I love Spiderman, love most of his comics, the 1990s animated TV show and to a lesser extent the live action 70s show for all it’s cheesy campy goodness! He is the universal Superhero, as well known as Batman and Superman, probably the most recognisable Marvel character.
It is for these reasons that the live action movies are something of a disappointment to me. Before I continue I will say that this post is just my personal opinion, I know a lot of people will disagree with me on some of these points and that is their right to do so. Plenty of people love every aspect of the Spidey films and some people hate them all, I welcome any and all comments and opinions. I’m not saying I’m right but you know me…I like to talk! So let’s go!
There are some brilliant moments in the franchise, there is no doubt in that. Most of these however, are in the first two Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films. For this post all I’m going to talk about is the negatives, the things that weren’t quite right or I just didn’t like. I’m not analysing the films, just writing them down as I remember them! Stay tuned for a ‘What’s right with Spiderman?’ post!
Tobey Maguire was too old to play Peter Parker. I know he looks young but initially playing a high school student when he was 27 was a bit of a stretch and it meant the series had to rush through Peter’s life with each film! Maguire also seems to find it very difficult to portray any emotion other than confused boredom.
Kirsten Dunst was completely miscast as Mary-Jane Watson. She also can’t display emotion very well even when she is being attacked in an alleyway or falling off a bridge.
Did we really need a montage of Peter drawing his suit ideas?! I understand it’s shows the development of his costume but what we should have had was something akin to The Amazing Spiderman where we see Peter actually build his suit.
I’m not a fan of James Franco and I don’t think he was the right choice for Harry Osborne. He does inject a bit of zest into his relationship with the monotone Peter but other than that something is off. If it wasn’t for a fantastic actor like Willem Dafoe I wouldn’t have had any sympathy for Harry as being the unloved heir to the Osborne throne.
Macy Gray? Seriously?
The Goblin suit was interesting. Yes okay it’s a combat exosuit (which appears to be years ahead of the competition but the military goes for another company purely because he doesn’t like Norman Osborne) but it basically looks like an Incredible Hulk cosplay gone wrong. And what was with the helmet? We assume it was made with the rest of the suit and serves no tactical advantage being shaped like that!!
Organic web shooters. I know in the comics there have been times where Peter has developed organic web shooters but I much prefer the built ones. Not only do they look cooler but it demonstrates Peter’s incredible scientific prowess that he can develop such a thing.
There is only a brief reference to how smart Peter is when he wins loads of awards at graduation. Up to this point and after he is just a dweeb that nobody else really likes. Peter’s mind is one of his strongest assets!
Mary Jane practically offers herself to Peter at the end of the film but it’s then he decides to go all high and mighty, rejecting her over fears she will get hurt.
I know it seems a bit haphazard but that’s how I operate. Don’t expect this article to be succinct and coherent! I like to keep you on your toes.
Spiderman 2 (2004)
Now this film is nearly flawless. I love Spiderman 2 and it is by far my favourite of the franchise. I will however, point a couple of things I didn’t like.
It still has Kirsten Dunst. Her character has a little development but has moved from being the girl next door for Peter to the arm candy of J Jonah Jameson’s son. Clearly not happy in that relationship she still pines for Peter (why is anyone’s guess, he hasn’t given her a good reason to be with him!).
The only time Peter shows any emotion in this entire film is when he trying to stop that train!
Why does Doc Ock steal money from the bank to get the equipment he needs? Why doesn’t he just steal the equipment.
Peter is a dick. Mary Jane outright asks him if he loves her and he says no!! Because he’s a hero!
‘Performance issues’ – apparently your powers can be affected by your emotions. Not a subtle sexual joke here at all!
If Doc Ock wanted to get Peter to call out Spiderman and then use the threat of harming MJ to coerce Peter into doing so, why does he try to kill them with a taxi?
There is no way, especially in this modern age that the people in the train car Spiderman saves wouldn’t have taken a photo of him without his mask. I understand the message but it’s not realistic (yes I know we are talking about a man who can climb walls!)
