By Jonathan Decker (Clinical Director, LMFT)
With the franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, getting good buzz and arriving in theaters next week, I thought it time to take a retrospective look at Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, which arguably kicked the current superhero craze into high gear. While it's true that Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000) got the ball rolling, it was the enormous popularity of Spider-Man ten years ago that got studios to sit up and take notice that the genre was hot again. Fans of The Avengers, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight, pay your respects, as without the Spidey films we'd likely not be enjoying such a superhero Rennaissance. As always, “like” my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter for regular updates.
THE STORY: Nerdy social outcast Peter Parker gets bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider and develops super-strength, incredible speed and agility, a sixth-sense for impending danger, the ability to climb walls, and the capacity to shoot webs from his wrists. He graduates high school and begins working as a freelance photographer. Feeling responsible for his uncle's death (he let the shooter get away), he takes up the mantle of crimefighting superhero, battling (and defeating) his best friend Harry's mad scientist father, who accidentally impales himself trying to kill Peter. Harry swares vengeance on the masked vigilante Spider-Man, not knowing that Peter is the man behind the mask. Peter's loyalty and sweetness win him the heart of his dream girl, Mary-Jane Watson, but desiring to protect her from his enemies he denies his true feelings for her.
MY TAKE: A colorful and energetic origin story that perfectly captures both the awkward longing of adolescent romance and the geek fantasy of gaining superpowers, Spider-Man boasts well-developed characters and admirable pacing. While some of the effects haven't aged well, the tone is inconsistent, and the villain's plans/motives aren't clear, there is still much to like here, especially the Toby Maguire-Kirsten Dunst chemistry, Danny Elfman's memorable score, and Raimi's inventive direction. Spider-Man sets a solid foundation on which a great trilogy could have been built. GRADE: B+
CORE MESSAGE: “With great power comes great responsibility.“