EDITORIAL: What Raimi Got Wrong

His 2 Biggest Spider-Blunders

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By Ryan Thomas Mitchell - 5/15/2012
When it comes to the Spider-Man trilogy, there's no denying that its final chapter was a disappointment. But I believe that all of the films --- even Spider-Man 2 --- could have benefited from two obvious tweaks, both of which involve the misuse (or underuse) of the films' minor characters.

1. Doctor Curt Connors

When a one-armed professor (portrayed by Dylan Baker) graced the screen in Spider-Man 2, comic book nerds around the world squealed with joy and thought to themselves, "Yes! They're setting up the Lizard plot! This will be awesome!"

There's only one problem: Raimi never used The Lizard. Why introduce a classic Spidey villain-in-the-making if you're not going to deliver? Part of the problem might be the fact that the mentor-turned-villain plot was given to Doc Ock, but I honestly believe that Connors' story would have been a better direction.

Why? Well, for one thing, it aligns with the source material. For another thing, Dylan Baker was perfect for the job. He was a great choice for Connors because he seems like such a good person. You could tell how much he cared about Peter, and to see him transform into the hideous Lizard would have been truly heartbreaking.

We'll be seeing The Lizard in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man, but Rhys Ifans already exudes the creepy bad-guy persona on his own. I'm willing to bet that the new Spidey flick will deliver, but I was ready for The Lizard almost ten years ago.

2. John Jameson

From what I understand, his role was quite different in the comics, but John Jameson was an interesting character in the 90's animated show of my youth. The astronaut son of J. Jonah Jameson, John basically jump-started the compelling Venom saga by bringing the alien symbiote to Earth. I still remember how cool it was to watch the action unfold: the symbiote crawling into John's suit, the returning shuttle crashing into the Brooklyn Bridge, and Spider-Man saving the son of a man who hates him. Simply put, it was epic.

Naturally, when Daniel Gillies took the role in Spider-Man 2, my thought was, "Yes! They're setting up the Venom plot! This will be awesome!"

Sadly, John was never seen in Spider-Man 3, and the Venom story turned out to be a horrible mess, nowhere near as great as it could have been.

If I could change the Spider-Man films, I would've introduced Dr. Connors on-screen in Spider-Man and made his Lizard transformation the plot of Spider-Man 2. That's right, no Doc Ock. I also would've introduced John Jameson (and maybe Eddie Brock) in Spider-Man 2 so that the third film could deliver a focused, awesome Venom plot. To be honest, I wouldn't have included Sandman at all. I realize his purpose was to give Peter a scapegoat for channeling all that black-suit Spidey rage, but if Raimi had extended or altered the Harry Osborn plot in Spider-Man 3, Peter could have nearly killed his friend instead, a plot which, I think, would have been much more shocking.

In the end, Raimi's trilogy suffered from a lack of continuity and delivery. Why only tease the greatest Spidey tales of all time? Fortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man is on the way to clean up Spider-Man 3's mess and give us the goods.
RidiculousFanBoyDemands - 5/15/2012, 8:29 AM
I would have gone with a lame and under developed Gwen Stacy. Topher Grace as venom, Harry's Butler waiting until the end of freaking Spider-man 3 to inform him that his fathers own glider killed him. Spider-man completely ignoring some dude getting the shit kicked out of him, because he doesn't feel like being Spider-man anymore. I understand not wanting to chase after bad guys with the cops, but turning your back on some dude getting beat up in the ally, when you could have easily had done something makes you an ass hole. Making Peter some sort of self loathing martyr for two and a half movies. Actually I should stop here, this would be an extremely long winded comment if I go on.

