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Tuesday, August 5, 2014



EDITORIAL: Why Not to Hate AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2


Over the past few months, since the film’s release, I have heard a lot about Amazing Spider-Man 2. I have heard a lot of good things from the general audience, kids, teenagers, and adults alike, but from the comic book community I've heard about 75% bad & just plain nasty (and unnecessary) comments about the film, and quite honestly I’m getting sick of it. So seeing as how there’s all this new news about the franchise (Sinister Six, Venom, and an unknown female character all getting their own spin-off films before Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018) and the film coming out on Blu-Ray/DVD in two weeks, I thought that I would write up an article explaining my frustrations with these “haters” and expressing my love for the film and this new franchise.

The comments I've read and continue to see around the internet about Amazing Spider-Man 2 go like this:

“That film is complete and utter shit!”

“That movie has crappy dialogue and I didn't care about any of the characters or subplots!

“I hated the first one so I didn't even bother seeing the second one because it’s complete shit like I said it would be.”

These comments go on and on and on and they're all the same.

To be completely honest, I LOVE The Amazing Spider-Man 2! In fact, I'm almost to the point where I truly believe that it is the BEST Spider-Man film out there, including Sam Raimi's beloved Spider-Man 2. As someone whose favorite superhero consists of three superheroes, them being Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, I’m slightly biased and will defend each of these heroes until the day that I die. However, I don’t defend works like Superman III, Batman & Robin, and/or Spider-Man 3; therefore I truly do believe that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is being mistreated.

As I continue on with this little tangent I want to go through each aspect of the film that people have problems with, including costume, characters, music/score, subplots, and so on. These are the parts of the film that I truly enjoy and want to defend as I see not only a lot of mindless/thoughtless hate for them, but just plain disrespect.


The Costume: Believe it or not I have heard complaints about the suit from Amazing Spider-Man 2… I honestly don’t even know how to respond to these people who make these complaints; I mean really it’s the most ridiculous thing you could complain about with this movie. Spider-Man’s suit in The Amazing Spider-Man I can understand people complaining about (to an extent), and people did! And Sony/Marvel heard you, so they decided to give Spider-Man a suit that looked… Wait for it… EXACTLY like the comic book version of the suit!!! (Minus the logo, but that’s to be expected with it being the new franchise logo and all). Spidey's costume in this film leaps directly out of the pages of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man comics as well as the Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man books! I mean, I don’t understand why the hate! During the Raimi trilogy, people complained that the eyes were silver and not white, during the first in the Marc Webb franchise people complained that his eyes were yellow/gold and not big enough. Now, with the eyes being white and large, people still complain about this suit!!! I mean seriously? Comic book movies are called “adaptions” for a reason… The Dark Knight, The Avengers, Man of Steel, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and even Watchmen aren't all EXACTLY “comics accurate” (some are really close, and others are further away)! So why is Spider-Man expected to be 100% comics accurate as well?


The Characters: This is also one I truly don’t understand… What’s wrong with the characters exactly? Aunt May is just like the version we see in the Ultimate Universe. She’s some-what tech-savvy, she’s modern, she’s a bit younger, and she keeps secrets like every other woman her age on the planet. She’s like any other adoptive mother who just wants her child to love her for who she is and what she’s done for him/her and not to worry about their birth parents. I mean how is that bad characterization when that’s how people in our world today are? Speaking of, what’s wrong with characters like Peter Parker or Gwen Stacey? I've heard the argument that Peter is “too cool”, but you see that he has problems talking to girls, he’s a nerd, he’s bullied at school (by Flash Thompson, as seen in the first film), he loses the girl of his dreams because of guilt and is still in love with her, and I could go on. Although this version of Peter tries to make it look like everything’s okay by looking “cool”, you can see that he has some serious issues! I mean, his girlfriend dies because his best friend kills her! None of this is bad characterization; this is just Peter Parker’s life! This is how Stan Lee originally created the character, to have terrible luck, to have ups and downs, to be awkward around girls and other people, to be a normal human being! Andrew Garfield plays this perfectly and shows every human side of Peter Parker, and then shows the larger-than-life side of Spider-Man, funny quips and all!

