The #3 movie and best superhero sequel ever made – IS AMAZING!
#3 - SPIDER-MAN 2
I love the original Spider-Man trilogy helmed by Sam Raimi…and in case you are wondering I hated the new Amazing Spider-Man movie (but that is a different blog entry). With three attempts, Raimi delivered a superior product by taking not just Spider-Man but the world he inhabited in the comic books and heroically displayed them on the big screen! And unlike the inferior newer version, audiences turned out in massive amounts making billions of dollars over the course of the trilogy.
The superior (haha) moment of Raimi’s efforts has to be Spider-Man 2 which accomplishes every job that the original (and every other superhero sequel) missed the mark on. The original Spider-Man movie told an excellent origin, had a great cast, delivered memorable action scenes, but still displayed some flaws. So when it was time for a follow-up Raimi could have stayed the course but instead he decided to fix those problems and improve upon the other areas.
What were those improvements?
Start off by looking no farther than the villain of Dr. Octopus and the action that ensues. Unlike the original Power Ranger Green Goblin that looked nothing like the comic book character, this version of Doc Ock is a dead ringer, and through the magic of movies and CGI his tentacles become a great character unto themselves. The scene where the tentacles “awaken” in the hospital room is pure Raimi channeling his best Evil Dead-era camera work. Ock starts off as a good character who then becomes a great villain with several memorable battles with Spider-Man. Doc Ock moves like he does in the comics and even with powers the battles between he and Spider-Man show just how difficult fighting a man with four armored tentacles can become. The movie wisely builds to a perfectly sequenced battle atop a NYC elevated train. The action is flawless here with Spider-Man acting exactly like he does in the comic book; webs shooting, sense tingling, saving people, dodging and flipping at unbelievable angles, and looking at every moment like the true superhero the audience expects. Spider-Man’s saving of the runaway train and subsequent being saved by the citizens of New York is a great topper to the single best action moment in superhero cinema. It’s a heartfelt moment that feels genuine (unlike the ham-handed crane sequence of the newer Amazing Spider-Man movie).
Another area of improvement is with the recurring characters and the overall world that Spider-Man inhabits. One of the best parts of Marvel’s comic book series is the soap opera elements that unfold issue-by-issue; this is a world with people’s lives and the trials that each one encounters. Spider-Man 2 wisely spends a good amount of time showing how Peter Parker’s life is not perfect. He is still dealing with his feelings of Mary Jane (and she likewise is allowed her own dilemma) and at the same time he faces Aunt May’s financial worries, his dreams of being a scientist, his shortcomings as a college student, his daily struggles with money and paying the rent, and a lingering doubt that creates a self-induced loss of powers. Read an issue of Amazing Spider-Man and then watch Spider-Man 2 and you’ll see how expertly the world of one merges with the world portrayed on the big screen.
On that note, Peter Parker’s life is never one that invites a happy ending. Spider-Man 2 delivers on this time honored tradition with excellent cliffhanger plot threads involving his former friend Harry learning both Peter’s identity and the lair of his own father’s Green Goblin devices. Just like an issue of Spider-Man is meant to deliver excitement for the consumer to purchase the continuation of the story, the movie builds and leaves the audience waiting for more adventures.
I love Spider-Man 2.
I know many people who have commented that at points it is slow paced and feels overly long but, for me, that is the type of movie I enjoy the most. A movie that takes it’s time to tell a story while building a sense of excitement and awe in me (the fan) so much so that I do not want my time with these characters to end. No other superhero sequel has managed to pull off what Spider-Man 2 does. It improved on every area of the original while delivering a drama-action storyline that made the fanboy in me cheer for more!
At the time of release, I thought that I had seen the pinnacle of what a superhero movie could successfully offer. Spider-Man 2 was my #1 favorite superhero movie of all time…until…
…movies #2 and #1 did everything that Spider-Man 2 succeeded with and took things to a higher level…but they came years later…and required groups of superheroes to supplant Spidey from the top of my list!