Time to Stop Hating on the New Spider-Man


David Edelstein kind of loves it:

I'm not making the case for a movie like The Amazing Spider-Man -- only saying it's fresher than Raimi & Co.'s shambolic Spider-Man 3. (No, it can't touch Spider-Man 2, the best of all the Marvel pictures.) The new Peter Parker is Andrew Garfield, the glowering dweeb from The Social Network, and where Tobey Maguire was soft-faced and mild, examining his sudden, sticky excretions with an adolescent's wonderment, Garfield is high-strung and angry -- and those excretions don't come naturally. (This Peter has to build his web-jets.) Because a primal trauma must kick-start every superhero career, we've seen little Peter lose his parents (Campbell Scott as his scientist dad, Embeth Davidtz as his mom) in the prologue, and high-school Peter beaten up by bullies. His powers emerge spasmodically, twisting him in knots, his body with a mind of its own. The problem with the first Spider-Man was that whenever Maguire got into his suit, he transformed into a little video-game fellow swinging around an artificial cityscape, fluidity trumping realism. Director Marc Webb makes the flights more jagged, mixing up his angles and adding Spidey-eye views for the wheeee factor. At one point, Peter channels Ratso Rizzo: "I'm swingin' here!" You don't get that weightless, inhuman CGI vibe as powerfully.

I think fresher than Spider-Man 3 is an appallingly low standard. But Edelstein liked the movie beyond that. I really hope it's good. But it ain't for me. I'm going to be 37 years old this year, and I'm not really into Spider-Man rendered (again) as a teen movie. Even when I was a teen I wouldn't have been into that. 

By the time I got into Marvel comics Peter Parker was a grown man. He  had gotten out of high school, dropped out of college, was poor and had this weird romantic tension with Mary Jane. (It culminated in marriage) Flash Thompson has gone from his tormentor to best friend. Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin were dead. And all of New York City hated Spider-Man's guts. 

This is the Gang Wars/Beyonder/Kraven's Last Hunt era. Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz were gods to me. Spider-Man, at that point, was unlike any superhero I'd ever encountered. You can't really make that Spider-Man movie. Those stories are rather rootless and bizarre. But I loved them.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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