Monday, January 11, 2010

Spider-Man 4: No More

I'm very grumpy. I just read that they've decided to not only postpone Spider-Man 4 until 2012, but it's not going to be Spidey4. They're rebooting the whole frakkin' franchise. I'm trying to maintain a positive mind about this, but I'm pretty annoyed by it. I'm a geek, I'm a geek by nature and I geek out about many things. I have a freshly opened pair of Avatar action figures sitting on my desk upstairs, there's a Power Ranger sitting right above my monitor, guarding the three Star Fleet officers from the new Star Trek movie. There's a lot more stuff like this all over my house that goes even further back, I'm just trying to put my modern state of geekdom into perspective. However, when all's said and done, it always comes back to Spider-Man. I loved the movies, I read his titles more than any other comic book (despite taking a break when they did this "Brand New Day" crap). I even thoroughly enjoyed the Clone Saga, which is roughly when I started reading comic books consistently. So when they take a running storyline, be it comic or movie, and completely defenestrate it, I'm bound to be thrown for a loop. As are the many other die-hards out there just like me. I'm trying to think of the good things that will come of this, but just for fun, let's start with the bad: 1) The characters/actors we've come to know and love will be completely replaced. -They won't carry the same weight with us. The new Parker/MJ/Aunt May/etc. will be taking a giant leap back in time. We've moved forward while they've regressed. I've dealt with this in every comic or TV show variant of Spider-Man. They spend the first few issues/episodes trying to set your bearings in case you're new to the franchise, even though what's most likely is that if you're watching/reading this, you're well versed already. It's like when you buy a sequel to a video game where you spent the entirety of the original building up your character, maxing out his abilities, health and so on, only to buy the sequel where somehow this same exact character is once again weak as an infant. For the loyal fans, this can be somewhat frustrating. I'd advise the to-be-announced staff they try to minimize this transitional crap and just jump right in. 2) The events of the timeline no longer exist. -This is what people didn't like about "Brand New Day". "What do you mean Harry Osborn never died? Then what the hell was I so upset about?" The good in this is that Venom didn't happen how he happened, so maybe we'll get a movie dedicated to him as the villain, but meanwhile we're going to be placed smack-dab into the middle of a world we've already seen unfold. Hell, this'll be Spidey's alternate reality. Yikes. 3) People don't like change. -'Nuff said. Even the critics of the old trilogy will find themselves making comparisons and telling us exactly what they liked better about the old films compared to the new. 4) They're going to change something that really shouldn't be touched. -What will be the first to go? Organic webbing? Raised webbing on the costume? "My spider-sense is tingling!"? Something that Raimi and Co. were wise enough to use or let pass is going to be let go or implemented and we're not going to like it. We'll have to wait and see. 5) No more Bruce Campbell. Unless the new director talks him into it. This is just one of those random things that came along with having Raimi direct the trilogy, but we all enjoyed it. I shall miss his little asides. 6) We were THIS close to the Lizard. -And I mean this more that just Lizard for Lizard's sake. I'm a fan of him, from the first color-by-numbers kit I ever had introducing me to the character to reading Amazing Spider-Man 365 in my first volume collecting old issues, but above that I think Spidey4 was one smart decision away from doing what rarely will happen in a long-running franchise (and we have so few of them as is), which is to turn a good guy into a bad one. Darth Vader doesn't really count, since we all knew that whole trilogy's purpose was to tell his story. No, I'm talking genuine "Frodo keeps the ring", "Jean Grey kills Professor X" moments here. Non-comic fans who've been going to see Spidey have no idea about the Lizard. What a shock that would have been, eh? Imagine the dramatic pull something like that could've had. I may think of more later and edit this, but off the top of my head I think this is what pisses me off most. Okay, so the good things: 1) We are THIS close to the Lizard. -Seriously. Anyone remember a certain reboot of Spidey in the comics as done by a certain Todd McFarlane. This man is the reason Spider-Man is flexible. The opening storyline from this gifted artist was called "Torment", and was about Spider-Man fighting a man whose attempts to heal his own ailment resulted in making himself a monster. That's just loaded with potential, which is why I've chosen that particular coverart to headline my rant here. I'm not saying make Spider-Man "darker" like McFarlane did, but there's certainly going to have to be a different take on the character and style, and I don't think brighter and more colorful/kid-friendly is the way to go. Hell, if they took what Punisher: War Zone and Incredible Hulk did as reboots and make "realistic" comic book movies even moreso stylistically (grittier, perhaps?), this could do well for the franchise. 