The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie Analysis | Beyond Pictures
Spider-Man is one of the world’s most endearing comic book characters – and perhaps the most mocked superhero movie franchise. From the Sam Raimi trilogy to Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films, and from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield, B-Mask looks into not why the new movie sucks, but also why the Spider-Man movie franchise just isn’t that captivating.
B-Mask, a long-time fan of the famous wallcrawler, takes a critical look not just at Marc Webb’s latest The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film, but rather the entire Spider-Man movie franchise as a whole. From the misuse of Spider-Man’s love interests and his supporting cast, to the questionable interpretation of some of his most iconic villains, to the outrageous misrepresentation of some of the most pivotal themes and messages of the source material – B-Mask addresses the numerous issues that have plagued the Spider-Man film series for more than a decade now. All of which, unfortunately, have been often overlooked due to the general audience’s desire to see Marvel’s webhead on the big screen. At any cost.
P.S. Don’t worry Dan Slott. You’re safe. For now…
Yes I’m aware this is another video about Spider-Man I am so so sorry
A while back I saw the new Spider Man movie and my reaction was (rich evans) and I said ‘well that was terrible, I should probably make a video talking about why’ but I didn’t need to. Everyone saw the problem here. I would have been adding to the pile of well articulated arguments deconstructing the film, And at first I was like great I can actually relax and buy a fuckin’ boat or something But instead it got me thinking about how this happened. It appears to be the symptom of a far bigger problem, a symptom that’s already being touted as a failure after five films including a reboot- Which at a 500 million dollar gross is nothing short of insane. No, there’s more to this than the new Spider Man movie being terrible. This has been a long time coming. I’m not going to do a review per se, but I am going to try and look at how the point appears to have consistently missed . I know I’ve checked my nerdery at the door for this series a long time ago and this could sound like an entitled rant, but ultimately my concern is in discussing what could make for the most interesting film based on the material available. With that said, Let’s flog this mare.
1. Lights, camera, boring
Sony’s Amazing Spider Man 2 rise of the Silver Spoon feels pretty standard. Action scene. Funny scene. Sad scene. Future movie plug scene(Harry’s face on Garth) Hi there, that’s Felecia, she’s gonna be important laterrrrrrrr You start to feel the beats instead of the film having any kind of natural, unpredictable rhythm. But hey, don’t blame Spidey for this one completely. This is a problem most superhero movies have- their utter linearity. I’m not just talking about the use of the mythic structure- it’s a much more fundamental problem concerning the way they use film as a medium. While I’m not suggesting they’ll ever break cinematic boundaries, nor that they have any obligation to, it’s possible to take an old story and use the medium to renew its value. Of course the material given helps lift that linearity further, which is why I feel Marvel studios is ahead of the curve. Marvel has always been more of a heavyweight than DC in its storytelling origins. DC’s heroes were mostly ideals that we could aspire to be, but Marvel characters were interpretations of who we already were. You might have wanted to be Superman when you’ve only ever really been Shadowcat, or speedball or Rocket Racer okay maybe not that guy. This means that the thematic depth people want to associate with these movies was already ingrained. And while this is the case with the Spider-Man comics, which launched it to popularity, it was never the case with his movies. There was never any renewed understanding of why this franchise stood out at all. Why is that? Well I’m no expert, and I don’t do drugs, but I think this situation has less to do with Spider-Man, and more to do with Batman. That’s right, more fucking history. You have to understand that before the idea of super hero movies in general was cool, Spider-Man and Batman were the poster boys for their respective franchises and represented the arms race of popularity. Never underestimate what Adam West and co. did for the brand- cementing the characters into popular culture by bringing it to a new audience. Never mind that later interpretations were actually closer to the original depiction- the public were surprised when Batman was taken more seriously because that wasn’t the general perception. Spider-man as a comic had become exceedingly popular, to the point where it was the most marketed franchise of Marvels- and I think this is the reason a lot of people were very accepting when the Raimi movie came into being. It was less about getting Spider-man right and more about getting Spider-man on the screen ASAP. And just to put this into perspective, X Men had much more to prove by comparison and still made only a modest profit. The Spider Man movie comes across as a product designed to show how popular the character already was, not to re-establish any of the inherent values that made him popular to begin with. It’s not even subtle when they do it. You can see it there, and there, it’s fucking everywhere. But as you may well understand, this is a very short term goal, because a quality film will always last longer. That’s why Iron Man went from being a second stringer in the Marvel universe into one of the most financially successful movie franchises of the past decade. Iron Man really did have something to prove and showed people that we should expect better. So can it be helped? Spider Man is seen as the people’s hero, and that’s something that can certainly be flirted with cinematically. The first movie sort of tries this with a couple of documentary styled shots detailing the way New York feels about the web head, and I’d like to see this kind of neurotic take tried more often- if you go looking for it, some people are actually making it happen (link to truth in Journalism). You have the advantage of a hero who not only doubts himself constantly, but who’s language is that of the people around him, the people who could be you. This suggests something more akin to, say, Woody Allen’s work, and fuck, if that’s good enough for the terrible Ultimate Spider Man cartoon, then it’s certainly good enough for the movies.
