring dweebs start moaning about Gwen Stacy… She, as shown in this film, is a Spider-Man lover too. The real girl for Parker lives across the hallway and bakes cookies and cakes for him. She’s wildly infatuated with Peter Parker – and that’s the exact right girl for his life. But, he’s all Googily for the Model types. Fucking waste of time. But again, that’s been Peter Parker’s problem from the beginning… he always goes after the wrong dame… a chick that attacks trouble like webs capture flies.
Again, this all feeds into the fact that Peter Parker is a DORK. He doesn’t really know how to treat a woman. He’s rushing into marriage without a clue what that really means. This morning, I got a call from a fella… actually, Yoko did, and she handed me the phone, cuz I’m better at relationship advice than she is, at least she thinks so… and this kid on the other line poured out his heart to me, and frankly, he reminded me of Peter Parker. He speaks about love, but at the same time talks about, if they were to break up, it wouldn’t be his fault. Never being able to accept personal accountability for his own actions. That’s Peter Parker.
He’s always shifting that accountability. Rather than dealing with the real issues, he turns on the police scanner – because he’d rather go on a night of ego boosting crime bashing. It’s his drug of choice. His magnificent obsession. And Raimi again nails it. Peter Parker is an immature super-powered dork with major bi-polar issues. But that’s why we love the guy.
Now – where do I have my problems with this movie?
Probably, if you sat Raimi down and hooked him up to Wonder Woman’s creator’s Lie Detector machine – the same problems Raimi might admit to. VENOM… and everything related to him.
Raimi is a Silver Age Spider-Man fan… like me. He’s a Steve Ditko and John Romita Spidey fan. Raimi has admitted to not liking the character of Venom – and frankly I agree. VENOM is, and has always been, retarded. The character is a cool design. That’s it. Eddie Brock is a whiney useless non-character.
If you get the ART OF SPIDER-MAN 3 book, you can see an original design that shows that Raimi’s initial direction on SPIDER-MAN 3 was to bring in THE VULTURE. The Vulture and Sandman were going to escape Prison together.
Now, I have no proof of what I’m about to say, but I’m betting I’m right in my theory.
I’ve had extensive conversations with Joel Schumacher about what was going on behind the scenes on BATMAN & ROBIN. Joel accepts responsibility for what happened on that unmitigated load of worm-infested feces, but he’s not the only person responsible. On a film of that scale, of that much importance to the studio making it – and to so many merchandizing and financial partners – you end up with a lot of notes.
And of course there is also all of us fans and back seat drivers. I’ve never really wanted to see VENOM on screen, but I do know that there’s a ton of Venom-supporters out there. And they’re right in their fandom to want to see Venom on the screen. They love the art of Venom as well as the character, which I’m not really sure is really a character. I’ve just never really bought the character.
But VENOM’s popularity is unmistakable. It is an iconic and vastly popular character. Everyone knows this. You know it. Marvel knows it. The toymakers know it. Sony knows it. The Video Game makers know it. But there’s a problem.
Sam Raimi doesn’t get or like the character, and in the film it shows. He doesn’t get the Black Suit Saga. He doesn’t get why a goofy, muscle-beach, spandexy, CRITTERS-mouthed tongue-wagging and drooling slobbering character that talks in wavy speak… why is he cool?
I can’t answer that, because I don’t get the character either. I’m sure those of you who are fans love the character, I’m really not trying to be-little Venom, I just don’t get it. You do.
But that’s exactly why someone, that loves the Venom character – and could enthusiastically create that character should have directed a SPIDER-MAN vs VENOM movie… the character should never have been placed into Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN series. Venom is a totally different series. What Raimi has been making is a Silver-Age SPIDEY… a Steve Ditko Dorky Spidey… and That Version of the character, should never have been involved in the retarded black suit saga – and the Venom stuff.
That said – As a non-Venom fan, Raimi perfectly illustrated how stupid Venom is to us people that don’t like Venom.
Another thing that I bet is a STUDIO-note that makes the film slightly ridiculous is all the Mask taking off. I know this wasn’t a Raimi decision, cuz he knows that Spidey is always cooler with the Mask on, but I suppose folks in the executive suites feel people won’t believe it’s Tobey as Spider-man unless he shows his face. Or that Topher Grace is really Venom unless he “de-cloaks” a bit.
Now that I’ve answered some of the criticisms of the film – and why these faults are not as deadly to me, as they seem to some of you – let’s talk about what works.
I love Tobey Maguire as SPIDER-MAN and PETER PARKER. He handles the character with the “gosh” “wowzers” sort of glee that he should as SPIDER-MAN – In my opinion, they’ve never done near enough of the Spidey-esque Errol Flynn-y dialogue where he taunts his adversary – the lingo that Stan Lee gave Web-head that made him so indelible in my memory. BUT – he’s always done very well with the character.
James Franco as Harry / Goblin Jr. In this third film, his character finally works. His interaction with Tobey, after the concussion is perfect. And Tobey’s relief at having his friend back, Kirsten’s liking of him… and his own sense of recovery is wonderful. The all-knowing butler is a bit 1930’s 40’s Poverty Row style character work, but because of that… I dig it. It is just something you don’t see today in film much, but it’s something I love about those old creaky films, and it was so wonderfully distracting in this gargantuan production.
I love Gwen Stacy, just because, well… she’s Gwen Stacy… and if this series continues… and Raimi continues, which I hope he will… I’d love for him to kill off Mary Jane and let Parker make wild sex with the Gwen Stacy before killing her tragically and he ends up with the Russian girl that makes with the cookies and cake.
As usual, the Raimi regs like Bruce and Sam’s brother Ted are great. I actually feel, each of them have their very best scenes of the series in this one. Ted and Bruce made me cackle in the theater.
J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Rosemary Harris, Dylan Baker, Bill Nunn and Cliff Robertson are all dead on perfect as the expanded characters in Parker’s life. It’s such a great character base to put Maguire and the others in.
However, the best work of the film goes to Thomas Haden Church. SANDMAN has always been one of my favorite characters – and while I would have loved the taunting, laughing, maniacally evil version… what Raimi created with Church is a real career criminal. A guy in a fucked situation that can only think of one quick way out of it, and he’s just damn unlucky. The animation and effects work were perfect.
In the end assessment, I had fun with the movie. It isn’t better than SPIDER-MAN 2, but in many ways I do prefer it to the first SPIDER-MAN… mainly because, I never really liked the Goblin’s design, though I loved William Dafoe.
Sony probably won’t learn any lessons on this film, simply because of the money it is raking in, but I hope – if the series continues in Raimi’s hands, that they just let Raimi handle it. Trust his instincts completely when it comes to the villains he wants to play with, because if you just let him turn Dylan into the LIZARD… and have Kraven come to New York as a showman that’s going to capture SPIDER-MAN – we’ll have an amazing film. I agree absolutely with Ambush Bug on that.