Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a Jedi can — or can he? A little friendly box-office competition looms on the horizon as two of this summer’s heaviest hitters prepare to face off.
It’s the battle of the web-slinger versus the lightsaber when “Spider-Man” and “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” hit theaters this month with nearly back-to-back debuts, and even in Hollywood people are choosing sides.
“I’m looking forward to ’Spider-Man,’ ” Selma Blair said. “I mean, that’s an iconic film, that’s a big deal. I get pretty excited when any of the comic book ones come out.”
“I want to see ’Spider-Man,’ ” Christina Applegate — Blair’s co-star in “The Sweetest Thing” — agreed. “That looks really good.”
“I’m more excited about ’Star Wars’ right now,” the Rock offered. “Only because I grew up and ’Star Wars’ and ’Raiders of the Lost Ark’ are one of the first movies I fell in love with. So I’m excited about it. I’ve been a ’Star Wars’ fan for a long time.”
” ’Star Wars,’ that’s the one that I’m really kind of looking forward to,” Ben Affleck said. “’Cause as a kid, you know, ’Star Wars’ was a big deal for me.”
Though one is set in a galaxy far, far away and the other in the present day Big Apple, the two flicks do share many similarities: hot young stars, veteran filmmakers with devoted followings, cool villains, romance, lots of action and dazzling special effects. So what edge could either of these two blockbuster fantasy pictures possibly have over the other? To better navigate the odds in this big-screen match up, MTV’s “Movie House” offers this handy guide:
“Spider-Man”: The Green Goblin
“Star Wars”: Jango Fett, Count Dooku, Darth Sidious
By all indications, Willem Dafoe gives a menacing performance as schizophrenic, obsessively tortured Spidey nemesis the Green Goblin, gliding about town and tossing his trademark pumpkin bombs. For sheer villainy, he may rate a bit higher on the scare-o-meter than the decidedly sneakier Darth Sidious or veteran genre actor Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku. But the combined might of these two, aided by the introduction of Boba Fett relative/clone army leader Jango, just may best Dafoe’s Norman Osborn with sheer strength in numbers. “I already have my Jango Fett shirt,” said Colin Hanks, whose “Orange County” was recently nominated for an MTV Movie Award. “I’m more excited for ’Star Wars.’ ”
Advantage: “Star Wars“
“Spider-Man”: Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire)
“Star Wars”: Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen)
Sure, Ami and Ani’s “forbidden” love (forbidden by the Jedi code, not the age difference) is destined to bring down the utopian republic, but that steamy rain-soaked kiss between Dunst and Maguire is what really has people talking. “I’m such a huge fan of Kirsten Dunst,” Blair offered, “so I’d go see anything she’s in — twice.”
“Spider-Man”: Tobey Maguire
“Star Wars”: Hayden Christensen
Television commercials for “Spider-Man,” which depict a beefed up (though vegetarian!) Maguire flexing in front of a bedroom mirror, have audiences abuzz about his new Olympian physique. “Is it CGI? Did they do that with computers? Makeup? Silicone? Implants?” Nope, that’s really Maguire, who still has a boyish face set atop his new hunky frame, giving him that extra bit of charm. Christensen has grabbed a few teen magazine covers since being cast in “Star Wars,” but seriously, he’s no Maguire. And besides, aren’t we eventually supposed to hate his character anyway?
Spidey swings from webs, beats up bad guys and sticks to walls. Jedis uncover insidious plots, fight with lightsabers and throw things around with their minds. In “Spider-Man,” the Goblin will force our hero to choose between his gal pal and a handful of strangers; “Episode II” promises the dawning of the long-discussed Clone Wars.
Speaking of Clone Wars, comic fans still shiver when contemplating Spider-Man’s own “clone saga,” a convoluted and masochistically long endurance test for readers that had them guessing (or more often, eventually not caring) about which of two Peter Parkers was the real-deal Holyfield. Luckily, the movie bypasses this dark chapter of Spider-Man lore. “Star Wars,” on the other hand, boasts cool-looking clone troopers led by Jango Fett. The new trilogy’s own dark chapter aside (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?), it looks like “Episode II” has the edge on this one.
Advantage: “Star Wars“
One-Line Moral Lessons:
“Spider-Man”: “With great power comes great responsibility”
“Star Wars”: “May the force be with you”
Granted, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee’s “With great power …” line serves as the central principle (or prime directive, if you will — but that’s yet another series of movies) guiding just about all of his heroes. But can years of audience indoctrination via Yoda’s Zen-like preaching about the Force — its power, its consequences and the overall need to be mindful of it — be undone by a few simple words from Spidey’s Uncle Ben? “Look bad for ’Spider-Man’ it does, young padwan.”
Advantage: “Star Wars“
“Spider-Man”: Bruce Campbell, Randy “Macho Man” Savage
“Star Wars”: Jimmy Smits, Hayden Christensen
“Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi made some odd casting choices. Granted, the Rock is burning up the box office in his first major action role, but Randy “Macho Man” Savage in “Spider-Man”? He did manage to avoid putting his “Evil Dead” trilogy star Bruce Campbell in the title role, alternately gracious enough to let him have a small cameo. On the other hand, “NYPD Blue” copper Jimmy Smits made it into “Star Wars Episode II” and is said to be signed on for the final installment as well. And lest we forget, in the pre-“Star Wars” media blitz/”Life as a House” days, Hayden Christensen was an unknown Canadian with little more than a Fox TV movie under his belt when he reportedly beat out big-name hopefuls to play Darth Vader. As Hulk Hogan’s brief appearance in “Rocky III” and David Caruso’s 1995 box office bomb “Jade” illustrate, wrestlers tend to make more compelling big screen appearances than “NYPD Blue” stars.
Still can’t decide where you stand? Then check out “Spider-Man” this weekend and start camping out now for “Star Wars.”