A Look Back At Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man film mania is reaching new levels of excitement with the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and the revelation that the latest Spider-Man film will introduce the previous cinematic universes of older Marvel films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This was seen with appearances of the Spider-Man villains from the original Spidey films, which heralds many highly anticipated crossover events for future MCU films. With all this hoopla it is time to take a look at the original Spider-Man film trilogy that was directed by Sam Raimi from 2002 to 2007.

The very first film based on Marvel Comics’ most popular superhero, Spider-Man, helped usher in a new age of superhero films at the turn of the century that eventually changed the cinematic landscape.

For the longest time it seemed as if there never would be a live-action film about Spider-Man. Marvel Comics, then later Marvel Entertainment, had the hardest time properly adapting their properties into respectable films or TV shows. The best they achieved was The Incredible Hulk TV show from the ’70s. Then things turned around with the releases of Blade (1998) and X-Men (2000). With those film successes it was only natural for Marvel to turn to its flagship superhero.

Before Marvel was acquired by Disney, the film rights to their characters were sold to major and minor studios. This created a legal mess when it came to Spider-Man as it prevented a film from being produced. The best known effort was a film to be directed by James Cameron. Rumors had it that Leonardo DeCaprio was slated to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and the film would have deviated wildly from the famous comic book source. One of those changes was that instead of crafting web shooters, Spider-Man had the ability to shoot his own organic webbing. This turned out to be one change that survived in the eventual Spider-Man, released on May 3, 2002 and directed by Sam Raimi, known by fans for his Evil Dead and Darkman films.

Spider-Man is a largely faithful adaptation of the Marvel Comics story about Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), a lonely and nerdy teenager in Queens, New York, who is bitten by a genetically altered spider during a class field trip at a laboratory. This updated the origin in that the spider was not radioactive as in the comics. During the ’60s radiation exposure was the cause du jour for how characters gained super powers. Of course, most people know better today that such exposure would have been fatal to living organisms such as humans!

Naturally, Peter developed spider-based powers because the venom from the spider’s bite changed his DNA. While he is elated with his new powers and physique he is pining for his next-door neighbor, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). She comes from a troubled home but hides her pain by exhibiting an outgoing and friendly demeanor. While the two seem attracted to each other she has a boyfriend with his own car. Being that he doesn’t have a lot of money, Peter decided to enter a wrestling exhibition to win money to buy a car.

He’s dropped off near the exhibition by his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), who tried to counsel Peter about his growing pains, but the teenager disregarded him. For the wrestling match, Peter adopted a flashy costumed identity that covered most of his face and called himself the Human Spider. The announcer (Bruce Campbell in the first of many humorous cameos in these films) renamed him Spider-Man and watched in disbelief, along with the audience, as Peter took out his far larger opponent.

Looking for his reward, Peter is instead ripped off by the wrestling promoter, who refused to pay him over a technicality. After Peter left his office, the promoter is immediately robbed at gunpoint, and the robber was able to escape because Peter refused to stop him. This decision would later haunt him as the same robber killed Uncle Ben in a carjacking. Afterwards, Peter bitterly recalled his uncle’s message about “with great power comes great responsibility” and decided to use his powers for good as Spider-Man.

During Peter’s emotional journey, Spider-Man examined the story of Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), a billionaire industrialist and head of his company Oscorp. Facing competition and deadlines as a military contractor, Osborn subjected himself to an experimental chemical that enhanced his strength, durability and reflexes, but was driven insane. Peter and Osborn’s paths are intertwined as Peter’s friendship with Osborn’s son, Harry (James Franco), develops. Harry is also dating Mary Jane, but is aware of the mutual attraction Peter and Mary Jane have for each other. Meanwhile, Osborn adopted the armored identity of the criminal Green Goblin, and soon came into conflict with Spider-Man.

Continue reading

The Impactful Success Of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the latest film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), defied expectations and debuted to a stunning $71 million take at the box office this weekend and has a combined total of $90 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend. This shattered box office records not just for the year but for the Labor Day weeken in general. Usually by this time of the year the box office becomes a dumping ground for films as the summer season winds down. But Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings upended that,

Given the pandemic the success is stunning and portends to the eventual recovery of theaters. It also supports the idea that the current hybrid model of releasing a film at the same time as it is available for home streaming has a negative impact on a film’s box office take. Just look at the failure of The Suicide Squad and to a lesser extent the disappointing earnings for Black Widow. If a film is exclusively available in theaters and it is a high-profile film, it will do well. Not as well as it could have pre-pandemic but it still successful. Another good example is Free Guy, which performed much better than expected because it was a well-made film and you only could see it in theaters.

