I don't know about you but I’ve been a comic book fan since I’ve been able to read (which is about 3 years now but I digress).
I remember buying the comics from a newsagent at the top of Crewe Street in the Pear tree area of Derby in the early 70’s and swapping them with friends and other avid collectors.
The two giants of the comic publishing world were both American and to be honest most of the kids I knew then who collected them were into one title but not the other. Who were the undisputed Kings of the superhero comics?
Marvel, with its roster of Hulk, The Avengers, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four and the jewel in marvel's crown, The Amazing Spider-Man!
The other Company was called DC (Detective Comics) who had The Green Lantern, Justice League of America (DC's equivalent to the Avengers), and DC's jewels, Superman and Batman (I could never work out which one was bigger?)
I was a huge fan of Marvel and Stan "the man" Lee, reading the letter pages and understanding what "MMM" meant (this was a coded term that fans of Marvel would understand which always made me feel "Special" (as opposed to "needs" as my statement stated!)
The hero I collected was Spider-Man who was brilliantly heroic and self sacrificing at all times however he would not have been as interesting as a character without the boy reporter Peter Parker and his trademark camera. As I’m writing this I realise that I’ve taken more from the character than I at first realised. Let me explain. We both seek "truth and justice, both have a side that generally people disrespect thinking we "lack' in some ways and we both hide behind or more importantly are liberated by in Spidey's case a mask and a suit, with me, it’s glasses and a name.
Growing up I remember watching the "Made for TV" film "Spider-Man" film and cringing, especially after having seen the late Christopher Reeve playing Superman on the big screen to serious critical acclaim. Let's not forget the cartoon version that I know you're humming as you read this rambling story of a youth whose mind appears to have been filled with a fixation to hero worship a teen with a penchant for wearing pantyhose on his head! The 70s were not good times to be a marvel fan and the collection eventually got boxed and then I discovered “Sistas” and then I got boxed. Repeatedly...
Fast forward to the noughties, 2002 to be precise and the first big budget Hollywood version of Spider-Man, directed by the respected Sam Raimi but to be honest respected for a genre that I hated namely horror (Evil Dead) and the Zena and Hercules TV series which weren't bad but to be honest were not the credentials for the greatest comic book hero in my imagination.
Now all of the Spider-Man films made money, in fact, plenty of money but in my humble opinion, didn't capture the youth I had, nor the bromance.
But where did Stan Lee get the character of P.P/Spider-Man from? Well, I will tell you. Read below...
Richard Wentworth is the character known as The Spider in the pulp magazine called The Spider. Stan Lee stated that it was the name of this character that inspired him to create a character that would become Spider-Man.
In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was looking to develop a new superhero idea. He said the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with which teens could identify.
In his autobiography, Lee mentions the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter the Spider as a great influence, and in a multitude of print and video interviews, Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a spider climb up a wall—adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not it’s true.
Looking back on the creation of Spider-Man, 1990s Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco stated he did not believe that Spider-Man would have been given a chance in today's comic’s world, where new characters are vetted with test audiences and marketers. At that time, however, Lee had to get only the consent of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman for the character's approval. In a 1986 interview, Lee described in detail his arguments to overcome Goodman's objections. Goodman eventually agreed to let Lee try out Spider-Man in the upcoming final issue of the cancelled science-fiction and supernatural anthology series Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was renamed Amazing Fantasy for that single issue, #15 (Aug. 1962).
People often say glibly that Marvel succeeded by blending super hero adventure stories with soap opera. What Lee and Ditko actually did in The Amazing Spiderman was to make the series an ongoing novelistic chronicle of the lead character's life. Most super heroes had problems no more complex or relevant to their readers' lives than thwarting this month's bad guys.... Parker had far more serious concern in his life: coming to terms with the death of a loved one, falling in love for the first time, struggling to make a living, and undergoing crisis of conscience.
As a journalist once stated that "Spider-Man has a terrible identity problem, a marked inferiority complex, and a fear of women. He is anti-social, castration-ridden, racked with Oedipal guilt, and accident-prone ... Functioning neurotic". Agonizing over his choices, always attempting to do right, he is nonetheless viewed with suspicion by the authorities, who seem unsure as to whether he is a helpful vigilante or a clever criminal.
Cultural historian Bradford W. Wright opinions that; "Spider-Man's plight was to be misunderstood and persecuted by the very public that he swore to protect. In the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle, launches an editorial campaign against the "Spider-Man menace." The resulting negative publicity exacerbates popular suspicions about the mysterious Spider-Man and makes it impossible for him to earn any more money by performing. Eventually, the bad press leads the authorities to brand him an outlaw. Ironically, Peter finally lands a job as a photographer for Jameson's Daily Bugle.
The mid-1960s stories reflected the political tensions of the time, as early 1960s Marvel stories had often dealt with the Cold War and Communism.