Again MJ has no reason to leave her fiance, especially at the altar, other than she just didn’t really like him in the first place! Peter has got the girl without even trying! He kissed her in the first film, went to a couple of her shows and that’s it! I think she’s attracted to danger, is it a coincidence that she decides to be with him only after finding out for certain he was Spiderman even though she suspected from the first film already!
It’s difficult to pick holes in this film as it is so so good and I’m sure when I do the ‘What’s right with Spiderman movies’ post I’ll be absolutely gushing all over this film!
Spiderman 3 (2007)
It would be easy to trash this entire film as it is widely considered to be one of the worst comic book movies ever but there are some great bits in it, the birth of Sandman in particular is beautiful. But that’s not what we are here for! We want to pull out the bad bits and boy is there a lot of them!
First and foremost, why does evil Peter have to look like an emo? It’s probably because it’s impossible to make Tobey Maguire look intimidating so they decided to give him eyeliner and hide one of his eyes. He just looks ridiculous.
The street dancing scene is vomit-inducing. Why did this make the final cut? I understand that the symbiote has given him a newfound confidence but this is just wrong on so many levels.
The Jazz club scene is yet another cringey moment. Peter is trying to make MJ jealous by dancing with Gwen in the club where she works, any of the patrons of the club would smell something fishy when he performs feats of agility no human should be capable of. And why doesn’t MJ just leave straight away? More Emo Peter crap.
Topher Grace was another franchise miscasting. Most well known for his geeky character Eric Forman from That 70s Show, while he has had some great dramatic performances it is difficult to take him seriously. We are expected to see him as a realistic rival to Peter, which to be fair is reasonable seeing as Tobey Maguire is a bit of a dweeb, but all they did was create another Peter Parker persona that was a little more cocky. If you’re going to try and frame someone using photoshop, make sure that person isn’t a professional photographer!! Changing the Eddie Brock character was a bad choice, he is supposed to be physically imposing before taking on the symbiote, this gives Venom and automatic advantage over Spiderman.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Gwen Stacey seemed like an odd addition to the film. Clearly the character was used just as a way to pull the fans in as she serves no real purpose in the plot other than to make MJ jealous and be an additional reason for Eddie to hate Peter. This could have been any random woman and the story would have been exactly the same. Maybe if there had been another sequel her character might have been fleshed out a bit more but the franchise had already screwed the pooch by having MJ as Peter’s high school crush, avoiding his first girlfriend in the comics, Gwen, altogether. I also don’t like Dallas Howard as an actress – don’t get me started on Jurassic World.
There is no explanation as to where the Venom symbiote comes from. It’s a meteor from space……that’s all we get. Not even Dr Connors that Peter takes the symbiote to seems more than slightly concerned about something that he confirms is not from this planet! It’s a friggin alien! Why is this not expanded upon? Surely the opportunity was there to say MJ’s ex-fiance could have brought it back (because he was an astronaut) or at least it was drawn to this planet by something. Nope, nothing, nada.
I liked Sandman as a character and generally the effects used to display his abilities were great but why oh why did they have to retcon the Uncle Ben story to include Flint Marko/Sandman in it?! In case you didn’t know, it turns out Marko was the one who killed Uncle Ben the night Peter off wrestling. Yes this gives Peter the incentive to go after and seemingly kill Sandman but it is a needless story change!! It reduces the impact of Peter accidentally killing the first guy in the first film and makes no real sense. Marko wants money to pay for his sick daughters treatment, there is no need for him to ally with Venom against Spiderman, especially because as soon as Venom is killed Marko apologises and retreats. The character was poorly written and was superfluous to the plot.
When Peter meets Harry’s Goblin Jnr for the first time it should be an intense action packed fight across the city. Instead we get Peter trying to keep hold of a wedding ring while Harry beats the crap out of him. Instead of reaching with your hand shoot out a web you fucking moron!!!! As it is the fight is boring. It was interesting to see the improvements Harry had made to his father’s Goblin gear, even though Harry is never shown to have the intelligence to do such things. And there is no spectacular ending to the fight, Peter clotheslines him and gives him amnesia!
