By Strider92 13 Comments
Well I was just sitting here and thinking about the job Webb did on ASM. In all fairness the film was good. In my opinion better than Raimi's although Spider-man 2 is almost as good. However I was also slightly disappointed that Webb decided to replay the origin story. Don't get me wrong I understand why he did it. Webb obviously wanted to leave his mark on the franchise and distance it from the original trilogy but doing the origin story again to me seemed slightly unnecessary when you have another option.
As Spider-man's origin story is so iconic a lot of people even if they aren't fans have a general idea of how it plays out so while replaying it does help to set the stage for the new universe it is also not completely necessary due to the general public awareness. I would have taken a leaf out of the the TV series book. Every TV show involving Spider-man animated or not has one thing in common:
Peter has been Spider-man for a long time when the story begins
Its true whether you look at the 90's TAS or the current (slightly cringable) Ultimate Spider-man or any of the others in between the origin story is never shown full on. We get flashbacks and other elements from it: Uncle Ben's death, the famous quote, the burgler etc.... but there is never a full episode devoted to this particular incident and the reason is that it just isn't needed and can easily be summed up in small scenes. So I would not have replayed the origin story but rather summed it up in brief flashbacks of Uncle Ben and the other incidents. You don't need to show people what they have already seen. It also allows the audience to picture their own version of how it may of happened.
This also brings me to my next point.
Another thing I would have preferred is to try and break this trend that Spider-man always has to be a teenager and always has to go through school. Which has happened in both Movies and also in the more modern Spider-man series (Spider-man TNAS, Spectacular and Ultimate). One of the reasons I liked the 90's TAS was because they weren't afraid to use a Peter who was no longer a child (I believe he was in his mid-twenties during TAS?) but still had his sense of humor just with a dose of maturity thrown in. Despite the fact that I didn't like Spider-man Unlimited I did like the fact they stuck with an adult Peter Parker and didn't bow to what has almost become a stereotype in the Spider-man cinematic and TV franchise.
I'm not sure why Marvel feels the need to make him a kid in all mainstream media now (except comics). I assume its because they think it makes him accessible to a younger audience? Well guess what when I saw the 90's TAS I could only have been about 9-10 and not once did I think that it would have been better if Spider-man was my age. The thought didn't even cross my mind. So this nigh-stereotypical view that Spider-man has to always be in his teens for the movie or TV series to work is blatantly wrong. Making him older also frees up his character a lot more. In my opinion this was a missed opportunity on Webb's part. With Raimi's Spider-man having literally just finished everyone had a very good idea of the Spider-man mythos. It was a brilliant chance to take a new swing (pun not intended) on the franchise and not start with the origin story we already know. Unfortunately this was not so.
His personality and job
Setting the film on an older more experienced Spider-man means we lose all that unnecessary stuff like learning curbs etc.. Despite in the comics being a character who is hugely devoted to responsibility (apart from a piece of PIS involving the Devil that we shall all pretend never happened) in the films he is largely portrayed as the opposite. In Raimi's trilogy especially the 3rd he was a bit of a jerk and in ASM as much as I liked it he was still the kid who promised to stay away from someone he loved so they wouldn't get hurt to their dying god damn dad and just let that role off his back a few scenes later. Doesn't seem very responsible to me although it could be argued that in Webb's ASM this was down to Peter being young and impetuous and still having a lot to learn. This is why having an older Spider-man would be great as we skip all the crying and learning curbs he had as a kid allowing his character to develop more rather than isolating him in child form. My two favorite moments in Spider-man's career life where when he was a freelance photographer (mainly because of Jameson) and when he became a science teacher at Midtown High.
As Peter's job as a freelancer is more closely associated with young Peter I would have had him set him up as the teacher in Midtown High. This in itself opens up good character development as Peter didn't like high-school (mainly because of a certain blond bully who is now running around wearing his nemesis) and opens the plot up to the flashbacks I talked about earlier so that his origin can be summed up and him using his sense of responsibility to try and help children in his class that maybe going through the same thing he did. It also opens up his other heroic side outside the costume. Which is quite prevalent in the comics (the best example being in the Shade arc). Putting Spider-man in this position also gives the plot another danger. Despite having best intentions at heart (wanting to pass on his knowledge and help children learn) he has also placed them between himself should a villain track him to his school and burst in on him and his class mid-lesson.
The one problem encountered with setting it with an older Peter is that we have to assume that he has already taken on super-villains in the past. So the villain you want for this film is one who doesn't play a huge part in the Spider-man mythos that he must have already appeared but is however still a very frightening and recognizable villain. To me the guy who fits this bill is the Scorpion. He is not a huge player in the grand scheme of Spider-man but he is none the less a very dangerous opponent. It is also in keeping with the whole animal theme that seems to go on in Spider-man's world (Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Rhino etc...) it also pits someone who has powers similar yet superior to Peter's because of the animal they are derived from. The only thing in the insect would I can think of that seems more dangerous than a spider is a scorpion. How Scorpion can be adapted into the film is also very versatile. He could be a super-powered individual like Peter or he could just be a guy in a robotic suit that grants him enhanced stats. Due to his character versatility where Scorpion comes from is also open. He could be a military experiment conducted by a certain Mr. Smythe, an Oscorp employee or heck even a mercenary hired to capture or kill the poor webhead.
