Remember how everyone hated Spider-Man 3? And by "hated" I mean "saw it enough times to make it the highest-grossing film of 2007, with a worldwide haul of $890 million, easily the best of the trilogy." REMEMBER?? Well, the awful mistakes of that loathed and despised and extraordinarily profitable train wreck won't be repeated in Spider-Man 4 -- not if Sam Raimi has anything to say about it! Which he does, being the director and all.
In the November issue of the British magazine DVD & Blu-ray Review (as summarized for the Internets by the Geek Files blog at the Coventry Telegraph), Raimi acknowledged the complaints many fans had about Spider-Man 3. "I think having so many villains detracted from the experience," he said. "I would agree with the criticism." As you recall, there were hundreds of villains in that movie. Scientists are still discovering new ones.
Raimi added that he learned from his experience making Drag Me to Hell, a film much smaller in scale and budget. "I think I've learned about the importance of getting to the point and the importance of having limitations," he said. "I hope I don't lose that edge that I've just found. That would be my approach to Spider-Man 4: to get back to the basics."
Ah, but what basic would those be? Herewith, some humble suggestions from a fan of the Spidey films.
- Dylan Baker as The Lizard. Now. Baker appeared in Spider-Man 2 and 3 as Dr. Curt Connors, one of Peter Parker's science professors. Fans of the comic book (or the old animated TV series) know that Connors is destined to become The Lizard, a reptilian monster, after experimenting with a way to replace his missing arm. Raimi and company clearly intend to do this at some point, as they had the foresight to introduce Connors as a one-armed man. Now they just need to pay off on it. No sense teasing us any longer. The Lizard is a fine villain (though there would probably need to be a second one), and Baker is a fantastic actor. I think we'd all like to see his Lizard. (What?)
- Don't forget the horror. I'm glad Raimi made Drag Me to Hell, not just because it's a terrific thriller but because it brought him back to his horror roots. Remember the scene in Spider-Man 2 when Dr. Octavius' newly installed mechanical arms go berserk and tear apart the hospital operating room? Sheer terror. Let's see more of that. So many stories in the Spider-Man mythology -- including Spidey's own -- lend themselves to fear and suspense. Jeff Goldblum becomes a fly and it's a horror flick; Tobey Maguire becomes a spider and it's an action-adventure. But it's really the same thing, isn't it? Raimi has the skill to tap into that a little more.
- No more soap opera plots. Look, if we wanted a big-budget soap opera, we'd watch the Saw movies. Spider-Man 3 was full of stuff like that, including Harry Osborn's amnesia and the Peter/Mary Jane/Harry love triangle. There was also the matter of Flint Marko, aka the Sandman, who is revealed to have been the real killer of Peter's Uncle Ben back in the first movie. That's nothing but revisionist history, though, a lazy attempt to give Peter a personal reason to fight the Sandman -- and a classic lame soap opera move. We loved the heart and humanity in the first couple Spidey movies. You can keep that without getting cheesy.
- Don't forget what made Spider-Man different from the other superheroes. Peter Parker was the opposite of Clark Kent. He hadn't had his powers his entire life, he wasn't indestructible, and becoming a superhero didn't make his life 100 percent awesome all the time. Comic book readers could relate to his teen angst. Even though Peter must be in his 20s now, not his teens, you can still present him as a regular guy with powers he didn't ask for that he can't always live up to. We like that. Less emo Peter Parker, more real Peter Parker.
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Eric D. Snider (website) does whatever a Snider can.