Now with Gwen, I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with her in this film because she was perfect. From her writing to her portrayal by Emma Stone, she was just brilliant in this film. The chemistry between Peter and Gwen in this film is incredible! “That’s just because Garfield and Stone are dating in real life.” Yes, but no. It’s because they’re both brilliant actors. Stone is that way with everyone she’s on screen with in other films as well. As for Garfield, his chemistry with Stone is rivaled by his chemistry with Sally Field’s Aunt May, who he shares just as heartfelt scenes with. Not to mention the scenes between Peter and Harry, between Spider-Man and Electro, and between Spider-Man and the kid at the end of the film. I mean, Garfield just knows how to play the stage! Now, as for all the dialogue that people complain about, here's the thing, that's how teens/young adults talk nowadays! We make jokes all the time, we are awkward when talking to girls or other people we don't know, we can be sappy romantics and we can be unaware of our surroundings. Yes, Peter is at the extreme end of that spectrum, I know I'm not like that all the time, but he's definitely representing the modern generation through the way he talks, as is Harry and Gwen. Gwen when she gives her Valedictorian speech where she's the voice of reason and Harry on his pursuit to live longer and not miss anything. This film is almost, quite honestly, a social commentary on the side!


Now, I can admit that the character of Max Dillon was a bit strange, but almost all of Spider-Man’s villains in the comics are just about that sick in the head. I mean, has there been one villain in ANY Spider-Man film yet who hasn't talked to themselves in a way that would make Gollum cringe? The answer is “no”. And I can also admit that Harry jumping from not getting Spider-Man’s blood to being the Green Goblin was also a bit of a stretch, but you also have to realize how psychotic the Osborn family is, both in film, animation, and comics! Harry was in a desperate situation and if you ask yourself the question, “how far would you go to save your life?” I guarantee that there wouldn't be an answer, because most people would do anything. Harry just had the resources to do more than most would, and in-so-doing that made himself insane to the point where he went after Spider-Man, and on some level won.

On the subject of Harry, I've heard a lot of complaints from people saying that Peter and Harry becoming friends again after around a decade of not seeing each other is a stretch and too “unbelievable”… Well first of all you’re watching a movie about a guy who got bit by a spider which gave him superpowers, but okay… Secondly, I had a friend back in 6th grade that I was best friends with, but about halfway through 7th grade we split because I got together with a girl and he got new friends. It was stupid, but hey that’s middle school. We went to the same high school and said “hi” whenever we saw each other, but it wasn't until second semester senior year (about 6 years later) where we were on the same school trip to Israel (which was amazing by the way), and then we hit it off again and are now, once again, best friends. I mean, yes, it’s somewhat a stretch for Peter and Harry to be friends again after that much time, but if we’re to believe that they were good friends as kids, and from what is explained in the film they were, then it’s really not that big of a stretch for them to hit it off again after all that time. My Mom still hits it off with people she went to high school with when she hasn't seen them in twenty years, this is just how some people work!

None of the characters in this film are done injustice, even Rhino is set up from the beginning and comes full-circle as a villain by the end, though some are definitely sidelined for others, but that’s honestly okay. That’s movies for you!


The Music/Score: I have heard many complaints about the score to this film, not as much about the actual music used, but certainly about the score. Let me start this section off by saying that I believe Amazing Spider-Man 2 has one of the best movie soundtracks I've heard. From the score music on the track to the songs used, including “It’s On Again” by Alicia Keys, I cannot get enough. Originally when I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 I walked out of the theater with my only complaint being the score. I had said to my good friend Dan Schmidt (of Across the Airwaves Productions) that I thought they did a great job with the dubstep part of the score mashing with Electro, but I didn't think they had a strong enough Spidey theme like James Horner's from the first film. Well, after a second viewing of the movie in the theaters and then buying the deluxe edition soundtrack to the film, I have changed my mind. In early June I drove out here to Montana from Chicago with my friend Jonathan (I was moving from Chicago to Montana where I’m going to be going to college in a few weeks), and on the whole two day drive from there to here we listened to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack on repeat and fell in love with it. If you play one track from the soundtrack now I can tell you which track it is and when it plays in the film. The use of music in the film is also outstanding! From “Song for Zula” during Peter and Gwen’s not-date before Electro attacks to “Gone Gone Gone” by Phillip Phillips when Peter is putting his wall together before he realizes he needs Gwen… I mean, really, the use of these songs (and others, especially during the end credits) was great! I’m just mad that “Gone Gone Gone”, now one of my favorites, is the one song from the film that I really, really liked that isn't on the soundtrack!

But onto the score complaints from the audience… 

“Hans Zimmer… What the [REDACTED] happened?” 

Well, I’ll tell you what happened; Hans Zimmer didn't do this score on his own (which I believe is a good thing)! His scores for The Dark Knight (with James Newton Howard) and Man of Steel were brilliant and fit their characters/story perfectly, his score here, where he’s joined by the creative talents of the Magnificent Six, Pharrell Williams, and Johnny Marr, is just as good and fits the characters in this film, as well as the story and tone, perfectly. 