Who should play him? One thing I liked about ASM was that they didn't use a really well known actor as Peter Parker this meant they had more to lose by doing it and the quality of the acting was high. My first thoughts were Timothy Olyphant (Hitman) or Vin Diesel (Fast and Furious) mainly because of their physical similarity to Gargan in the comics but finally I decided on Wentworth Millar (Prison Break). While not as physically muscular as the other two he is in my opinion the better actor and does still bare the resemblance to Gargan. Another thing that people seem to forget is that Gargan isn't exactly a muscle bound freak. In his first appearance he wasn't much bigger than Peter himself which was supposed to be the case. Just like Peter he was supposed to be sleek and agile but also physically stronger. Only recently thanks to Smythe's new suit has he become a hulking metal behemoth.
The Supporting Cast
This part is going to be very brief as the other movies have actually dealt with Peter's supporting cast very well. I have no complaints with how Aunt May has been portrayed by both actress's. Both Uncle Ben's where also great in my opinion so I would not be opposed to either Harris or Field coming back to play Aunt May and Robertson or Sheen returning as Uncle Ben. Not to mention Simmons should definitely come back as J.Jonah Jameson! He was the absolute best thing about the original Spider-man trilogy!
Due to the time-set of the film however Gwen would be a no-go due her dying when Peter was still quite young (this could be revisited over the course of the franchise as flashbacks) so of course Mary Jane is the logical choice. I didn't like Dunst as Mary Jane at all. The Mary Jane in the original trilogy was not the strong confident one from the comics. I won't go into it anymore than that as there was so much I disliked about her portrayal I risk ranting! To put it bluntly we need the Mary Jane who beat the crap out of the Chameleon with a baseball bat, the one who slapped god damn Wolverine and pulled a gun on someone pretending to be her husband. Not one who breaks down and gives up at every turn. She does not need to instantly be Spider-man's love interest in the film either as in the mythos due to her years of living next to Mr. Parker she saw Spider-man climbing into his window multiple times and put two and two together and decided to remain friends but try to keep him at a distance at the same time. So while it is inevitable they will eventually end up together why rush it? You already have enough supporting cast and plot (Peter's teacher job etc...) to keep it interesting. Simply adapt it like the comics where Peter was interested in her but she was trying to keep him at a distance no need to force it.
As to who should play her I honestly had trouble thinking of someone who fitted the profile. Until a few nights ago when I happened to catch a film with some friends called Catch .44 which wasn't a bad film actually. I have a habit after seeing a film I liked of going online and looking at the cast/creative team to see if they have made any other films I might like (you'd be surprised how many films i've found that way lol) anyway one of the characters in the film was played by and actress called Deborah Ann Woll which at the time hadn't stuck me at all then I happened to hit a photo of her during my search for a film and it surprised me how much she resembled Mary Jane physically (the film threw me as she had brown hair in it). So given her performance in that and her physical resemblance to Mary Jane I would go with her. i'll stop with the supporting cast there as this just a basic outline and I can't be bothered to go into detail.
Who plays Peter?
As I said at the very beginning my whole goal is to simply undo the stereotype that Spider-man has to be a teenager to be accessible to the entire audience. Parker is first and foremost an average guy so choosing some muscle bound hunky idiot (that Hollywood seems to be mainly comprised of nowadays) is a complete no-go. Andrew Garfield did stellar work as Peter but he seems to lack the slightly more adult look and while Peter even in comics has a boyish look about him he doesn't look like a teenager which to me Garfield does. However besides the skateboard and brief emo phase in ASM Andrew portrayed him perfectly as the nerd and slightly insecure guy he is. The only guy I could think of who fitted the profile I have in my head is Justin Bartha (National Treasure, The Hangover). For those of you who haven't seen National Treasure Justin's character was the source of comic-relief and the nerd of the group. He basically played Peter Parker but in another film and without the spider-powers. He looks the right age and basically played Peter Parker's character in another movie and did a good job of it at that. I'm confident he could pull Spider-man off.
As I have mentioned multiple times in this post I really really really want to kill this stereotype that Peter has to be a teenager. It's getting repetitive and annoying Spider-man doesn't need to be in high-school to be relatable he just has to be the same character he is in the comics. There is also no need to deviate into another realm of the Spider-verse. Spider-man doesn't need to be a cross-species and this whole complicated idea on how to approach his origin without butchering it can be avoided simply by not doing it as it has already been done. People don't need to see what they've already seen. Nor does the villain need to be someone integrated with Peter's personal life which has been the trend with every villain thus far. For once i'd like to see Peter face someone he has had no previous contact with. This puts him in a position he hasn't been in during any of the previous movies. One where he is facing a complete unknown someone he can't use his knowledge to predict or use against him. Forcing poor old webs to think on his feet.
I am happy with where Webb is taking the franchise and I hope the next two movies he turns out are as good if not better than the first! This is just something that has been nagging at me for a while so I thought i'd get it out in the open.