I grew up on on the 1994 Animated Spider-Man TV show. While I do not remember some things, I remember the heart and the basics of what made Spidey. This is long overdue, but I’d like to take the time to compare the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series with the newly released Marc Webb’s take on the web-slinger.
Tobey Maguire Vs. Andrew Garfield
To me, Peter has always been the nerd (well, technically he ALWAYS is), but there’s a certain kind of nerd look that can be pulled off without the pocket protectors and tucked in shirts. It’s the face and mannerisms.
Tobey depicts a very awkward and quirky nerd with a love for science (he’s genuinely excited about the school field-trip where he gets the spider bite. Attends Octavus’s seminar with glee!) and holding torch for a girl that is way out of his league. He’s quiet and looks non-threatening and average – something I thought the cartoon was a bit ridiculous at. By way of looks, I don’t find him half bad. He’s capable of some amazing derp-faces.
Andrew was a more appealing Peter for the ladies and possibly more relating to the modern guys and that’s why I think it’s hard to be hard on him as a Peter. He comes off more as a Hipster than geeky nerd with his stutters in front of a girl and skateboarding. However, his love for science was not very well represented in his character at all. We saw him do some homework, and rather than finding a clever way to be in intern to get into Oscorp, he sneaks in instead. Rather than making his webshooters from his own making, he buys it from Oscorp. The algorithm he gives to Connors was just from memory from his father’s that he claims he came up with.
Winner: While Andrew is a cuter face and is generally adorable, I’m going to give this one to Tobey for being truer to the character.
Spider-Man & Powers
Tobey Vs. Andrew
Toby’s road to Spider-Man is a more canon and coherent one. He discovers his abilities and starts by having fun with them – “GO WEB!” Differing from comic to comic, I like that his webs actually come from his wrists. The Spider Sense alerts him to incoming punches and danger.
Then it gravitates into using them to impress MJ and signs up for a ring match. He blames himself for his uncle Ben’s death and decides from there that he will apply what his uncle taught him “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
With his new destiny, he begins to save people and stop robberies. He gains a public appreciation. He’s funny and goads the crooks and villains as he should.
Andrew’s spider bite was the weakest of the two, although it had so much potential to be much more. With that room full of spiders, anyone could have easily walked in there and gotten bitten and we’d have several spider-people running around New York. Unfortunately, this is a plot point that seemed to have vanished from the trailers to the final product. We were lead to believe that Peter was special, like his parents experimented on him or something.
He’s on the subway and the only time we see his Spider Sense is when passenger goes in for a punch. Hilarious, but poor execution in relation to the rest of the movie when it’s never brought up again. However, he wakes up the next morning and we see several hilarious instances of strength.
Uncle Ben’s death is not what drives him to becoming Spider-Man in order to help the innocent – but revenge for his death. An interesting twist, but it is left unresolved. It isn’t until he saves a child on the bridge that he decides to help people. But due to the NYPD and the news, he is not well-received by the public. We don’t even have Jamieson to throw in the mix!
Winner: I’m giving this to Toby. Not just because he’s more canon, but because his motives are more genuine and sympathetic. However, Andrew looks way niiiiice in the Spider-Man suit. So, uh, point to Tobey, and half to Andrew?
Mary Jane Watson Vs. Gwen Stacy
Mary Jane is the more standard iconic love-interest that happens in Spidey-verse. As for the Raimi movies, I found her to be nothing special. But I guess there are boys that love the preppy cheerleader type. I liked that she aspired to be an actress. I enjoyed the childhood friendship and the crush that Peter had on her since he was little. While I see why, I frown that she really only started liking Peter when she started comparing him to Spider-Man. Which makes her come off as shallow.
Gwen was just fun. Or maybe it was just Emma Stone, I don’t know. But she was attracted to Peter before she knew he was Spider-Man, or at least took notice of him on her own. I also liked that he told her he was Spider-Man so early on. She’s funny and smart. A good head on her shoulders and genuinely was interested in talking to Peter before he was running around in spandex.
