Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spider-Man Can't Have a Sidekick

Welp. That's it. I quit. This happened. Spider-Man. Gets. A sidekick.

I cannot believe they are doing this. This is such a fundamental mistake, it never even occurred to me that they may make it. I thought they might give him a new costume or something. I thought you couldn't make a worse mistake than Spider-Men. And yet, here we are. Sidekick. I don't know where to start with this.

Spider-Man is not a hero to have a sidekick. He's not the hero that pals around with a kid, making that kid get in the path of bullets. Having a sidekick means willingly putting someone else into a dangerous situation that usually only you would have to deal with. Spider-Man would feel obligated to making sure said kid didn't get hurt during any of the fights or danger, and that would be a hamper to Spider-Man's effectiveness. If the kid definitely won't get hurt, why does he need Spider-Man? The Spider-Man I know wouldn't say, "Oh kid, you got superpowers? Well, time to put on some tights and get shot at!" He knows, himself, how shitty being a superhero is. He wouldn't wish it upon someone else. Yeah, it has its perks, but it ruins his civilian life immensely. If someone is intent upon becoming a vigilante, he's not going to tell them no, but he won't start a long working relationship with them. The minute Spider-Man gets a sidekick is the minute he becomes a father.

See, this is the worst part, it negates the only good part of Brand New Day! I'm not saying it was good, but at the very least it allowed him to start fresh and maybe seem a little younger. This ages him more than anything else could! He's now tethered to this kid like a ball and chain! A sidekick works for Batman because Batman is dark and gritty, so a little innocent kid around helps him see past that and embrace the warmer parts of his character, and the whole fatherhood angle fits in well with the way he protects Gotham City. Plus, Batman trains them like hell to be like him. Spider-Man is meant to be freelance. Look at Spider-Girl. The only reason he lets his daughter go out in spandex and fight crime is because he has no leg, so he can't.

I can understand making a new hero, but don't tie him inextricably with Spider-Man. Spider-Man wasn't about learning lessons because people told you. Spider-Man was about learning the lessons that couldn't be told by making mistakes, and improving, and trying harder each time to do the right thing. He didn't ask adults for help. In fact, most adults were actively trying to stop him or just didn't understand what he was doing. For Spider-Man to then turn around and start giving lessons to some kid who got superpowers is contrary to the point of Spider-Man.

This is why I didn't like the new Ultimate Spider-Man comic or cartoon. In it, Nick Fury is explicitly telling Spider-Man what to do, how to do it, and just giving him school lessons on how to be a superhero. Spider-Man is just handed things and and a lesson plan and he screws up a bit before finally he wins the lesson and Fury is happy with him. This is terrible, because it takes away the freedom of Spider-Man. It takes away his individualism, which is a fundamental part of the character. He made the suit himself, he made the webshooters himself, he fights by himself, he makes mistakes by himself. Spider-Man was never about him being taught how to do everything right. It was about Peter Parker learning how to do things the right way by screwing them up.

I can only hope this is just another character that they will happen to introduce in Spider-Man. It's happened before. If they have a little team-up like Spider-Man is wont to do, then I'll be fine with it. But if this is permanent, this may be even worse than One More Day.

EDIT: I just remembered, Stan Lee made Spider-Man originally as a counter to sidekicks of the day! In any other comic book, a kid that age would have been a sidekick to an older hero, but Stan Lee hated that idea, and so made Spider-Man with that in mind. This is a spit in the face of the original concept.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why Spider-Man Shouldn't Be in the Avengers

There's been a lot of buzz lately over the possibility of Spider-Man in the next Avengers film. As far as I can tell, everyone is excited and hopeful that he'll be in the next one, but I have a different opinion. Spider-Man shouldn't be in Avengers 2, or whatever they call it, for anything more than maybe a tiny cameo.

First of all, let's look at the comics themselves. Spider-Man was not a founding member of the Avengers. Of course, Ant-Man and Wasp were also founding members, but they aren't popular enough to have movies. He doesn't fit naturally with the Avengers, at least not the ones portrayed in the movie. All of Spider-Man's possible roles are already taken. Iron Man is snarky, Iron Man knows technology, and Bruce Banner knows science. Not to mention both Stark and Banner are experts in their fields while Peter Parker is a high school student. Spider-Man would be relegated to either making the jokes rejected from Iron Man, or yelling "My Spider-sense is tingling!" every time something bad happens. In combat, he can't do much more than Captain America, just with more webs.

"But Spider-Man is in the Avengers now!" You say, correctly. But look at the Avengers now. No Bruce Banner, first of all. Spider-Man's whole science thing has gotten more proficient as of late, so he's actually valuable in that sense. Second, the time when he really fit was around Dark Reign. In that, Captain America was dead and replaced by Bucky, who dressed in black and carried a gun. Hawkeye was instead Ronin, and most of the team had no compunction against killing Norman Osborn. Spider-Man was the heart and soul of the team who reminded them that they were the good guys. Look, however, at the movie universe. You have Captain America, the paragon of good, and Iron Man, having reformed as a weapon's maker, is almost as spotless in his record now. There's no dark and gritty there for Spider-Man to counteract. He's just another justice loving guy among too many.

