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Episode 1749 Talkback - Spider-Man (2002) Retro Movie Review

Seventeen years and two reboots ago, Spider-Man took his first swing at the big screen, under the direction of Sam Raimi and supported by a memorable cast including Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Willem Dafoe. Today, with Spidey's cinematic future in question, the Geeks hearken back to that simpler time and spin their own web of praise and deprecation around the original Spider-Movie: the stars, the script, the suits, the sketchy CGI, and so on. Listen today--it's your power AND your responsibility! (1:25:08)

Listen here.

Comments

  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited September 17
    I was (and still am) fine with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. I appreciated her more grounded portrayal of a character who, more often than not in the comics, was somewhat of a caricature turned up to "11" on the personality meter. That played fine in the comic book medium, but I don't think the "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot" level of va-va-voom cockiness would've played well on screen, certainly not opposite of Toby Maguire. I've never quite figured out why people think Dunst "had no business" playing Mary Jane Watson. It seems to be one of those weird "geek consensus" things that has developed over the years (i.e. "Thor: Dark World sucked!")

    Speaking of Maguire, I was (and still am) fine with his portrayal of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Of all the screen Peter Parkers, his mopey, mumbly nerd was the closest to the actual comic book Pete I remember from the Silver Age. I certainly feel Maguire's Pete rings more true than Tom Holland's uber-earnest "Golly gee, Mr. Stark" interpretation that I've just never warmed to.

    As far as Spider-Man goes, I'm not sure how to judge Maguire or any other actor when he's in that mode. More often than not, Spider-Man on screen is a CGI construct, so there's not much of ANY actor's true personality or body language coming through during those sequences.
  • DARDAR Posts: 1,115
    I still enjoy the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and even don’t mind the third.
  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited September 17

    “I still enjoy the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and even don’t mind the third.”

    I consider “Spider-Man 2” to be the Gold Standard of Spider-Man films. Absolutely pitch-perfect.

  • Re: Spidey not being quippy enough.

    Maguire’s Spider-Man certainly wasn’t the rapid-fire jokester we’ve come to expect from the character, but think about it: this was the very beginning of his life as Spider-Man. Just like in the early Lee and Ditko stories, it took awhile for Pete’s gregarious Spidey persona to emerge...so Maguire’s Spidey not being an instant joke machine makes perfect sense. In fact, I think if he’d started right in with the snappy battle patter, it would’ve felt forced and false.

  • BrackBrack Posts: 799
    edited September 17

    I've never quite figured out why people think Dunst "had no business" playing Mary Jane Watson. It seems to be one of those weird "geek consensus" things that has developed over the years (i.e. "Thor: Dark World sucked!")

    She was blonde. Seriously that was it.

    From the announcement article on IGN -

    "KJB thinks she's the perfect Gwen Stacy. Unfortunately, she's playing Mary Jane."

    And if you want to delve into the 18+ year old gutter of the internet - here's the AICN news item announcing it along with lots of comments along the same lines.

    Another reason is the early 2000s was a golden age for comedies let by young blonde women, which would have been kryptonite for these below the page down button dwellers, and she'd done three before Spider-Man - Get Over It, Bring It On and Dick.

    I'm sure if she'd been a natural red head they'd have still found a reason to hate her, because the mask has slipped on these sort of toxic nerds by now.
  • I stick by my and @Adam_Murdough's reasoning that Kirsten Dunst just wasn't given anything of note to do in the film, and that with a stronger script, even the haters would have had way less to grab hold onto for her portrayal. Because Dunst is a great actress when given the time to be one. I'm sure they would have found something anyway because haters gonna hate, but still.

  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited September 17

    "Kirsten Dunst just wasn't given anything of note to do in the film, and that with a stronger script, even the haters would have had way less to grab hold onto for her portrayal."

    I guess it boils down to what a viewer would consider "of note" for this sort of character (supporting cast) to "do".

    This is a Spider-Man origin movie, so speaking for myself, I primarily want to see the story of Peter Parker and how he becomes Spider-Man. Naturally, you want to surround him with a familiar cast that evokes their comic book counterparts, but not to the extent that it subtracts or distracts from Peter's story. Jonah Jameson did exactly what he was supposed to do (blowhard tyrant), Aunt May did exactly what she was supposed to do (grieve, worry, wisdom), and, I submit, Mary Jane Watson did exactly what she was supposed to do...namely be a love interest and to provide stakes. Really, what more does the MJ character need to do? What specific actions "of note" should she have performed? For that matter, was there honestly anything "of note" that MJ did back in the Silver Age, other than provide light banter, comic relief, and an excuse for John Romita Sr. to draw yet another beautiful woman? In fact, I think the MJ of the movie was a far more substantive character than the comic book MJ was during her initial "rollout" in the 60's.

    I'm honestly curious what you were hoping for from MJ's role in this movie....especially this early in Pete's Spider-Man career, as well as the ages Pete and MJ are supposed to be.

  • Mark_EngblomMark_Engblom Posts: 343
    edited September 17

    Matt-

    To clarify: That quote block was from me, not Brack, but the mask slip comment IS his. When I said “geek consensus” I meant the larger geek population, not YOU geeks specifically in CGS. Not sure at all what the mask slip stuff is all about, but it didn’t come from me. Staying out of that.

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