The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Why it was necessary to reboot Spider-Man

with 27 comments

Was it too early to do make a reboot of Spider-Man? This question has been asked over and over again over lately and my impression is that most people would say “yes”.

It’s not that they don’t like the new version; most seem to think it’s just as good as or even better than the old one. But they don’t see any good reason for its existence, since it doesn’t bring much new to the franchise compared to Raimi’s version. Why replace something that already works?

The short and simple answer is “toys”. There’s a tight bond between the producers of comic magazines, games, plastic dolls and t-shirts and the film producers. I was vaguely aware of it before, but watching The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was the real eye-opener to me. They feed from each other. The film promotes the toys and the toys promote the film. Whenever the market is ready to consume another set of toys, it’s the right time to launch a new movie. But do you need to make it a reset? Yes, of course you do!

If you only set for another sequel in an existing series, there’s the risk that the t-shirt or plastic doll could be passed on from an older sibling to a younger one. Now there is a small but distinct difference, a new look of the logo, and parents can be talked into buying the same thing all over again.

However we’re film fans, not toy manufacturers, so let’s put the obvious commercial interest aside for a moment. Once again: is there any way you can defend this reboot of Spider-Man, especially if you like me have a negative default setting towards remakes and sequels, thinking they occupy too much of Hollywood’s attention nowadays compared to new and fresh original ideas?

I thought this over for a bit and I got surprised when I realized that my answer would be “yes”.

Reasons for my approval
One reason is of course that I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man quite a bit. I watched it with my 18 year old, and while neither of us has superhero movies as our favorite genre, we both babbled enthusiastically as we left the theatre.

We agreed that the movie had found the sweet balance between action, humor and psychological drama – a tasty blend of salt, sweet and bitter. Andrew Garfield is the most adorable teenager you ever saw and it’s impossible to believe that the guy is turning 29 in a month. The effects are at the level you expect nowadays and I thoroughly enjoyed the swinging between the skyscrapers, as I always do, either its Maguire or Garfield who is hanging in the lines.

But even if I hadn’t liked The Amazing Spider-Man as much as I did, I would still have approved. The thing is that I have reconsidered the way I look at those superheroes. I’ve started to see them as those timeless fairytales that we’ll keep introducing to new children, generation after generation, making them a part of our cultural heritage.

Think of tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve never heard anyone complaining about the book publisher printing yet another version with a slightly new way to phrase the story and a different set of illustrations. No-one expects families to go book hunting in secondhand bookshops to look up old editions of the fairy-tales.

If there’s a market for a book, someone will publish it again and no one will cry that it’s “too soon” or “unnecessary”.

Every time those stories come out, it will be like a happy reunion and we’ll once again enjoy them, because even if they’re familiar, we know that even the smallest of changes will add a new dimension to the experience.

Pop culture education
I think it’s a bit of the same with Spider-Man. It’s been ten years since the first part of last take on Spider-Man came out. Many of the kids in the audience for the newest Spider-Man movie were barely born then or were at least too young to see it as it came out. Shouldn’t those kids also get the chance to enjoy the story about this superhero in the environment where it’s best told: at a big screen, in a real cinema?

I guess that you could argue that they needn’t have remade the movie. All they needed to do was to make a re-launch of the old series, showing the Raimi version in a theatre again. But hands on heart – how keen would the parents, who already have watched this movie as it came out – be to pay a full ticket price to see it once again? I think they want at least a little bit of variation. We’ve seen some attempts to do this, when they’ve slapped on some post-production 3D, as they did with The Lion King. But my impression is that it hasn’t been any major success.

Kids who grow up today need to learn about Spider-Man, the same way as they need to know who Hansel and Gretel were or where the Cheshire cat comes from. They need a basic pop culture education and reboots like The Amazing Spider-Man can bring them that.

The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

July 12, 2012 at 1:00 am

27 Responses

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  1. I actually wrote something similar about this topic and came up with the same answer, but different arguments. I totally think the fairy tale argument holds up quite well, but the other thing is that the comic books themselves change things up just as often if not more. I would totally love seeing new versions of superhero movies as often as they will come out with them. As long as they’re good.

    Bubbawheat

    July 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

    • I can’t say that superhero comic books is my home territory, but it makes sense what you say, that they reboot themselves all the time as well and that the films about them could follow.

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

  2. The bottom line for me is a good movie is a good movie. It doesn’t matter if there was another version out not very long ago. I can’t vouch for this particular film- I haven’t seen it yet- but each film deserves to be judged on its own merits and not some arbitrary amount of time that should pass.

    As you say, this is nothing new. His Girl Friday is considered one of the best American comedies out there, and it’s a re-telling of the same story that was told nine years prior. Think of all of the films we’ve seen about Dracula, Cleopatra, Ben-Hur, Robin Hood… I guess my point is that if people want to gripe about a lack of originality, that’s all well and good. But it’s nothing new.

    John

    July 12, 2012 at 5:08 am

    • All right John, I LOVE that answer. “…each film deserves to be judged on its own merits” yes indeed, in fact that’s exactly what I said in my review.

      Great post Jessica, I totally agree w/ you on this one. I mean how many times did Jane Eyre got adapted into TV/movie work? And Anna Karenina, too, and people don’t go up in arms about those.