As Wright observes, "from his high-school beginnings to his entry into college life, Spider-Man remained the superhero most relevant to the world of young people. Fittingly then, his comic book also contained some of the earliest references to the politics of young people“. In 1968, in the wake of actual militant student demonstrations at Columbia University, Peter Parker finds himself in the midst of similar unrest at his Empire State University....
Peter has to reconcile his natural sympathy for the students with his assumed obligation to combat lawlessness as Spider-Man. As a law-upholding liberal, he finds himself caught between militant leftism and angry conservatives.
Spider-Man people are deep. Now what about the newest incarnation of Spider-Man? Read on my hungry followers of knowledge and truth and I will try to show you something that borders on being a masterpiece....
The Amazing Spider-Man is a re-telling of the story about a boy who got bitten by a radioactive spider while doing research in a lab. Peter is the original geek, think of him as a forerunner to Neo from The Matrix but appears to be a type of hero the world doesn't recognise or really appreciates. This film doesn't introduce us to his boss James Jonah Jameson, a Rupert Murdock character whose love is Print media and Peter's Pictures of Spider-Man, however he has a love/hate relationship with the main subject of P.P’s photos, his Muse, Spider-Man which makes me think there will be a fifth instalment to the franchise.
Tobey Maguire had played “Spidey” in the 3 previous films and did a reasonable job based on the material he was given, however Andrew Garfield (of Social Network fame) nails this role!
Now I'm not boasting but I do think I'm not bad at this game of rabbiting on about films and this year alone I’ve seen over 40 at the cinema courtesy of the kindness and hospitality of Alistair and Sharon Lewis who are managers at Cinema Deluxe in Derby and without them I’d be either trying to sneak into the back entrance (like we did back in the day) or waiting in a barbers for a foreign brotha to give me a DVD that strangely hasn't got the kite mark on it (must be an oversight eh, but I digress!)
Now remember I've waited 30 years for someone to give Spider-Man/P.P the treatment that we true fans of the character have been waiting for and believe you me, "this is it!" (As my mate MJ would say).
I have to say that I’ve seen all the major superhero films but not one moved me emotionally as much as this one, even reducing me to periodically wipe my eyes by removing my geeky 3D glasses during certain scenes.
Emma Stone was also excellent as the love interest to P.P and I hear they are a couple in real life.
I've been reading the tweet conversations between @amyofthedean @markdugganfilms and @matt_mcGlynn who are all excellent filmmakers in their own right talking about this film because they had seen it a few days earlier and I was afraid that in their excitement they were gonna blow the cinematic enjoyment for me by blurting out the plot. They thankfully didn't!
The Director for this film’s claim to fame is "500 days of summer" which may not seem to be in the same genre (a love story as opposed to what a pre-conceived mind would think Spidey is i.e., an action movie), in fact it's a marriage made in heaven!
The Amazing Spider-Man stays true to the comics, I remember reading that the main characters are both vulnerable in their own ways and more importantly they don’t let their weakness hinder their sense of duty. However in saying the above, I have to be honest and say this story is very different to the original comic version but it doesn't depart too far from the original (let's say they use artistic licence but in a good way).
Now I know you're slightly confused by my contradictory statements above so I will try and make the above clearer with this example.
P.P is being cared for by Aunt May (Sally Fields) and her husband Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, Charlie's dad). This is not a spoiler because this is a known fact. Another known fact is that Uncle Ben gets killed. The comic and previous Spider-Man films tell the same story of his death, this version is different, not better just different. Also this film retells the whole story that was originally based in the 60’s so that it can utilise product placements but in some cases ingeniously. For example, Parker in moments of self doubt listens to his Sony phone answer machine messages from his deceased Uncle thus keeping his memory alive in a very touching way (sniff sniff).
@matt_mcGlynn said that he owns issue 3 and 100 of the Spider-Man comic series and also felt (if I got his tweets correctly) that his childhood heroes would be in order of preference, Batman, Spider-Man and the X-men. I wonder what order he would say regarding his film superheroes. My film order on Thursday would have been; joint number one both of the Batman films done by Nolan and Christian Bale and The Avengers (really couldn't pick a number one because I love the genre due to the multiple layers). Number two would be the very stylish and equally multilayered X-Men: 1st Class.
Friday 6th July my order changed and let me introduce to you, the new, undisputed leader of the comic book pack, The Amazing Spider-Man!
(Disclaimer: My order may change with the release of the dark Knight Rises though.
We will see.......
Ps, watched Killer Joe too. Brilliant and very disturbing in equal measure. Stars Matthew McConaughey who gives the Oscar winning performance of his life.
I wanted to know who could have directed him in such a way that he appeared quite normal doing his day job as a detective and sadistic in his night time job? So I did some research and discovered that the director is William Friedkin, The Director who did The Exorcist, the film that is the benchmark when it comes to horror.
Watch it if you dare but be warned, just like the Exorcist exploited the child in the film, the director does the same in Killer Joe. You’ve all been warned....
Article by @gmanzen / 11th July 2012
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