Back in 2001, I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles set of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and watched the director and his star, Tobey Maguire, shoot the scene in which Peter Parker locks himself in his bedroom and plays with his newfound web-spinning powers. Raimi was a stickler for perfection that day, filming many, many takes of Maguire pretending to fire jets of silk from slits in his wrist across the room, ring and middle fingers bent back to his palm, the other three fingers extended like prongs. The webs erupting from the actor’s hands had to be imagined, but the floor of Parker’s bedroom — built on a soundstage on the Sony lot — was littered with hundreds of little pieces of kinky pasta-colored silly-stringish stuff. I swiped a strand when no one was looking — I didn’t think anyone would miss it — and it occupies a spot on a shelf in my office. I treasure it like a trophy… even if it most visitors to my office confuse it for a piece of trash.
This memory came to mind today as I found myself drooling all over the newly released pic of the web-crawler from director Marc Webb’s Spider-Man reboot, which now has an official title (The Amazing Spider-Man), and doting in particular on what appears to be a major point of departure from Raimi’s movies. Whereas the Tobey Maguire Spidey had organic web-shooters, it looks like the Andrew Garfield Spidey is packing mechanical web-shooters on those wrists, a la the Spider-Man comics. Many Spider-Man fans screamed “Heresy!” over Raimi’s deviation from the source material; it even inspired a protest site, the now non-existent no-organic-webshooters.com. The director’s famous explanation (and I’m paraphrasing here): He couldn’t quite believe that a teenage kid — even one was bright as Peter Parker — could be so smart as to invent something even the 3M Corp. hasn’t yet invented.
To be clear, EW can’t yet confirm that Webb is going mechanical. (When asked about them, Sony had no comment.) But I hope he is. Despite my romantic attachment to that Raimi-era web-prop, I did kinda side with the anti-organic crowd on this issue. With all due respect to Raimi, I loved that Peter was smarter than a 3M genius; it spoke to Peter’s character, and it imbued Peter with a hard-earned human ability that had nothing to do with the dumb luck of getting bitten by a radioactive arachnid. My mechanical web-shooter allegiance is also rooted in another nostalgic Spider-Man memory, one older and more deeply rooted. I vividly recall when the local newspaper in Seattle began carrying the Spider-Man strip written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romnita when I was a wee lad, and the panel that seared into my brain is the one that often led the color Sunday installment — an image of young Peter working feverishly in his basement lab, cooking up web fluid and launching a torrent of synthetic string from his high-tech wristbands with the touch of a finger. The caption: “Possessing incredible ‘spider-powers,’ Peter Parker uses his scientific wizardry to operate an artificial web-shooter…” Goosebumps. At least for me.
So here’s me hoping Webb gives us a science stud Peter with THWIPPY! accessories on his wrists. (Not that I’m one of those fans who’ll cry “Heresy!” and wage a World Wide Web jihad the new film if those bulbous looking thingies on Garfield’s wrists actually aren’t what I think they are. In fact, they could be something else — like, say, a guidance system, designed by Parker, that allows him to better direct his organically-generated webs or create different web effects, from ropes or nets. That could be a compromise that pleases both the organic and mechanical camps.) How about you, Spider-Man fans? Organic or mechanical? And what do you think of the new costume in general? Some are saying: “Spider-Man 2099” most because of the darker colors — which I like. A lot. You?
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