Panel Prattle is where we at Comicbooked can just rant about comic book-related stuff. It’s a soapbox of sorts. Rules? Nah!
Welcome to Panel Prattle. This column might cause a bit of debate. At least, I can hope.
It’s a simple rant.
Fact: I hate the Spider-Man films. All of them. I even hate all the films that the suits at Marvel and Sony might make. There.
I’m going to make this as short as possible. I’m writing it on April Fools, but (if anyone cares) I’m not kidding.
Again: I hate the Spider-Man movies, and I hate the prospect of new movies or his inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic movies. I hate it all.
Don’t worry: I’ll probably repeat this moral once or twice before this is over.
Of the movies made, I’ll usually give the second Raimi film a pass… There are aspects of that film that…
What am I talking about? Deep down, I hate that one too.
Why? When I was younger I always liked Spider-Man as a character. He looked iconic, he was iconic, and the idea of a guy swinging around the city was really cool. Even cooler was the idea that he would crack wise while saving the city.
I remember catching a glimpse of the Spider-Man animated series in the 90’s. First, I loved comic-book inspired animated shows from the 80’s and the 90’s including Transformers, G.I. Joe, and others. One reason for this is that I loved the animation. Now you’re thinking: “the animation sucked.. it wasn’t very smooth at all.” You’re right. But smoothness wasn’t the most important thing about those shows to me. Let’s look at what they did have. The backgrounds seemed be drawn realistically. Nothing was over-stylized. The backgrounds seemed real, or at least real enough, without drawing too much attention to themselves. More importantly, the characters were drawn the same way. Whether they were Autobots or Cobra troopers, the people or robots were drawn correctly, in proper proportions. Their heads weren’t to big, their leg’s weren’t too long, and their ankles weren’t to thin. They didn’t seem stretched, scrunched, bloated, or overly awesome. They were even drawn correctly with relation to each other. They were not stylized. They might not be expertly animated, and they might not have been stylistically ambitious, but this was actually a good thing: my brain could just accept these characters as real, and I could concentrate on the storytelling, not whether or not I felt it “looked right.”
So before any of these Spider-Man movies came out, I remember catching a glimpse – one scene – of this animated Spider-Man show that was stylistically similar to the other cartoon shows I mentioned.. wherein Spider-Man looked correctly drawn and proportioned, just like the best Spider-Man comic books.
I just (barely) remember one clip. I won’t even have the details right. I don’t know what episode it was from. Spidey was in a real bind: had a big adversary across town and he was going to have to swing over there and fight. The problem was that there was a big metal thing attached to his body (maybe his wrist, his ankle, or his belt, I don’t recall, actually) and this thing was a bomb. I just remember him making some sarcastic remark along the lines of the fact that he was either going to die fighting the bad guy or – even if he beat the bad guy – he was still going to die from the bomb, and he just chose fighting the bad guy over trying to get rid of the bomb because, uh he might as well He was going to die in either case. I actually don’t remember the comment specifically.
The point I’m making: This was Spider-Man. The entire character – everything that makes him appealing – was achieved in that scene.
The movies are something different. There may be a few individual moments that preserve his sarcasm and his dedication to fighting crime, but each movie is padded with long, long, long amounts of MELODRAMA. I know that characters need a story, and emotional core, a back story, a reason to fight, all of that stuff… but each of the films has ventured so far to soap opera land that I’d rather just go on YouTube and spend two hours trying to find that one scene I mentioned then re-watch any one of the films that had been produced. Why can’t they just make a film that hits the ground running, and is a fun, funny, and breezy good time the whole way through. I don’t care if Gwen what’s-her-name is saying “this is bigger than you, Peter.” I just don’t care about any of that. To me, Spider-Man is best when he is spontaneous, when he always has a quip ready. Having us drudge through two hours of his story somehow deadens his appeal.. and the point is each film that has been made just seems to repeat all of those things that are all working to take away the spontaneity of the character.
Of course, you can get too silly with him (which is why I almost liked the first few web-slinging scenes of Amazing Spider-Man 2, until he started juggling plutonium tubes or whatever, and then I realized that even this bit wasn’t as smart or as sharp as that moment from the animated show.
Putting him into the MCU won’t help either. The more “connected” the various characters and stories from that universe gets, the more friggin’ DISCONNECTED the overall tonal shifts seem to be. It’s an artistic disaster that Marvel studios has been spending billions of dollars on.
There, rant over.