Thursday, April 11, 2024

I discover the Garfield Spider-Man twelves years late

I am definitely a key demographic for superhero movies. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was an avid reader of comic books. 

But up until a week ago, I never watched The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield. At the time when it came out, it was part of a crowded field of superhero movies and word of mouth hated it. 

Now that I’ve seen it, I am absolutely bewildered by the bile that I’ve heard about it. Yeah, it isn’t Spider-Man 2 but it also isn’t Spider-Man 3.

Actually, I do understand why people were upset. The original Spider-Man movie, along with the original X-Men movie and original Blade movie, did a lot to set up the modern superhero movie movement, the idea that a movie about superheroes doesn’t have to be a toy commercial or a joke. (The first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the two Michael Keaton Batman movies also treated their subjects like films instead of shames but they were exceptions rather than trendsetters) Spider-Fans were invested in Toby McGuire and interlopers were not to be tolerated.

But I had been told that Andrew Garfield was the jerk Spider-Man, not the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that everyone could love.

So, what did I find? A Peter Parker who is an orphan and a social outcast with all the damage and baggage that that implies. A Peter Parker who is awkward and uncertain and angry. A Peter Parker who lashes out and struggles to figure out what to do.

After a half hour, I said to myself ‘This is Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man!’

Now, I am not going to say there is a definitive Spider-Man nor that there is a best Spider-Man. Many people have worked with the character in many media and that is part of what makes Spider-Man such a wonderful cultural phenomena. Honestly, Ditko’s Spider-Man isn’t my favorite one. However, there is no denying that he created the most crucial Spider-Man. If he and Stan hadn’t made it work, there’d have been no Spider-Man.

I am not saying that the Amazing Spider-Man is my new favorite Spider-Man movie. Heck, for the reasons I gave, I don’t have one. However, I felt that the Garfield version of Spider-Man was one that was engaging and interesting. I am glad that I have seen it.

(And, yes, Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was a great interpretation of the character but everyone says that so that wasn’t a surprise)

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