The Amazing Spider-Man: Getting Lost Along the Road Already Traveled

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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52 Responses

  1. North says:

    Agreed entirely. Gwen Stacey is the only significant reason to give props to this new version. The originals Mary Jane was a very accurate portrayal but seems washed out and paper thin compared to Emma Stone’s character who seemed a generally well realized and actual person.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I feel socially isolated by not caring for superhero movies.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

      There’s at least two of us.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to MikeSchilling says:

        We should form a league of some sort…Report

        • North in reply to Rufus F. says:

          The League of Ordinary Curmudgeons? (sorry, I like superhero movies)Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to North says:

            That’s the thing right there! I just find them really boring, but other people take that as evidence that I’m against fun or something.Report

            • Ethan Gach in reply to Rufus F. says:

              I like superheores, but still find 90% of the movies boring.Report

            • I’m always baffled that X2 gets praised as a good movie. No offense, Ethan; I just hated that movie.Report

            • MikeSchilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

              The heck with the rest of them, let’s party. You bring The Critique of Pure Reason, and I’ll bring my Mahler’s Fifth CD.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

              Much of the problem, I suspect, is that the majority of Superhero Movies just aren’t very good. Even the ones that are very good (for superhero movies) are more likely to have a really good scene (or couple of scenes) or a spectacular monologue rather than be a good movie in their own right. (For example, the Joker in the most recent Batman movie was *AWESOME* but there were still a handful of plotholes that only appear once you get home.)

              Adrenaline can only carry you so far.

              That said, there are folks who have had to put up with very, very crappy treatments of their favorite heroes. We’re now in an era where they’re playing the stuff straight rather than as high camp (or low camp). Their enthusiasm is understandable.

              I don’t know where the teenagers get off enjoying this stuff so much, though. It’s not like they watched Captain America jump a motorcycle off of the back of a truck AND THAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EPISODE.Report

              • Pyre in reply to Jaybird says:

                It doesn’t hurt that, these days, these same fans have to put up with very crappy treatment of their heroes in the comic books. In fact, I think that the crappy treatment of the heroes in the comic books probably allow said fans to enjoy the movies more.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                Much of the problem, I suspect, is that the majority of Superhero Movies just aren’t very good.

                Which divides us into people who enjoy them in spite of the fact that they’re not very good, and people who don’t enjoy them because they’re not very good. It’s weird to me that my group (the second one) isn’t the majority.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Well, Superhero movies are capable of doing things that straightup action movies can’t do. The Batman movies? I want to say that those movies are wrestling with what happened during 9/11 a hell of a lot more than, say, Flight 93 or World Trade Center did.

                While I enjoyed the Batman movies because, hey, I love me some Batman… I still wrestle with those movies with my inner adult because of the themes that delve much deeper than merely “broody gadgeteer billionaire fights crime”.Report

              • Pyre in reply to Jaybird says:

                But why aren’t they good?

                Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Daniel Craig’s take on Bond.

                As an example, James Bond movies could be considered bad. After all, the movies are very much the same thing over and over. Villain has an improbable scheme. James Bond is dispatched. While not clever, things always fall into place around him and he has a lucky streak to the point that the laws of probability do not apply to him. Through luck and coincidence, James Bond defeats villain and seduces 1+ females in the process. Wash, rinse, repeat with little to no deviation in the formula. However, people keep lining up to see those movies.

                This can be applied to any action movie. In every one of them, you have a hero/heroine who is improbably lucky/tough and takes on an organization that should be able to bury them PDQ. Yet, since good triumphs over evil, it is the organization that is hung out to dry. The only real difference with a superhero movie is that the hero/heroine shows up to work in their pajamas.

                I know some consider superhero movies to be bad for the same reason that gamers complain about live action theatrical release movies. (FF:Advent Children was the first VG movie that did it right. Avoid the theaters and market directly to the fanbase.) The main character is a woman instead of a man or they don’t spend enough time seeking a rooster crest but that seems to be nitpicking from my perspective. When someone tells me that Lady Deathstrike was not part of the Weapon X project, I am less inclined to believe that this ruins the movie so much as I believe that the person hung up on this needs to relax.

                So I guess the question for me comes down to: What makes superhero movies so much worse than the standard action flick?

                Note: If you don’t like action movies, then not liking superhero movies is self explanatory. I’m asking this more for people who do like action movies.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Pyre says:

                Superhero movies – the good ones – have the tension of otherness.

                The hero is not improbably lucky, they’re blessed (or just as often cursed) by circumstance with their powers.

                A good chunk of the better superhero movies is dedicated to the tension of the otherness. Of course, the poor superhero movies just concentrate on, “BOOM! Headshot!”Report

              • “Superhero movies – the good ones – have the tension of otherness.”

                Hmmm…. I had a comment about this that I’ve posted twice in the last two days without success. Must be a supervillian behind it.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Okay, trying again, if we’re going to take the themes of these movies seriously, instead of just seeing them as escapist fun, and I’m totally willing to do so, it seems to me more like the tension of Übermensch otherness. How many superhero movies verge on the authoritarian fantasy that our liberal democracy, laws, and institutions won’t be enough to protect us from some existential threat and we’ll have no choice but to give our genetic superiors or vigilante members of the one percent the leeway to use overwhelming force at their own discretion? It’s a bit like Dirty Harry in spandex.

                [Note: The site considered this comment to be spam. I fixed it.]Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Pyre says:

                It’s very difficult to make a good movie at all. I mean, look at the number of movies that come out in any given year.

                How many of them are actually, seriously, *GOOD*?

                I don’t mean how many of them are entertaining, or how many of them are better than monopoly, or even how many of them are worth the 9 bucks (fewer than would be worth the 7 from a few years ago or the 5 from a few years before that, I tell you what).

