30 films to watch before you die, #25
That's a lucky coincidence. I didn't plan it this way. Today I watched the 25th film in my essential films list, "Spider-Man", made in 2002, and it has a Thanksgiving scene. This picture of Peter Parker with his Aunt May will warm the hearts of my American readers when they read my blog tomorrow before they sit down at the table to stuff themselves with turkey.
This is the best Marvel super-hero ever made. The reason is obvious. It remains close to the original stories told by Stan Lee, closer than any of the films before and after. To quote the words of the fantasy author George R. R. Martin:
"You can't go wrong if you stick with Stan Lee. That's always been my opinion on these Marvel movies. The best ones are the ones that are closest to what Stan Lee did. It's when they start to be creative, when they think they can be better than Stan Lee, mostly they can't".
Exactly. "Spider-Man" was directed by Sam Raimi, who obviously has a great love and respect for Stan Lee's comics. None of the other films have remained as close to Stan Lee's comics. The origin itself is almost exactly as it was in Amazing Fantasy #15. The only real difference is that the web shooters are organic, not mechanical. This is an improvement, in my opinion. The idea that a schoolboy can build a technical marvel like that is hard to believe. It's more logical to believe that the webs were the result of his mutation into a human spider.
In my reviews of films and television series I frequently point out examples of sloppy newspaper reports, with badly constructed text that the director assumes nobody will notice. Sam Raimi shows that it can be done right. There are several newspapers shown during the film, and the articles are all written faultlessly. Click on the picture above to read the article.
These words are the motto of Peter Parker's life as Spider-Man. They're so important that they're spoken in the film three times, once by Uncle Ben and twice by Peter himself.
The casting of the film is nothing short of miraculous. Nobody but Tobey Maguire could have been picked to play Peter Parker. The resemblance to the comic book character is uncanny. Just compare him with Andrew Garfield, who hardly looks like Peter Parker at all. Kirsten Dunst was an excellent choice to play Mary-Jane Watson, even though she wasn't a natural redhead. J. K. Simmons looks so much like Jonah Jameson that you might think the comics were drawn with him in mind.
Many other Marvel super-hero films have been made, but these are the best films I can recommend for future viewing: