Battle of the Spider-men

Okay, I'm gonna say this right now. This is gonna be LOOOOOOOOOONG. So if you can't stomach the whole thing you can just read whatever categories that fit your fancy.

Earlier this week I watched Sam Raimi's Spider-man (2002) with full intentions of writing my comparison post right away. After I was finished though, I was just as confused as ever (haha yet with clarity!) that I felt I should watch the 2012 remake one more time in hopes of really solidifying my opinion one way or another. So I watched it in the drive-in last night (accompanied with Men In Black 3, which I fell asleep during and became INCREDIBLY delirious afterwards...) and what did I find? Well for one thing, drive-ins really aren't the best environment for me to really be focused on a film because I get incredibly distracted with all the other movies playing around and the screens are so small that you can't really clearly see the action. That kind of effected the rewatchability for me...but I blame the setting, not the movie.  I still would love to see it again in a big nice theater in 3D. But besides all that....as a whole, I'm afraid I still can't say one way or another which one is  definitely the better movie because I absolutely love both. But I CAN break it up category by category which is what I shall do.

PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield. As I said in my previous post, I never really had a problem with Tobey Maguire in the original films. He worked for the films he was in and made a very cartoonish super-hero, which happened to convey the exact tone that Sam Raimi was gong for. What I don't care for? His voice, and his ugly crying face. And that as Peter, he has no sex appeal whatsoever (the one exception I'll grant him is where he sees his physical transformation haha) I understand he's not the cool guy in school, but was he the biggest nerd ever in the comics? I don't know maybe he was, I'm no comic expert. But I much preferred that Andrew Garfield came across as completely relatable; the ultimate everyman. Just a guy you'd know, yet better because he was somehow full of this irresistible confidence and charisma. That didn't make him the popular guy in school, it just showed him as a guy who knew himself really well and  knew what he wanted. He is absolutely 100% likable in this role and I haven't met a single person who thought otherwise. He just shines in this role and it's in a completely natural way. Tobey was perfectly good in his movies, but Andrew MAKES his movie and I don't know if that's necessarily true in the other films. So for me, Andrew takes this one by a long shot. Can't wait to see more of him. WINNER: ANDREW GARFIELD, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

LOVE INTEREST: Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson vs. Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy. I pretty well already knew the answer to this one BEFORE even needing to rewatch the original Spider-man, but boy howdy was it ever solidified when I did. I never thought Kirsten was a particularly strong aspect of the movies, (like OMG you need to watch Kirsten in this, she makes an AMAZING heroine,) but I always thought she and her character were decent enough. Watching it again though? Oh man, why does anyone even like this girl? She flits from boy to boy without even a care and barely shows a personality at all besides being completely shallow (even if she has a soft spot for that old bag Aunt May.) She seems completely disinterested in Peter the entire time except when he's showering her with compliments (either given to her, or to Spider-man ABOUT her.) She kisses Spider-man while she's still dating Harry...in fact she never really has the decency to break up with Harry at all. And suddenly throughout it all she discovers that all along she's loved Peter? Bull. She loves the attention she GETS from Peter. And I've found that the line "I thought...I hope I live through this...so I can see Peter Parker's face one more time," is my new favorite thing to mock. Kirsten isn't really that bad..but she's not that good, and her character is kind of terrible. Why are we rooting for them to get together again? Emma Stone, on the other hand, is wonderful. She just has such a freshness about her and seems completely down to earth. She exudes her personality on screen with every movie she's in and it makes sense why both Peter and the real Andrew Garfield would fall for her. She, like Andrew give entirely REAL performances and they work together incredibly well. She plays her part very well and is NEVER annoying. Quite the feat for that kind of role. WINNER: EMMA STONE, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

VILLAIN: Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn/Green Goblin vs. Rhys Ifans' Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard. This one is kind of a tough one for me. I really really think that Rhys Ifans has a great presence as an actor and I really like what he did with his role. He certainly had a lot more humanity as a villain, and much better motives. But Willem is probably one of the biggest highlights of the first Spider-man. He has a great advantage over Ifans too since he gets to show more personality when he is in villain mode, whereas for Ifans  it is like almost as if he is turning into a werewolf and has no control over who he is...he just becomes a hulking beast. I mean it's true he does remain himself a little, but when Osborn turns into the Green Goblin he becomes an entirely different person and his villain is pretty incredible. Very cartoony, and again that was the tone wanted, but he just works. He's a fun villain and he's completely dynamic. Dafoe probably gives the best performance in the whole film and is a huge key to the film's success. WINNER: WILLEM DAFOE, SPIDER-MAN.

UNCLE BEN: Cliff Robertson vs. Martin Sheen. I really liked what both of these guys brought to their roles.  Robertson has pretty limited screentime, but he just has a really neat presence to him. His authority IS something you'd probably really listen to and would stay with you. Sheen on the other hand, like the rest of the cast does just seem like a really nice man that you would know. He shows some nice humor, but is also really strict and you'd see a lot more in this one why he and Peter would occasionally have conflict. It's really tough and I'm tempted to just give it a draw...but I think if I'd have to give the edge it would probably be to Robertson because it is impressive how much he does with so little. WINNER: CLIFF ROBERTSON, SPIDER-MAN.


AUNT MAY: Rosemary Harris vs. Sally Field. This category almost completely sums up the differences of the movies as a whole. Cartooney old woman (seriously why is his aunt so old? was there a 20 year gap between siblings and these were the only people you could get to take care of your son??) vs. down to earth mother figure that everyone feels like they really know. Rosemary Harris was probably more integrated into the plot and had more to do, and for her part she's fine. She is exactly what they wanted. But there really is something about Sally Field that you can't not just love. She seems so genuine and that always shines through in any role she plays. She's very warm and real and I think that sums up the tone of the whole movie in general. So even if she doesn't have much to do, I think I prefer that take. WINNER: SALLY FIELD, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

OTHER SIDE CHARACTERS: James Franco's Harry Osborn and J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson vs. Dennis Leary's Captain Stacy. Okay none of these are really fair comparisons but since there weren't two sets of all of them and they're all worth talking about I decided to pit them against each other anyway. I think all are really great. Dennis Leary has a really great presence and I really like what he brought to The Amazing Spider-man. I've always enjoyed James Franco and I think it was unfortunate that there wasn't a Harry in TASM, but I can see why they wouldn't since they didn't want it to be an exact duplicate (and honestly while they're are a lot of similarities between the two stories, I really do see these FILMS as being very different..I really don't get the ripoff claims about that.) But rivaling the excellent Dafoe performance I talked about earlier, is Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson. He is fantastic and absolutely hilarious. Throughout the Spider-man trilogy he has always been solid and one of the best parts. In fact, he might be the hardest role to try and replace in the new franchise. Amelia pointed out that one of the nice things about the new one was that the story was pretty contained over a certain period of time that we were always clear about, while the original spanned who knows how long. So it makes sense the environment of the Daily Bugle doesn't appear in the new universe yet, but it definitely was one of the best parts about the original. WINNER: SPIDER-MAN


DIRECTOR'S TOUCH & TONE: Sam Raimi vs. Marc Webb. Okay this is probably the hardest category for me, because again these sum up each film entirely. Basically this is funny too, it's pitting the directors of my top two films in 2009 against each other. Drag Me to Hell (my number 2) vs. (500) Days of Summer. What's a girl to do? It's funny because in actuality, those films in a nutshell accurately describe the tones and touches of each director and what they brought to those projects as well as Spider-man. Raimi's films were very much comic book superhero movies and they were down right fun. Webb's version is very down to earth, fresh and has a realness to it that I myself find irresistible. Obviously back in 2009 I made my choice and chose real over fun, but when it comes to Spider-man? It's a lot harder for me to do. I feel like both approaches work beautifully and bring different things to the story. Both directors are absolutely skilled and I think I can say I equally love both visions. I myself would probably fall more along the line of preferring realism, but objectively I have to say they both are really good. So this one is a tie... WINNER: DRAW.

