Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spider-Man I

It’s not a sure thing to adapt a work of literature on the big screen, more so a comic book hero. Fans often judge harshly.

But judging by the ticket sales and the recent release of a third sequel in local theaters, Spider-Man has passed with flying colors the judgment of millions of fans.

A hero with no desire, maturity, or the time to save the world, Spider-Man was created, Stan Lee recalled, with an approach unlike established heroes like Superman, who was born perfect, and Batman, who had trained all his life.

What highschool kid would have time for such things? Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) certainly did not have time nor care as the start of the film has shown. He was barely surviving the highschool social scene. He was bullied; he can’t talk to the girl he loves; hell, even the school bus driver was picking on him.

As expected, when Parker was bitten by a genetically modified spider (radioactive spider from the comics) and given extraordinary powers, he never thought of the greater good. His though processes remained the same: win the heart of Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst).

As read in the comic books, Parker entered a wrestling match to win some money to buy a car thinking that having one would win the smile of his biggest crush. It was a decision that was soon to change his life. Having disagreed with the wrestling manager on the issue of prize money, Parker refused help in apprehending a robber. That robber to his greatest regret shot dead his beloved Uncle Ben.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” words of wisdom from Uncle Ben, kept repeating like a broken record in while Parker grieved. Had the robber been stopped then Ben Parker would have been alive. From then on in, Peter Parker gave full dedication to his alter ego as Spider-Man, hoping to prevent tragedies like those of his uncle to happen again.

There are no big twists in this movie, and perhaps it is what endeared it to the fans the most.


Over-all it was perfect casting and Tobey Maguire as the lead was best of all. He was the perfect cast for the lead Peter Parker looking boyish, nerdy, but most of all he was an unknown. People may go gaga over Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or Leonardo Dicaprio (who was reportedly once considered as Peter Parker) but casting them would make in a great Pitt movie and not a great story. That is wisdom in picking unknown actors for movies.

Script-wise the film passed with flying colors as well. It was always about the struggle of Peter Parker in using the powers he never wanted. When he was in highschool we saw him giving in to his temper against bullies and enter a wrestling match for money.

Outside of highschool his struggle was even more pronounced. Without the cruel social stratifications (nerds, jocks, cheerleaders…) he thought he could get what he wanted, which was most of all the heart of Mary Jane. But as expected Parker’s alter ego got the better of him, unable to provide time and attention, he saw the love of his life being dated by his best friend. In addition to that he has had no choice but to work for an obnoxious editor who keeps calling Spider-Man a menace.

He literally had nothing to smile about in the entire film, but he still does what he does. It all played out well, the characters, the actors, the script, the effects, everything.

People read the comics and admire the heroes who wear their briefs over their pants for doing the impossible. Sure it’s fun to fly and make the Earth spin clockwise or have amazing gadgets on your belt.


Spider-Man struck a chord because it is as close to reality as what heroism should be. It’s about doing what you can, sharing what you can, because it is the right thing to do.

A hero is not the perfect man with the powers of a god. A hero is the one who steps forward. It is, as Stan Lee puts it, about all of us.