When Rebooting Stops Making Sense

It had to happen. There's finally a weekend when there are two at least halfway-decent looking movies opening, and I can't get to the theatre without a dogsled. But I'm not ranting about snow, or even about politics. There's quite enough of that going on around here already.

No, I'm wondering about Spider-Man. That's right. Hey, it's a burning issue.

I realize that Spider-Man 3 tanked, relatively speaking. That's a known hazard of sequels. And I think I even know why it tanked, at least partly. The people working on it started thinking of it as just another Hollywood blockbuster franchise instead of Spider-Man. Spider-Man isn't about the shiny, expensive stuff, like Iron Man; and Peter Parker is even less about the expensive stuff. He was supposed to be a struggling student, photographer, and occasionally reluctant street-level super-hero. (I mean street-level in the sense that his main opponents are bank robbers, muggers, and assorted thugs. Sometimes, as with Dr. Octopus, the bank robbers have some unusual extra abilities to help them out, but Spidey's not normally one for fighting villains that might destroy the whole world, like the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. Given his penchant for swinging around everywhere, Spider-Man's rarely actually at street-level.)

The point is, they fell prey to sequel syndrome. It happens.

Rather than bounce back from this third-movie slump like the Shrek franchise, though, they decided to reboot, and I'm still scratching my head over the whole thing.

They want to focus on Spider-Man's younger years, apparently. My first thought, way back before any actor's names were announced, was that they were going to go back to a young, super-powerless Peter Parker trying to survive the horrors of grade school. But that didn't sound very workable as a super-hero flick.

My next thought was that they'd cast some teen heartthrob type to play the high-school age Peter Parker and re-show his origin for some reason. Odd, but better.

However, I'm not entirely sure that Andrew Garfield, who I last saw as Eddie the hapless reporter in the Red Riding trilogy, is the way to go if that's what they're after. Sure, he's younger than Tobey Maguire, but he's still twenty-seven. And though he was born in Los Angeles, his family moved to England when he was four, and he sounded pretty solidly English in the aforementioned films, so I hope he can shake that.

Don't get me wrong, I like his acting, and thank goodness they didn't cast someone who's only ever been on something like One Tree Hill, or whatever you young folks are watching these days. But I'm still not sure they're realizing where they went wrong before and are now heading to the same place from a different angle. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben? Sally Field as Aunt May? It just feels so wrong somehow. And I'm still trying to wrap my mind around Denis Leary as Gwen Stacy's father. I think it makes me feel old.

I'm also leery (no pun intended) of the Proto-Goblin as villain. It's about time we saw the Lizard after all the buildup, but the Proto-Goblin thing smacks of trying to cash in on the previous hype over the character.

In the comics, at least, the Proto-Goblin was some poor schmuck who worked for OsCorp and was used as a guinea pig for the serum that the real Goblin eventually took. Sounds odd, right? Looked at one way, since the Proto-Goblin experiment didn't turn out too well, so you'd think Norman Osborn would've done something to fix that before taking it himself. On the other hand, the whole idea behind the creation of the Goblin (I always thought) was that Norman was too crazy to experiment properly and avoid that entire going insane mess, so why did he ever try it out on anyone else at all?

However it happened, the movie's being filmed, and is due for next Fourth of July weekend, so you know they're hoping for big things. And I hope it works out. The last thing we need is for the whole genre of comic-book movies to devolve to the level of The Green Hornet.

Spider-Men. Garfield vs. Maguire in the Ultimate Showdown!


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Batman, Hulk, Superman,

Batman, Hulk, Superman, Spiderman... When are they going to reboot Iron Man, I wonder?

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