2.- What do I do with this
Spider-Man worked really well as a serial because the conflict was ongoing. Most heroes were dealing with just the villain of the week or some new kind of kryptonite, but Spidey had it rough from the start. The public didn’t trust him, his social awkwardness was impacted by his inability to keep appointments, and his loved ones became vulnerable. Cap doesn’t have to worry about somebody killing the people he loves on a regular basis. Most of his friends are dead. Or Ninjas. And the movies never quite captured that conflict- moreover, the studio seems to have mistaken the actual public that adores Spider Man to the fictional public that populates his movies. Battles are fought for him, rallies are held for him, boss battle arenas are built for him in the street. Guys, I know it;s cool to warm up a crowd, but this isn’t Disneyland. If a giant Rhino robot shows up to kill Spider-Man, it’s probably a good idea to run the fuck away. Aww, look at that, he let the kid have his moment. How ineffective. The audience is not going to appreciate the character more if you project their actual feelings into crowd scenes. If anything you’ll gain more adoration for the character from the audience if you show him as a victim of mistrust and slander. If the in-universe audience loves him, then why the hell would the Bugle hold any kind of credibility? In fact this reduction of conflict has been a running issue throughout the series. Sure, Pete has obstacles to deal with, but it never feels like the characters are ever developing beyond the surface. The first reboot could have been about fatherhood, but the tragedies feel unconnected and nothing is learnt from them making the close proximity of the body count just feel like overkill. Pete has one real friend who is not only his girlfriend but also knows his identity, dissolving 2 potential moments of real tension. Harry Osborn and Peters Parents are both written to be so far removed from his active social life that when they die or turn bad it’s very difficult to feel anything but indifference. when you watch these films, do you really feel that these characters are thematically and contextually intertwined, or are they just there because well, I guess they were in the comics. These films can be about more than that, and it doesn’t have to be very complex or high brow. Winter Soldier manages to combine dozens of characters and plot threads from the source material to help craft a story about loyalty, both good and bad. It doesn’t try to be groundbreaking, but there’s clearly a lot of effort put in to make it more than just a typical blockbuster. BUCKY IS RAIDEN BUCKY IS RAIDEN BUCKY IS RAIDEN
3- Heroes and Villains…but mostly villains
All of the bad guys in these movies are portrayed as hilariously fruity. Can’t think why. Seriously though, this kind of leads in from my last point. It’s not totally bad- Yes, Dub step Unchained is even more goofy than that 70’s Venom, but I felt that they managed to get away with that for the first half of the film. Electro never really had much of a personality in the comics after all. However, the shitty dialogue can’t hide for long, as before you know it the guy goes full tilt action figure like the rest of his predecessors. Mcdonalds probably cheered when that showed up on screen. Electro suffers for the same reason Spidey’s other enemies suffer in this rebooted series which borrows from an equally terrible idea in the comics. I get the insistence on this animal theme- it’s a superficial way of suggesting that visual connectivity equals depth. But it’s a flawed concept and they played the most tenuous card with those fucking eels. Is Mysterio going to fall into a radioactive fishbowl? Is Kraven the Hunter going to merge with Cinemax? What the fuck is the Shocker even? The best way to look at how this can be done right is to look at a rogues gallery that is just as popular as its hero- Batman. Again. Now there’s no relation between clowns and Bats, nor penguins, nor cats, but thematically Batman’s villains are all perfectly married to him. They represent his own personal flaws- and each time he overcomes them, he’s also overcoming his own psyche and developing naturally as a character. Think about it. The Joker represents bruce waynes submission to chaos.Two Face represents his doubts about justice. The Scarecrow represents Batman’s personal fears and so on. I’m not saying that these have always been there, but over time people have almost accidentally discovered these connections and managed to build upon them successfully. And you know what villain they’ve never applied this to? Spidey’s arch enemy, the green Goblin. Nobody can wrap their mind around how to tackle him. They resort to tech, they resort to chemicals, they resort to mutations, but none of it ever comes close to making him feel intrinsically connected to Spider Man. It should be remembered that the Goblin’s identity was hotly contested at the time- Stan Lee argued with Ditko about how the Goblin should be an existing character such as Norman to add drama to the story. Any villainous identity could have been chosen for Norman and it would have had the same dramatic effect. The next logical step was having someone close to Spidey discovering his secret identity- and the fact person also turned out to be Norman was more about narrative convenience than giving into the power of the goblin legacy or…it was in a comic or something. By no means is anything I’m asking a lofty standard- they already half managed this with Dr Octopus in both the comics and the movies. Octavius is essentially an older version of Parker, and in this scene we can instantly see their connection in how they view responsibility. Yeah, I know it might sound horribly simplistic, but thematic links such as responsibility are all you need to start building really dynamic connections between characters. Otto was never told that his brilliance was ever in any doubt which, when he became Doc Ock, heightened his sense of ego and righteous indignation. Peter’s becoming Spider Man threw him into constant doubt after the murder of his uncle. This sense of responsibility applies perfectly to Norman Osborn. Spider Man is a man for a reason- it’s about a kid who grows up and accepts that he needs to take responsibility. Norman is a man who has everything, and who shoulders many responsibilities. But when everything falls apart, instead of accepting that it’s his fault, Norman sticks his fingers in his ears and dresses up like a little kid in a halloween costume. Norman represents what would happen if Peter absolutely abdicated responsibility, and expects other people to fix his mistakes. His revenge is vindictive, childish and perfectly reflects his choice to dress up like an imp. I hope that sounds less contrived than I hate you look at my filthy teeth no honestly that was all I could focus on
