Doh! Raimi: Why Sam Was Just Right For Spider-Man
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 10:00 by Chris Hewitt in Off The Wire
So, farewell then, Sam Raimi. Gone from the Spider-Man franchise before he could make things right and atone, if that’s the word, for Spider-Man 3. That was a movie that got away from Raimi, by his own admission, and it would have been nice to see his take on Spider-Man, unfettered by studio interference and the too-many-cooks approach.
Alas, that now will never be the case. And while there are considerable benefits to a Raimi-free rebooting of the franchise – we probably won’t have to endure Aunt May prattling on endlessly, causing audiences to wonder why the guy who shot Uncle Ben couldn’t have pegged her too; while Kirsten Dunst was always a bit mopey and wan as Mary-Jane – the man stamped his personality and style all over the franchise with considerable brio.
Bugger it, it sounds like he’s dead. He’s not, of course, and in the year when he made his most purely enjoyable film in years (that would be Drag Me To Hell, in case you weren’t paying attention), Raimi proved that the creative juices are still flowing. There’ll be no shortage of things for the Michigan man to do now, be it fling himself headlong into the Warcraft movie, or finally add to the nine pages of Evil Dead IV script that he and his brother, Ivan, have so far scribbled, or even fling mud in Sony’s eye by taking on another superhero.
But for Raimi, it’s a case of Spider-Man No More. And that’s a crying shame. As early as the first Spider-Man movie, waaaaay back in 2002, Empire’s Ian Freer described Raimi and Spider-Man as ‘the perfect marriage of director and subject’. And he was right.
Yes, Raimi made mistakes on the Spider-Man franchise. His eagerness and earnestness – qualities he saw reflected in Peter Parker – sometimes got the better of him, and occasionally turned Spidey, or more accurately Parker, into a damp squib of a character. And the Green Goblin helmet, as expressive as Janice Dickinson’s face, was a major dropped ball.
But when he got it right – and when he was left alone by the suits on the first two Spider-movies, he got it right 90 percent of the time - Spidey sprung off the pages of the Lee/Ditko comic books that informed his childhood and soared onto the big screen with a gusto that captured the rush and excitement of those four-colour funnybooks. He understood that they were larger than life, and committed wholly to that in the movies.
I’m not just talking about the camerawork – although Raimi, particularly in Spider-Man 2 as he became more confident about working with such a huge train set, approached that with a zeal and gusto that recalled the best of his Evil Dead work – but the indefatigable spirit and untameable heart of Raimi’s Spider-Man. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ became the oft-parodied mantra of the Spider-films, but there was always a sense that Raimi, that soft-spoken, unstintingly polite gentleman, truly believed it. He committed to Peter Parker and Spider-Man on an emotional level, invested himself in his never-ending attempt to battle his way to a better life in and out of the suit. And that showed in truly iconic moments like the upside-down kiss in the first movie, or the touching sequence in Spider-Man 2 where an unconscious webslinger, sans mask, is passed over the heads of train passengers whose lives he has just saved, or the swooning romance of the end of that movie, when Peter and MJ lie tangled, literally, in a web. These were not small, subtle moments, but GREAT BIG MOMENTS played out on a big canvas – because that’s what Raimi knew Spider-Man deserved.
And, while he may not have quite nailed one of the comic-book Spidey’s most appealing qualities – his endless wisecracking (Maguire’s Parker was too sad-sack to suddenly unleash his inner stand-up comic while battling bad guys) – Raimi’s twisted sense of humour meshed perfectly with the Spider-movies. He has long tortured his heroes, from Ash to Peyton Westlake to Hank Mitchell, but he really turned the screw on Spidey/Parker over the course of three movies, all with barely concealed glee. The scenes in the Daily Bugle, with J.K. Simmons’ ranting and raving like a less repressed Hitler, are among the high points of all three films, and seem like little oases of respectability and quality in the lamentable Spider-Man 3.
Oh, and he also found the time to recruit his old pal, the legendary Bruce Campbell, for not one, but three, pivotal cameos. Epic success.
And now he’s gone, glibly tossed aside by Sony in favour of a decision that may well net them another billion dollars or so in 2012, when Spider-Man relaunches, but which seems creatively bankrupt. Do we really need to reboot Spider-Man? In two years’ time, when audiences settle in to watch guileless high school student, Peter Parker, get bitten by a radioactive spider and develop extraordinary powers, it will have been only ten years since they watched exactly the same thing happen. Where are the new stories? The new directions in which a twentysomething Spider-Man – played by a new actor – can go? Why retrace old ground? What the hell are they going to call it?
Of course, it’s Sony’s right to make that decision – after all, when it comes to Spider-Man, the great power lies with them. But that also – in case you weren’t paying attention – brings with it great responsibility, and now it falls to them to choose a director who will bring the same visual flair and love of character and detail to the franchise that Raimi did. It’s not impossible - we’ve made ten suggestions here, for example. But finding “the perfect marriage of director and subject” again? That, true believers, might be the impossible part.
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Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 12:31
Shame, Shame, Shame as a fan of the films and longtime fan of the comics I think its very sad whats happened to not Just Raimi but also Tobey maguire who pretty much nailed the character. I dont even hate Spiderman 3, its a far way from great but It has a lot to love about it. Where ever Spiderman goes in furure I will be there but just pray they dont mess it up.
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 13:25
sad day!! I was looking forward to Rami's spiderman 4... I think he done a great job with the franchise! Many comic book movies and franchises do not come close to the quality of these movies! Would like to have seen a closure to the his run!
I'll be there for their reboot, even if its pointless really!! But as a fan I'll be there!
Just hope they done mess it up! Looking forward to see Rami's work on WARCRAFT!
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 14:44
Terrible call by Sony, gutless and creatively bankrupt, no matter what excuses they trot out. The fact that the knuckleheads who screwed up Spider-Man 3 - yeah you, Avi Arad - have been left behind to meddle further whilst Raimi has been shown the door is an absolute disgrace.
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 15:03
This is one of the worst decisions ever. How hard could it have been to make a great Spiderman 4: just do Kravens Last Hunt featuring the Lizard. Tobey Macquire and Kirsten Dunst were fine for their roles and Raimi had just gotten back into form.
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 15:55
I think Sony got rid of Raimi because John Malcovich confirmed he was Vulture. Sony was against the decision of Vulture as the villain for ages and when Malcovich confirmed then it was the last straw
the ageless stranger
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 16:38
To be honest I'd rather see someone else have a shot at Spidey now. 1 and 2 were great, but 3 was a mess, and we can't put all the blame at the studio's door. Okay, they wanted too many villains, but who decided to put all the musical numbers in there and have Peter Parker walking around looking like KD Lang for half the film? And given that his main choice for the next villain was an old guy in a tight suit, I wasn't holding out much hope. Some fresh blood might be a much better way to go.
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 17:00
Keep J.K Simmon and Dylan Baker
don't retell the origin (didn't need the Batman origin in The Dark Knight now did we?)
Kraven's Last Hunt with The Lizard (second mcmuffin, its really a great story)
And to all the Zac Effron haters out there, in all honesty I wasn't a fan either but he totally won me over with 'Me and Orson Welles', he was great in it and I'd give him a chance as Spiderman, although Anton Yelchin is by far my first choice at this time
Posted on Tuesday January 12, 2010, 19:05
"didn't need the Batman origin in The Dark Knight now did we?"
Well no because The Dark Knight was a sequel to Batman Begins where we DID need (and got) the origin story.