“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” Canon Review (SPOILERS)

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This movie was good. Like, really good. Like, better than the first one. I am writing this immediately after seeing it at an advance screening. This will not be a review of movie; there are plenty of those already floating around the internet. Besides, I already said the film rocked. Instead, this will examine the canonicity and fan service I observed after one viewing of the film.

Firstly, “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed the canon of the source material quite well. I enjoyed how the story involved Peter’s parents, a topic that had yet to be explored in-depth in the Spider-Man film franchise. If you are a not a fan of the comics, you will still enjoy the movie for its pure entertainment value. If you are a fan of the comics, you will appreciate the references to the comics as well as the pure entertainment value.

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Regarding fan service, “The Amazing Spider-Man” there were many winks at the comics. Call them Easter eggs, call them whatever you want. Here are just a few that I noticed (I’m sure there are some I missed):

There is a brief shot of Peter Parker wearing a protective rubber suit. This is probably a nod to Amazing Spider-Man #425, where Spidey creates his “Electro-proof” rubber suit.

There is a brief image of the Roosevelt Island tram car. This may be coincidence, but it may be a reference to the first Tobey Maguire movie, where he saves the tram car full of children from the Green Goblin.

In Peter Parker’s room, he has a Ramones poster on his wall. The Ramones famously recorded a cover of the 1967 Spider-Man animated series theme song. (This is like in “The Avengers” when Tony Stark is wearing a Black Sabbath shirt, a clear nod to their hit song “Iron Man.”)

Peter’s cell phone ringtone is the 1967 theme song.

Spider-Man (almost) ruining Peter Parker’s graduation is just like Amazing Spider-Man #185.

In Oscorp’s secret laboratory, there are bits of gear for other Sinister Six members, such as Doctor Octopus’s arms, the Vulture’s wings, the Rhino suit, and what appears to be Mysterio’s helmet.

Ravencroft, the supervillain containment facility (complete with Dr. Kafka), appears, and its counterpart, The Vault, is mentioned in passing.

One of the Oscorp employees is named “Felicia,” likely supposed to be Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat. Max Dillon calls another employee “Mr. Smythe,” clearly Spencer Smythe, the creator of the Spider-Slayers (this also makes sense, given that he works at Oscorp).

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The iconic death of Gwen Stacy was handled quite elegantly. With such a famous storyline (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122), it had to be done carefully. There are slight deviations from the strictest comic book canon, specifically her death taking place in a clock tower instead of at the George Washington Bridge, and also her death being at the hands of Harry Osborn, not Norman Osborn, but for the purposes of the narrative, I think these artistic choices were just fine. Her death was tragic, just as it should have been.

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I did feel like there were a few minor problems with the movie. Firstly, the graduation scene felt similar to the Tobey Maguire films. I think this is a common complaint among lukewarm fans, since they feel like the Maguire films were not far enough in the past to warrant a reboot. As a fanboy, I eat these movies up, but even I still was thinking, “I’ve seen this already.” I know Hollywood has to make this series stand on its own two feet, apart from its predecessor, but I think it’s safe to assume that the average viewer has seen the old films. Thus, when I see the same stuff rehashed, it just makes me want to see something new.

The inclusion of the Rhino felt forced. I love the character of the Rhino, but it seemed like he was just included as a teaser for the next movie and fodder for the movie’s trailer. I get that it was supposed to symbolize that everything had come full-circle in the story, but I think that character could have waited until part 3. At least his costume looked cool.

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I thought the new movie developed the characters of both Harry Osborn and Max Dillon sufficiently. I felt pity for Electro. I liked how they made him a nice person who means well. When he first appeared in the middle of city, he was genuinely afraid. Most other villains would start blasting heads off right away. Dillon didn’t want to resort to violence. He was provoked. I enjoyed this tragic, misunderstood Electro character. Harry Osborn, too, was well done. He reminded me of Draco Malfoy, in his slimy-yet-somehow-lovable personality. His character’s slow descent into madness was underplayed, but in a good way. The film didn’t make it too obvious, and I appreciated that.

All in all, this was a very good installment in the “Amazing Spider-Man” series. People were speculating that it would fall victim to the same problem from the third Maguire movie had: too many villains, and not enough character development. And the dance scene. (But I won’t beat a dead horse.)

I feel that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was well-made and enjoyable. It appeals to both longtime fans and to those non-fans who think they might have seen one of the Tobey Maguire films, but they don’t remember which one it is, but they think it was the one with Octopus Man, but they aren’t sure. I certainly recommend giving “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” a watch, wherever you fall on that spectrum.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Canon Review (Minor Spoilers)

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It was amazing. It was spectacular. It was sensational.

It was perfect.

I could not have asked for a better movie. But, if you’re looking for people to rant and/or rave about “The Amazing Spider-Man,” look elsewhere. I’m here merely to discuss the major differences and deviations from the canon of the Spider-Man comics and 2000s trilogy. Since its 3:12 AM, I will make this fairly brief.