      Andrew is well, amazing. It’s incredible that he could portray such teenage angst when he’s already almost 30, but yet he’s not immature or vapid in interviews, he’s a respectful, eloquent adult, so he just is a great actor! I’ve seen him in 5 movies so far and I like him in all of them.

      Glad you enjoyed this movie, I certainly did, too.

      ruth

      July 12, 2012 at 5:56 am

      • Thanks Ruth! I’ve noticed from your twitter feed that you’re a fan of Andrew. He’s really good. I liked him so much in Never Let me Go, even though it makes me sad to think back at it.

        Jessica

        July 12, 2012 at 8:01 am

    • Dracula, there’s another example. I don’t think anyone would say “not one more, it’s too soon” if another one came out. And that movie has been made a LOT.

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

  3. 29? You’re kidding, right? 29? C’mon?!

    Jojjenito

    July 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

    • It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Can’t help wondering if he’s got a scary portray hidden somewhere in his attic.

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

  4. I don’t care if they reboot it quickly (I do a little, but not enough), but I really care that all the ads have spiderman unmasked. C’mon! Its a spiderman film, and he’s typically maskless in the posters. Next Judge Dread will be unhelmeted?

    typhoonandrew

    July 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

    • Haha, but Andrew Garfield has such a pretty face! It would be such a waste to have him disguised all the time. 🙂 Besides the best scene in the entire film is one where he takes it off in order to… Hm. I won’t spoil it. But it brought me to tears which I hadn’t expected.

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 9:48 am

  5. Oh dear, so many positive reviews of this movie on this one post, I disliked it so much for a pretty wide myriad of reasons that I’ll keep to myself I guess. But what I will do is explain the reason ‘why’ the reboot happened at a far lower budget.

    The answer is simply rights. If Sony doesn’t produce something spider-man related every ___ they lose the rights. This is also what caused x-men first class. The way comic book rights are handled at the moment is a pretty big mess, and this little issue doesn’t help much, but if Sony doesn’t produce the rights will kickback to now-rival Disney (since they now own Marvel studios)

    The movie wasn’t horrible, but…..I’d put it mediocre at best, what it had right it had really right, and what it had wrong they had very wrong.

    Anyways, be safe!

    • Aha. I didn’t know about the issue about the rights. It sounds as the correct explanation here. Down-to-earth and logical. Sad to hear you didn’t find it enjoyable. I was really happily surprised at how much I liked it considering I’m not a big fan of superhero movies. Or maybe that’s why I liked it so much. 🙂

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

  6. I haven’t seen this Jessica, I doubt I will now until it comes to Blu-Ray. I am pleased though that lots of my friends are loving it though, against the grain

    • It’s definitely not a “must” to see it in a theatre. I just had a very enjoyable night with my 18 year old; it was a perfect movie for us to share. But it will work fine on Blu-Ray I’d say.

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

  7. blu ray wud be gr8

    lokesh2421

    July 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

  8. Really interesting way to look at comic book hero films. I never thought about seeing them as modern day fairytales, but you’re absolutely right. Feels like my eyes have been opened!

    I adore Andrew Garfield – he was excellent in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go. He yanked my heart right out in the latter. He’s done a great job here – he brings so much passion to the role.

    Jaina

    July 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    • Thanks Jaina! I’m sure my idea has been mentioned many times before by others, but it’s still cool to know that what you’ve written has gotten someone else thinking. 🙂

      Jessica

      July 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm

  9. I thought a reboot was unnecessary and rushed but I was so satisfied with the end result. This one beats Raimi’s trilogy. It’s very fun and manages a great balance between action, romance and comedy. Oh, and I loved how you compared superhero stories to fairy tales. Hadn’t thought of them that way but you’re so right.

    fernandorafael

    July 14, 2012 at 1:01 am

    • I’m glad you liked it too Fernando! I’m not sure if it beats Raimi or not tbh. It’s been so long since I watched the last one and my memory is like a sift like always. I think I liked that one as well though.

      Jessica

      July 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

  10. Great article! While I think the reboot is unnecessary if it is a good, entertaining movie I can see no harm in this. Andrew Garfield is turning 29? Wow, he looks so young!

    sati

    July 14, 2012 at 3:11 am

    • Thanks! He really looks a lot younger! And it’s got nothing to do with his skin quality or anything like that. It’s in his body language, the moves he makes, the way he talks. It’s spot on.

      Jessica

      July 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

  11. I like the idea of superhero stories as fairy tales. I think there is a lot of truth to that.

    Stephanie

    July 14, 2012 at 4:19 am

  12. Liked the movie I even thought it was better then Raimis version. The first half was pure brilliance and it felt just like the comic. The second half of the movie was weaker but still great.
    About toys: I´ve read about a lot of intersesting movieprojects that was axed mainly because of the lack of merchendise around the movie. Sad but true.

    filmitch

    July 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    • Yes, I think I felt that way too. The mandatory final-fight-act thing is well done and delivers what you expect, but… it’s not the most important aspect to me, not the unique selling point. We’ve seen it so many times before, haven’t we?

      The mercendise makers need to become more creative and move out of their boxes.

      Jessica

      July 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

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  14. […] The Amazing Spider-Man: You could argue that it was too early to do bring another version of this to the world. This doesn’t take away from it that this was very well made and provided solid entertainment. […]


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