Superheroes 8/5/19

By Richard Bleil

This blog will be more or less meaningless. I just saw Spiderman:Far From Home, and frankly, I just want to take a post to discuss my opinions on superheros and superhero movies. It’s pure opinion; you’re free to take a peak, but don’t go into it with great expectations.

Spiderman has always been my favorite superhero, for a few reasons. First, superheros like Superman I never particularly liked. Being an impervious man (until later when Kryptonite was discovered), he’s not really a hero. Standing up to bullets for him is like me standing up to water balloons. Where’s the courage? Heroes like Spiderman, however, can be hurt or even killed. Yes, very tough, but ultimately vulnerable. The Black Widow is another one. She relies on her skills, but she is not even sporting super strength our toughness; she’s just human.

Secondly, Spiderman is misunderstood. In the comic books and the (pre-Avenger) movies, J Jonah Johnson used the Daily Bugle to make sure that the police were constantly against Spiderman. Captain America, another “invincible”, was America’s Boy Scout. The army, the police, all of the “good guys” were always on his side. This helped him to do his job. Spiderman, on the other hand, was always being hunted as a vigilante. Not only do the bad guys want to stomp his butt, but so do the good ones. Another layer of vulnerability. Yes, he kind of played with the police, and helped them out, but generally speaking, he couldn’t rely on them for any help or support.

What I truly enjoy about Spiderman as a superhero, however, is his self-doubt. He is just a high school kid, nervous, had been bullied his entire life and has doubts about his role and abilities. But, even in the face of self-doubt, he always came through and did what is right.

That, to me, is a true hero, and the type of hero we all could potentially become. It’s not always easy to be the hero, but when somebody is being berated because of the way they look or dress, if a child is being bullied, if somebody doesn’t have enough for those groceries, it is the hero that will step up to defend those in need.

I loved Toby McGuire as Spiderman. He was the perfect mix of uneasy teen, brilliant geek, and superhero. I felt like there were mistakes in this movie version; the fact that the webs actually were part of the bites kind of worked against the movies. In the comic books, the webbing was a mechanical device that Peter Parker developed that required cartridges, and would periodically forget to put new ones in and would run out of webbing in the middle of a battle. It would change the dynamics of the battle, but since in Toby’s case it was a more natural development, there really was no reason for him to be a science geek.

I felt the writers really went astray with the movies featuring Andrew Garfield as Spiderman. Sadly, I felt this version of Peter Parker was a punk and, frankly, kind of a bully himself. I suppose the writers were trying to make him more “realistic”, but not everybody is a bully. I never cared for this version of Peter, or if anything happened to him because, frankly, I didn’t like him.

In the newest reincarnation of the Spiderman legend with Tom Holland as the legendary web-slinger, they bring our friendly neighborhood Spiderman into the Avengerverse. Again, I had kind of a problem with this, especially the introduction of Stark Technology to Spidey. In the comic books, Spidey had to rely on his own abilities and, more importantly than that, instincts and intelligence to “save the day”. With Starktech, the gadgets removed much of the need to do so, but still, they went back to the awkward teenage science geek that drew me to the legend in the first place. In Spiderman Far From Home, it was nice to see that, while they still included some Starktech, once again Spidey had to rely on intelligence and cunning.

By the way, I have mixed feelings about some of the casting decisions. While I adore Marisa Tomei, I still have a hard time accepting her as “Aunt May”. I’m getting there, but she’s too young and too sexy, whereas I’m too acquainted with kindly old Aunt May in her golden years. But I LOVE Zendaya in the role of MJ. While I can’t quite pinpoint her Ethnicity (she is an American actress), Zendaya means “To Give Thanks” in Shona, a language spoken in the Southern parts of Africa. This is quite a change from red-haired MJ of the comic books, and I think it’s marvelous. She still has the fire and intelligence of MJ, a no-nonsense kick-ass character that just doesn’t take crap. I adore her rendition of Peter’s love interest.

So what’s the point of this blog? I dunno; I guess there isn’t one. But, if you are a fan of the classic Spiderman legend, as I am, I do recommend the movie. Still influenced by the Avengerverse, but a breakaway with a feel of the original legend. I’m also impressed that it’s not a battle against the
“greatest and most dangerous threat in the university that will wipe out all life everywhere it exists.” This has been the theme of too many recent superhero movies, but frankly, where do you go from there?

Welcome back to the neighborhood, Spiderman. We need you.

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