The …um… other Spider-man Movies! (Part Two)

So we covered the flawed, yet still pretty awesome, trilogy of Spider-Man films here, and while there was still plenty of room for stories to tell with the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and the universe Sam Raimi crafted, Sony Pictures decided that Spider-Man 3 was to be the last installment in the series. They rebooted the franchise, and drafted director Marc Webb (kind of ironic) and cast Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man for the new series. The new franchise improved on the work the previous group did in a lot of ways, most notably casting and effects, and had some missteps of their own, which we will try to cover below.

 

Amazing Spider-man poster

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)

Directed by: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker / Spider-man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Rhys Ifans (Dr. Curt Connors / The Lizard), Dennis Leary (Captain Stacy), Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben), Sally Field (Aunt May), and Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson)

Plot: Peter Parker is bit by a genetically modified spider gaining the proportionate strength and agility of a human spider. When his Uncle Ben is killed by a robber he could have stopped, he learns that ‘with great power must come great responsibility’. Now, as Spider-Man he must battle the monstrous Lizard to save the people of New York, and as Peter Parker explore his new relationship with Gwen Stacy while working with Dr. Curt Connors to learn more about the mysterious death of his parents and his father’s work they may have been killed for.

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The Amazing Spider-Movies! – Part One

Tobey Maguire / Andrew Garfield

Because you demanded it, we’re back with more breakdowns of the super hero movies you love, hate, and love to hate! Last time we covered the terrifying highs and gut wrenching, suicide inducing lows of the Batman franchise. This time we’re going with something a bit lighter, the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man franchises. That’s right, five movies of web slinging, cool villains, not so cool villains, great character moments, horrible character misfires, great casting, worst case scenario casting, all of it. From Raimi to Webb, Dunst/Howard to Stone, Maguire to Garfield, we’ll cover it all.

First up, the one that started it all, and really kicked the super hero movie craze of the early 21st century into gear…

 

Spider-man Movie Poster

Spider-man (2002)

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Starring: Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn), Cliff Robertson (Uncle Ben), Rosemary Harris (Aunt May), J. K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), Joe Manganiello (Flash Thompson), Elizabeth Banks (Betty Brant), and Bruce Campbell

Plot: Peter Parker is bit by a genetically modified spider gaining the proportionate strength and agility of a human spider. After his Uncle Ben is killed by a car jacker and he learns the killer is a man he could have stopped before, he tragically learns the lesson ‘with great power must also come great responsibility’. Now, as Spider-Man, he tries to balance fighting crime and the new menace of the Green Goblin with his personal life, which includes his now widowed Aunt May, his best friend (and son of his new enemy) Harry Osborn, and the girl he loves, Mary Jane Watson, as well as a new job taking pictures for J Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle.

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Top 10 Spider-Man Villains

villains

As I argued in the first Not-So-Great Debate, Spider-Man has the greatest rogue’s gallery in all of comics. This menagerie of maniacs, aliens, and general all-around freaks is top-to-bottom awesome. That said, there is definitely a cream of the freakshow crop when it comes to the ol’ webhead’s villains, and with that in mind, here are my top ten:

 

1. Dr. Octopus

doc ock
Old bowl cut is one seriously nasty bastard. One of Spidey’s first villains, Doc Ock has been a staple of the rogue’s gallery for over 50 years now. But what puts him at the top of the list? Well, for one, he was responsible for the death of Captain George Stacy, so there’s that. He’s also extremely dangerous, and crazy smart. He formed the Sinister Six, and has led many of their incarnations against Spider-Man. He once held NY hostage with the threat of nuclear annihilation, and didn’t even bother asking for a ransom until AFTER he had armed the bomb and set the timer. He even tried to marry Aunt May (ew) in order to obtain access to an island she had inherited that had a nuclear reactor on it.

More recently, and perhaps most famously, he discovered the beatings he’s taken over the years were killing him, and used his last few months to try to imprint his consciousness into every machine in New York, and used his Sinister Six to essentially hold the whole world hostage before, in his last few days, transferring his consciousness into Spider-Man’s body, leaving Peter Parker to actually die in his nasty old body while he took over the body of Spider-Man!

superior spider-man

After upgrading some tech, and hiring a bunch of henchmen to do his bidding, Ock spent a good bit running around as the “Superior Spider-Man”, wrecking the crap out of Peter’s personal life before eventually giving Peter his body back to do what he couldn’t, which is deal with the next goon on the list. It is his time in Peter’s body, combined with the fact that he actually pulled the switch off and the total bastard way he did it that earns Ock the top spot on the list.

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The Not-So-Great Debate #1

The Not-so-Great-Debate: Battle of the Rogues
Batman / Spider-man

One of my favorite things about reading comics is the sheer amount of debates you can have about them. Who is cooler: Batman or Superman? Who is faster: Quicksilver or the Flash? Who would win: the Hulk or the Thing? Burton Batman or Nolan Batman? Married Spider-Man or single Spider-Man? Cyclops’ X-Men or Wolverine’s X-Men? Captain America or Iron Man? Avengers or X-Men?

