About the Movie
Minor Story Spoilers
Secret Identity. It's no big secret that I am a big fan of superheroes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a genius way of making superhero films, and countless excellent films have come from that. But before the MCU was started, there were a couple of films that stood out from the crowd. One of these was the first Spider-Man, way back in 2002.
I'd be honest, I thought the first film was ok. Sam Raimi (the director) and Toby McGuire as Spider-Man did a good job of bringing the character to the big screen. It wasn't perfect, but it laid a solid foundation for the future. Swinging by two years later, the sequel arrived. Welcome to Spider-Man 2, and here are three reasons why I think it's an excellent film:
Reason 1: Doc Ock – one of his greatest foes
If I asked any Spider-Man fan who is Spider-Man's greatest villains, there's always two that are always mentioned – the Green Goblin and Doc Ock. Green Goblin was in the first film, and here we have Doc Ock. Alfred Molina does a great job of being Dr. Otto Octavius and Doctor Octopus, nailing both parts of the character. His design is also fantastic, the special effects for the mechanical arms I cannot praise enough, with attention to detail and realistic movement.
I'd come out and say it now – I think Doc Ock is the best villain we have seen in all the Spider-Man films. (In contrast to the animation series and comics where I preferred the Green Goblin) Like the first film, we get to know the character before he is changed. As a villain he is misunderstood, not in full control of his actions and is a dangerous threat to not just Spider-Man but the whole of New York. While the Green Goblin had lots of weaponry, Doc Ock differs as he and his mechanical arms are just a formidable opponent.
This is where the character works, as since Spider-Man has his work cut out for him, the fight scenes are a lot more engaging and longer, but doesn't go on for too long – an important balance for a superhero movie. There are three main fight sequences and all three are excellent to watch. The most well known one is the train fight. This is a full blown fight between Spiderman and Doc Ock, and is probably the best fight scene I have ever seen in a superhero movie.
Reason 2: “I want Spider-Man!” - J.Jonah Jameson
While Toby McGuire got a mixed reception of playing Spider-Man (even to this day), there is one character that everyone loved and was cast to perfection, and everyone unanimously agrees that he was the strongest of the whole trilogy. I am talking of course about J.Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons is one of the strongest casting of any character from a comic book ever. The character and actor manages to upstage the whole cast in this Spider-Man trilogy, and not more-so than Spider-Man 2.
J. K. Simmons becomes the character, it's as simple as that. He is featured in more scenes, the chaotic nature of the Daily Bugle is represented spot on and Jameson's knack of having three different conversations at once is uncanny. The Daily Bugle staff also work well with his way of operating and gives a good representation of what a top class newspaper office works. It's no wonder the character doesn't appear in either of the Amazing Spiderman films, how could you top him?
Reason 3: Not too many plot threads
The main reason why Spider-Man 3 and the Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed in a lot of peoples eyes was the overloading plot. If you cram in too many sub-plots into one movie, you fail to make any of them exciting and in the end just feels like three or four small movies in one big supercut.
The first Spider-Man did exactly the opposite – it kept things simple. You have two central sub-plots, Peter Parker's “normal” life and the life of Spider-Man. These are merged together by the end of the film, along with a side plot for the villain. Spider-Man 2 has a similar structure, but still manages to keep it relatively simple while advancing the story and the characters.
Sam Raimi made sure that Spider-Man 2 doesn't turn into a “Peter Parker and his friends” movie, a trap that Spider-Man 3 at times felt. I'm glad to say that there's plenty of Spider-Man scenes, and Doc Ock gets proper character development and screen time – a minor problem of the MCU that Spider-Man 2 doesn't have. Mary Jane's, Harry's Aunt May's and Peter's personal problems and situations are all loosely connected with his life with Spider-Man, so it never feels like two different movies.
Spider-Man was good, but not great. Spider-Man 2 corrected minor problems it did have and improved everything else which the result is Spiderman 2 is regarded as one of the best superhero films of all time. It's down to the faithful representations of the characters, excellent action scenes and a relatively simple film in terms of story, this is the test for superhero films on how to do it right. Go Spidey Go!
