I have been more than vocal over my displeasure the animated direction Marvel has taken recently. This was mainly due to the less than stellar first season of the Ultimate Spider-Man and the cancellation of two of the best animated series from Marvel in years. Whenwe first spoke about the trailer for Avengers Assemble, I was left feeling unimpressed and a little bitter.
But I am a passionate fan of comics and cartoons, and especially cartoons about comics, so I tuned in to the hour long premiere of Avengers Assemble despite my misgivings. As the series starts the Avengers are disbanded, and the Red Skull and MODOK are up to no good. The team is forced to reform under the leadership of Iron Man after Captain America falls to the Skull, and we are introduced to the new team of heroes.
First off, let me say that I am not the biggest fan of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. I loved the comics, but to be honest, I am in total hate with the cartoon. I don’t really blame the series for that either, since I was such a huge fan of The Spectacular Spider-Man series that anything but will always fall short. I watched the first season of Ultimate Spider-Man in a attempt to be fair to the character I have always loved. I was not wowed. But in the show’s defense, I’m not really the demographic they are going for.
It’s that time again where an old-yet-familiar intellectual property gets the time tested, sometimes proved, sometimes failed reboot. As many of you are assuredly aware, The Amazing Spider-Man gets brought to the silver screen, only now it’s more of an adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, in which he was younger, in high school, but still trying on the tights. This Spider-Man seems to be focused around getting us to watch this origin story yet again. This time they’re dangling the elusive prospect of “hidden secrets” about Spider-man we’ve never seen before. From what the preview material would have you believe, it has something to do with his parents and how they died, and implies they were murdered. Were his parents cruel Colombian drug lords? New Yorker mob hits? Genetic scientists experimenting on human/spider DNA fusion? Well, probably not that last one, I hope. Whatever the reason, they’re deliberately trying to bring some freshness and possible subversion of expectations this go ’round.
This Spider-Man totally loves dubstep bro. WUB WUB WUB.
I have to admit, I’m still skeptical about the direction of the whole thing. For every moment or line that they get right, another rubs me the wrong way. I suppose it’s a feeling similar to the much ballyhooed “event fatigue” that many Marvel fans claimed to be suffering from, starting with 2006’s Civil War, continuing now with Avengers VS X-Men. I think we’ve had a lot of Spider-Man in our media, from that terrible third movie and it’s subsequent terrible third video game, to the main Marvel comic being published 3 times monthly, to the Ultimate comics where he “dies”, to the current Spider-man movie being a re-telling of a re-telling. They say you can only skin a cat so many ways, although why they say that I don’t know, because that’s a creepy idiom, but I believe it stands in this case. That’s not to say that I don’t find the interpretation of this actual Peter Parker and Spider-Man character welcome. The wisecracking Spider-Man/shy Peter Parker dynamic is kept, and done much better than it was. On the flip side, you’ve got things like the Lizard, who is a B-villain at best, who has been mentioned many times by the internet crowd out there, to look like a Ninja Turtle.
All that being said, the one thing I’m definitely looking forward to, is finally getting some good acting from a female lead in these movies. Kirsten Dunst could never hang, (oh god awful pun) but Emma Stone seems certainly more than capable of pulling off Gwen Stacy, which is a story I’m glad to see come to fruition, as the famous issue from the comics concerning her and Spidey is one of the best. I know spoilers are a big point of contention here on the internet, but when the story she’s famous for centers around and is literally titled “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, I don’t think it’s too bad to say I’ll be looking forward to Andrew Garfield finding the right balance of pathos and energy to mourn his doomed new girlfriend. Check out an interview with both Peter and Gwen over on Splashpage. Spider-Man is British now. DEAL WITH IT.
The other good thing, that not many seem to be mentioning, is that Marc Webb is directing the movie, which may or may not excite and/or frustrate you, depending on what you thought of 500 Days Of Summer. I loved the movie, and thought it was a brilliant and accomplished directorial debut, although I admittedly really really love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The guy has done a lot of music videos for… well terrible bands like P.O.D, My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World and even Hoobastank. So I will be expecting a terrible soundtrack from the movie, if his work is any indication of his musical tastes. The amount of videos he’s directed indicates that he is capable of working with a broad spectrum of creative input and meshing it into a whole, which is something Spider-Man definitely needs. Fresh ideas like the creative depiction of POV aerial work as well as a more realistic approach to his web slinging will help keep it from the cheesy looking CG-fest every web slinging scene was in the previous three.
Despite the inherent tiredness of yet another Spider-Man movie, it definitely appears this one is shaping up to take back its source material and forge its own identity in our theaters. It could possibly pave the way for other, better films where we can see our favorite villains given a new life with their proper due, instead of being quick afterthoughts. *COUGH* VENOM *COUGH* I am cautiously optimistic about the movie, and initially I would have dismissed this, though the talent involved, and the direction it’s taking has proven to look interesting. The final verdict on it being Amazing however, will have to wait until it’s July 3 release.