Green Goblin Vs. The Lizard
You can’t beat a villain being the father of your best friend. I also find it ironic that most Spider-Man villains are in a corporation and something goes horribly wrong with an experiment and they are about to get the boot then they go to crazytown. I think my love for Norman Osborn/Green Goblin from the Raimi film is because William DeFoe plays the best creeps.
As for Dr. Connors/Lizard, I think he’s more sympathetic. He lost an arm and is experimenting on ways to grow it back. And as a result, others want it too (Norman Osborn who is dying for one… of which we NEVER SEE, but that’s a whole other issue entirely). In desperation he injects the formula into himself and momentarily gets his arm and then mutates into a giant lizard.
Not that killing people straight up is any better than turning them into mutant lizards, but their descent into madness is pretty similar.
Due to the portrayal of Connors being a more likeable character, the winner for this round goes to him.
While Raimi’s seems to focus more on comic book accuracy and not shying away from the corny and goofy, which I admire, there’s some instances where the cast was lacking. Not that I expect Webb’s cast to get any academy awards, but the emotions were much stronger. Webb wins this round.
At the time, Raimi’s Spider-Man was certainly amazing. The action and explosions and the web-slinging was really really cool! There’s only so much you could do to not make the Green Goblin look like a Power Ranger. Spider-Man’s suit was nice.
But technology has come a long way in ten years and everything has been refined. Even if Webb has only done music videos and one other movie, I thought the effects on The Lizard and Spidey’s suit was stellar.
This one is a bit unfair because of the time of releases. I’ll give half a point each.
If you couldn’t tell by now, Raimi’s has the strongest story. I hate to keep bringing up the canon/accurate argument, but Webb got rid of what made the ‘Untold Story’ untold and didn’t add any value to the Spider-Man franchise. Only make some loyal fans scratch their heads in confusion. Because no matter what Spider-Man universe you are reading, there is always certain aspects that remain constant. Raimi’s telling was fairly standard as it was bringing Spider-Man to the big screen and didn’t steer out of the norm and that made the first and second movie very tight.
Webb on the other hand wanted to be more edgey and serious. Which isn’t necessarily a bad call. Think about it – movies and comics have gotten less goofy and campy over the years and people want emotion and something to feel attached to and tends to give the hero some angst and tragedy so you somehow identify more with them. Not saying you couldn’t otherwise, but that’s the society we live in. However, the film had several plot holes thanks to a lot of what was going to make it a hopefully interesting Spider-Man, vanished, and it suffered from it.
General Spirit of Spider-Man
Hands down to Raimi. Spider-Man has been and always will be a loveable happy nerd, craking jokes at the badies and sciencing. And Raimi kept that heart and spirit while still getting serious when it needed to. Some may like Webb’s more because it wasn’t so corny, and well, that’s fine. I can’t fault you for that, but as far as canon goes, Raimi wins at being the closest to the source.
If you’ve been keeping track, the points are as:
Raimi’s Spider-Man – 5
Webb’s Amazing – 4.5
As you can see, it was pretty close. You can’t always have the best of both worlds. What’s more important; comic book accuracy or elements that make most movies nowadays the best they can be?
I’ll use X-Men: First Class to illustrate the above point. I was on the verge of refusing to see this movie because I was so infuriated that Fox would dare call this movie First Class when the only characters that are the First X-Men was Beast. I was looking forward to Fox fixing what it had done with its first go in 2000.
Never have I been happy to be proven wrong. First Class was a fantastic film. It was so good my bitterness went away as I watched it. Sure I have some problems still with it (maybe this will deserve its own post at some point), but as far as a superhero origin movies go, it was stellar. The best I took from it was the Xavier/Magneto relationship. It depicts a wholesome relationship only to be broken by differing views in a successful way. Haven’t met any X-Men fans that can deny this.
You could also say this about the Nolan Batman series – It took some elements of canoncy and created an entirely new thing and made a successful film as a whole.
Back to Amazing: It got rid of what would have made it REALLY good and coherent. I liked it – seen it twice – but because it suffered too much from trying to be too different I find Raimi’s take on Spider-Man the better universe.
Someday I hope a movie adaption of a comic book will come along and everything will be perfect.