The Problem With Spider-Man

I doubt you're ever going to meet anyone who loves Spider-Man more than me. You might think your son does, but he doesn't. This character meant everything to me when I was a kid, from elementary school to high school and beyond. Well beyond. To this day I still love when I see someone in that costume on a TV or movie screen - I feel the same way I did the first time I saw him pop up on "The Electric Company." 

So it pains me to say that Hollywood is STILL getting Spider-Man wrong. And furthermore, that it has NOTHING to do with who plays him. All three actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and now Tom Holland) have been fine, especially as angsty Peter Parker. The problem is the screenwriters don't know the character at all. They've got the wisecracks down. Period. That's the only thing they seem to know - Spidey makes jokes while he's fighting the bad guys. 

Hey, then let's add the hilarious Robert Downey, Jr. to the mix! Um, okay, even while it reeks of desperation, and a high tech, Iron Man-funded Spidey gets us even farther away from the character's truest roots. One of the best moments in his origin story is when science champ Pete invents his web shooters; he's his own inventor. (Sam Raimi deciding to have Maguire shoot those out of his own human wrists still irks me.)    

In this latest Spider-Man film we're getting a ridiculously young Web-Slinger ("that's how old he was in the comics, that's how old he was in the..." shuddup!); they seem to want a Spider-Man comedy this time around too, loaded with high school hijinks. But high school sucked for Peter - he was a total outsider, and it pained him. What's more, the guy who made his life miserable there - Flash Thompson - was also Spider-Man's #1 fan, and that double-edge sliced through PP, but he had to hold it all in. He didn't "get the girl" for ages - and struggled with passing up the opportunity to fight kids on the playground. But pass up those fights he did, only to go home and punch walls. Now he's always the cool kid with the hot girl. Wrong.

I get making Peter 9 for the movie, and Aunt May hot and 30 (I know, I know, Marisa Tomei ain't 30; I'm making a point) - you want to be able to crank out five of these and keep him in high school. And, ok, so you gave him a goofy sidekick to illustrate he's on the geek squad - but there was no sidekick. Ever. Until Harry showed up with a drug habit, the son of his arch enemy and bestie of the girl Pete loved, a lifetime later. 

You can fudge the ages, fudge the hair colors, fudge the ethnicities - but you can't fudge the tone. 

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