– The story of Uncle Ben’s death, though more or less true to the comic and trilogy canon (wrestling match, Peter is cheated, lets a burglar go), a minor difference was that the initial encounter with the burglar took place in a convenience store. As per the comic canon, the burglar is as yet unnamed. (I hope he stays that way.)

– Gwen Stacy is a brilliant scientist. Though she was never depicted as a bad student in the comics, she was never really shown as a bookworm. In the 2012 film, she is one of Dr. Connors’ top interns. This deviates a bit from the canon of 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” in which Gwen expresses having difficulty in science.

– Captain Stacy is killed by the Lizard. In the comic book “Amazing Spider-Man” #90, he is killed by being crushed under falling debris, dropped by an out-of-control Doctor Octopus. The comic story has him heroically pushing a little boy out of harm’s way, thereby sacrificing his life. Captain Stacy’s death haunts Peter Parker, as he feels partially responsible. (He was the cause of Doctor Octopus losing control of his mechanical arms, thereby knocking the debris.) Obviously, Doctor Octopus does not appear in the 2012 film, so the comic canon is broken, but by necessity. Captain Stacy is killed by the Lizard, but Peter feels the same overtone of responsibility. (Captain Stacy did not play an important role in the 2007 film, so there is no analysis to be had.)

– Richard and Mary Parker were not presented as government agents, as revealed in the 1990s Spider-Man comic story arcs. This is not revealed in the 2012 film, but the scene during the credits suggests this backstory in a sequel.

And who was that at the end? Norman Osborn? Chameleon? Mysterio?

At Long Last… Why I Love Spider-Man.

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I have the comics. I have the toys. I have the movies. I have the shirts. I have the bed sheets. I have the trading cards. I have the lunch boxes. I have the Slurpee cups. I have the Mary Jane limited edition fashion Barbie. Mint in box. Suffice it to say, I like Spider-Man. And when I say I like Spider-Man, what I mean is, I love Spider-Man. And when I say I love Spider-Man, I mean I humbly consider myself to be the biggest Spider-Man fanatic in the history of ever. Anyone who has ever met me knows this. But for over a decade, I have been asked this question:

Why do you love Spider-Man?

After years of wanting to write this, I felt it was appropriate, given the time. If you weren’t aware, 2012 is a big year for the Wall-Crawler. There are some major events happening in his life these days, including, as I’m sure you all know, the new summer blockbuster “The Amazing Spider-Man.” 2012 also marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic “Amazing Fantasy #15,” the first-ever Spider-Man comic book. On top of that, “Amazing Spider-Man” (the comic series, not the movie) #700 is just around the corner. What a year.

To begin, it’s important to know a bit of (very) basic Spidey history. I’ll try not to bore you.

By the early 1960s, comic books had established themselves as big business. Hundreds of colorful publications were released each month, so it was no surprise that companies were trying to cash in on the extreme popularity of the genre. Enter Stan Lee. He and a partner had created the idea for a superhero that would break the traditional mold. What if, instead of being a handsome, successful adult, if he was just a geeky high school kid? This idea appealed to the younger audience, and Spider-Man became an overnight sensation.

For almost half a century, Spider-Man has been the flagship character of Marvel Comics. He is arguably the most popular superhero of all time, and has been seen in everything from comics to vinyl records.

So why do I love him? Why is it that, some 50 years later, he is still recognized and adored all across the world?

It’s hard for me to be unbiased, but I’ll do my best. I think Spider-Man is so popular because he is so relatable. In high school, he was picked on relentlessly. He has relationship problems. He is no stranger to death, betrayal, and psychological torment. He has been shot. He has had friends struggle with drug addiction. He has been fired from jobs. He has difficulty balancing his personal and vigilante lives. He catches colds. He misses rent payments. In other words, he is human.

Can’t you relate? Don’t we all feel like we have this “Parker luck” sometimes? Spider-Man is a wonderful character because we all have a bit of him in us. When Peter Parker dons his costume, he is no longer Peter Parker. He is you and he is me. The person under that mask could be male, female, black, white, gay, straight… he is all of us. Despite his best efforts to use his great power responsibly, he is constantly criticized. Tell me you can’t relate to that.

There is more to it, though. Spider-Man is clearly a tortured soul, but he is also just a great character. If you’ve never read his comics, I strongly encourage it. The writing is top notch, if not a little on the campy side. Spider-Man’s adventures take us deep into his complex psyche. He is constantly struggling to do what is right, but when justice is not black and white, we get a window into his inner self. He often finds himself questioning spirituality, and questioning his own purpose. How real.

Furthermore, Spider-Man doesn’t always win. He fails, and how powerful it is to see him fail. No matter how hard he tries, sometimes he just doesn’t win. We all love to root for the underdog, but what an interesting juxtaposition it is to have the superhero often be the underdog. It definitely makes for some great stories.

As with any superhero, Spider-Man serves as a sort of escape from the harsh realities of life. We like to imagine selfless heroes who exist to keep us safe. Spider-Man should not be dismissed as childish for his family friendliness, or the nature of his comic literature. He is a developed character to whom we can all relate. If you’re unfamiliar with the character, I suggest picking up a comic or ten. You might be surprised.