“I don’t like the score because it tries to tell me how to feel during the movie…” 

Umm, excuse me, but isn't that what a score is supposed to do? The whole reason the score of a film, TV show, or video game is there is so that you feel something and so that you’re invested in what’s going on! Take horror movies for example, without the creepy piano music in the background, you wouldn't know the feel scared, or in The Dark Knight Rises when Bruce is climbing out of the pit and you have the epic score with the drums beating and the prisoners chanting, that’s supposed to make you feel empowered, larger than life, and it works! Amazing Spider-Man 2’s score did the exact same thing! It made you feel heroic when you heard the little Spidey tune (listen to the “I’m Spider-Man” and “I Need To Know” tracks on the score for a sample of that, then listen to the rest of the score as its heard throughout, “You’re That Spider-Guy” especially), it made you feel emotional whenever the Peter/Gwen theme came on (“I’m Moving to England”, “I Choose You”, “Let Her Go”, “We’re Best Friends”), and you felt a little fear whenever Electro or Goblin’s themes played (“I’m Electro”, “My Enemy”, “I’m Goblin”, “Sum Total”). I mean, that’s how scores work! Yes, the score for this movie was fairly “mainstream”, yes it was very “modern”, but Spider-Man is a character that, while he never changes, adapts to the culture surrounding him! I mean, he couldn't be stuck in the 60’s forever, and teenagers/young adults today (I would know) are much different than they were back in 2002! Spider-Man changes with the times, and thus so must his score.


The Story: 

“No one cares about Peter’s parents…”

“The movie is just so convoluted, there’s too much going on.”

“The ending sucked!”

These are just a few of the complaints I've heard about the story and subplots in Amazing Spider-Man 2, and if you've read this far (first off I commend you, and thank you) please bear with me just a little longer, I promise I’m almost done. First of all, most of the questions you've been asking yourself since the first film are answered here in its sequel. It’s explained why Peter’s parents had to leave, it’s explained why Peter has powers because of the spiders and other people don’t, it’s explained why Norman Osborn is dying, and it’s explained why Doctor Connors cut off communication with Peter after Richard and Mary left! All of these answers are given to you, so I don’t want to hear about there still being a ton of un-answered questions, there’s not. Now, with my theory that Norman Osborn is still alive, there could be some questions there, but for the sake of this film he’s dead by the 45 minute mark (it might be later, but I honestly don’t remember, I’m watching it again next week when I get it on Blu-Ray).

As for there being too much going on, how do you mean? The only story-line that seems somewhat out of place is Electro's to be honest, and there’s good reason for that. The reason I like that Electro's story in this film feels out of place is because it adds another layer of conflict and inconvenience to Peter Parker’s life. You see, the plot with him finding out about his parents, his relationship with Gwen, and being Spider-Man are all continuations of what we saw in The Amazing Spider-Man. Harry’s introduction in the film, as well as Norman’s supposed death, also fit into the context of this mythology and story because Oscorp and the Osborn’s are a part of that already-established story. Even Rhino’s introduction at the beginning (stealing from Oscorp, so there’s that connection as well) to his introduction as the Rhino at the end (also a part of the Oscorp story as we see the man from the end of the first film who talked with Connors) is a part of the Spider-Man story established in the first film with Captain Stacey’s “you’re going to make enemies” line. It’s ALL CONNECTED except for Electro! (Who is still slightly connected anyway).


Electro is different; he’s special because he reminds us that the “little guy”, the “normal person”, is also affected by this crazy world that Oscorp has initiated onto New York City. Max Dillon is a nobody; someone who Spider-Man just saves along his way (again, part of the Spidey plotline started in the last film) and doesn't give another thought to. Someone who has a simple job at Oscorp; someone who no one really likes or pays any special attention to; someone who’s just lost in the fold of people that is New York City. And then, all of a sudden, his life changes forever because of an accident. All of a sudden, he FORCES himself into the story. He re-writes the script and forces himself to be a part of it. How many times has that happened in Spider-Man comics? The answer: constantly! Everything in this story was perfectly crafted by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fringe, Sleepy Hollow, Watchmen, Transformers, Mission: Impossible III, etc.) and not only did service to us fans, but the comics and source material as well. As usual, they tied everything together and wrapped it up with a nice bow, while getting us pumped for their, eventual, upcoming third installment of the franchise (as well as Sinister Six, which is directly set up at the end of the film, and Venom).

