Sunday, 22 May 2016

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

71. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012, dir. Marc Webb)

22/05/2016


The first time I was properly aware that a film was being made, then remade within my own lifetime was "Batman Begins," released in 2006, seventeen years after Tim Burton's "Batman." This could be said to be justified, as 1997's "Batman & Robin" is generally acknowledged as having ended a franchise, and reinvention was needed more than just a revival.

I don't really watch comic book films, as I buy the books. I don't pick up the Spider-Man comics, although I have a number of the earlier stories, and black-and-white reprints of the complete original run, drawn by co-creator Steve Ditko, which needs to be viewed by everyone as an example of how far away a work of fiction can depart from the original idea.

However, having seen Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire's "Spider-Man" trilogy, I have never seen Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield's version. No matter what changes the original trilogy made, the most obvious which being Peter Parker's organic web-shooters, there was nothing about it that needed to be fixed. Yes, you could change the lead actor, but it doesn't mean you have to start at the beginning again.

Comic book films, as a whole, seem to be a cynical exercise to me anyway. With the main two companies in the United States, DC and Marvel, forming part of large media conglomerates, their books are essentially treated as research and development centres for films, with pages turned into storyboards very easily. Even worse, the characters they have are not used to tell new stories: with the current glut of films, "Batman v Superman" uses stories published in comic book form in 1992 and, counting visuals from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," 1986; "Captain America: Civil War" resells a Marvel Comics event from 2006; and "X-Men: Apocalypse" uses a storyline from around 1993, just when stories and visuals were arguably at their slightest and flashiest.

That Spider-Man is being rebooted again, for another film in 2017, that will tie in with the "Marvel Cinematic Universe," and that Marvel has had to point out that they will not be doing the origin story again this time, sounds depressing. Perhaps, instead of saying how it will be different when it is done next time, the audience could be given a nice surprise instead.

This is why the "Deadpool" film worked so well. It used character unfamiliar to most people, apart from comic book readers, and creating a story to be told as a film, using the fact it is a film, including the 15 / R rating. That the film was trying something different, something said so many times, should not have gone unnoticed.


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