“With great power comes great responsibility.”
– Uncle Ben
LISTEN TO US TALK ABOUT Spider-Man and The Amazing Spiderman ON ITUNES OR WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS.
Update: OUR spoiler-filled episode on Spider-Man: Homecoming is now available on iTunes.
With the second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise premiering this month, we decided to take a trip back in time and revisit both of our generation’s spider men. We sat down and watched Spider-Man (2002) starring Tobey Maguire and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) with Andrew Garfield. We each had our favorite, and we’ll get to who and why later, but first, our web-inspired meal.
We have a Malaysian restaurant near us called Kedai Makan, and one of our favorite starters there is the roti: a light, almost crepe-like bread, usually served with some curry for dipping. For years, their roti looked like a lightweight naan, but last time we went, we noticed the roti looked a little bit different. A little bit more… web-like. We knew this dish would be perfect for Spider-Man, so we looked into how to make our own Malaysian roti. We made batter, put it into squirt bottles, and squirted it onto a hot pan in random patterns. Served with a side of lentils, this was a perfect, lightweight appetizer to start off the meal.
Another local Munch favorite is Rain Shadow Meats, the place where we get most of the meat we use for our posts. Recently, we noticed they started selling lamb crépinettes, a lamb patty wrapped in caul fat, the fat which surrounds internal organs. This fat is thin, translucent, and veiny, so wrapped around a patty, it looks almost like a webbed-up burger. We had to try it, so we made our own, served up on a bed of pearl couscous with onion and mushroom. After cooking the crépinettes, the caul fat became entirely translucent, and ended up looking and tasting like a sausage casing. It added a decadent fatty-ness to the lamb, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Homemade candy has kicked our asses more than once at Munch, but we thought it was time to try again, since it looks so much like a spider egg sac. This time, we wanted to try hand-spun cotton candy, where you stretch loops of softened candy, twist them, and stretch again. The multiplying effect quickly thins out the strings of candy until you’re left with what looks like a handful of threads.
That’s what’s supposed to happen. Unfortunately, candy is extremely sensitive to heat and despite attempting this twice, we’re fairly certain we both got the temperature too high in the initial cooking and then let it cool too far before attempting to pull it. We got closer the second time and were able to garnish our back-up dessert (a cashew-coconut fudge because Spider-Man is kind of nutty) with a few web-like strands. We will overcome the villain known as homemade candy at some point!
For the drink, we knew we wanted to do something with egg whites, so we could make a spider-inspired design on top of it. We decided to go with a classic whiskey sour, which is just whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, and egg whites. We added a few drops of bitters on top and pulled a toothpick through them in an attempt to make a web… with mixed results. We had to go through a couple whiskey sours to get to a design we were okay with, but we’re not complaining.
We kept the same rules for each Spider-Man movie.
🕸 Drink whenever Spider-Man shoots his web.
🕷 Take a shot when Peter is bitten by a spider.
👴🏻 Take another shot when Uncle Ben dies.
In Defense of Spider-Man (2002)
Sam Raimi’s Peter Parker isn’t a technical genius or inventor – he’s smart, but he’s ultimately an awkward kid with small dreams who is noticeably uncomfortable in his own skin. Spider-Man isn’t just about the invention of a superhero, it’s about Peter’s gradual understanding and acceptance of himself and who he wants to be, all while battling the Green Goblin. Though we all had fond memories of Willem Dafoe’s portrayal, his motivation (apparently Oscorp’s entire future relied on the success of one drug?) seems a little shaky looking back, and the movie doesn’t do the best job of solidifying the relationship between him, Peter, and Harry to make their final showdown more meaningful. Still, as origin stories go, this one hits all the marks for me with an underdog persevering, a kick-ass outfit creation sequence, and who can forget the infamous upside-down kiss?
Even though we focused on the first film so that we could compare origin stories, this defense wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t acknowledge how great Spider-Man 2 is. It has a similar arc to The Dark Knight Rises which came out just four years later. Now that Peter’s identity as Spider-Man has been established, this film takes a closer look at his attempts and failures to balance both being a human and a hero. The tension between Peter/Spider-Man and Mary Jane really starts to build, Peter’s struggle to stay on his feet and save the city really makes you feel for him, and Dr. Ock is one of the best comic book villains brought to life in film. The clash on the train between Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man as well as their final battle are some of the most cinematic and suspenseful battles between superhero and supervillain. It’s a bummer the third and final installment with Maguire as Spider-Man had to fall so flat because I think there were more and better stories to tell.
In Defense of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
While the two entries into The Amazing Spider-Man franchise are largely not looked back on fondly, I still believe them to be worthwhile and important within superhero films as a genre even when the villain is a letdown.
The Amazing Spider-Man is successful is in its characterization of the central character and the relationships surrounding him. It is a film that knows not every interaction is a smooth scripted conversation and it allows for dead air to sit between characters ultimately building moments that feel natural and intimate. This has the effect of making the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy feel meaningful, adolescent, and fresh. For Peter’s paternal relationship with his Uncle, we are given moments where you feel for the struggle Peter has of balancing a lot on his plate while also making you feel like he truly did let his uncle down, making Ben’s demise actual elicit emotion from you which is more than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man can say.
Which brings me to my next point: as a result of authentic relationships, this film has an opportunity to deal with death in a way that other superhero films normally don’t have the opportunity to meaningfully do so. This extends into The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is further flawed, but again, they weren’t afraid of killing characters and having those moments feel impactful beyond the typical sensation that death has in a film. All of this is to say, I will defend The Amazing Spider-Man even if I recognize it doesn’t always have the heart that the Sam Raimi franchise did.
In Defense of Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-man movie, hands down. I think there’s an argument to be made that it’s the best Marvel movie as well, but for now I’ll just compare it to the other Spider-man movies we watched. First of all, Tom Holland is the perfect Spider-man. What I really loved about Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker was his innocence, awkwardness, and self-assurance, balanced by his genius, courage, and selflessness. We didn’t get to see the moment of the spider bite in this movie, but we did get to see the moment where Peter Parker becomes a super hero: the moment he puts aside how cool his great powers are and faces his great responsibility. We watch Spider-Man, and Peter Parker himself, struggle with this growth in different ways. For these reasons, I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is not only a great Superhero Movie but also a best-in-class High School Movie.
Seriously, take all the superhero bits out of this movie and you still have a great high school story about a boy, a crush, a friend, a bully, a scary dad, a worried aunt, and an aloof father figure. I can’t think of any other Marvel movie that would still have legs to stand on if you took out the sci-fi and superpowers.
But I also have to give Homecoming credit for being a great superhero movie! This was the best Spider-man costume by far, with it’s expressive eyes and artificial intelligence. The webslinging and fighting scenes were fun, and they managed to give a well-worn superhero some new tricks up his sleeve to play with. And, like any Marvel movie now, there were a few great tie ins to other Marvel characters. Homecoming did a great job of building out the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I can’t wait to see where they take this franchise next.