Flashback Review: Spider-Man

1962 covered many important events, Marilyn Monroe tragically died of an overdose, JFK announced the resolution of The Cuban Missle Crisis, Bob Dylan released his first album, Taco Bell was established, the very first Wal-Mart opened in Rogers, Arkansas, Johnny Carson worked full time on The Tonight Show, Tom Cruise (one of my favorite actors) was born on the exact year & David Lean’s Oscar winning epic, “Lawrence Of Arabia” came out in theaters.

Comic Book writers Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko, attempted to come up with ideas on creating more superhero characters due to popularity with Marvel’s first ever superhero team, Fantastic Four at the time. During the decade, they created the following characters who are now global icons including Ant-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, Professor X, Jean Grey, etc. Out of all of them, their infamous creation debuted in August 1962 under the comic book anthology series “Amazing Fantasy,” is the one and only web slinging wallcrawler, Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The character became a game changer in comic book history due to a variety of reasons, most kid/teen superheroes filling in as sidekicks, Spider-Man had to rely on himself without help, learning to use his powers without a mentor, an outcast who can relate to readers.

As a result of the reasons why he became so popular to comic book readers, the webhead gained reputation over the years with an animated television show like the original 1960s with the catchy theme song, spawning countless merchandise ranging from t-shirts, action figures, a spin-off series based on cult classic villain Venom, and another animated cartoon series from the 90s. I’m gonna confess, the first time I’ve heard of Spider-Man, it was the 90s animated show on Fox Kids, not the 60s show or comics, it was the one that got me into Marvel along with the animated X-Men cartoon which also aired on Fox Kids. After many years of attempting to develop a feature film based on Marvel’s mascot, Sony Pictures selected James Cameron’s “Film Treatment,” (which is a blueprint in screenwriting terms) based on the titular character, but they didn’t hire him.

Prior to hiring Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead series, Darkman) to direct on board, several directors were given the opportunity to make this movie such as M. Night Shyamalan, Ang Lee, (later went on to direct Hulk) Michael Bay, Tony Scott, (Ridley Scott’s late younger brother) Chris Columbus, and Roland Emmerich. Probably got rejected due to his epic fail for directing the 1998 remake of Godzilla. Mr. Cameron’s script was heavily changed by screenwriter David Koepp, (also wrote Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, Carlito’s Way) to ensure nothing is padded out. For example, Dr. Octopus (future villain in Spider-Man 2) was gonna be the 2nd second main villain next to Green Goblin and removing Cameron’s action sequences he originally envisioned.

The film came out on May 2002, it became a critical and commercial success, spawning two sequels until Sony rebooted the series in 2012 and again when they made an agreement with Disney to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU for short. I have decided to look back at the films to prep up for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a video game coming out in 2018 on the PS4.

This review contains no SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read it. Does the original Spider-Man movie still hold up? Well, let’s find out shall we my fellow geeks?

Amazing & Unamazing Elements

Amazing: The Main Cast including Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe & Kirsten Dunst all did a great job on their performances.

Fun Fact: Before Tobey Maguire passed the audition, Actors who were considered to play the lead character are, Leonardo DiCaprio, (my favorite actor of all time) Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Edward Furlong, and Wes Bentley. I guess the whole casting process is like the “American Idol” of auditioning for a superhero film because playing a hero or villain is the role of a lifetime.

Supporting Cast such as J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, James Franco as Harry Osborn, Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben, and Rosemary Harris as Aunt May, all did a great job for their respective performances.

Sam Raimi did an awesome job directing. He’s also a Spider-Man fan. You can tell he’s very passionate retaining the source material.

Character Development focusing on Peter Parker with his superhero persona, a metaphor for the rite of passage. As the film progresses, he learns to use his powers for good to protect civilians. Cue Uncle Ben’s words of wisdom. “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.”

Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton’s Batman) orchestrated an unforgettable score.

The Chemistry between Peter & Mary Jane felt natural. Not awkward or cringeworthy like Anakin & Padme’s scenes from “Attack Of The Clones.”

Action Sequences were stunning which kept me entertained.

Cinematography was good without suffering from technical difficulties.

David Koepp wrote unforgettable dialogue from the hero and villain. Don’t forget J. Jonah Jameson dissing on Spider-Man. J.K. Simmons was born to play the role as Jameson.

The Best Line in my opinion is this bit. “In spite of everything you’ve done for them, eventually they will hate you.” I’m giving this line Bonus Points for giving me chills down my spine!

The Three Act Structure/The Hero’s Journey was handled carefully in way of a DNA chromosome connected piece by piece.

One important character pulled a jump scare on me. It was unexpected.

Sam Raimi’s good luck charm, Bruce Campbell, makes a cameo. In almost every Marvel based film, Stan Lee appears. Lucy Lawless shows up as a random bystander. The late Randy Savage appears as Bonesaw. A then unknown Octavia Spencer makes a tiny appearance.

Peter’s Spider-Sense is heavily based on the “bullet time” or slow-motion sequences from “The Matrix.” I guess the producers of the movie must’ve asked The Wachowskis some advice on how to make an effective bullet time sequence. Keep in mind, it was the early 2000s back when The Matrix was parodied or referenced.

The Tone manages to balance between serious and funny moments, felt like the animated 90s TV show that used to air on Fox Kids, as opposed to a serious adaptation on most superhero films.

The First Act retells the origins of Spider-Man taken from his first appearance.

Without giving anything away, a pivotal part parallels between real life & fiction. New Yorkers unite to support Spider-Man. It’s a metaphor reflecting 9/11. Spider-Man represents America due to his red and blue costume, while Green Goblin represents Al Queda and terrorism. It’s not shoving it in your face, this represents a message to humanity that we Americans are not cowards, we’re strong individuals helping one innocent life to another.

Say what you will about Nickelback, Chad Kroger sings song, “Hero.” It won “Best Video From A Film” at The MTV Video Music Awards.

The Spider-Man theme song from the 60’s cartoon is played during the final seconds of the end credits sequence.

Marvel took a lot of guts to mock DC Comics. If you’re an ultra DC fanboy, don’t be offended. This is just a jab to make fun of the rival due to the failure of “Batman & Robin” and Shaq’s film “Steel.” Not kidding Shaquille O’ Neal was in a superhero film.

Unamazing: Most of the Visual Effects didn’t quite live up. Let’s face it, the film was released in 2002, C.G.I. was still developing like a kid before it reaches adulthood.

The Final Verdict: A-

When I was a kid, I really enjoyed it and as an adult, I still like it. One tiny flaw is all I can find. No biggie. If you’re a first time Spider-Man fan, I highly recommend the one that started it all.

P.S. Thank you Sam Raimi, and the cast for introducing the character on the big screen, it was worth the price of admission.

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