The key factor in the success of Free Guy and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is that they were well received and had good buzz, especially with the MCU film which earned rave reviews. Not only that but the public is eager for new MCU content and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings offered something new for fans. Namely, that the film focused on persons of color, and explored a new side of the MCU. Given that this film and Black Panther performed well, expect future MCU to feature other persons of color such as Latinos. America Chavez will appear in the next Doctor Strange film and could be spun off into her own film. Maybe the Puerto Rican hero White Tiger could be the next hot property for the MCU. What is important for these films to succeed is quality, both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Black Panther demonstrated that people will go see a film if it is well made and exciting.

Aside from its merits, the success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has already had a positive impact with future films. Whereas Sony Pictures delayed the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage to mid-October, the film studio has now moved up the film to October 1. There were rumors that Eternals might be delayed as well as Spider-Man: No Way Home until society recoverd more from the pandemic. We have seen the release dates for the upcoming Tom Cruise films Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: impossible 7 delayed to 2022 because of the pandemic. Those rumors for the MCU films, however, are unlikely to come to pass as more and more people are getting vaccinated and the case numbers should start to fall later this year. To date, the release dates for those films have not changed.

Of course, it will take a lot more time for theaters to achieve the earnings they enjoyed pre-pandemic, but recent releases like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings have shown that there is a bright future ahead for theaters and fans.

Who Will Be The Sixth Member Of The Sinister Six In Spider-Man: No Way Home?

Long before the first trailer finally dropped for Spider-Man: No Way Home and people glimpsed the many villains featured in the trailer, there has been lots of speculation about the villains. Specifically, the Sinister Six, the villain group comprised of Spider-Man’s most famous enemies. The trailer showed at least one member of that group and the trailer showed evidence of other members, which came to five. So, who is the sixth member of the Sinister Six in the film?

First off, let’s clear the air, it is doubtful we will get a faithful version of that group first seen in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. That line-up consited of Doctor Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, the Vulture, Sandman and Electro and they formally combined their forces to take on their mutual enemy, though they did so rather stupidly. Instead of teaming up together and taking out Spidey at once they decided to confront him one by one during separate occasions, which gave him a chance to defeat them individually. From looking at the trailer it appears as if the Sinister Six is not a formal group, but a collection of foes that plague Spidey.

Getting back to the main question, let’s go over who will appear. According to reports, aside from Doctor Octopus who made an appearance and Green Goblin, as evidenced by a pumpkin bomb, the other three villains were Electro, the Lizard and Sandman. The latter three were only hinted at and noticed by careful examiners of the trailer. These villains were featured in previous Spider-Man films and that could provide an answer to the sixth member. The other Spider-Man films featured Venom, Rhino, Shocker, Vulture, two versions of the Green Goblin based on Harry Osborn and Mysterio.

While Spider-Man has an impressive rogues gallery with foes who have not appeared in live action yet, it’s doubtful we will see them in Spider-Man: No Way Home. To include one of them at this point would not make sense because they haven’t had the exposure to have an impact when they appear. That, unfortunately, leaves out classic foes like Kraven or Chameleon or the Scorpion. These three would have made a great impact in a more grounded Spider-Man film that followed up the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home and fully explored the ramifications of Spider-Man’s identity being exposed. Instead, the new film will explore the Multiverse concept of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and other cinematic universes based on Marvel characters. On the other hand, the Scorpion’s alter ego, Max Gargan, was introduced in the first MCU Spider-Man film which hinted at his returning to menace Spidey. Spider-Man: No Way Home could be used to further develop Gargan after he is turned into the Scorpion.

If this doesn’t happen in Spider-Man: No Way Home then the two other logical choices for the sixth member are either the Vulture or Mysterio. This version of the Sinister Six so far includes Spider-Man enemies not seen in the MCU and needs someone from the MCU to tie the MCU version of Spider-Man more closely to the group.