4- Fuckingggggg lord
The romance in the Spider Man movies is terrible. Just going to come out and say it. Fucks sake. Neither of these two interpretations have been either interesting or believable. The original trilogy spends too much time being horribly underwritten and hammy, while the reboots actually suffer from trying way too hard in the faux pas acting style that adolescents cry over. They do idiotic shit or carry out creepy behaviour and are rewarded with forgiveness because I guess they’re on the poser or something I dunno. Now in the comics Peter was actually very arrogant- he felt entitled after being bullied and marginalised for so long. Being spider man gave him a sense of power that he could use against his friends, but this was rightly treated as a flaw and rounded him very well. In Superior Spider-Man this is actually mirrored very well when holy shit, I’m defending superior, we’ve reached the fucking end point. Oddly enough, only Spider-Man 3, of all fucking things, has actually shown any kind of competence in showing Pete as a character in need of some growth outside of the well trodden origin story. There’s a great scene where Peter’s ego reaches its peak. He’s become completely self assured. Mary jane has finally had enough when he has the gall to accept Gwen Stacy’s flirtatious sweater advances. You get a sense that Pete has fucked up and that he needs to reach beyond this kind of behaviour. Also this is supposed to be Mysterio. Fucking sold. Which very neatly brings us to Hipster Man and Gerbil face. These two are really capable actors, I like them both, and it’s great that they hooked up, but whoever forgot to discipline them on not letting them get too complacent in their roles is a fucking idiot. The biggest issue I have with this romance in the last two movies is that I’m not watching Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy hook up- I’m watching Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield just being themselves. And it’s really boring. It’s not that I oppose of films revolving around relationships either- there are many films out there that offer incredibly naturalistic relationships that are seriously engaging, between actors who aren’t in love and are…you know…acting. Natural screen chemistry has to be maintained, and while in the first movie it felt more sincere, in the second it felt like they were laughing between takes at how fake this all was. Other actors who have lived together for many years know that they have to put in the work to make it seem effortless to the audience- so well executed that, unlike the blatant Spider-Man quirkiness, you may not have even noticed. (but your brain did.). I’m really sorry that keeps happening. Even so, I said when the first film came out that it was a massive mistake to have Peter reveal his identity as Spidey to Gwen so early on in the franchise- part of the heartbreak of her death in the comics was that she actually never found out. But it also takes away the tension that actually made the romance interesting to begin with. People who are already in comfortable, loving relationships is really not that interesting. Why do you think so many classics ended with happy ever afters? There much more interesting material to be written here, guys. In the comics Pete hung around not just with Gwen but with a whole group of groovy teens, in hip bars and that kind of shit daddy-o (should I feel bad?). With more people involved the dynamics of the romance became more interesting, with a myriad of options for a writer to choose from to direct the drama. The fact that Gwen and Pete are so into each other is kind of sickening, to the point where everyone else is just fodder to be ignored. As a result, when Gwen died I felt nothing but relief, especially since in this version it was entirely her fault thereby absolving mr perfect again. I was tired of these two being so lovesick and I was really glad it all came crashing down. Bite me.
So that’s my take on things as they stand. And I know what you might be thinking- what an elitist snob, such a close minded reviewer, fuck this guy and his standards. Seriously, what would a good Spider-Man adaptation look like anyway? Bingo. Spectacular Spider-Man is the closest I’ve seen to a solid adaptation. Period. This show strives to take everything that audience loved about various versions of the franchise and managed to streamline them into one cohesive whole. The characters are well written, the drama is exciting and it actually manages to be completely unpredictable with aspects of the franchise even fans might be familiar with. But above all, it’s a show that strives to make a quality series above all else. If you haven’t seen in, I emplore you to give it a watch. You may be surprised.
In conclusion I hope this video has helped offer some discussion to those of you trying to figure this whole mess out. But you know at the end of the day maybe a spider man movie isn’t called for just yet. I think the public feels that the franchise has become rather saturated, and I don’t blame them. They’ve spoken through their wallets, and given these guys the chance to re-think their strategy. Perhaps this will encourage them not to rush themselves- to explore ways to creatively engage their audience with this long endured and beloved franchised without losing any financial backing. Perhaps this is a lesson that there is in fact a connection between quality and success in such situations…and maybe we need to cool our boots and reflect on what we can learn.
Or not. Fuck it.