Monday, March 28, 2011

Spiderman 2: Best Comic Book Movie?

Things That Don't Suck is doing Raimifest this week.Here is my contribution.  Make sure you go over to Bryce's site to check out all of the Raimicentric content. 

Spiderman 2 is, in my opinion, the best comic book movie there is. The now defunct Wizard Magazine actually called it the best Batman Movie (this was before Nolan took on the Dark Knight). This movie set the standard and surpassed the original Spiderman movie, which was a game changer in its own right.

What sets Raimi's Spiderman 2 apart is characterization. Peter Parker is a separate person and separate personality than Spiderman. Peter Parker's life completely sucks because of Spiderman. Pete has hopes, dreams, and ambitions that don't include putting on spandex. This appeals to the rational mind. In the back of our minds, in every superhero movie, we are thinking, "why doesn't this interfere with his personal life more." Spiderman 2 shows us that it isn't just being late, but that it can take much more of a toll.

In Superman II, Superman hangs it all up to become mortal. Mythology is full of these kinds of stories. In Superman II, Supes stays human for all of a day or two, until he has to defeat Zod. In other words, it was a whim and we don't get to see the results. Spiderman 2 is different. Peter Parker's life improves after giving it all up and he is gone long enough that people notice. He still can't help but be heroic even without powers, but it is Peter Parker and not Spiderman. Parker much like Kent is forced back into the costume. Yes there is a part of him that enjoys it, but the audience understands what Peter is giving up by going back behind the mask.

Driving it all home is the train scene. The crucifixion imagery comes to mind. Arms outstretched, head turned to the side, stood a man willing to pay for the lives of strangers with that of his own. I saw this movie in theaters and I have to tell you that while Spidey is trying to stop the train my hands started hurting. I looked down to realize that I was gripping the arm rests with everything I had. Then as Spidey is passed mask-less through the train and they comment about him being just a kid, it hits you. He is just a kid, or he is supposed to be, but fate has gifted/cursed him with powers that allow him to be so much more. The catch is that he has to sacrifice himself. Not vital life force, but personality and dreams. The audience is shown that Peter Parker doesn't really have a choice. He has to be Spiderman. Rami turns this action scene into something emotional and makes Spiderman real.

With great power comes great responsibility. What old Ben Parker forgot to mention was the cost that comes with fulfilling that responsibility. Sam Raimi shows us that cost.


SteveB said...

Thinking about it -- I can definitely agree with that choice. It's the rare sequel that surpasses the original (which is good in its own right).

And Parker has always been a more interesting protagonist than Kent (who's invincibility makes him boring) and Bruce Wayne (who's money makes him out of touch with the rest of us). "Regular" people can identify with Peter Parker.

Kal said...

Spider-Man 2 is indeed the best comic book movie. I was so into it that I actually cried when Aunt May was telling Peter how the world needs heroes because they bring out the best in all of us. I was not ashamed but proud that a movie could articulate so well my feelins about superheroes and why I love the.

Budd said...

I forgot to mention the great scene after Mary Jane is taken and he has his powers back, when he has blurry vision because of his glasses. He doesn't put them away, he drops them, letting the audience know that he can never give up being Spiderman again.

StuartOhQueue said...

A case could definitely be made for "Spider-Man 2." Check out this little list I compiled if you get the chance.