It’s possible both villains could appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home but it will most likely be just one, but who? Vulture has more personal ties to Spider-Man and his alter ego. Plus, he appeared in the trailer for the Sony/Marvel film Morbius so this film could further establish ties to Morbius. Mysterio returning would make sense, even though he was killed in Spider-Man: Far From Home. However, given his dubious nature and talent for misdirection, it is likely he faked his own death and give the MCU Spider-Man the chance to deal with him once and for all.

Then again the film could throw us off completely and give us Venom or someone completely unexpected like Morlun or the Hobgoblin. We’ll find out in just a few short months. Let the speculation continue until then!

The Outrageous Return Of The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), directed by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and is currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Beware of some spoilers after this notice.

This standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad features returning characters Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and captured supervillains Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who as part of the secret United States black ops group Task Force X, are sent on a literal suicide mission by U.S. operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to the island nation of Corto Maltese, along with new characters such as Weasel (motion captured by Sean Gunn), and Blackguard (Pete Davison). However, this group is almost wiped out at the start of the film, with only Flag and Harley surviving and captured by the military of Corto Maltese. It’s revealed that they are a decoy team for a second team led by other captured supervillains Bloodsport (Idris Elba), King Shark (motion captured by Steve Agee and voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Peacemaker (John Cena) and Polka Dot Man (David Mastmalchian), who also arrive on the island at another location. They are supposed to destroy a secret weapon, which is later revealed to be an extraterrestrial entitiy known as Starro, a gigantic starfish that can seemingly destroy the world.

The second group eventually rescues Flag, who was actually captured by rebels intent on overthrowing the island’s military government. Harley is able to escape by herself in an exciting and colorful action sequence and then she joins up with the rest of the Suicide Squad. They eventually head to a secret research facility housing Starro, leading to the biggest action scenes in The Suicide Squad with the group showing off their abilities and a surprise confrontation when the US government’s role with Starro is revealed. The final battle features the gigantic alien starfish ready to destroy a city Godzilla style and the members of the squad fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. The conclusion is both crazy, outrageous and creepy, which demonstrates the overall feel of the movie quite well.

The interaction between the characters is a highlight with Bloodsport and Ratcatcher 2 forming a father-daughter bond, and King Shark providing good comic relief with his quest for food (namely human) and friendship. Peacemaker’s contradictory love of violence in the name of peace and his rivalries with Bloodsport and Rick Flag is also enjoyable, as is Polka Dot Man’s neurosis over his mother who he sees as literally everyone. Harley is as zany and psychotic as she has been since the first Suicide Squad, lethal one minute and a seemingly ditzy blonde the next.

The connection with the first film is minimal with this film having a separate plot, although it’s not a reboot as some earlier reports said. The tone of The Suicide Squad is somewhat lighter than the previous one with numerous musical interludes and humorous moments throughout. Some of these scenes go on too long which explains the two-hour-plus running time that does stop the momentum of the plot, but the film makes up for this during the hectic finale. The killing off of the first team at the start of the film is somewhat unfortunate as we never get to know them well, though some of them warranted more screen time. One advantage the first film had was the presence of more familiar characters, such as the Joker and Killer Croc, and a more intense feel, but the new film is still an enjoyable experience that has great action scenes and over-the-top violence. That is one thing to keep in mind if watching it with kids. There are numerous gory scenes with decapitations, King Shark devouring people with glee and faces blown off. It’s rated R and earns it, but at the same time The Suicide Squad doesn’t take itself seriously, which softens the blow and keeps things light.

Overall, The Suicide Squad is an adventurous and outrageous entry into the DCEU, which may point the way to more films like this with James Gunn returning for future unnamed movies, as well as the upcoming spin-off HBO Max series starring John Cena as Peacemaker. We are seeing more interactions like this between the streaming service and theatrical DC and DCEU films with a Gotham PD series to follow The Batman, and a Batgirl movie in the works for HBO Max. This is different than in the past when TV shows such as Gotham, and Krypton were standalone TV shows with no relation whatsoever with any films. This seems to be changing and may point to a more interconnected DC live-action universe. This was hinted at during the CW Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover that had the theatrical DCEU Flash appearing in a cameo. Having the story of The Suicide Squad continue through Peacemaker’s new show is a clear example of this interconnection.

