Neither have had it rosy all the time though. We may have suffered Batman & Robin, but at least that led to Batman Begins. For Spider-Man, there’s been a different kind of problem. The third film. They’ve either been of far lesser quality, or simply not existed!
But let’s forget all of that for now and go back. Back to a time before Batman Begins had introduced the term reboot. Before Marvel had started to build a universe. To the turn of the Millennium, when Nickelback were popular and technology allowed studio’s to finally fully realise comic book characters. All the way back to Spider-Man in 2002. How does watching it now stack up? Things have moved on a bit after all.
Oddly, the first description that came to mind is that Spider-Man feels very ‘comic-booky’. Films since have given us such a level of faithfulness that it seems weird to say that. But Spider-Man has a kind of sincere naivety about it. Peter Parker might not be an Avenger, and he isn’t sharing a world with other superheroes, but that’s alright. For him to not be part of something ‘bigger’ is actually quite something. For instance, he has no gadgets – even his webbing is natural. There is no reliance on anyone else. I love some Stark tech, but this is refreshing.
With three Parker’s in quick succession, it’s easy to compare, but Maguire was great at the time, and is still alright now. Tobey may be whinier than I’d like, but he’s got some good lines (“Hey, kiddo, let Mom and Dad talk for a minute, will ya?”) and is surprisingly the most stacked cinematic Spider-Man.
I like the whole cast come to think of it, but Willem Defoe is the standout performer. His personal back and forth in a mirror is cracking. But “Can Spider-Man come out to play?” is a stonkingly good line, delivered with real creepiness. J.K. Simmons being amazing as Jameson is at this point a given.
The CGI is noticeable, and a bit ropey at times, but is easy enough to forgive. It’s not like MJ is ever clearly holding onto a mannequin and her hair is blowing the wrong way…
I was worried that the passage of time would be unkind to Spider-Man. But Sam Raimi and co released a good film back in 2002, and time hasn’t done much to dull it. Sure, Green Goblin’s suit isn’t the best, but that’s a small problem in comparison to casting Topher Grace as Venom! We still get a great Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and the upside-down kiss is still iconic.
Spider-Man might not be cutting edge, and you might prefer one of the later Peter’s, but this wall crawler is still worthy of the responsibility.