- Dont make promises you cant keep, Mr. Parker.
- Yeah, but those are the best kind. 😁
1. I think ASM’s Flash Thompson had no internal consistency, especially when compared to Raimi’s Flash Thompson, who they grievously ripped off.
Raimi: With his newfound powers, Peter defends himself from Flash’s bullying, which gets him read the riot act by Uncle Ben. Later, Flash picking MJ up in shiny new car motivates Peter to try to buy one, advancing the plot. With Flash’s job done, he disappears organically from the narrative by breaking up with MJ at high school graduation.
Webb: Unlike in Raimi’s version, where Peter apparently instigated a fight and then kicked Flash’s ass, here Peter beats Flash in a game of basketball, which still gets him chewed out by Uncle Ben because now it’s bad to beat someone at sports? Following his humiliation, Flash then—offers sympathy to Peter upon his uncle’s death and apparently befriends him. This makes sense if you’re familiar with the character from the comics, but in the context of the movie, it’s just silly, especially with Flash being MIA in ASM2.
It’s like the Captain Hook controversy in OUAT fandom at the moment. The show wants to do a redemption story, but since it never shows Hook learning or changing, it just feels like someone arbitrarily rewrote the alignment on his character sheet. You can’t just advertise this kind of change, you have to show the reasoning behind it, otherwise it’s not character development or complexity, just a character randomly doing what the script’s assigned him to do.
2. It’s hard to even get into the Captain Stacy situation, because it was handled in such a confused, muddled way—the movie trying to let Peter off the hook for doing anything but also condemning him so as to have a flawed character but also making it Gwen’s own fault that she died because she’s a strong female character. Who even knows? Look at how the second movie immediately goes back on the first movie’s ending. There’s no real cohesive narrative from one moment to the next.
Not that I’m a paragon of morality or anything, but my opinion: it was wrong for George Stacy to ask Peter not to date Gwen, especially since the two men don’t really have a relationship for him to call upon. And since Peter being Spider-Man never put her in danger—it was mostly her working for an evil biotech company that creates supervillains.
Now Peter, being a good chap, should let Gwen know about her father’s wishes and then ask her to think it over for a while without pressuring her either way. If it’s her choice to date him, knowing the risks and her father’s wishes, that’s her call. If not, then Peter should quit stalking her and move on. But in the film, she just kinda guesses at the whole situation, then Peter makes a one-liner about disobeying her dead father’s wishes, which is about the worst/mediocrest way to dramatize this. Peter isn’t really in the wrong or in the right; stuff just kinda happens around him until it’s time for Gwen to die because canon.
I probably shouldn’t try to rewrite the plot to Amazing Spider-Man 2, since it doesn’t really HAVE a plot, just stuff that happens. You could take Electro out of the movie entirely and it wouldn’t affect the story in any way whatsoever. Really. Try it. But anyway, I’ll give this the old college go. It’s like seeing a man have a heart attack in a crowded restaurant. You just want to do something, anything, to help the guy.
My big thought here is Harry Osborn. In the comics, he is of course defined by his toxic relationship with his father. In the movie, his father is Chris Cooper, Chris Cooper dies after forty seconds, and none of this really seems to have an impact on Harry other than putting him in charge of Oscorp. He doesn’t seem to have any childhood abuse or daddy issues, it’s all about him suddenly having this disease, because chronic illness makes you evil I guess.
So what are the three Ses? Simplify. Streamline. Smooth out. We’re making a movie for children, really. Let’s get rid of Electro altogether. We can keep the Rhino stuff as bookends, that—sorta works. Again, the problem here is that the first movie screwed up things so much that it’s like trying to save a date after you’ve vomited on your girlfriend. But hey, we’re in this together, you and I. With you believing in me, we can save this movie.
Okay, Electro’s out of the picture. Who’s our villain? Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin, obviously. He drives the plot, he kills Gwen Stacy, the focus should be on him. The movie does a little right by it, even if it has to retcon Harry into being Peter’s old pal that he never talked about or mentioned ever. But their man-date early on works until the next time Harry sees Peter and suddenly Harry’s a supervillain in training.
