Comic Book Movies Being True to Comic Book Books (aka Spiderman 3)

First things first, I don’t normally care about the “cleanliness” of a comic book’s translation from paper to film. I think it’s good that Sentinels weren’t in the X-Men movies, that the Joker killed Bruce Wayne’s parents in the 1989 Batman movie, and that Peter Parker was magically able to shoot webbing from his wrists after getting bit by a spider (as opposed to him constructing webshooters with his nerdy science skills). Long story short, “the internet (comic book branch)” finds it egregious – in fact, here’s someone’s take on the fact that the comic book has incorporated the detail from the movie. Blasphemy! [the most fundamental aspect of why these “internet people” are wrong is as follows: the movies go out of their way towards unenjoyable awkwardness establishing Peter Parker as an awkward science nerd. Having him construct webshooters in the movies is wholly unnecessary. There are no doubts about just how nerdy he is in the movies.]

sp3
Lycra and rain, never a good mix.

As a disclaimer, it’s been a long while since my comic book “phase” – upwards of 10+ years. I was into Spider-Man when I was little, maybe 6 or so. This would’ve been too young to really process any of it beyond see that he was a guy who could walk on walls and stuff like that. (To really feel old, let me mention that I had Spider-Man read-along record and book set that I practically memorized.) My comic book interest followed the 1991 re-launch of X-Men, The Death of Superman, DC vs. Marvel, and ended with the Age of Apocalypse. As always, ladies, take a number. Anyway, I’m no expert on Spider-Man, and to the horror of true believers, most of my Spider-Man background comes from the cartoon show and the video game Maximum Carnage.

Now, I don’t care about the whole “webshooters” thing – the argument that Mary-Jane in the movies is actually Gwen Stacey is even weaker. But, when there are little interesting details in the story (which would be in no small part inspired by the comics), why not include them? The Sentinel head in the third X-Men movie didn’t require any explanation: it wasn’t important to the plot and it was just a random thing for those who’ve never read the comics or seen the TV show, but it’s a neat little thing to put on the screen for five seconds.

The Spiderman movies are probably the most appealing comic book movies for non-comic book people. That’s fine. The movies are a bit cheerier in style than the X-Men movies or Superman Returns, but they work to the tune of what will soon be more than one billion dollars. Anyway, enough of this disjointed mess. Here’s what’s right or wrong with the movie (from a “movie” point of view, regardless of the comics) and a tiny little thing that would’ve added a lot to it.

I’m about to ruin the movie for you, if you’ve not seen it:

1. If you really liked the first two, you’ll really like this one.

2. After Sandman was “killed” the first time, there was no longer any plot. There was the lovey-dovey stuff, but that’s absolutely a side-show to the Spiderman story. If they wanted to make a romantic drama (it definitely wasn’t funny enough to be even a marginal romantic comedy — except the French waiter scene… HI-larious), they wouldn’t spend $250 million on an action movie.

3. Venom, about whom “the internet” was crazy, was never mentioned by name and didn’t show up until 20 minutes before the end and only came into being by a stupid (stupid) coincidence. I don’t care how he came to be in the comics (Secret Wars, space, etc.), but the movie dumbed it down too much. Even someone who’s never heard the story would say that it’s stupid.

4. Here’s my little detail (also Venom-related): the movie never called him by that name (that’s fine), but the whole symbiote thing (in the comics and TV show) made it so he always talked in the first person plural, leading to the following exchange. “Who are you?” – “We are Venom.” Now really, how tough would it have been to include that? Instead, they wanted to humanize their villains and frequently show Eddie Brock appear through the suit. Now really, does this movie need its villains to be any more humanized with Sandman (“I did it by accident, but even so, it was for my sick daughter”), (New) Green Goblin (“I got amnesia and love you guys. Wait, you killed my dad. Wait, no you didn’t because my butler finally told me the truth after I spent millions of dollars assembling a woefully impractical flying glider and pumpkin-shaped grenade launcher.”), and Eddie “slimy, but not evil until the last 20 minutes of the movie” Brock? Oh wait, Spider-Man himself is over-the-top “deep” as well. It’s not complexity, it’s painting in shades of grey because it keeps everyone smiling. Redemption for the win!

**½

Comic Book Movies Being True to Comic Book Books (aka Spiderman 3) gets two-and-a-half stars because there are some things that enhance a story, but for the most part, the correct decisions in terms of translating from “page to screen” are made. The Starjammers have no place in the serious, grounded in a sort-of reality (within reason) X-Men movies, so distilling the Dark Phoenix Saga into a silhouette in a lake and a crazy chick in X-Men 2 and 3 worked wonders for making money. But, that isn’t to say that there aren’t cool little details that shouldn’t be added. For example, Spider-Man’s black suit looks a whole lot snazzier with a big white spider on it than with grey details, but oh well…

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