BACKSTORY: The intriguing story of what happened to Peter's parents (which his parents were not even mentioned once throughout the other trilogy) vs.. what backstory? Uh that he's been a nerdy kid living with his aunt and uncle and crushing on the girl next door his whole life? I'll take the new one. And I'm really excited to see where this storyline goes in the sequels. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

GETTING THE POWERS: Okay in the Raimi version we have Peter on a field trip, distractedly taking pictures of Mary Jane and a spider comes out of nowhere and bites him. We briefly hear the person guiding the tour telling that the spiders have been mutated or some such nonsense, but is anyone really paying that attention? And why are these spiders out in the open like this for high schoolers to see? Not all that believable. In the new one, the spiders are kept far away from the average high schooler and after some major snooping he comes across them. But the real reason it's better in the new one is that it actually explains WHY those spiders are the way they are, and Peter is actually tied into it. Therefore getting powers from that bite is a bit more believable too. Oh and I like how the villain gets the powers better in this one too, and how they're kind of intertwined. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

DISCOVERY OF POWERS: This one is pretty interesting to me because they really did this quite differently. Both woke up to find the powers, but both woke up in completely different situations. In the original Spider-man it was that little by little he noticed things were different, but VERY different. He learned stuff line upon line, if you will. In the new one, he woke up in a really weird setting and ACTED like a predator if threatened. And it was hysterical. I feel like both films did a really good job of sharing the joy with the audience of such discoveries. They're just different in how they did so. I liked both equally I think. WINNER: DRAW.


LEARNING HOW TO USE THE POWERS: This was one of my favorite sequences in Spider-man and I think part of the reason it became so classic. It really has the benefit over the new one in having established some things so well, and this was one of them. Watching him master his powers was definitely one of the best parts of that movie, and while I think it is very well done in the new one...this is one of the areas that is definitely hard not to compare and think how well it was done before. WINNER: SPIDER-MAN.

LOSING BEN: The argument that kind of leads to the accident, in the older film definitely feels a bit more staged (like who could really get mad at Cliff Robertson anyway?) but in the new one Andrew Garfield really sells the argument he has with Martin Sheen.You believe his anger for sure. The way this sequence is intercut definitely creates more suspense because we can sense something is coming (even though most people already knew there was having known the story and seen the other one) Whereas in the old one he just comes back after his wrestling match and sees the consequences of helping the crook get away. It's effective, but I don't think its as effective as seeing him get killed before our eyes. I'll admit that the scenes of them letting the crooks go are eerily similar, but for the death I give the edge to Amazing. Plus you could feel the real tragedy when Aunt May is told I think. Also  the original had the crying Tobey face so... WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.


CHOOSING TO DON THE MASK/BECOMING A SUPERHERO: In the original he begins first with the brief wrestling stint with his noble desire to win money to impress Mary Jane, but after Ben's death heeds his powerful "with great power, comes great responsibility" line. Thus a superhero is born. Pretty sweet and simple. In The Amazing Spider-man, after Ben's death he definitely gets thrown into it and is on the quest to find the killer, since unlike the original, this one got away. Along the way he discovers he needs to help people, he doesn't go right into that like in the original...and I think it makes a little bit more sense. We see a little more clearly the thought process he goes to in becoming a full blown hero, and it's a lot less montagey. The idea of a costume feels a little more realistic (especially in the looks of said costume. the one in the original is pretty flashy for some dude to have just made himself.) I think both are well done, the original is simple and to the point...it doesn't waste much time which is nice. But the new one we can clearly see his train of thought and motivations a little bit more clearly I think. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

LOVE STORY:  I covered this a little bit earlier in the love interest section. But watching the original again, dang... Peter and MJ sure have some corny scenes. There is a sweetness to them, but you really never feel like MJ cares that much besides being flattered. Insert Shirley from Community uttering "oh that's NICE." Why do we want to see them together? Well because Peter wants her. Okay, well why does Peter want her? GOOD QUESTION. In The Amazing Spider-man their scenes are so unbelievably real and you can just see their connection deepen and blossom. Marc Webb completely got it in 5DOS and nails it again here. But it also helps that they've got an incredible chemistry. You can just feel that these two want to be together. What makes it win here is that it's MUTUAL the whole time and that's clearly shown. I seriously loved every scene between them and can't wait to see what happens in the sequels. (And I will say that MJ does improve in Spidey 2, but since we're not talking about that one...) WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN


KISS: Okay there's no way around it. That kiss in the rain is purely iconic and has become one of those famous movie moments. Cinematically, it is very beautiful...and it's pretty hot. (Still could do with a wardrobe change for Dunst...but I'm sure it's a huge factor in the reason some horny guys like it.) That said, I really really enjoy the kiss between Gwen and Peter as well. It's an incredibly sweet moment, and HE, rather than the circumstances surrounding the first one, makes it hot enough to rival the first. For many people I know they probably think this one is a no-brainer, but I really disagree and say they're both great for different reasons. WINNER: DRAW.

