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Todd McFarlane sizes up ''Spider-Man''

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Todd McFarlane
Todd McFarlane: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect

He’s widely thought to have created Spider-Man’s modern look — he illustrated ”Amazing Spider-Man” from 1988-1990 and was awarded his own Spidey title to draw and write in 1990 (dubbed ”adjectiveless Spider-Man” by fans). So who better to tell us what’s right and wrong about the new ”Spider-Man” movie than Todd McFarlane? EW.com got the 41-year-old creator of ”Spawn” to revisit the webbed one after having parted ways with Spidey and Marvel Comics 10 years ago to start his own company, Image Comics. Here’s what he thinks:

So, how does Spider-Man hold up on the big screen?
I was pleasantly surprised, and I feel they got way more right than wrong. I was thinking, ”Here we go again. It’s gonna be over-the-top and overly theatrical and silly.” But I was actually impressed with how serious they stayed within the confines of, essentially, a guy who can flip between buildings.

Do you think it was faithful to the comic book?
They didn’t make it as comic book-y as they could have. I was surprised at the seriousness at times. I found myself saying, ”They’re not saying the obvious goof line that they could say here or there.”

What about Spider-Man’s physical look?
I thought the costume was quite faithful overall. You have to make changes. To me a change is like what they did to Batman. He’s blue and gray and they changed him to black. He’s not even the same color scheme. For Spider-Man, I thought they were completely on the mark.

People have credited you with the look of the modern Spider-Man. Does this movie look like your Spider-Man?
I thought that the costume was actually more John Romita-ish [who worked on early ”Amazing Spider-Man”]. But the guys in special effects and Sam [Raimi] said they had all my comic books.

How do you feel about the changes to the Green Goblin?
That was the one thing I couldn’t really wrap myself around, especially his mask. There were moments where he was talking with monologue, not dialogue. He was ranting a little bit when he had sort of captured Spider-Man and there was no movement, just that stoic helmet. Weird.

Did you find him scary enough?
They had some pretty intense scenes in there for kids. I had my 7-year-old and she was hiding her eyes. If you had made him a creepy Goblin, it would have been even more scary to her, so I think maybe they had to modify it a little bit to not offend families.

Would you have done it darker?
I would have made him creepier. But when you sit down with marketing people, is creepier the best way to sell this to the masses? My guess is that it was a question of, ”How do we not scare the crap out of people every time this guy shows up?”

What villains would you like to have seen?
My tendencies are to always go to the monsters — even in the books I wrote. I think the Green Goblin actually fits that bill, but I would have played up more of the monster side of the goblin rather than the high-tech polished robot. I think there are other characters like the Hobgoblin and Morbius — sort of a vampire — which would be cool. And Venom. I have a feeling that if this thing goes to two or three movies, we’re either going to see Venom or Carnage. Those two guys are way too popular and way too cool to ignore.

How do you feel about the casting? Do you like Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin?
Dafoe, out of the mask, is almost creepier than in it. He’s got that cool face. Dafoe is sort of the stereotypical bad guy that we’ve grown up with, so we buy into him immediately. And he didn’t play it over the top too much, which I was worried about.

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man?
You needed — and I don’t mean this personally — a sort of bland guy because he was going to be a nerd. If you use Brad Pitt or one of the new hot kids and they’re saying, ”Oh, I can’t find a date. Look at my great build and look at my great looks. Nobody takes me seriously and I’m just a geek” — we don’t buy into it. They needed the guy next door. The vanilla actor. Maguire is very melancholy, so in this case I think he works.

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