What I would like to do is stretch out the renewed friendship with Harry, and Peter’s issues with Gwen, over the movie. No dumb corporate intrigue, no mystery about Peter’s parents, just three young people and their emotions. Ah, but where does the superhero action come in, you ask? Well, here’s what I would like to do. Add Felicia Hardy into the mix as a bit of spice. As Black Cat, she’s pulling robberies that Spider-Man tries to stop, giving us exciting chases through the city, sexy fights, so on.
It’s the classic Peter/MJ/Gwen love triangle with Felicia in the MJ role. Let’s be innovative and give MJ a rest after an entire trilogy of her being the love of Peter’s life. We can also incorporate Felicia into the Oscorp storyline by having her go undercover as Harry’s assistant-girlfriend-whatever to case the joint for a job. Imagine the fun scenes of Peter recognizing her, not being able to do anything about it as Peter Parker, them jibing with each other with hints that they know who the other is…
But all the while, Norman Osborn is dying and Harry is getting desperate for a cure. To make the plotting even tighter, we can pull Peter and Gwen together on this. As a favor to his friend, Peter agrees to work on the cure at Oscorp, with ex-girlfriend Gwen and flirty Felicia. And I guess, okay, we can pay off the dumb Peter’s parents stuff a little bit. In the movie, this doesn’t work AT ALL—we find out Norman Osborn killed Peter’s mom and dad, *choke*, but then Norman’s already dead and Harry had nothing to do with it and Oscorp is shifty enough without being involved in the Parkers’ deaths.
Here, I don’t know how this all would come together. My thinking is that Peter finds out Norman killed his parents and refuses to continue work on the cure. Like, ‘oh, Norman died three days ago? Too bad, I just figured out how to save him! Star Trek V!’ It would be really morally ambiguous, but one of the cool things about Spider-Man is that he’s not Superman; he doesn’t always do the right thing. As long as this is portrayed as Peter being uncool in the extreme, it’ll work. I’m thinking a scene where he confronts Norman, “I know you killed my parents. Too bad; if you hadn’t, maybe I would tell you how to save yourself.”
Of course, unbeknownst to him, Harry is suffering from the same condition as Norman and is, of course, super-fixated on being a good son, saving Norman, finally earning his love and respect, blah blah daddy issues-cakes.
At some point in all this, the Osborns figure out that Spider-Man is the key to curing themselves. Harry asks Peter to find Spidey, but no can do. So Harry uses the Osborn fortune to put the word out, newspapers, billboards, TV ads. He wants to talk to Spider-Man. Peter, of course, wants nothing to do with Oscorp, knowing what they’d be capable of with a viable cross-species. Time passes. Harry gets desperate. Finally, he puts a bounty on Spider-Man’s head, and we get a good-sized action sequence of some minor villain—Kraven the Hunter, the Shocker, whatever—going after Spider-Man.
Peter is having none of this. He goes to Harry as Spider-Man, tells him to cut that shit out before innocent people get hurt, or next time he’s playing offense.
Third act: Norman Osborn is on his last legs. Harry, mad with grief and desperation, experiments on himself and becomes the Green Goblin. Norman dies anyway (or… does he?). Harry uses Oscorp weaponry and goes on a rampage to draw Spider-Man out and get revenge. Here we pay off the audience’s patience in waiting for two acts for the fireworks, as this is basically one big conflict. We can even give Harry some henchmen (Oscorp is a private military contractor, let’s say) to up the stakes. Spider-Man and the Goblin clash. Spider-Man is unmasked and Harry either personally or by proxy goes after his loved ones. Peter gets the drop on him, disables him, and races against time to save Aunt May and Gwen. Felicia helps out somewhere, even if it’s just getting some civilians to safety.
Think of this as 24 on steroids. For over thirty minutes, Spider-Man is rushing through the city, disarming bombs, saving people, rescuing his loved ones from kidnappers, all while the Green Goblin pops up, cackling as he hit-and-runs Spidey at the worst possible moments. For all his efforts, Spider-Man comes up short. Gwen dies. Spider-Man puts Harry in a coma in the ensuing fight, but can’t bring himself to kill him. Still, for now, Harry is out of the fight, giving the audience some closure.