2) Skip the Vulture. -Was it just yesterday that Malkovich confirmed he was going to play the Vulture? I wasn't pleased with this. Vulture's an alright villain, but he's a lot better when he's got a certain five other sidekicks working with him. I never thought he deserved the lone antagonist position in the franchise. On that note, sure three villains was overkill for the old trilogy, but if they take the time to do the proper buildup (and don't waste any time re-imagining the already perfectly achieved old villains), we could probably get a great movie about the Sinister Six by #3. Or the next 4. 3) More Spidey! I seriously think that this is a franchise that won't go away for a long time. Spider-Man is bankable. Everybody loves him, in one form or another. I've never heard a person say "I really hate him as a character". He's good stuff, has plenty of history and given the right people working on him, shall always be a favorite. When they were making the first one, a then friend of mine said "I don't care if they make twenty, I'll go see all of them!" I agree with her on this sentiment. 4) Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst will be replaced. Don't take this the wrong way. I thought they did just fine in all three movies. However, did anyone notice that somewhere in Spider-Man 2 (I think it was the running/falling off the roof scene) that Tobey really started to look like he belonged in the Raimi family? They were perfect for the roles of their characters as teenagers, but as Peter turns into a stud and MJ into a bombshell, these two can't grow out of their boy/girl-next door look. Perhaps whoever they get next will be able to evolve as they go this time around. 5) New drama! It was established right in the beginning of the first film that this story was "all about the girl". Well, forget that. This is Spider-Man. It should be about Spider-Man. The same as Transformers should be starring giant robots, not the people running around by their ankles. This is not to say there shouldn't be the typical Parker-esque girl drama. I'm just saying maybe play it a little more Parker style. "I love you so much, Peter!" Eh. Alright then. Parker never had a problem having a girlfriend, he was certainly hard up enough for one, but it was all the things that happened to his web-slinging persona whilst courting these women that made his relationships that much more interesting. Gwen Stacy, for crying out loud. Her death was one of the pivotal moments in comic history, but thanks to shortsightedness on the original production, her character was reduced to nothing more than a tool for jealously and her father a miscellaneous police officer. Maybe she should be first billed this time around. I'd need to rehash my Spidey romance history, but I know MJ wasn't the first. Perhaps he should go the old Batman saga route and work through different loves as the films progress. Maybe not one girl per movie, but a progression for sure. Then there's Aunt May, who somehow remained in perfect health through the whole trilogy. I can barely remember a story arc in my Spidey collection where Aunt May's age didn't somehow come into play. I figured this is where they were going with SM4, since frankly Rosemary Harris isn't getting any younger, but we'll just have to see now. I do like the May featured in the "Spectacular Spider-Man" series, maybe a characterization more like her this time around could do the trick. Then there's Harry, Flash and all the others. Let's see what they do. 6) My humor-sense is tingling! Spider-Man was a little tight-lipped in his action sequences for a character who's known for using teasing and taunts simply to annoy his villains, if not to distract them enough in order for our hero to squander their plans. I've seen some outright wacky takes on this, but I wouldn't mind for the webslinger to engage in at least a little good ribbing while he takes on the baddies. So, on that note... 7) Spidey Action! Spider-Man helped define a style and means of creation for superhero action to date. The X-Men film two years prior had some digital characters in it's shots, but Spidey is the first I recall that was so reliant on a digital character for it's action to work. Each film built up the scale of stunts and became more and more impressive. I'm hoping that in the hands of the right direction/stunt co-ordinators, our socks will continue to be knocked right off. Even "Spectacular Spider-Man" has been blowing my hair back, and that's just 2D animation. As I write this, I'm realizing all the potential and I can understand why they came to this decision, but I really, really hope they don't screw it up. Let's just hope it's a little more "Torment" than it is "Ultimate". So, with all that in mind I leave you with this:

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