There’s a point early on in this film, where Spidey is swinging around, joins a police convoy to halt a robbery and is wise-cracking away with the same high-octane energy and wit as the onscreen delirious stunts and effects wizardry, that I really felt they had cracked it. This was the hero I used to love back in the 1970s reading all those weekly UK reprints of the 1960s original classics. Pete Parker may have been a bit of a nerd/geek loner with troubles and woes aplenty (even if he did really get the girl, which we real-life nerds/geeks rarely did) , but once he donned that red and blue costume he was off having fun, doing good, living every young boys dream. Spider-Man has always been an escapist fantasy, a super-hero romp with teen angst but loads of exciting adventure. The Daily Bugle and most of its readership may have thought of the web-slinger as a vigilante and troublemaker, but we readers knew better. He was doing good, and free of his Pete Parker persona/life troubles, as Spidey he was having a ball while he was doing it. And damn if the first twenty minutes of this film don’t just nail it to perfection. Its great. But then they have to spoil it by adding the most uninteresting and downright annoying villains you could imagine, whilst shoving in the most shockingly blatant Sony product-placements just about everywhere (even throwing in a Sony laptop into a flashback sequence of a time when, er, did laptops even exist?).
But the villains kill it, which is ironic as they apparently take centre-stage in the next film, The Sinister Six. I mean, come on, a Robo-Rhino? Another villain like Spiderman 3’s Sandman, here Electro, that isn’t really a bad man rather than a victim of ill-luck? What’s wrong with bad guys being, like, genuinely evil/ bad to the bone? Is this some kind of modern-day PC thing, bad guys can’t really be all-bad? And how is it that after so many attempts, not once have any of these films done the Green Goblin justice? I loved the character in the original comic, he was Spidey’s nemesis, like Dr Who’s Daleks or Superman’s Lex Luthor. He was evil, crazed, egomanical… never was he a guy in a military suit of powered armour or a teen green with envy. I don’t know, maybe you just can’t translate these guys to the silver screen. Or maybe only Marvel Studios really knows how to do it. I still think that translating those 1960s stories and characters into the modern-day world doesn’t really work, and that updating them into our world betrays them somehow, loses their original magic. There is a reason that Richard Donner’s Superman had an origin of midwest 1940s Americana; it faithfully translated the characters depression-era origins, the non-cynical simpler days of an America long gone. Man of Steel brought the character to our times and it lost all its charm. That seems to be happening to Spider-Man.
But anyway, I’m starting to sound like some kind of crazy nerd having a geekasm. Fortunately I’ve got two weighty Marvel Ominbus volumes (one of the Lee/Ditko run, the other a big slice of the Lee/Romita run) of The Amazing Spider-Man to retreat to, and try to forget these last five attempts at bringing him to the silver screen ever happened.