                Without getting too far into aesthetics, I’d just ask how many of them fall on the right side of Sturgeon’s Revelation?Report

              • Pyre in reply to Jaybird says:

                But what defines good here?

                As you know, I liked Seeking A Friend for the End of the World but that doesn’t mean that I would want self-reflection for every movie I watch.

                Avengers had quite a few parts that, logically speaking, just slipped into place but I don’t care because it was awesome. That doesn’t mean that (spoilers) V tvir hc gur evtug gb or cvffrq vs n yrffre zbivr unf n “Onat, lbh uvg gur zbgurefuvc naq nyy gur fbyqvref snyy bire qrnq”: Qrhf Rk Znpuvan va gur zbivr.

                Is a movie not “good” if it only has one or two elements that are really good? I found Thor to be kind of average EXCEPT for Loki who is completely awesome. Loki sold the DVD to me but does that make Thor “bad”?

                You mentioned the plotholes in last Dark Knight movie. Does that really make the movie not “good”? I would submit that, if you didn’t think of the plotholes before you left, then they couldn’t have been that big a deal.

                Rather than asking where a movie falls on the right side of Sturgeon’s Revelation, I would ask “Does Sturgeon’s Revelation come off as something that a bitter old man would say?” Not to come off as too confrontational but you watch Pro Wrestling and I think we know where that would fall under Sturgeon’s Revelation.

                In the end, when someone says that “the majority of Superhero Movies just aren’t very good. Even the ones that are very good (for superhero movies) are more likely to have a really good scene (or couple of scenes) or a spectacular monologue rather than be a good movie in their own right.”, I’m going to ask my initial question”But why aren’t they good?” because, in the end, yours was a subjective statement.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Pyre says:

                Not to come off as too confrontational but you watch Pro Wrestling and I think we know where that would fall under Sturgeon’s Revelation.

                95% of it is to be endured. 5%, however, leaves you spent from yelling and saying “oh, yeah, that’s why I watch this stuff.”

                in the end, yours was a subjective statement.

                I assume aesthetic realism. It makes more sense to do so than to just up’n say that Mozart is Jackass is Orwell is 50 Shades Greyer.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Pyre says:

                ?What makes superhero movies so much worse than the standard action flick?

                I wasn’t even thinking of that distinction. To me, action movies are like ice cream. You want some on occasion, but not as a steady diet.Report

  3. Michael E says:

    “How great it would have been to watch, for once, the origin of a superhero from the point of view of a related, let alone female character?”


    If you want many money out of my new book, you’d better copyright this idea right now. This is a phenomenal idea.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael E says:

      Rami spent quite a bit of time on M.J. in his first Spiderman movie.

      Which was annoying, because M.J. wasn’t an interesting character for, like, her first 100 appearances in the comic.Report

  4. Jesse Ewiak says:

    I don’t know, maybe I’m easily fooled, but I’d easily put this Spider-Man on the same level as the original, or in fact, even a little better. Looking back at the original Spider-Man, it is in fact, a little cheesy which I get because Raimi was going for a classic timeless origin instead of a origin that is very 2012.

    Also, I think the idea that Parker is supposed to be this clown-ish buffoon who can’t walk two steps in front of a girl without tripping over himself is kind of silly. For example, the Ultimate Spider-Man version of Peter Parker wasn’t among the “cool kids” in his origin, but he could still talk to girls (such as Mary Jane) without falling over himself.Report

  5. Nob Akimoto says:

    I’m still a bit skeptical about this reboot.

    It just feels like an attempt to cash in on the “shared universe” stuff so that they can eventually shove Spider-Man into the next or the one after iteration of the Avengers.Report

    • Different production studio. I don’t think they can fold it in.Report

    • James K in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      From what I understand it’s the exact opposite. If Sony go without making a Spiderman movie for too long Marvel get the rights back. So this movie is in effect a block on Spiderman showing up in a future Avengers movie.Report

      • North in reply to James K says:

        This is precisely correct: Marvel sold the rights for the Xmen and Spiderman to Sony back when they were an independent company. Disney came in and bought all of Marvel (to a tune of about 4 billion if memory serves) in a deal that a lot of analysts thought was a lemon. Now, with all the various Avenger heroes movies and the Avenger movie itself in the rearview mirror (and the golden glow of sequels shining on the horizon) it looks like Disney is going to make crazy bank off the Marvel acquisition. This is without even talking about the merchandising or theme park tie-ins; Disney is a merchandizing machine and they’ve acquired countless new ideas to merchandise. The future is golden for Disney but a couple of Marvels’ sweetest plums are still out of their reach; Spiderman and the Xmen both still liscenced to Sony.

        If Sony didn’t make a movie then Marvel (Disney) could assert in court that the intellectual property was being left fallow and eventually get control of them back. By making the movie (let alone by making bank off of it) Sony is protecting their ownership of these pieces of property. Note that they’ve been defending their Xmen ownership the same way (Xmen First Class made decent money). When you consider it Marvel really turned out to be a chest full of gold for a company like Disney or Sony.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    Not sure the best place topost this, but the recent formatting changes are really wonky, especially on the subblog. At least that seems to be the case on the iPad and on Safari on Mac. FP seems to work okay, but basically all headers, tool bars, and side bars are missing on the subs I’ve been frequenting.Report

  7. Mike Schilling says:

    Sorry to hijack the comments, but this is awful, Erik. The block-text headers are ugly, the reverse-video links are unreadable, and we’ve lost the comment-specific links.Report

  8. Ryan Noonan says:

    Man! I came to write a short (one paragraph) review of this movie, and I’ve been scooped!

    Well done, though, and I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written here.Report