8. The Casting Of Tobey Macguire
Like I said before; Andrew Garfield is a good Peter Parker and a really enjoyable Spider-Man, but Tobey Macguire was better. He was a nerd! A true nerd! He was fit for the character to the tee and transformed into a superhero throughout, the same was not true for Andrew Garfield, he wasn’t a nerd; he was a rebel. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Garfield’s Parker was only nerdy because writing and bullying made him so, it didn’t seem like Peter Parker should be disliked by everyone and he probably shouldn’t be.
Tobey Macguire really embodied what we all think of Peter Parker and it was true in all of Raimi’s world. Garfield shed his nerdy status in TASM2 and was almost a heartthrob, it was almost like watching Spider-Man fused with The Notebook, with the only thing making him somewhat nerdy was the fact that he was super romantic.
We lost what made Peter Parker such the lovable loser that we wanted to cheer for and what we gained was a Peter Parker that has everything that we want, we shouldn’t want to be Peter, we should want to be Spider-Man!
7. Norman Osborn
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin was a perfect casting and the way that Raimi used Norman’s relationship with Peter as an arc to use as a subplot in his sequel was awesome!
We were introduced to Norman as being pushed out of his own company and in a last ditch effort to get his ground breaking super solider serum up and running he rushes himself to human trials and injects the serum, throwing his mind into a frenzy and slowly becoming evil. The eventual split between his psyche and scenes where he speaks to himself in his mirror are so great and are acted perfectly.
Norman Osborn was a shadow in The Amazing Spider-Man universe; only appearing in a few scenes to help set up Harry’s transformation into The Green Goblin and existing behind the scenes in most of the first Amazing Spider-Man. The reason why Raimi’s Osborn worked more, was that Peter and Norman had direct contact and their stories directly effected each other in the same way. Webb’s Osborn was only a weak old man, dying, who wanted to live. It was boring.
6. Peter’s Relationship with The Osborns
Taking a little from the previous reason, The Osborn Family that exists in Raimi’s universe was the source for the villainy, as it should be. The same goes for The Amazing Spider-Man, but in Raimi’s films we were introduced to these characters early on and they were allowed to develop through writing and story telling at a proper pace. We were witness to Peter and Harry as good friends in high school all the way till after, and through college.
That made the events in Raimi’s films hit harder when it came to Norman dying during his fight with Spider-Man, which was really his own fault, but “Don’t tell Harry”, and when harry finds the Goblin gear at the end of the second Spider-Man, he becomes the dark version of himself that he could have avoided if he could understood that his father had become evil and lost his mind. This should begin a great rivalry, if Raimi didn’t botch Spider-Man 3.
The problem with Webb’s Osborn family was that Harry didn’t even come into the picture until the second film and we had to catch up on his and Peter’s relationship through quick dialogue in a couple scenes before Harry began his decent into darkness and transformation into The Goblin. When Harry asks for Spider-Man’s blood to try and cure a family disease that Norman had succumbed to before he could be cured, Peter says no because he didn’t want to risk killing his best friend.
The moment has no weight behind it and the emotion that is conveyed plays as more hollow than anything. We don’t have the history between Peter and Harry to make it relevant to us and the same comes with the death of Gwen Stacy.
That moment could have hit so much harder than it did if we had the proper history and weight behind Peter and Harry’s relationship, but we are given a Peter Parker that… really doesn’t seem to care his best friend murdered his girlfriend, just that his girlfriend is dead.
5. The Inclusion Of J. Jonah Jameson
Yes! J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was another perfect casting in Raimi’s Spider-Man films, and it was a legendary performance. Simmons really becomes the character in his hilarious and raging glory, yelling about Spider-Man to all of his writers and publishers, in fact, the scenes inside of the Daily Bugle where some of the funniest in Raimi’s films, adding to it’s comic-y nature and appeasing fans alike. The inclusion of this iconic character was key and so perfectly cast that I think Marc Webb is scared to follow Simmons up with a new Jameson in his Spider-Man universe.
Jameson was hinted to in TASM2 a few times, as was the Daily Bugle, but that’s two films now where Webb has not included the iconic rantings of Jonah Jameson, which would provide for perfect banter between Garfield’s witty Spider-Man. Webb’s films have suffered as a result, really heavily relying on Garfield and Emma Stone for comic relief (another reason why it came off as a romantic comedy) and not being able to split the load effectively.