Harry’s flip flop feelings towards Peter/Spiderman were annoying. Some of the time he had amnesia, which I’m still not convinced was genuine, then he wants to kill Peter, then he wants to make Peter suffer but not kill him, then he doesn’t want to help Peter, then he does, then he dies. There was no need for all the back and forth. Giving him amnesia just made his arc unnecessarily long. Just go straight into the trying to destroy him part!!!
Yes unfortunately there is more Kirsten Dunst doing her usual non-emotive whiny talking and being the damsel in distress all the time. I’m starting to think Raimi hated her almost as much as I do. Why doesn’t she tell Peter what Harry is trying to do? There is no reason for her not to tell him the truth!
The awkward scenes with the Landlord’s daughter were just weird. Were they trying to show a flip of the Peter/MJ dynamic from the first film where Peter is in love with her but she doesn’t notice? Why are this character even needed?! The landlord I can understand as it’s another of the problems Peter has to deal with but his daughter has more screen time. That cake did look good though!
Venom just looks shit. I don’t really know what I was expecting and I guess the character is kinda difficult to make believable on screen but this was woeful. When he is full Venom you can excuse it a little because it’s an entirely CGI creation but when the face is pulled back to show Topher Grace it looks ridiculous. Why did they feel the need to give Eddie sharp teeth after bonding with the symbiote? Why was the texture of the body the same as the ‘webs’ it uses instead of being smoother more akin to the Spidey suit that it took inspiration from. Poor effects, stupid ‘alien’ voice and inconsistent power level made Venom a very disappointing presence in the film.
The Osborne family butler is the biggest dick in the entire franchise. He knew from the day Spiderman returned Norman Osborne’s body back to his house that Norman had been killed by his own glider. Why has he kept it secret for so long, especially seeing as Harry has not being subtle about blaming Spiderman for his father’s death and wanting him dead. It is this that changes Harry’s mind after Peter asks him for help. If this news had been given to Harry earlier this and the previous film would have been wildly different! Harry would have no motive to go after Spiderman/Peter!!!
Harry’s sacrifice was needless. Just chuck a bomb in there like you had been all day Harry! Peter is shown to be strong enough to break Venom’s webs so why doesn’t he do it to save his friend? I know why, because Raimi wanted to have Harry die in the the same way his father did, impaled by his own glider. Peter doesn’t even flinch as Venom is flying towards him and Harry is way too far away from him to step in between the combatants!
Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are possibly two of the worst cryers in the world. It is unwatchable, why are they making their faces look like that?!?!
Finally the final scene of the movie. Peter returns to MJ’s jazz club and they dance?! (showing no emotion I might add) All is forgiven? Peter you were a dick to her and even hit her at one point? Even before you got the black suit you kissed Gwen Stacey in the upside kiss in front of the whole city in the biggest dick move ever! Why should she ever want to be with you again? The club probably has some bad memories associated with it for her now! And that’s the ending of the film!!!!!! What?!?!?!?!?!?!
Phew! I’ve finished bashing that film against the wall and trust me I could have gone on but I just wanted to pull out my main issues with it. Time for a reboot? Yeah go on then. What does the franchise have to offer next?
The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
After the hot mess that was Spiderman 3, Sony decided to go back to the drawing board and try again. What we got was an updated, trendy Peter Parker, taking its influences from other Spiderman stories and mixing in a health dose of new stuff. The Amazing Spiderman was the first Spidey film to come out after the inception of the MCU. In between Spiderman 3 and the Amazing Spiderman we were treated to Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. The world was loving superhero movies and now it was Sony’s turn again!
Overall I liked the film. Spiderman was cooler, wittier and more Spider-like in his movements and abilities which was fantastic. It was good to get a fresh take on the character and some things that went wrong in the previous iteration were corrected but like all films, there are some things that missed the mark. So here’s what I didn’t like about the Amazing Spiderman!