I’ve always been interested in these conversations. When I worked at a comic book store, one of my favorite things was to listen to the arguments customers would have (especially the younger ones). The best one I ever heard was between three brothers: One was about twelve, the next probably 9 or 10, and the youngest was 7-ish.

They were debating which Robin was the coolest. The oldest loved Jason Todd, the second Robin that was murdered by the Joker, but mostly because of his time as the Red Hood since his unfortunate resurrection. The youngest was ALL ABOUT Tim Drake, and thought the other two were insane to even entertain this notion that there could ever be a Robin that measured up (for my money, he’s right, but that might be a topic for another day). The middle one had a strong argument, as he thought the best Robin was the first one- Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing (and replacement Batman). They went back and forth for probably twenty minutes, and it never devolved into shouting, or name calling, or anything like that. It was really just each kid making their case (“Tim beat the Joker! Without Batman!”). I remembered that conversation recently, and thought that there could be some entertainment value in something like that.

So, I called up Erik Slader (of EpikFAILs.com) and we settled on a topic that we come down on opposite sides of. We’re going to go back and forth, at least until we have each made our cases. If one of us can convince the other that we’re right, all the better, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…

Our first topic of discussion:

“Who has the better villains: Spider-Man or Batman?”

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ComicZombie: The best super-heroes always have awesome villains. Superman has Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, and Doomsday; the Flash has Professor Zoom and the Rogues, whereas the X-Men have Apocalypse, Sinister, Magneto (sometimes), Sentinels, the Marauders, and just about every human on Earth; Daredevil has the Kingpin, Bullseye, Lady Bullseye, the Hand, Mr. Hyde, the Owl, and Mr. Fear, while the Fantastic Four have Dr. Doom; and the list goes on and on for the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and so on and so on.

However, I don’t think there is any debate that the heroes with the greatest villains are: Batman and Spider-Man. I also don’t think there’s any debate that Spider-Man edges out Batman for the title, but that’s why we’re here.

Batman has awesome villains, yes. But the real appeal for his rogues is really all at the top of the list; the heavy hitters, for lack of a better term. Spider-Man’s group of freaks is awesome all the way from the real bigs, like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, etc to the guys that are practically hopeless, like the Shocker, Hydro Man, Boomerang, Cardiac, and a whole host of others. Granted, most of the appeal is at the top as well, but Spidey has more “A-list” villains than Batman does. His rogue’s gallery as a whole is just better.

ErikSmash!: So the duel Begins… 

Of course both of these dubious super-villain team-ups have their own merits, but on behalf of all Fan-boys and Geek-girls out there, I’m going to have to side with BATMAN’s rogues gallery as the best in all of comic-dom.

I might be a DC loyalist, yet even I can admit that your friendly neighborhood SPIDER-MAN has an all-star cast of costumed crazies, and perhaps even the best rogues gallery.. in the MARVEL universe that is!, but you have got to be shitting me if you think for a second that Spidey’s baddies are anywhere near the archetypal greatness that are the foes of the Dark Knight! Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, The JOKER! All these characters are so awesome they often overshadow the hero. It can be argued that as cool as Batman is, it’s his villains that make him legendary, these are tales so psychologically metaphorical they will last the test of time and have already proven their versatility in their various reincarnations over the ‘Ages’ (Gold through Platinum).

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight’s entertainment! I only have one question. Where is Harvey Dent?” – the Joker

I’m not going to even bother defending guys like CALENDAR MAN, MAXIE-ZUES, KG-BEAST, KILLER-MOTH, or VENTRILOQUIST, for example, but even those guys have had their moments, and can cause some serious trouble for Gotham’s Knight. However, when it comes to Batman’s rather extensive (and ever-growing) rogue’s gallery, the numerous heavy hitters far exceed those of the bottom of the barrel rejects. So let’s start with the one that is more acclaimed than all of Spider-man’s bad guys put together:

THE JOKER! From his first eerie introduction in Batman #1 to Heath Ledger’s terrifying portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy, this agent of anarchy is the essence of nightmares. Not only that, but as perhaps Batman’s ultimate arch-enemy, you’ve got a perfect foil for one dark and brooding, ever-stoic, crusader of justice, versus: an unstable, unpredictable, laughing terrorist, dressed in a purple suit with makeup and green hair, whose only out to prove that life is meaningless, and doesn’t even care if you get his inside jokes. Denny O Neal once claimed that the Joker is not only one if the greatest comic book villains, but that he’s right up there with the other great villains in all of literature. My favorite thing about the character is that almost everything he does has an ulterior motive, or worse: not motive at all. For instance, when the Joker brutally murders your best friend in a most horrific (albeit humorous) manner there’s a 50/50 chance that it was either a spur of the moment idea that conveniently presented itself, or was simply an elaborate plan to drive you over the edge of sanity itself. Check out ‘The Man Who Laughs’ by Ed Brubaker (featuring a retelling of his first encounter with the Batman, following ‘Year One’), ‘The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore (one of the most acclaimed and pivotal Joker tales), or better yet: Brian Azzarello’s chilling graphic novel simply entitled, ‘JOKER’!

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