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This is Spider-Man.

I once wrote a blog post singing the praises of casting Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He had something I liked for it (one of my very first blog posts, so be gentle) that Tobey Maguire did not. I also really dug the first Amazing Spider-man movie (don’t know what happened to the second one that it was so very bad) and have always been pretty lukewarm about the Sam Raimi trilogy. I think I’ve cooled onĀ TASM and am considering a reappraisal of the Raimi trilogy, but even back when they came out, I liked them but I was never into them. I feel like after five tries, though, it’s kind of reasonable to expect that basically everyone and their uncle understands how to make a decent Spider-man movie. One that will please just about everyone by getting all the most fundamental parts of the character right while changing things up just enough to be fresh and exciting. And so, now we have one.

That may sound like I’m underselling here, and I don’t mean to. Spider-man: Homecoming is a greatly entertaining movie and it has a little bit of depth even though a lot of people are talking about how shallow it is. How formulaic. How Marvel. I have some issues with a few choices they made with the movie and with how muddled its messages are, but I don’t think any of it hampers the enjoyment of the movie itself. I think at most you could say my misgivings are a direct result of the MCU’s usual insistence on playing it safe even when they’ve definitely earned the right to take larger risks. Not so much with big game-changing events like character deaths as I don’t really agree with the people clamoring for that and I’m comfortable with the incremental storytelling the MCU specializes in. More like I think there’s a little too much here that’s on the nose, that shows a lack of trust in the audiences to “get it”. I chose the title quote not only because it’s a good line, but because it is brought in twice and the second time is definitely one of those moments where we don’t need it. It’s this movie’s “with greater power comes greater responsibility” and it’s probably not a great idea to remind the audience how much weaker a statement it really is. To say nothing of the fact that, in the end, the “suit” cake is had and eaten too.

I think if you are one of those folks who is tired of the MCU or superhero movies in general, Homecoming is unlikely to sway you. It’s easy to see many of the exact same problems in it that are well-documented par for course with the franchise overall (less for female characters to do, underdeveloped romance), but it’s also true that Homecoming sidesteps one or two of them (bad villains, clunky greater universe connections). Still, it’s a breezy fun time and it’s delightfully confident even when it sort of stumbles.

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPOILER WARNING

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Well, they’ve cast the lead role in the reboot of Spider-Man as a film franchise. Ignoring the obvious questions about why this is happening, whether anyone cares, etc for a moment, I wanted to talk a bit about this casting and how it fits my particular preference for the character. Moreover, I will talk a bit about some of the stuff I’d like to see different in a new version, always hoping that they get as far away as possible from Raimi’s trilogy, of which I am not a fan.

First, the casting. Apparently, they were gonna go with a kid named Josh Hutcherson who I’ve liked in a few things (Zathura, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Vampire’s Assistant). The thing is, Hutcherson is a square-faced and tough looking kid who looks more like Harry Potter than Peter Parker in a pair of dorky glasses. He’s also short and compact which is all wrong. Tobey Maguire was a stocky little Spider-Man. In the Ultimates reimagining of Marvel comics, the well from which much of the movie versions of Marvel propertiesĀ  are pulled, he’s a puny little teenager. Okay, fair. But he’s also a scrawny miter, too. I’ve always thought of Spider-Man as an agile, gymnastic hero and that translates to lithe and long-limbed. Something more like a couple of Todd Mcfarlane renderings I’ve seen where the guy looks like a web-swinging contortionist. I’m not sure I dig the ultra emaciated look, as seen here:

spidey

But it comes pretty close. Except they were gonna have Josh Hutcherson play him. I like that guy, but he’s stocky vs. wiry, sort of, and just seems obvious and wrong.

And to me, he just looks too normal. I’ve seen his fight audition (http://chud.com/articles/articles/24612/1/PREVIOUSLY-POSSIBLE-PUNY-PARKER-PUMMELS-PRICKS/Page1.html) and he looks too bulky. Even the fake acne and bad hair don’t help and be hasically looks like a slightly less goofy Tobey Maguire. Why would they want that, right?

Well apparently they don’t because they got Andrew Garfield instead:

Now the guy is 6 feet tall which might be excessive. That said, he’s slim as fuck and probably doesn’t have the body type to bulk up too much even if he gets a bit shredded for the role. Only please, Sony… not another overnight muscle flex scene. It worked in Raimi’s flick for the nerd wish-fulfillment but we ought to differentiate ourselves from that else we defeat the purpose.

Anyway, Garfield is a legit Brit. He’s what they call a “real actor”. I’ve seen him in a bunch of interesting films, and he doesn’t stink of generic teen heartthrob in the making. He’s a handsome lad, sure, but he’s also gawky and awkward and if you doubt it you just need to see Boy A in which he’s kind of a British Peter Parker anyway (with fun twists). In addition, he was good in the mediocre Lions for Lambs and the flawed The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. He takes risks, works with high-profile directors, and is well out of his kiddie movie phase. He looks great in the upcoming scifi Never Let Me Go and that Facebook movie, The Social Network (which will probably grab him a lot of recognition around the time the Spider-Man buzz heats up).

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned Andrew Garfield is a kick-ass choice. That they bumped it up to college as opposed to High School (we’ve been there, done that) also makes casting a 27 year old less jarring.

Aside from all the BS about who’s playing the guy, there’s something else I think Raimi’s version never got right (don’t get me started, I have a list) and that is how Spider-Man should move… especially in a fight. Now that Parkour has sort of hit it big and even faded away from action films to an extent, it’s a valid basis for Spidey’s non-swinging rooftop acrobatics. Spider-Man should fucking own Parkour. He should be its mascot. Aside from that, Spider-Man should be an acrobatic, erratic fighter since Peter Parker shouldn’t know how to fight but should be self-taught based on the strengths his powers grant. I would suggest to the people making this movie that they bring a bit more grit and non-CG stuntwork into the mix. Give Spidey moves based on Capoeira, that very fluid and acrobatic Brazilian martial art which has so rarely appeared in film. A demonstration of what a group of Capoeiristas/gymnasts can do without wires:

THAT is how Spider-Man should move. Get a slim enough dude to do the stunts in-costume and shoot it right? Well, do that and at the very least the action will stand out from pretty much every other comic book superhero movie made in the last 10 odd years. Maybe except for Kick-Ass.

I wish I knew Marc Webb (who directed last year’s amazing 500 Days of Summer and will be directing the Spider-Man reboot project). If I did, I’d be full of suggestions like these. I seriously think I could help make a pretty good Spider-Man movie.

They’ve got a good start with their actor. If Michael Fassbender is really going to show up as the villain, we’ll be getting even further especially if they avoid the tendency in Raimi’s films for B-movie level overacting. Yes, it’s a comic book movie but no it isn’t Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie.

So please, if you’re listening:

Get a better Mary Jane, do at least as well with Harry Osbourne, and for crying out loud tone down the sappy bullshit and we’ll be getting somewhere that not only the cynical fans of both the comic books and previous movies will pay attention to but also the core audience. Give us more dancing emo Pete silliness, as fun as that was in its own way, and you’ll lose the chance to capitalize on this opportunity.

Because naysayers be damned, this is an opportunity.

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