A new villain was something I was pleased to see but the Lizard looked like one of the Koopa Troopers from the Super Mario Brothers movie. Rhys Ifans gave a great performance as Dr Curt Connors but he was dragged down by his reptilian alter ego. Poor visual effects and inconsistent power levels really turned me off this character. The only saving grace were the fight scenes with Spiderman, these we entertaining due to the agility, skill and reactive combat between Spidey and Lizard, not because Lizard was a good villain.
What about his plan? His experiments on himself have turned Dr Connors into this wild monster so he decides to give everyone else in the city the same treatment. Why? What does he get out of it? Does he just want some lizard friends? I would understand if he knew the lizard toxin would kill everyone but it doesn’t, it just starts to give everyone scales. This is one occasion when we needed a traditional ‘destroy the city’ plan from the villain.
The mutated rat lizard was one of the worst effects I’ve ever seen. Did we need to have this as Peter’s realisation that Connor’s formula didn’t work. Surely we could have just had Peter see Connors himself transform!
Peter is a dweeb, a nerd, a geek whatever you want to call him. This film made him cool and trendy. He appears to be an outcast by choice but stands up for a kid being bullied and catches the eye of the popular girl instead of having to woo her! That doesn’t sound like any high school loser I knew! He has great hair, uses a skateboard and like photography, he just sounds like a normal guy.
Speaking of his camera, if you’re going to set a trap for a bad guy, secreting your camera in a place to take a photo of him, take you name label off the damn thing! We have seen in the Raimi films that Peter sets his cameras up to catch frames of Spiderman, this just felt like a cheap way for Lizard to find out Spidermans identity. What’s the point of wearing a mask if you’re going to leave personalised equipment around!
I was not a fan of the changes to “with great power” speech. I think they should have kept it the same as before as that is something that runs to the core of Peter, the words he lives by, instead we got a slightly confusing interpretation, “If you have the ability to do good things you have a moral obligation to do those things. Not choice, Responsibility” or something along those lines. I remember groaning when hearing this line, I’m all in favour of reboots offering up something different but that is a sacred line that should not be tampered with (it was changed again for the MCU Spidey’s first appearance in Captain America Civil War, but we won’t go into that!)
Isn’t it lucky that all the crane operators in the city are nearby their machines and willing to help Spiderman fight a lizard creature that they know little to nothing about, and come to think of it, they barely know about Spiderman either (bar one guy who’s son Spidey saved earlier in the film), the crane operators have no motivation help Spidey let alone know what he actually needs them to do. And how convenient it is for all the cranes to be situation around the same road!! I get that the scene is supposed to show that the city if behind Spiderman but they don’t really have a reason to be, he is new to the game, hasn’t saved many people and no one knows what the Lizard is doing.
The entire ending of the film is a misstep. Peter promises Gwen’s father that he will stay away from her to keep her safe. After avoiding the funeral and breaking up with her, he just randomly decides “nope, fuck it, I want to be with her” Why put that promise in there? Was it just so you could get a forced one liner from Peter prompting a smirk from Gwen? She should be pissed that he messed her about so much! Oh well, all’s fair in love and comic books I suppose.
The Amazing Spiderman wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t say it’s on par with Spiderman 2 but was a huge improvement on Spiderman 3. Could the favourable gradient curve continue throughout the inevitable sequel? Remember, more MCU movies are coming out all the time to Sony need to step up their game!
Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014)
Oh dear oh dear oh dear…..Sony had seemingly done the impossible with The Amazing Spiderman, they had won back a lot of the audience Spiderman 3 threw away. If only they had kept the momentum going. There are some great moments in The Amazing Spiderman 2 but it too suffers from overcrowding and poor writing. Moments of comic book genius like an almost perfect replication of Gwen Stacey’s death, are drowned out by an over reliance on the attempts to build a bigger universe! Here’s the things I didn’t like.
There were too many villains…again! We have Harry Osborne who starts off being the concerned distant friend to Peter then develops into a paranoid psychopath willing to do anything to stave off the disease his father passed down to him. We also have the nerd turned supervillain Electro who looks like a poor mans Dr Manhattan. Donald Menken, the guy who has been running all the secret programs inside Oscorp and finally Aleksei Sytsevich aka The Rhino, but we’ll get to him later. You thought Spiderman 3 was crowded with 3 villains!
