Wednesday, May 30, 2007

(Marvel comics)
Spider-man When: 2002
Why: Sam Raimi & David Koepp How: Tobey Maguire & Willem DaFoe

The story so far...
Whilst on excursion, High School student Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically engineered spider, altering his own DNA in a process that results in the proportionate strength, speed, agility and web-spinning of a spider!

After letting a thief get away, Peter's beloved surrogate-father, Uncle Ben Parker, is murdered by the man. Inspired by his uncle's words, Peter begins his career as Spider-man, living by the code that with great power, comes great responsibility.

His life as Peter Parker and career as Spider-man collide when his best friend's father, scientist Norman Osborn, goes insane after undergoing a treatment designed by his own organization to enhance strength. As the Green Goblin Norman comes to wage a war against Spider-man, and when he learns that he and Parker are one and the same, he inevitably goes after the ones Peter loves.

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#1): Victories over Kraven, Tombstone, Scorpion, Mysterio, Green Goblin, & Carnage.
Green Goblin: Organized the grouping of the Sinister Twelve, but has not yet been featured in combat on the site. Also manages The Thunderbolts.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Green Goblin 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Green Goblin 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Green Goblin 4 (Arsenal)

We kinda teased at this one during the last Web-Slinging Wednesday [Marvel Knights Spider-man #11], but I had completely forgotten than the Goblin leaves his Sinister Eleven to pursue a conclusion not unlike what we're going to feature here today. That's a matter for the next section of the website, so in the mean time, let's take a look at the tape we didn't see last week!

It's worth noting that even in the comics, where Osborn does not employ a strength enhancing exoskeleton, he poses a considerably less physical threat in combat. Even so, as we've mentioned in days past, Spidey's five-rated super strength tends to operate on a sliding scale from high to low.
The No-Prize would go to saying Spidey's strength is sabotaged by his confidence, or distraction brought on in cases like this, where he is fighting the moderately enhanced, but personally involved, Green Goblin.

Even so, statistically the tape says Spidey has strength on the Goblin, along with the expected speed and agility that are so often Spider-man's strengths. So, what skills or attributes bring Norman Osborn to the dance?

Well, apart from the afformentioned personal attacks, there's the matter of his arsenal of weaponry. This includes not only high explosive pumpkin bombs, razor sharp bats, and other nasty projectiles, but also his infamous mode of transportation -- the Goblin Glider.

Fans of the comics will be more than familiar with the glider's exploits as a weapon, being the weapon that seemingly killed Norman Osborn in the seventies, and successfully did the deed to Ben Reilly, the original Spider-Clone. Likewise, a mere two weeks ago we saw how the Glider could be used as a potential weapon. [Amazing Spider-man #176]

Osborn's mechanical, scientific and tactical genius is probably also more immediately useful than Spider-man's, although both rate a comparable five in the intelligence field.

The Math: Spider-man (Meta Class)
The Pick: Spider-man

What went down...
We're running very late, so it's a picture book event!

Having struck the first blow by putting Aunt May in hospital, the Green Goblin goes after Mary-Jane Watson, the girl Peter "stole" from Harry, Norman's son.
The Goblin takes her to the top of the Queensboro bridge, where he uses the rocket powered weapons of his glider to destroy the mechanics of a cable car system travelling between the main island and Roosevelt.

Spidey follows the explosions, flinging himself by web across the bridge to the scene of the crime. There, the Green Goblin confronts his nemesis holding the lives of Mary-Jane and the cable car full of children, and asks Spidey to choose: "This is why only fools are heroes, because you never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice: Let die the woman you love -- or, suffer the little children!"

The Goblin drops both, leaving Spidey to make a swan dive for his girlfriend, before swinging back under the bridge to snatch the severed umbilcle cable of the cablecar out of the air. Dangling beneath the bridge, Spidey desperately holds onto the car as a barge calls ahoy, offering a slow cavalry for the children.

Helplessly dangling, Spidey is an easy target for the Goblin, who seems content to play with his heroic adversary, rather than go straight in for the kill.

Mary-Jane falls again, saved by the dangling cable car, as Spidey defies gravity, holding onto his web whilst flipping back around to snatch the cable once more.
The gliding Goblin pops the pointed blades at the head of his glider, and prepares to come around for a killer blow, but something strikes the Green Goblin, knocking him off his trajectory.

The citizens of New York lean over the edge of the bridge, tossing debris and abuse at the villain in a show of unbridled post 9-11 unity! They buy Spider-man much needed time, but even though the barge arrives in time for Spidey to lower the children and Mary-Jane to safety -- the Green Goblin remains unsatisfied!

He snags the daggling Spider-man with a tow line, and drags him away from the bridge into abandoned buildings nearby. Spidey is hurled into the growth covered ruins, smashing through bricks and more bricks as he attempts to use his webs to steady himself, but suffers only further damage.

The clinking of a pumpkin bomb is quickly followed by the deafening force of explosion. It rips through Spidey's mask with ease, exposing his face as he's hurled through the air to come to a harsh halt against one of the many walls.

The Goblin glides in, leaping off his glider to lorde his power over the broken little spider. He denounces Spider-man for his betrayal, unleashing a volley of super enhanced punches and knees, before finishing with an uppercut that jerks the limp Spider-man into the air.

The Goblin continues the assault with a display of showy acrobatics, and another barrage of punches and kicks. Spidey tries to web an exit, but the Goblin is quick in canceling his plans with the continue combination of moves. Unrelenting, he even picks Spider-man off the ground, only to pound him back down.

