spidey & revisionist superheroes
I saw Spider-Man like everyone else last weekend, and while more or less impressed, was struck by the discrepancy between the Peter Parker scenes and those involving Spidey himself. The first act is a great piece of screenwriting and direction, with his discovery of new abilities told visually and concisely. And McGuire is fabulous in the Parker role. But the naturalism generated during this first hour seems weirdly at odds with the muscle-suited cavorting that begins to occupy the story’s attention. I think something was missing between Spidey’s shoddily-outfitted wrestling bout and his sudden slickness in the real costume. (Did he make that thing himself?) I found Defoe over the top, but this may be a result of the aforementioned style clash – and many whom I have talked with loved him as the Goblin, so possibly I’m on my own here. But I found Parker much more interesting than Spidey, and that has to make you wonder.
Why are superhero characters so popular these days? Weren’t we supposed to be distrustful of heroes, at least moreso now than earlier in the century? Yet the past 13 years have seen a mad explosion in superhero filmmaking. How long will the boom last before superhero films go the way of the western and musical and the franchises come crashing down? Maybe Spider-man, with the geek real-life identity overpowering the fascist fantasy, is a signal that the winds are changing. Hopefully we will see a good revisionist superhero movie soon. Batman came close. If you strip the revenge plot from The Crow, you have a revisionist superhero (a psychopath who pierces a victim’s organs in alphabetical order, amongst other things). But possibly Ang Lee’s Hulk will use the Jeckyll-Hyde material effectively and be remembered as The Searchers in tights.