The goblin disease was a little ridiculous. Or rather Harry’s fear of it. It was established that his father was dying, then dies from it, but he is in the latter stages of his life any way. What makes Harry think he has to rush to find a cure if it took 60+ years for his dad to succumb to its effects? I guess it matters not, it was probably just an excuse to inject himself with experimental drugs and accidentally accelerate the disease turning him into full psycho Goblin. Aside from the glider, this Goblin pales in comparison to Willem Dafoe’s performance.
I don’t have a problem with Max Dillon, the nerdy, bullied computer nerd from Oscorp who develops and heavy man crush on Spiderman after his life is saved. IMy issue is with how the character was written. Was there a need to have him be the absolute extreme nerd stereotype? All this did was make his transformation (with the help of some extra special electric eels – which I quite liked) less believable. He is manipulated into fighting Spiderman just because he wants a friend?! Really? He look weird too and apparently developing almost unlimited electrical powers enables you to fix your teeth! Based on some of the things we saw him do in the film Electro should have been able to snuff Spiderman out instantly!
What was with the dubstep fight scene? It looks really cool! The effects were really good and the combat engaging. Seeing Spiderman literally fighting for his life against an enemy that can instantly teleport and fire super hot bolts at him was great. The music distracted you from the action. I know dubstep was popular at the time but it is not something that fits in a modern movie. The music is supposed to compliment the visuals, not drown them.
Rhino is probably the most underused villain in Spidey’s cinematic history. Teased as a random thug at the beginning of the film to be brought back right at the end as a tease for the Sinister Six was a great idea but it was nothing more than a tease. The final scene of the film has Peter squaring off against the Rhino in what was sure to be an epic fight but we cut to black just as things kick off! The mech Rhino suit looked great and moved as you would expect. It would have been a great battle and I’m sure we would have seen more of Rhino had the Sinister Six film got off the ground, but we had already seen this scene in all the bloody trailers!! We should have had more! What is Paul Giamatti doing in this role?! He is much better than this!
As I’ve already said, Gwen’s death scene was almost perfect. Even down to the clothes she is wearing, it could have been ripped right off the page. It was a shock when it happened and I remember thinking “No, they didn’t actually just do it!?” I will give Sony credit for that, they killed off a major character and it was hugely impactful. I still can’t decide whether she smacked her head on the ground or her neck snapped, either way it was brutal and the the heartbreak on Peter’s face looks 100% genuine. Why then did they taint the sequence by having Peter’s webbing forming a mini-hand reaching out to grab her?! I almost laughed out loud at it, it was utterly preposterous!
We didn’t need to see Peter’s parent backstory. We didn’t need to know they were escaping with some super secret papers/knowledge. It added nothing to the story and would have been much better left unknown. Just keep with the car accident story rather than an epic fight in a falling plane! The secret subway lab was a bit of a joke too. Was Peter’s dad actually a scientific James Bond?! I have a feeling the scenes with Peter investigating his parents disappearance were put in just to give him something to do while Harry and Electro got all chummy.
I hated the Mr Stacey visions. Was this supposed to show that Peter is feeling guilty for breaking the promise he made to Gwen’s dad? Or he is questioning being Spiderman altogether. Seemingly they affect Peter more than you would expect as it makes him push Gwen away….again! Peter is an absolute dick to her in this film. She has the opportunity to advance her education and career, he tries to guilt trip her, breaks up with her, stalks her, gets back together with her, says he’ll go wherever she goes and then she dies. Good job Pete!
So there you have it, I thought I’d get some of my issues with cinematic Spiderman off my chest before experiencing his latest outing. Spiderman:Homecoming looks like it might be the film we need after all the missteps and if his performance in Civil War is anything to go by we won’t be disappointed.
Feel free to tell me I’m wrong about any of these points and I know I’ve left tonnes of things out but I don’t want to keep you reading forever! There’s films to see, books to read…..oh yeah and life to be had!
What do you think of the Spiderman franchise? Any glaring issues I’ve missed? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let us know in the comments.