As for peoples problems with the ending, it took Peter seven months to move on from Gwen's death, that's ample time. As for why they didn't just leave it with Gwen's death?... It's because that's not who Spider-Man is. Although Spider-Man goes through a lot of crap and sees a lot of death in his life, he's still an optimist, he still brings people hope, and THAT'S what you see at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, you see Peter bringing hope back to New York as Spider-Man returns to save the day from Rhino. We didn't need to see the full fight, we know who's going to win, we just need to remember that Spider-Man is back and he's out there, despite all the foes that will stand in his way.


The Mythology: This is my last point that is going to talk about the source material used in this film. Almost everything in this film is based somewhat on something from a version of Spider-Man in the comics, much like The Dark Knight Trilogy used “No Man’s Land”, “Knightfall”, “Year One”, “The Long Halloween” from the Batman comics or Man of Steel borrowed from “Birthright”, “Earth One”, “All-Star Superman”, “For Tomorrow”, and “Secret Origins”.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes the Richard Parker being a “spy” and carrying around government secrets right out of the comics (“Spider-Man: Unmasked”). Though Richard is only framed by the men from Oscorp as a spy, he’s really a scientist just like his Ultimate Universe counterpart and, like in this film series, has a connection to Curt Connors and Norman Osborn (“Ultimate Spider-Man”). While Peter having a genetic marker in his blood that allows his spider abilities to work once he’s bitter by a genetically enhanced spider is an original concept (at least to my knowledge), it’s always been true in the comics that Peter has always been afraid to give his blood to others because he doesn't know what would happen to them. In fact, when his Aunt May lied dying in an older issue of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter almost didn't give her his radioactive blood because he thought it might kill her. As we see when Harry gets hold of the spider’s venom (which had not been mixed with the genetic marker that is Peter’s blood), we see that it has terrible effects which create the Green Goblin.

We also see the relationship between Peter and Gwen develop as seen in the original Amazing Spider-Man comics’ first 121 issues as well as Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “Spider-Man: Blue”, only to be taken apart by the Green Goblin (this time Harry Osborn, who has also been the Goblin in the comics, though not before Norman) Ala “The Night Gwen Stacey Died”. Though Norman Osborn is normally responsible for this act, and though it normally takes place on the bridge (which we see Peter and Gwen have a touching moment on before her death, another nod to the comics), we see that the writers changed the killer to Harry to make the death more personal, while still making it because of a Goblin (as well as a failed web-line…).


We also see Electro as a lowly “worker-bee” (as is usually the case with him in all his comic interpretations) before he gets his powers, then after he gets his powers in a “freak accident” he becomes even more deranged, psychotic, and angry, much like his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #9 as well as in the Ultimate Universe. We also get to see Alistair Smythe as Electro's supervisor at Oscorp, and for you spider-fans out there you know that he’s the son of the creator of the original Spider Slayers and continues his father’s legacy, even becoming the Ultimate Spider Slayer himself.

Then there’s the Sinister Six. The Gentleman we see at the end of Amazing Spider-Man, and then again at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, is named Gustav Fiers who is actually not from the comics, though he is a main character in Adam-Troy Castro’s Sinister Six novel trilogy that includes “Gathering of the Sinister Six”, “Secrets of the Sinister Six”, and “Revenge of the Sinister Six”, where Fiers not only assembles the Sinister Six together, but also is partially responsible for the death of Richard and Mary Parker, making the mythology of this franchise so much more interesting. We see in the credits that Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Chameleon, Vulture, and Kraven the Hunter seem to be this incarnation of the Six (sad not to see Mysterio in live action, but maybe one day; Sandman’s already been done), which not only sets up the Sinister Six film, but also Amazing Spider-Man 3!

Clearly as you can see, a lot of this film is inspired by the Spider-Man mythology that already exists, yet it twists it and crafts it to make it its own, while adding new things to the story to make the Amazing Spider-Man Cinematic Universe something to be excited about and cheer on. I know that’s what I’m doing, especially with Alex Kurtzman overseeing it (as well as the Universal Monster-Movie Universe)!

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There’s more of course that I could write about to show people why Amazing Spider-Man isn't just a great film, great superhero/comic book film, and a great Spider-Man film, but I’m getting tired and I have a feeling that if people aren't going to listen to what I've already stated loud-and-clear, they won’t listen at all, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, all that I care about is that I continue to enjoy and support this franchise, and I do; I hope you all feel the same way!

Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD on August 19, 2014.

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Senior Editorial Editor on SMN, I also work as an Administrator on Across the Airwaves Productions and as a Staff Writer on the Superman Homepage. I enjoy movies, comics, television, music, and long walks on the beach. Just because he's on the side of the angels, don't think for one second that he's one of them.