My One Big Highlight
Big opening sequences seem to be becoming less and less of the norm these days, that's why my big highlight for Spider-Man 2 is the opening sequence. The film features your normal on-credits, with a great web effect and has paintings of various scenes from the first Spider-Man. This brings you up to date quickly and also has a very strong theme, making it one of the best movie introductions ever made (in my humble opinion)
Elephant In the Room
The extended edition of Spider-Man 2 is excellent. However I do think that the two new scenes which were added hinders not helps the film. The guy in the elevator scene now goes on for a lot longer, which I reckoned worked better in the shorter format. The other scene is the one where MJ talks to her friend about getting married. Was that scene necessary? We already worked that as an audience that she was having doubts.
Minor Story Spoilers
99.5% of the population would agree that Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man ever made. Fact* But unfortunately the other four films (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) in the Spider-Man movie series over the years has a mixed to a ok response from fans.
Spider-Man in all his glory, who is upside down. Wooo, I'm feeling a little dizzy all of a sudden...
Just because the other films didn't match Spider-Man 2's quality, doesn't mean it doesn't have great moments. So here is my list of best Spider-Man movie moments that isn't from Spider-Man 2:
#5 Finding his Uncle's Killer (Spider-Man)
I'll be completely honest, I'm not a big fan of the first Spider-Man. While it was impressive at the time, and it was very important for superhero movies. But to me it doesn't do anything wrong, it's just it's sequel did everything better.
One thing I can say through, is it got all the classic Spider-Man origin moments spot on. But this scene in particular was pretty decent. It involves Peter hunting down his uncles killer while in his “DIY” costume.
It's gritty and Peter is after cold hard revenge, it's a darker side of Peter that rarely pops up again. The way he learns to web swing is quite interesting to watch, but it's when he actually catches up with his killer that it really does the comics justice. The way he sneaks up on his enemy in the shadows and flicks up his knife to the ceiling is very noir Spider-Man, another shout out to the comics.
#4 Spider-Man saves the kid (The Amazing Spider-Man)
This is the first time we see a glimpse of the villain for the film. Shortly after constructing a proper version of his suit, Peter decides to use his new powers to investigate a strange occurrence at the bridge. Upon getting to bridge, he finds people need his help and gets to work without a moments hesitation.
After webbing a few cars that fall off the bridge (and saving these people getting a swim) there's one particular car with a little boy. Spidey webs the car, and then climbs down to encourage the boy to climb over to him. A great moment is when he gives him his mask to “make him strong.” It's those kind of moments is why I love the character so much.
#3 Lizard Fight in school (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Spider-Man had attempted to stop the Lizard a couple of times previous to this encounter, but the Lizard decided to come and hunt down Spider-Man instead. It didn't disappoint.
Starting the fight as Peter Parker and switching to his costume mid fight (like the comics on occasion) was a cool idea. Spidey uses a lot more webbing than normal, but he does manages to keep the lizard at bay while all the students get to safety. Including an epic cameo by non other than Stan Lee, the whole fight has interesting cinematography and great one liners from Spider-Man himself.
The reboot films may not of got everything right, but it did inherent great fight scenes from the previous trilogy.
#2 Airport scene (Captain America: Civil War)
You really think I'd write this article without mentioning our latest on screen Spider-Man did you? To put it simply: this is the best Spider-Man to date.**
He was only in the film for about half an hour, but he nearly stole the whole movie. He had great chemistry with Tony Stark, and managed to have some interesting fight scenes with the Falcon, the Winter Solider, Captain America and Ant-Man, while showing off his powers AND quipping too! Hopefully the new Spider-Man film will be a tribute page, not a footnote on this list hey?
#1 Peter Parker VS New Goblin (Spider-Man 3)
Just before you complain – this scene isn't better than the Airport Scene from Captain America: Civil War. This ranking is just based on how much I enjoyed the scene. With a movie that gets so much wrong, credit where credit is due of getting this so right. Here we have Peter getting ambushed by the new goblin. We knew this fight was coming after the events of Spider-Man 2, but we just didn't know when.
The fight itself has a couple of stages and has many things we rarely see elsewhere in the franchise. For one, Spider-Man is not in this fight at all. A cool moment is when Peter makes great use of webbing balls while webbing around a building. There is also a bit where he clings onto a side of a wall that is rapidly falling! If the rest of the film (especially the end fight) was this exciting, then we may of got a Spider-Man 4!
It's certainly true that the Spider-Man has had a mixed reception over the years, it doesn't mean that some scenes aren't fantastic. You might of noticed that the Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't have any entries. Well there is a good reason for that – it didn't particularity have any strong scenes. Sorry Spidey!
*That is totally not made up
** I think