We get a version of the epilogue from the film, though I’d prefer it if there was an indication that Peter was erring on the side of Spider-Manning too much rather than not at all. Raimi did the Spider-Man No More stuff in his sequel already. The big takeaway here is a variation of that famous moment where MJ drops the party girl act and comforts Peter; this time, it’s Felicia, having figured out Peter’s identity in the big battle. Peter’s big moment of bravery is in choosing to live again, as Peter Parker, not in beating up bad guys.
And we should probably get rid of the bit with the little kid dressed as Spider-Man trying to take on the Rhino, c’mon. Also, if I had my druthers there would be no Rhino in the promotional materials, it’d entirely be a cool surprise for the fans. Maybe play up the mysteriousness of who’s behind the Rhino, has Harry woken up and is just using the coma as a cover, is Norman still alive, who’s pulling the strings at Oscorp? That’s something for next time, but for now, the chapter’s closed.
By the way, I think the theme here would be tragedy, people’s reactions to it, trying to avert it, live with it, forget it, whatever. In the movie, Gwen’s recently lost her fucking father, but it never really comes up. She seems more broken up about being on the outs with Peter. So I’d really like a scene where all four of our principals are just getting coffee, talking about their parents. Gwen’s dead father, Peter’s dead uncle and missing parents, Harry’s disapproving father—even Felicia, much as she hates to admit it, has turned to crime as a coping mechanism to feel closer to her dead, cat burglar daddy. They all have different ways of dealing with tragedy and Peter’s arc is learning himself, from all the people around him, good and bad, how to do it. Not to be brought down by it like Harry, but to live up to Gwen’s example—to survive with the sadness, to express it, to be strengthened by it, and finally, to let it go.
And, on a capes and tights note, you have a good variety of superhero action in this even without Jamie Foxx. I know, right? We have the opening truck assault—we can keep that pretty much as it is in the real movie, just without the bit where Gwen tells the audience “Imma gonna die” and the ridiculous fight against Paul Giamatti slows down like it’s all dramatic. Then the chase with Black Cat. The second act setpiece where Peter fights any villain you can name and it can be as unique and as cool as the concept artists can make it. Then the third act, where you can just go wild: Spider-Man having to fight inside the Parker residence to save Aunt May, fighting Green Goblin in the air, fighting alongside Black Cat, fighting to save Gwen.
Jean shoved Peter down onto the room’s only furniture, a chrome examination table, though Logan’s body resisted enough for him to end up seated rather than prone. Jean turned her efforts into a dance—moving her hands up and down her body, swaying her hips to the pulse of the psychosphere. As discombobulated as he was, Peter watched—his expression turning Logan’s eyes big and round.
Would you mind telling me why I’m not serving detention in Queens? he asked mentally, even as he tried not to goggle at her.
A lot of people wouldn’t question that. Jean’s slender legs turned serpentine as she turned to show off her ass, bunching it and relaxing it inside her skintight leather trousers.
I am not going to be distracted by badonkadonk for more than another five minutes, Peter swore.
Alright, here’s the deal. We’re on Krakoa, a prison island for mutants. The dictatorship of Genosha imprisons its mutants here, where they’re hunted, killed, for sport. They broadcast it on the internet. Last month, we tried to stop them. We destroyed the studio and freed their current reality TV star. But they rebuilt it and sent a strike force onto American soil to capture us and bring us here for their sick version of justice.
He was on his fifth attempt to switch over his train of thought—not even recalling how bad the Star Wars prequels were was helping—when a high-end Audi pulled to a stop at his segment of the sidewalk like it was a pit stop at the Indy 500 and he was expected to change the tires. The window came down as fast as a pen being clicked and Peter saw the world’s most famous goatee.
“Get in, loser, we’re going shopping,” Tony Stark said.
All of Peter’s mind stopped functioning except for the bit that told him this wouldn’t normally happen. A conclusion leapt to him. “Wait… wait… how do I know you’re not the Chameleon, trying to get me alone?”