Whether another Suicide Squad movie will be coming is not known at this time, but hopefully, based on the initial reaction to The Suicide Squad, we haven’t seen the last of Task Force X.

C.S. Link

More Genre Film Delays?

Looks like we are heading back to square one with the COVID-19 pandemic. The delta variant of the coronavirus has raised infection numbers worldwide just as it was recovering from the pandemic (thanks maskholes, covidiots, and other morons who either won’t mask up or get vaccinated for stupid reasons). As the COVID-19 cases began to explode in alarming numbers this development seems to be causing film studios to reconsider their release schedule. We all know how severely their original film schedules were thrown out the window when the pandemic first happened last year.

Already, Paramount Pictures announced that they canceled the September 17, 2021 release of Clifford the Big Red Dog to no date certain. While many adult genre fans would not care about that they have to realize the precedent this is setting. The same thing happened last year when the James Bond film No Time to Die had its release date canceled. It was the first major film to be delayed. This eventually caused a ripple effect as the pandemic worsened as we saw that Marvel Studios’ Black Widow was yanked from its May release date with just weeks to go. Can history repeat itself if the film release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is delayed from September 3, 2021 to who knows when? What about Eternals? What about Spider-Man: No Way Home?

That Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures production is the most eagerly awaited offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for the year. But we have yet to see a trailer or even acknowledgement about what it is about or who appears in the film. So the speculation about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will continue. This is concerning for Spider-Man fans because the film is supposed to come out this December and by this time there should have been a trailer, but Sony has not provided any updates on the film. This is fueling speculation that Spider-Man: No Way Home will be delayed.

Adding ammunition to this is that today’s trailer release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage did not have a release date, only the tag: “Exclusively in movie theaters this fall”. The Venom sequel is supposed to be released on September 24, 2021 but by the way things are going, it’s anyone’s guess if this will happen. If Venom: Let There Be Carnage is pushed to October or November this in turn will push Spider-Man: No Way Home’s release date to next year and further delay Sony’s Morbius film.

If Spider-Man: No Way Home is delayed this dominoe will affect the other MCU films slated for future release. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is connected to the Spider-Man film and is the first MCU film of 2022. Will this impact the Disney+ MCU TV shows, as well?

Of course, the delays will create even more tension with Marvel Studios, their parent company, Disney, and Sony. Spider-Man: No Way Home is Sony’s biggest film and they want to get the most bang out of their production so they may want to hold off until next summer. As mentioned above this will disrupt Marvel Studios plans for their films creating more delays. On top of that there are reports that Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige is not happy with Disney over the way they handled the release of Black Widow. He did not favor its simultaneous release onto Disney+ and in theaters, which caused the film to lose money in the box office. And he was sided with Black Widow’s star Scarlett Johansson, who is suing Disney. This could be the start of the unraveling of the Golden Period of the MCU. Who knows where this will end? Perhaps Feige may eventually jump ship and go work at another film studio. Warner Brothers will take him in a second!

At least for Warner Brothers, their DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films may not be as affected as The Suicide Squad is coming out this week and they don’t have any DCEU films slated for release until next summer. Hopefully by then the unvaccinated will get a clue and we’ll be able to put this disease behind us. Their other genre films like Dune and the new sequel to The Matrix, which were slated for release this year, will also stream on HBO Max. So they might stick to the schedule for the rest of the year. As we have seen throughout the pandemic this release strategy will dampen box office returns. Keep in mind, both Warner Bros. and Disney have announced they will discontinue this practice. That could change if the pandemic doesn’t abide soon.

For now, it is too soon to say where things will end. Perhaps infection and death rates will plummet or booster shots to combat the delta variant will be distributed soon to put the vaccinated at ease. There are reports that vaccination rates are increasing so hopefully by the end of the month we can see better numbers. Of course, this grousing about delayed genre film releases cannot compare to the pain and misery that the coronavirus is causing among us. We all have to do our part, which includes continuing to mask up (even if we’re vaccinated), washing up, social distancing, and the other efforts to stop the spread of the virus. OK, PSA is over, whether or not these films we love get delayed it’s more important to stay safe and enjoy the many other media that is still available for our enjoyment.