Remember when you walked out of Spider-man? Remember this was before the superhero craze. X-Men had done decently, but really, who expected Spider-man to be such a hit? Sure, it had absurdly cheesy moments, but damn you really enjoyed yourself.
Then came Spider-man 2, a film that once again took everybody by surprise. Wait, this Superhero movie was… incredible. I actually just sat through a fantastic movie. It wasn’t just a fun popcorn action film, it was amazing as its hero claims to be. The genre was legitimized, and it took off into the whirlwind we see today. And Spider-man 2 was, for many, the superhero movie to beat until they got caught up in bat-mania last summer. (Though I thought Batman Begins was just as great).
And to keep up with surprises, Spider-man 3 shocked audiences as well, though much differently. There’s a label on the side of the DVD: “Warning, watching this movie has been known to cause depression, self-mutilation, eye-gouging, vomiting, paranoid schizophrenia, and gout.” Audiences everywhere wondered how in God’s name a series could turn that bad in one film (evidently they had forgotten about the Superman series). It was just awful, we all remember. Peter Parker dresses emo and dances dumbly, which somehow shows he’s ‘evil’ or ‘brooding.’ Apparently, nobody on that set had ever brooded before. Thinking about it makes my blood boil, which is unsavory for me, so I try not to. That picture at the top isn’t a dark, brooding Spider-Man. He’s actually mourning the disaster that was that movie.
Now they’re making Spider-man 4, hopefully trying to redeem themselves and recapture 2‘s glory. It’s a risky move: fourth films are rarely good (Superman IV is regarded as one of the worst movies ever, Batman and Robin was… You remember, even as kids we hated it. Does The Phantom Menace count as a fourth film?) You get it. It’s typical (not guaranteed) in movies that the third is a step down from the others, and then the fourth is somehow even worse. So I’m hoping that Spider-man 4 realizes this and acts accordingly. They have a Pulitzer Prize winning writer penning the screenplay, so that’s a good start. It also seems Sam Raimi knows how royally he f***ed up:
“As far as Spider-Man, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what people didn’t like and missteps that I’d made. But I learned those lessons on the previous two, I was just a little quieter about them. I made a lot of mistakes, and it’s part of the reason I so want to make this next story of Peter Parker.”
Raimi continued, “I really think I know in my heart who the character is, and I haven’t quite been able to sing the song yet, or bring it out to the extent or degree of detail that I feel in my heart that I can. And I may not be successful, but I still feel like I know it better than I’m able to play it; I feel like the kid that really practiced at the piano recital, with years of comic books, and when I got to my other recitals, I sometimes made some missteps with them. There’s a whole crowd there and they think that’s as well as I know the piece, but I really do know it a lot better than that and I would like one more chance at that character. The Spider-Man films, I’ve made mistakes, but I really do look at them as things that I’ve learned, and hope that when I apply what I’ve learned to this next one, I really make a film that people enjoy and is really true to the character in a fresh, original way. That’s my goal.”
Alright, Raimi. You get this chance to get this right. It looked like Spider-man 3 was just a joke, and that nobody was taking it seriously since they knew it would make more money than the treasury. It’s one of those films where you sit and wonder how it made through so many steps and alterations and checkpoints where somebody didn’t stop and say, “Well, this is just terrible.” Who thought that was a good idea?! I always imagine Raimi telling Tobey Maguire what to do, and having four people behind him with their face in their palms. What I hope is some coffee boy had the nerve to say, “Mr. Raimi, this is really bad.” Then Raimi got really pissy, but after the movie came out he hired that coffee boy full time for having both courage and the common sense to recognize something that sucks more than God’s vacuum cleaner.
At least he recognizes his faults. I have to remember that he also Spider-Man 2, so I can’t judge too harshly. I know he has the capability to give us a more serious movie in line with the second in the trilogy. But he had that same capability for 3 and didn’t just miss the mark, he missed the entire hay stack that the target was pinned up on. So this time, please, don’t make Peter Parker dance.