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Continuing our list, here are Issues #1-5 that can be brought up with Marc Webb’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’. Major spoilers ahead so please proceed with caution.
5. The pacing felt rather slow. The story is not stilted at all, but it took a while to get Peter into the suit and started on his crime fighting. The first act takes a lot of time establishing Peter’s lifestyle and relationships, which is good from a writing standpoint, but his life is not terribly interesting so I became impatient to see him web-slinging and making sarcastic comments at crooks.
Once the second act begins, things feel smoother, but then the third act hits and the story seems to hit a plateau. It does not build as well as other superhero films and even though the stakes are high, the Lizard’s ultimate plot to turn everyone into monstrous reptiles like him is a bit silly.
4. The mythos is too self-contained. To my knowledge, there are not any references to other heroes nor to comic books in general. Perhaps we were spoiled by the Marvel universe with ‘The Avengers’ (2012) and its awesome intertwined continuity, but the simple fact that Peter Parker does not pick up a single comic book while designing his suit nor does he read up on how fictional characters handle their responsibilities makes it feel as if the writers of this film did not bother to pick up a Spider-Man comic book themselves.
This is not to say that Spidey needed to borrow things from other heroes or have numerous shout outs to other films, but the only thing he references in his own mythos is the Daily Bugle and Norman Osborn. A re-watch may be needed to spot any other mythology gags related to other Spider-Man stories, but the initial viewing left us empty handed.
3. The plot is rather predictable. The numerous trailers to ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ clue you in to the general events, but seasoned moviegoers will be able to guess nearly all of the events without prior knowledge of the Spider-Man mythos. Connors’ evil plan is predictable, Connors figuring out that Peter Parker is Spider-Man is predictable, and even Captain Stacy’s death is predictable. This may be why the pacing felt slow, because the plotpoints were obvious several minutes before they happened. It is not a deal breaker, but it did dampen the tension and fun that the movie went for.
2. Changes to the origin story. One of the largest changes the film makes is how Uncle Ben dies. This is well done and realistic, however, I did not favor the exclusion of Harry Osborn and Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy. One of the best adaptations of Gwen Stacy is in ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ (2008) where the two are best friends and a romance eventually blossoms between them.
This would have been a good angle to adopt for the film to deepen the relationship between them. For instance, Gwen would start noticing changes in Peter’s behavior and would feel frustrated that he would not let her in. In the film, she is just a crush and a classmate whom Peter does not interact with very often, so the romance does not have the same weight as it would if they were already friends.
In terms of Harry’s exclusion, this is at least understandable, as Marc Webb probably wanted to distance himself from the inevitable comparisons to the Raimi films, but it does leave a huge question of if Harry exists at all in this particular universe. The movie makes no reference to Harry and so we are left to assume he does not exist. It would have been a good idea to at least establish whether or not Harry is present in these stories.
1. No one says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” There are only two lines that are considered mandatory for Spider-Man stories, no matter what the medium: “Who are you?” “I’m Spider-Man,” and “With great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben does not say this. Aunt May does not say this. No one in the entire movie utters these words. As a Spider-Man fan of the comics, cartoons, and movies, I consider this to be sacrilege. This line is what motivated Peter Parker to put aside his selfish desire for revenge and become a true hero.
The fact that it went unsaid irritated me beyond belief. Even if Marc Webb wants to distance himself from the Raimi films, it is still unacceptable to ditch such a powerful line that has layers of meaning for the character of Peter Parker. The film tries to replace the line with a voicemail of Uncle Ben expressing his love and faith in Peter, but his speech is riddled with clichés and does not carry the same weight as the classic line. It is a classic for a reason and should not have been excluded as it creates an air of familiarity with the audience and serves as one of the most recognizable aspects of the Spider-Man universe.
Once again, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is not a bad film, but this reviewer’s particular tastes left me less amused than expected. We still encourage moviegoers, young and old, nerdy and non-nerdy, to check it out and form their own thoughts on its quality.
Image Courtesy of The Amazing Spider-Man