However, good job using two things that people normally don't talk about.
RyanTM - 5/15/2012, 8:32 AM
You have some very good points as well. These are just the two things that really bother me every time I watch the movies.
RidiculousFanBoyDemands - 5/15/2012, 10:23 AM
Agreed, dude. Like I said I like how you didn't go for the obvious of cliche. Well done.
woodrow765 - 5/15/2012, 11:32 AM
Well it wasnt sam Raimis fault. If you remember it was Sony who said that the lizard wouldnt work and wouldnt let him do it even though he wanted to and second Sony was way too involved in spiderman 3. venom didnt have to be in there but Sony forced Raimi to put venom in there because all of the fans were crying out for him.
woodrow765 - 5/15/2012, 11:33 AM
And another thing. Raimi had already said he hated venom and didnt want to do him.
woodrow765 - 5/15/2012, 11:34 AM
If this is anyones fault it was Sony's
TheRaven20 - 5/15/2012, 11:36 AM
I 100% agree. I really liked how Raimi incorporated all the different spidey characters even if it was just for teasing, but he definitely missed some very big opportunities. The way the symbiote just landed on earth and attached and how Sandman murdered Uncle Ben instead was along with many other things were way too coincidental. You really hit the nail on the head. I agree so much that this could have easily been written by me haha.
Sturmpionier - 5/15/2012, 11:45 AM
One of the major problems that is always going to plague any Venom story lines in the movies is the one of his origin. Venom just landing on Earth and finding Spider-Man always bugged me. The 90's cartoon did do it fairly well, props to OP for pointing that out, but even it was a little contrived.

Fans of the original source material know that Venom actually came from Battleworld during the Secret Wars. The whole scenario was great. You had Spider-man at the heart of the biggest comic event. It was he himself who allowed the monster to escape. And, most importantly of all, it was Spider-man's first major costume change, despite that fact that Spidey now rivals Iron Man for his wardrobe.

All of that would be simply too much to fit into a movie. Heck, it took Marvel over 20 years to do it themselves.
DocHorrible - 5/15/2012, 11:57 AM
I think I read somewhere that Raimi and Sony didn't want to rehash the scientist-turned-monster story they had seen in both of the first films. Norman Osborn experiments on himself to become the Green Goblin, and Otto Octavius becomes Doc Ock after a laboratory accident.
comiccow6 - 5/15/2012, 12:50 PM
I disagree with Rhys Evens giving off a bad guy tone. I think he looks like a nice, caring guy. The poster you showed is showing that he's driven insane by the serum, and that his mind and goals are being completely twisted. He's becoming cold-blooded. Is little Billy Conners part of this? I love little Billy Conners.
RyanTM - 5/15/2012, 12:56 PM
I'm sure that Webb will make every attempt to show Connors as a nice guy at first, but the fact that he's tied to Peter's parents in some way (and probably not in a good way) makes me think that, deep down, Connors is already a bad guy in the upcoming flick. Not to mention that most of Ifans' roles have him playing bad (or at least manipulative) guys: Anonymous, Little Nicky (kind of), and even the recent Five-Year Engagement. He was funny in Notting Hill, but something about Ifans' face in general says "bad guy" to me. Maybe it's just me, though.
marvelguy - 5/15/2012, 1:07 PM
John Jameson DIDN'T bring the Venom symbiote to Earth--originally. He came back to Earth with a moonstone that turned him into Man-Wolf.

The last movie was not good. The Sandman worked visually, though changing his story to tie in with Peter's was ridiculous.

They tried to do too much and add too many characters. I think Raimi should have walked on Sony before it came to this movie. Anyone griping about "The Avengers" should see that this movie is a completely recycled plot from the first two.

And I have been a Spider-fan nearing my entire life!
superherofan21 - 5/15/2012, 5:08 PM
Actually, John Jameson was originally planned to come back in Spider-Man 3. In the "Art of Spider-Man 3" book, they detail a scrapped scene in which John brings the symbiote back from space. I don't know why it was cut, but I think it would've made the film just a bit better. Still, that couldn't make-up for what happened to Venom.....
RyanTM - 5/15/2012, 5:27 PM
That's interesting, superherofan21. I never knew that. Wish it had made it to the film! Would've been better than a random asteroid that happens to land near Spider-Man of all people.
Tainted87 - 5/15/2012, 10:23 PM
I'm going to surprise you all here.

I don't believe the Spider-man movies were perfect, but all but the first two are pretty much beyond fan criticism.

Here's why:

I'm not a noob. I know Blade was the first real Marvel movie to resurrect the CBM genre after Batman and Robin left it in pieces, and I know that X-Men was the first Marvel adaptation based on popular comics, animation, and video games. BUT... Spider-man brought it to life.

I'm a big reader of tvtropes.org, which is like the ultimate breakdown of just about every element of fiction. There's a trope aptly named "adaptation distillation", which basically means that in bringing material from one media to another, you will have to make some cuts. Characters will be shrunken down or flat-out removed for a number of reasons, but FOREMOST here is because Sam Raimi and Sony/Colombia wanted to sell Spider-man to ALL audiences.

