Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I think I’ve said this before- there was a lot I liked about Sam Raimi’s Spider-man films and I’m surprised to hear about this revamp business. I would have been happy to see a fourth movie with Kirstin Dunst and Tobey Maguire. Well, and Topher Grace. I know people are critical of the third film and I'll admit, it goes in some directions that surprise you. I still insist it's NOT a bad movie- it just isn’t a movie that FEELS good to watch. Seeing Peter and Mary Jane break up and Harry become a sociopath isn’t easy to stomach (although, I’ll have more to say about Harry in a minute).

But, if I DO have a complaint about the third movie- it’s that they took on too much, too fast. I know it’s ‘3’, so they have- surprise- three villains and all, but really, that’s kind of where this whole superhero movie business falls apart, isn’t it? The second you start cramming storyline on top of storyline, you get- TA-DA- Batman and Robin (1997), featuring Dr. Freeze, Bane, Poison Ivy, Batgirl and a host of really bizarre, glow-in-the-dark paint fight scenes (seriously…I know making fun of this movie is old hat by now. But- MY GOD.)

I mean, okay, The Dark Knight took on Two-Face and the Joker in one swoop, but it was TWO and a HALF HOURS LONG. So you know- they had some time to FEEL those stories out, you know? THAT’S okay, I think.

So they threw some stuff in, in Spider-Man 3, that I was just thinking- wait. SLOW down. It was interesting to have Gwen in the movie- but her role just didn’t seem quite as poignant to me as it did in the comic.

And Venom- aahh, alas Venom. I love Topher Grace. In anything, really. And I know Brock is this big thug in the comics, but I love that Grace and Maguire even kind of LOOK alike- making Brock the anti-Parker. So I was dorking out when I hear he was Venom. But it wasn’t ENOUGH for me. The mother of all Spider-man villains, the thing that you’ve wanted to SEE in a Spider-man film for years- and it just felt crammed in. Harry-as-Goblin and Sandman, along with Peter’s struggles with the suit, was MORE than enough for one film, I’m thinking.

So, how should it have ended?

The last scene should have been the first one everyone saw- that clip, leaked onto the internet, of Grace, in that church, muttering ‘Parker…’. Suddenly, the symbiote pours down from the belltower, representing everything hateful and unholy (the church is nice imagery for the birth of the anti-Spiderman, isn’t it?), covering Topher. Now a big black mass of whirling alien goo, ‘it’ turns to the camera. Two big, freaky, alien eyes form from the mass and a massive jaw line starts to protrude. Some creepy voice-over effect makes it sound like Topher Grace and some kind of alien creature are talking at the same time, and you hear it go “Oh, little Spider…WE could just EAT-YOU-UP”.

(fade to black, roll credits).

Tell me that the hype for Spider-man 4 wouldn’t have been off the hook than? Wouldn’t that have been a movie you wanted to watch??

But alas. Too much. Too fast.

…now. The Goblin(s) are a different matter.

I gotta give Raimi this- he really pulled off the ONE thing that I never, EVER, thought I would see happen in a superhero film. And that is the adoption of the mantle of a villain arc. It’s silly, and it’s done to an absurd degree, but in the comics, it happens. In fact, in Spider-man, it happens a LOT. And Raimi went ahead and just let it ride, you know? He let you watch an entire three movies worth of transition: a villain’s influence on a supporting character’s life, the resulting confusion after the villian’s death/disappearance and the eventual emergence of that character as the new villain.

Now granted, it wasn’t just any old mantle arc. Norman and Harry Osborn are kind of essential pieces to the Spider-man mythos. It’s this weird kind of haunting in Peter’s life, I think. On the one hand, he saves people he barely knows, but the people close to him tend to get hurt. On the other the Goblin sort of lingers. Festers. It goes beyond just one person. It goes beyond being a person. It’s this bizarre legacy; as long as Spider-Man’s around, the Goblin will find him.

So, it isn’t exactly out of place; I’m just so impressed that he pulled it off! I know it wasn’t all step by step the way it played out in the comics, but let’s face it, it’s done so well. The intricacy of Harry’s eventual plunge into BEING his father, in every unhealthy, demented, controlling way you could imagine- not only do you see a character become the new villain, but it makes sense to you how he would. Of course, there’s a spot of redemption in the end (this was not totally out of left field, actually for a brief period, a relation of Daily Bugle star reporter Ben Urich took up the Goblin mantle as a hero.)

The passing of the Goblin persona is one of the most ridiculously elaborate pieces of Marvel history. It’s kind of absurd and awesome at the same time. To see even a small piece of this brought to life impresses me. For the record, some of the biggest Goblins in Spider-man history besides Harry and Norman, are (and this list isn’t even EXHAUSTIVE):

Nels Van Adder, known as the Protogoblin, an unfortunate Oscorp employee that Norman ran the formula’s test on.

Bart Hamilton, Harry’s corrupt psychologist who takes advantage of him to get his hands on Osborne’s equipment.

Robert Kingsley, a fashion designer who tracks down on of Norman’s safehouses loaded up with formula and pumpkin bombs. Kingsley went by Hobgoblin.

Jason Macendale, an ex-CIA agent with some sociopathic tendancies. Jason served a tour of duty as Hobgoblin, went by his own glider alias Jack O’Lantern and even got infested by a demon and became the disturbingly powerful Demogoblin. That’s be quite a movie, huh?

Phil Urich, Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich’s nephew, who read about the Spider-man and Goblin feud as a kid and wanted to make the Goblin something good (or at least, get famous).

Gabriel Stacy- Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy’s son (YES, you read that right. A HIGHLY controversial story suggests that Gwen fathered twins for Norman). Already bordering on mutant, Gabriel inherited his father’s genetic enhancement. A dose of Goblin-juice sent him over the edge into crazy-ville, however. Gabriel goes by Grey Goblin.

Lilly Hollister- Harry Osbron’s ex-girlfriend who is now involved with his FATHER (I know- this Goblin thing is pretty sick, right?). After drinking a new, suped-up Goblin formula, Lilly can actually physically shift her form. Of course, big Goblin-looking horns on her head are a must. Lilly just goes by the name Menace but adopts a lot of Goblin methods and equipment. And you know. She’s slept with the two originals so she makes the list. But wow. Just-wow.