“Hmmm… if I was a shapeshifter who could take on any identity, I would be me,” Tony conceded.
“It’s simple,” MJ said, jabbing her joint at him to indicate she wanted him to take a puff. Peter waved it off, which MJ treated as a game, trying to prod through his defenses. “Women are naturally more compassionate than men. When we get superpowers, we use them to help people. Hence, we’re superheroes. Men get superpowers, rob banks, try to blow up New York, supervillains. Even those women who are selfish, most of them shape up after a little therapy. Femininity’s natural love and acceptance for all humanity shines through.”
Peter relented, snatching the joint from Mary Jane’s hand. “I’m pretty sure I saw you punch a guy in the dick seven times yesterday. It was on the news.”
“Doesn’t count, Deadpool. That guy is so annoying. We get it, chimichangas, it was funny the first one billion times…”
“We have chimichangas?” Gwen asked, coming through the door. As always, her bookbag thudded when it hit the floor, overburdened with loot from the New York Public Library.
“We have beer, chips, and pizza with pineapple that no one is energetic enough to pick off,” Peter reported.
“But we have beer,” Mary Jane added, twisting up with her superior agility to perch on the arm of the couch and return Gwen’s greeting kiss.
Peter conscientiously looked away, casting a look at his textbook that perhaps Gollum would’ve directed at the One Ring.
Gwen laughed sweetly as she slid down beside MJ. “Peter, you don’t have to look away when I kiss my girlfriend.”
Peter looked back at her, assuming that since she was talking, she couldn’t be kissing. “I just don’t want you guys to feel uncomfortable. You shouldn’t worry about being perved at in your own home.”
“But there wasn’t even tongue!” MJ retorted. “If you could get off on that peck, I would take it as a compliment.”
So there are these two projects I’m working on and, I don’t know, they could use betas.
One is a novella I’m thinking of self-publishing—because why the hell not?—it’s sort of like one of those gothic romances, only with the moody, brooding, violent but also sort of a sweetie master of the house is a woman and the servant is a boy. I know, I’ll give you a moment to pop your monocle back in. Also, elves, the mentally handicapped, and Big Barda without the copyright infringement. I researched the tundra to write this!
The other is just a fanfic. You’ve love this, tumblr—it’s a Marvel Cinematic Universe where all the superheroes are women, and the male (former) leads are their sidekicks. So Jane Foster has Mjolnir and transforms into the God of Thunder, while a powerless Thor gives her fighting tips, and Mary Jane was bitten by that radioactive spider and has Peter to build her webshooters. Oh, and Pepper Potts is Rescue while Tony treats building her robot clothes as foreplay, but you already knew that. The actual plot involves Peter Parker being The Twenty-Year-Old Virgin and Tony trying to get him laid. There’s Darcy, people. Darcy.
Gwen: Peter… I’m dying. I want you to promise me… that you won’t jump into bed with someone as soon as I’m gone.
Peter: I promise, Gwen. I promise.
Mary Jane: But promises you can’t keep are the best kind.
One of the things that really bugged me about ASM was that none of the stuff had anything to do with the other stuff. In Raimi’s Spider-Man, sure, they had to get Uncle Ben’s death origin stuff out of the way, but that led in to Norman Osborn as a father figure and the good son/bad son feud between Peter and Harry. Even the Peter/MJ romance didn’t just humanize Peter, it showed how Peter was beating Harry at his own game and thus a more desirable ‘son’ for Norman.
Then you watch ASM and you have the mystery of the dead parents, which has nothing to do with Peter’s hunt for his uncle’s killer, which has nothing to do with the Lizard (I guess they’re both outcasts… even though even before becoming Spider-Man, Peter is getting hit on by the hottest blonde in school… and Curt Connors himself seems to have a cushy job at a giant corporation… for God’s sake, he works with Emma Stone all day!). Oh, and none of that has much to go with Denis Leary or Emma Stone either. It’s all just… stuff. There’s no clear theme.
So, I had a long day at work and here’s a rough outline of how to fix that.