Iron Man 2 – Another Marvel Comics Movie better than the First

Like many of you, I saw Iron Man 2 this weekend.  It was actually the midnight screening on the local (real) IMAX at Celebration Cinema.  I had a great time with this movie, and felt it was far more fun than the original.  It also had a greater sense of pace and handled a good number of leading characters very fairly and even handed, with much dignity for them all.  Even Black Widow was handled with proper respect for the character.  Having read some Black Widow comics, I was fully prepared for the character to be a very poor representation of the original, and was pleasantly surprised.

All of the action was turned up a few notches, and there wasn’t a very poor and generic villain that nobody had ever heard of this time around.  Instead, we had two villains to worry about.  An odd business tycoon that served as the generic villain of this film, but then an actual member of the Iron Man rogues gallery: Whiplash.  About time, Favreau.  The first film felt too much like Ang Lee’s Hulk by the end, with a villain that nobody really knew about, nor cared about enough to love to hate.  Granted, he wasn’t that extreme, but you get the idea.

What did I mean, about movie being better than the first?

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Spider-Man 4 and 5 are on, Tobey Maguire has Signed

This is some of the best news I’ve heard in some time. Tobey Maguire has officially signed on to reprise the role of Peter Parker in Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5.

You see, when Spider-Man came out in 2002, I wasn’t a fan of it. I thought that Green Goblin was too much of a Power Ranger, and including Macy Gray dated the film to a certain era (something I think some films should do their best to avoid). Not only that, but when it came out, I was anxiously awaiting the release of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

When it came down to it, I thought that some of the effects in Spider-Man were really cheesy. Peter Parker’s leap from rooftop to rooftop looked pretty bad from time to time, and next to the effects in Star Wars, was pretty lacking. Yoda looked more alive.

Spider-Man 2 came out a couple of years later, in 2004, and blew my mind. Not only was Goblin out of the picture, but we had a villain that was both charismatic, and a story that not only topped the original, but made me a fan. The fight scenes were all incredible and fun.

After that, it took the creative team an extra year of work to create Spider-Man 3. Now, here’s a movie that split the audience. Everyone seems to agree that it’s not a great film, and that tends to be a general consensus. It’s not something that I agree with. At all.

I think it’s a phenomenal film. While it falls short of the second film, it does have a lot to love. The main problems with Spider-Man 3, I think, are the following:

  • John Jameson should have been the reason the symbiote came to earth. He was introduced in the second film, and it should have been used. Instead, the symbiote randomly crashed to earth.
  • Gwen Stacy should have been the one in peril at the end. Instead, Mary Jane Watson was once again captured. The film would have been much more effective if Gwen was the one in trouble. Instead, it was more of a paint-by-the-numbers routine.
  • Emo Peter Parker should have been better explained. The symbiote had started to control Parker, and was beginning to control him. It was also alien, so it wasn’t really aware of it’s surroundings, and started to make Parker do things that were way out of character. That’s simply because it wasn’t Parker that we were seeing. It was a symbiote-possessed Parker, exploring the world for the first time.
  • Venom should have been reduced to a minor character until the very end. How cool would that have been? Rearrange the story of Spider-Man 3 a bit, remove the venom bits from most of the story, and you’ve got a great Spider-Man 3 that is as good as Spider-Man 2.

Here’s how I would have done Spider-Man 3:

  • Start it out with Jameson returning from a mission to space, and J. Jonah Jameson has Parker cover the story, acquiring the symbiote at that point. Sandman (perfectly executed in the film) has center stage for the entirety of the film, as prime villain, although he’s doing this with a noble end in mind: helping his daughter. Contrasted with that is Parker with the black costume, making our hero into a vigilante. In a way, this would swap the roles of hero and villain. Sure, Brock would be a part of the story, but he’d only become Venom for the last moment. We’d have a final battle with Parker fighting Sandman. Hobgoblin (New Goblin) would come into it a little bit as well, but after the rescue of Gwen Stacy, there’d be an epilogue. Brock will have witnessed the battle, and Gwen’s rescue, and gotten jealous of Spider-Man, and found his way to the church, where the symbiote would claim him, and the film would end with Venom leaping at the camera.

This would have led right into Spider-Man 4, with Parker going up against Venom, 1 on 1. However, now that they already went down the road that they had, Spider-Man 4 and 5 are going to be vastly different from the original plan. You see, Venom was kind of crow-barred into the story of Spider-Man 3. Producer Avi Arad was listening to us, the fans. We were clamoring for Venom to appear in Spider-Man 3, so he forced the character into the third film. Director Sam Raimi did as he was asked, against better judgment. Bad move, and proof positive that fan feedback should not be listened to all the time. We sabotaged Spider-Man 3. Let’s leave them alone for the next ones. Deal?

There’s no word yet on what’s going to happen in 4 and 5, or who the villains will be. Let’s hope that Sam Raimi comes back and is able to redeem himself in the eyes of most of the fans, and makes a pair of awesome films. Although I think Spider-Man 3 could have been better, I still think it was great. Sandman made an excellent villain, and Harry Osborne’s storyline was suitably tragic.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us next.

Read more at: L.A. Times, Fancast

The Best of 2004

My favorites of 2004:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King :: Best Picture of 2003 :: 11 Academy Awards

Movies:

Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban
The Incredibles
Napoleon Dynamite
Ocean’s 12
The Passion of the Christ
Spider-Man 2
The Village

TV:

Alias
Arrested Development
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Lost
Scrubs
StarGate Atlantis
StarGate SG-1

I hadn’t seen a single episode of any of those shows before 2004. Now I’m a huge fan of all of them.

Spider-Man 2

Uncle Ben: All the things you’ve been thinking about, Peter… …make me sad.

Peter Parker: Can’t you understand? I’m in love with Mary Jane.

Uncle Ben: Peter, all the times we’ve talked of honesty… …fairness, justice…. Out of those times, I counted on you to have the courage… to take those dreams out into the world.

Peter Parker:
I can’t live your dreams anymore. I want a life of my own.

Uncle Ben:
You’ve been given a gift, Peter. With great power comes great responsibility. Take my hand, son.

Peter Parker:
No, Uncle Ben. I’m just Peter Parker. I’m Spider-Man… …no more. No more.