Also, there's the omnipresent issue of movie rights being split between Marvel and Sony. No way Sony is going to completely let go of the Spider-Man movie license, but I'm sure they want a piece of that Avengers money, so they'd be willing to broker a deal. However, any such deal would be bound to come with a lot of stipulations. Either a minimum screentime or minimum number of lines, that would certainly mess with the writers, especially Joss Whedon, who tends to get all flustered by meddling. Second, there's no good way to introduce him into the series. Either he jumps in with little explanation just to be there, or they waste Avengers time making shit about him. All the films before the Avengers were written to make Avengers possible. Spider-Man is written just about Spider-Man, without the interconnectedness the other films share. Including Spider-Man would bring up far too many plot holes if he isn't part of the Marvel Movie Universe from the start. Where was he when Abomination destroyed Harlem? Was he just hiding when aliens tried to invade? So much revolves around New York in Marvel, and you can't shoehorn these events in at the last second.

Spider-Man, as his movie is made now, should not be in the Avengers, as they are now. He just doesn't fit in, character-wise or plot-wise. If a lot were to change I would be warmer to the idea, but at this point I'm against it. Now all it would bring is a pointless cash-in that cheapens both the Avengers and Spider-Man.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man: Twilight In Spandex

Welp, the reviews are in. Well, okay, just one review. Said review, if you're too lazy to read, favorably compares the new Spider-Man flick to the Twilight series. If you aren't already pulling out your hair, let me tell you why that's bad news.

Let's look at the facts, Twilight was a terrible movie series, with terrible people that enjoyed it. Really, I don't think anyone has a dissenting opinion on that fact. It was a shallow, pandering series for preteens that showcased a "romance" nobody cared about. I don't need to get into all the reasons, some people have internet careers discussing why Twilight is so bad. The problem isn't that it's bad, it's that apparently it was popular enough that other producers/directors feel the need to appeal to the "Twilight Generation" in other movies. And that's terrible.

Particularly when any production team sets their sights to pander to a certain demographic, things aren't going to be good. Pander to comic fans, and the movie seems too dense and newcomers aren't interested. Looking at Spider-Man 3, it attempted to pander to far too many people at the same time, becoming so coagulated with shit that it collapsed in upon itself. However, if we look at The Dark Knight, purportedly one of the most successful comic movies at all time, it just looks like he was trying to make a good movie about Batman. In no way did it try to appeal exclusively to comic book fans or preteens, it was just a movie that explored Batman's darker themes in a great way.

Some people retort that it's compared to Twilight simply because it has romance and is appealing to women, and do I hate women or something? Well, I hate movies made for women, at least, especially if they are in the same vein at Twilight. Sure, romance has always been an aspect of Spider-Man, but only because it was just another thing that clashed with his superheroics in a dramatic way. Spider-Man was never solely about who he was going out with (Yet another reason why Brand New Day sucked) but instead it was about how he was going to juggle the two pasttimes. Back in the day, the comics didn't detail every little date between Peter and Gwen, but it showed enough how they were close and how Peter cared, so it was truly heartbreaking when she died.

Let's look at this quote from the article:

"Raimi’s films were for the teenage boys who used to dress up in Spider-Man pyjamas; Webb’s is for girls whose other halves may soon be dressing up in Spider-Man pyjamas for their benefit.

See, that's the problem. Spider-Man, at its core, is not about being a hot guy with smoldering eyes that happens to have a secret life fighting crime so he has deep, complex emotions. It's really a nerd fantasy. He has fantastic powers and adventures that set him apart from the kid he used to be, but still has problems so we understand where he's coming from. The core of the character is a good person who has a lot more power than he's used to, stuck in situations where he has to do the right thing, at the cost to himself. Spider-Man punches bad guys, but at the end of the day he sits down and realizes the cost of doing that.

Should I be worried? I'll answer that with a definite yes. Will I still see the movie?

...Yes. I can't help it! I even saw Spider-Man 3! My devotion knows no bounds. Plus, it would be kinda nice to be really angry about something again, and I'm sure all of you can reap the benefits.

P.S. On odd chance it's not a horrible movie, here's some speculation on the costume. From the Amazing Spider-Man game, there's this page, showing 2 alternate costumes for the game, one with a belt and one without. My question: Is the belt a game-only addition to the costume? If it shows up late in the movie, that would give me hope for a Spider-Signal, because I love that thing. The Spider-Signal rocks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Superhero Music

So recently I found a song by nerd-band Kirby Krackles called Web-Slinger/Hope-Bringer. Being as crazy about Spider-Man as I am, I loved it. It also got me thinking about superhero songs.

Really, if that's what you're looking for, nerd-bands are probably your best bet, but once in a while it breaks into something close to mainstream. For example, there's Five For Fighting's song Superman and the lesser known Ballad of Barry Allen by Jim's Big Ego. The first thing I notice about these two is that they're about DC heroes who traditionally are not written in the same vein as the song. Superman is the perfect superhuman who saves lives, and actually thinks flying is pretty fun. Barry Allen, the Flash, can experience time just as slow as the rest of us, and has a very successful relationship with his wife, Iris. I notice people tend to give DC heroes these character flaws that are more inherent in Marvel heroes. Spider-Man was written as poor in the first place, nobody needed a song to elucidate that. In a way, these songs present depth for an alternate interpretation of the character that serves to make the original more interesting. With the Flash, you're left wondering if this is how he feels in-between the comic book storylines, or if Superman is really digging for Kryptonite.

For that reason, the songs don't usually work for Marvel heroes, because the problem is already exposited. Ben Grimm is a horrifying rock thing, Iron Man is an alcoholic, it's all there without much need for further exposition. Of course, sometimes a band can bring to light more obscure facts about one of them.

In a way, I like it better when it's not just a nerd band making a song about a hero they really like. That way we all get a new look at things, instead of a song whose main point narrows down to "Batman is the best". I mean, I already knew that. Bringing music into your life, this is the W Defender!