Conclusion: These films are incredibly tough to compare considering the original Spider-man has a ten year advantage of already being established as THE definitive version. But the new one proved that it wasn't necessarily untouchable. Things could be, and were improved upon....and for that it should be given credit. It's true some scenarios are similar and can't help but be compared....with the favor going to the original since it did it first. But the new one really is good and should be given a chance and taken on its own merits. However, as I've said from the start and actually in my last blog too...I think quality and enjoyability-wise (yes not a word spell check, I'm aware.) they're very much equal and I really do have a love for the 2002 film. So...I still can't say I have a definitive preference either way even if right now I'm feeling more eager to defend the new installment. However....according the my categories .. The Amazing Spider-man wins 8 categories outright to Spider-man's 4. So give it credit is all I'm saying, and look forward to the sequel :) And as I've said before, we can love them all can't we? Anywho that's probably more than enough to say on the subject (probably was 500 words ago..) But stay tuned for a blog on all things Christopher Nolan..coming soon! I'll leave you with this great video I found that shows Tobey's wonderful impact on the trilogy with his Tobeyface. (As an editor though I have to say watch out for dozens of flash frames that weren't caught!)


Sarah said...

Poor Tobey Maguire. :) How many people actually have a non-ugly crying face? I wish I were a graceful crier, but I'm not either. :)

You didn't include the categories of cinematography, music, and costume. Whose spidey outfit did you prefer? :)

I still haven't seen the new movie, but I do still love the 2002 version. But it looks like we live in a world that isn't going to let superhero movies just sit on the shelves and as there aren't that many new great superheroes being invented, I guess we had better learn to be satisfied with reincarnations of the old ones. :)

Great comparisons!

By the way, even though I don't think Tobey Maguire's crying face is THAT bad, I do love that picture with him crying and saying "I'm amazing too!" Ha ha!

Emily said...

I thought it was already long enough Sarah! I did mention costume briefly in another category but I would say that's a draw... Same with cinematography. Music goes to the old but I am way more familiar with its score since it has been around 10 years. I love the Coldplay song in the new one though

Johanna said...

I heard that they had to make a movie within x amount of years or they lost the copyright to do so. Thus the reason for rushing it before the other franchise had time to cool.

Well, I don't remember much about the first movie. I probably won't see the second.

But, as your mother, I read the entire blog. :)

seanmackay.net said...


Johanna said...

Oh, and the whole ugly crying face has to do with crying mad or crying sad. The mad is the one that is hard to look pretty. Crying sad...it's possible.

Amelia said...

Hey, I'm in your blog :) Nice analysis! I agreed with you on most points, although I was more torn on the Ben portrayal (more of a draw for me)and your negativity about Tobey face. Tobey face = best face!!! That montage combined with the song, of course, is my new favorite thing. It made my day and I plan to make everyone watch it. Also,with all this 2002 Spiderman talk, I can't help but remember this old snl James Franco / William Dafoe skit (which is for some reason hosted on a Russian site...): http://rutube.ru/video/b57e7814d7bbf212c083e8c980000362/.

Emily said...

You are torn on the negativity about tobey face!?

Unknown said...

To answer your question - Yes, Peter Parker was the nerdiest boy in school. He was awkward and unsure of himself. It wasn't until he donned the suit and mask that Peter was filled with "this irresistible confidence and charisma." That was why he was so popular when he first came out; all those nerdy, awkward teenage boys could relate to him. Heck, I'm sure Sam Raimi was able to relate to Peter when he was a kid.
Piece of trivia: In the comic books Mary Jane Watson was not the girl next door. :)

TharosTheDragon said...

I do prefer Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. But I think the place where you're wrong the most is with Aunt May. I cannot take Sally Field seriously. She always has that same angry/serious/concerned look cemented into her face no matter what role she's playing. Rosemary Harris is the quintessential sweet old lady. Very grandmotherly. I could be wrong, but I always figured she was Peter's great aunt. Great aunts are usually just called aunt. What, is he gonna call her Great Aunt May?