Spider-Man’s origins are important and Raimi did it all good, but Webb not only did the exact thing in his first film, but kind of re-did it in his second. A hero’s origin is important, it provides the base for the rest of the film and whatever sequels take.
In Raimi’s film, Spider-Man makes his choice to stay away from Mary-Jane because she could be hurt, but in Webb’s film, Spider-Man begins his life as a hero by, yes saving the day, but he ignores a dead man’s wish for the safety of his daughter because he was dating her for a little while? We are given a Spider-Man that appeals too much to teenage audiences, rather than a Spider-Man that should appeal to fans of all ages while being a story with teenagers.
Spider-Man was released in 2002 with it’s follow up being released in 2004. These are the two movies we’ve been looking at from Sam Raimi, but the third was released in 2007. The Amazing Spider-Man was released just five years after Spider-Man 3 and it was just too soon. We were subjected to the same origin as I stated before and it just felt rehashed.
We weren’t ready for a Spider-Man reboot, we were ready for a continuation of the Spider-Man we had seen in the first two Raimi films; a reboot was unnecessary so quickly, the character wasn’t missed enough yet, the story wasn’t old. Webb is trying way too hard with his films, and Raimi failed because he tried to pack his third effort with too many villains, a trend that is becoming too popular.
The overall story of Marc Webb’s version of Peter Parker has centered on his relationship with Gwen Stacy and the lack of relationship with his birth parents.
Yeah, he has to tackle being Spider-Man too, but that’s never really a big issue. Everything I’ve said before comes into this point as one melting pot. Webb’s Spider-Man doesn’t really center on it’s titular character, and it’s not that amazing. The action is really on point, and when Spider-Man is on-screen he owns it.
Maybe the reason that Spidey was absent in most of the second film was the fact that Peter wasn’t focusing on the responsibilities of being Spider-Man and was letting his human relationships hamper that, letting the death of Gwen Stacy really spark him into becoming the Spider-Man we will know and love, but why the hell did is it going to take me the duration of 2 films and the wait for a third to see that? We should be treated to a Spider-Man we love right away, and we weren’t.
We’ve been witness to a trial and error session by Sony and Webb that will continue because people will keep spending money on them, the studio has the benefit of allowing entire movies of exposition for their upcoming universe because they know more films are coming.
Raimi’s story centered on Peter and his relationship with Spider-Man as the main relationship, all the others were sub-plots that began and weaved their way in and out of Peter/Spider-Man’s life as tests throughout both movies and even into the third (albeit, crappy), but we understood why those relationships worked and ended up how they did, because we actually witnessed them happen; not informed with a few sentences of dialogue.
1. Peter Parker
Peter Parker is Spider-Man and vice versa, but there is a way you have to handle Peter Parker the human. We all know that Spider-Man will be quick witted, hilarious, and entertaining; while always knowing that Peter Parker is going to be the dorky alter ego. I touched on this before, but the depiction of Parker by Macguire and Garfield are drastically different.
Macguire played his character as, simply put, a nerd. He was the perfect outcast in a high school setting, he was bullied and always looked at the prettiest girl in school and envied her boyfriend. He was everyone of the normal dudes in high school that always longed after the popular life, but in TASM it wasn’t the case.
Yeah, ok. Peter Parker was bullied and messed with in TASM but why? He was cool! Watch the film again and tell me that i’m wrong. What, is he a nerd because he has glasses? As I said before he was a rebel, he had a sense of humor and immediately earned the attraction of the girl he wanted, and sustained her love through two movies.
We felt for Peter in the first Raimi films because of Macguire’s look and the way he was written, but there was never any reason to cheer for Peter in Webb’s films because he was just kind of taking care of business.
Macguire’s Spider-Man is more memorable than Garfield’s in the sense that he is a little more of an underdog, and reminds us of us all at one point or another. Webb’s Peter Parker is more of someone we might want to be; a little bit badass, and in my opinion, past experience resonates better with someone than something they might not know.
Author Bio: Nick LaMacchia is from Buffalo, NY. While currently residing in Portland, OR, he is writing a sci-fi trilogy of novels, with the first being published late in the year. He’s obsessed with film, football, hockey, Batman, and real chicken wings from his hometown.