Spidey finds some space, shooting webs to catch the fiend like a fly, but the powerful exo-skeleton makes light work of Spidey's super strong webbing.
The Goblin rips aggressively through the webs into another full frontal attack, ending with a blow that throws Spider-man into yet another wall!

The floored Spidey desperately tries his webs again, but the Green Goblin is omnipresent. "You've spun your last web, Spider-man!"
The Goblin taunts his beaten foe, promising to end Mary-Jane's life with a joyous orgy of torture and pain for Spidey's defiance. Though his words are rattling, they serve to inadvertently revive the hero's will!

Enraged, Spider-man rises, catching the head of an electrically charged trident the Goblin produces. The two struggle for a moment, before Spidey finally unloads with the proportionate strength of a Spider, flinging the Goblin across the scene! This time it's the Green Goblin's turn to hit a wall!

Spidey trips the Goblin with weblines to the feet, and sprays out lines to pull the brickwall down atop his fallen foe. The green exo-suit protects the Goblin to a degree, but he is slow to emerge from the wreckage.

The first thing to emerge is a hand.
Spidey helps him from the wreckage, swinging on a web to snatch him up and throw him into another wall. There, Spidey holds the Goblin pinned in place, striking repeatedly at his body and face. Norman feels the blows, even through his goblin fashioned helmet.

As quickly as the tide of battle changes, so too does the character of the man Peter Parker faces. The tone of his voice quickly shifts as he begs for mercy, pulling away his helmet to reveal a terrified Norman Osborn.

The shock of the reveal leaves Peter stagnant. Norman speaks of his innocence in the crimes commited by the Goblin, claiming to have been unable to stop him. His conviction is supported by the hint of truth, a psychotic break the result of his own experiments in human enhancement.

Even while he's speaking, he taps a button on his gauntlet to summon the absent goblin glider. He thanks Peter for his saving intervention, and reaches out to him as the father Peter no longer has. Spidey rejects him, proudly remembering Ben Parker as his true father.

The rejection pushes the button Norman needs.

Sucks to be me, but don't worry... I come back from this! And I already had kids! Ha-cha!Spidey's preternatural warning senses warn him of the impending doom.
He flips free of it's path, but inadvertently leaves the glider to impale Norman against the wall. Fatally wounded, Norman's final words are anything but the rantings of a madman, "Peter... Don't tell Harry."

The hammer...
Yaaaaay! Spider-man triumphs over evil! Roll credits!
Actually, it's worth noting, as if you haven't seen the movie a million times, that Spidey carries Norman's body back to his home, where he's seen by Harry, sparking their own feud.

You might say in those dying moments Norman returned to sanity, fearful of the disappointment his son will feel of his father. Or, maybe in some ominous fashion, he was really trying to spare Harry of the knowledge of his crimes, so that he wouldn't repeat them. Who knows?

In the comics being impaled by his glider turns out to be much less lethal than it would appear here. A few years underground, and a healthy dose of regeneration thanks to his Goblin Serum, and Norman is quickly back on top, and in everybody's face as the Green Goblin once more.

The return of the original Green Goblin, as previously discussed, was a bit of a slap to the power of his story, and the story that followed with the Harry incarnation of the character in the eighties and nineties. Even so, it's hard to argue the value of the Norman Osborn character, despite mediocre treatments.

He was retroactively slotted back into some of the missing years, becoming responsible for plots such as the return of the Parker parents, and the fiasco it represented. Likewise, new stories featured new history, revealing Osborn's one-night stand with then-Spidey first love, Gwen Stacy, with whom he ultimately had two children, twins.

If you can believe it, the twins aged at an increased rate because of the Goblin serum in Norman's DNA at the time of conception. Like Harry, they grow into the Goblin legacy, following a series of contingencys to one of Norman's secret labs, where they become new Goblins themselves, before ultimately dying of their congenital afflictions.

Right now Norman Osborn has survived his sinister schemes to become the director of the current version of the government funded Thunderbolts. A team that features other prominent psychopathic killers, Bullseye and Mac Gargan (formerly Scorpion, currently Venom). Otherwise the consemate strategist, mental instabilities have been at the forefront of his charaterization at the hands of Warren Ellis, with regular unprompted outbursts regarding Spider-man.

This is probably where some of my highest praises come of the film. It gleefully retains the technicolour palette of it's comic counterpart, but still manages to tell a relatively sensible story, stripping the Green Goblin/Spider-man rivalry of some of it's less impressive moments. Likewise, it condenses the saga of their feud, bridging the gap to Harry in a way the comics never quite sold.

The film isn't without it's problems. Like certain computer-generated scenes, Kirsten Dunst is entirely unconvincing as Mary-Jane. Likewise, some of the plot does stray a little far into corn, particularly the hurrah-NY moment, which unfortunately has a redux in the much toted sequel.

Fundamentally the film has a strong structure to it, and that's probably where the sequel falls for me. Though Spider-man 2 is regarded by many to be the superior film, if not the greatest superhero film of all time, I think it's repetition of the structure and strokes featured in this film make it far weaker.

As an introductory film Spider-man performs well, but certainly leaves room for improvement. Which may or may not be discussed if we ever get a chance to talk about the sequel, which isn't unlikely!

This is it for Web-Slinging Wednesdays as we finally wrap up the late May posts (today being June 8, 1:47am). If you missed out on some of the other posts be sure to track back, but in the mean time, look forward to more movie madness as we dive into some Fantastic Four/Silver Surfer action for June! Cheers!

The Fight: 6 The Movie: 6

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