Curt Connors doesn't appear in the first movie, although there's a shout-out when Peter tells Harry that he was late and Dr Connors fired him (we're guessing as an intern). Eddie Brock doesn't appear, but Robbie mentions that Brock hasn't been able to get a good picture.

At the time, the effects for a giant lizard were nothing compared to what they are today. Although Raimi really liked the old Ditko villains, presenting the Lizard on screen was just too much of a challenge. Even then, we're focusing on some key elements of Spider-man, and although the Lizard and Connors is definitely memorable, he isn't terribly iconic.

The Green Goblin was the clear cut villain, and Sony, unsure of whether or not the franchise would take, put all of their eggs in one basket - introducing and killing him in one movie. That's my real complaint, honestly, as I think he could have been kept alive - but then his iconic death scene (taken almost straight from the comics) would have been left out. Willem Dafoe, one of my favorite actors, was brilliant in the role, and although maybe (if rumors are accurate) Christoph Waltz will portray Norman in a bit more accurate depiction... well it's like Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger.

So that's the first one. Next there's a bit of expansion, as of course, the fans are wanting even more. Spider-man's identity is pretty much revealed to every character who matters (except Jonah) in the films, and this is because the movie is centering on exactly that. In some ways, I think Spider-man 2 was the lesser of the two movies because a) Doc Ock's personality is nothing like that of the comics, and b) Nuclear warheads? Mass homicide? Alien invaders? All of that would mean next to nothing (till the end, and only because of MJ) because Peter's feeling human.

Still, the exploration of a superhero's needs is what made it a loveable entry in the CBM genre. Could Raimi have explored Connors then? Not an option. Doc Ock was the mentor turned bad - having two just would have dulled it for the audience. Also, there was greater expansion on the Goblin story arc, up to the point where Harry is promised to be a supervillain in the next movie.

It's a classic case of painting yourself into a corner. I really liked the first two movies and see them as a great examples of what can be achieved in CBMs, but they are also starting points for the entire genre. Criticism is expected, but I think it's pointless to look back from a different perspective and wish Raimi had taken different routes (that may not have been anywhere near as effective as the ones chosen).
Kalel219 - 5/16/2012, 12:57 AM
Pretty sure Sam wanted to do Lizard for Spider-man 4 (before he changed to his vulture ideas).

" Why introduce a classic Spidey villain-in-the-making if you're not going to deliver?"

He never ever hinted at Connors turning into a villain, nor showed before little lizards in the background of his lab in SM3 that Connor's studied them.

So he didn't get Conners wrong, he just never hinted at that side in him (Most likey cause he was gonna be the focus in SM4)
TheMyth - 5/16/2012, 6:19 AM
I dunno about biggest blunders but I dig the fresh opinion. While I'd often considered and shaken my fist over Curt Conners, I hadn't really given Jameson much thought. I know the characters from comics first and foremost over other mediums and remembered him bringing back the Moonstone etc. I loved the TAS for this and X-Men from the 90's(talk about dramatic I still watch them on the DVD sets, kids cartoons these days got nothin on Spidey and X-Men 90's TAS) but I didn't think about how much better Spidey saving John from a shuttle crash would have been in SM3, I already hate that flic enough. It would've been a much better explanation not too mention more fun.
RobGrizzly - 5/17/2012, 2:53 PM
I completely agree with this articles points. Raimi's biggest blunder was not following up on his setups.
However, as a fan, I think its important to realize that not everything we see in a movie is bait for a sequel. (we're are so use to this because of Marvel, I know, but it still shouldn't always be the expectation)
I am certain Connors' presence in Spidey 2 was simple fan service. I sly wink-wink for hardcore fans.

Also, I would NEVER trade out Doc Ock!

marvelguy - 5/17/2012, 5:49 PM
Again, biggest blunder was Cain Marko as Uncle Ben's murderer. Just stupid!

They'll never use Black Cat since Catwoman is all over the Batman franchise...including that egregiously awful Halle Berry film.
jumpingJellybeans - 5/19/2012, 6:31 AM
You honestly thought that these 2 were the worst problems? Believe me. There's A LOT MORE.

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