Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Steel Cage Match: The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man

Two Spider-boys enter the arena (heretofore deemed Spider-Man's Spider-Tobey [Maguire] and The Amazing Spider-Man's Spider-Andrew [Garfield]), but only one Spider-Man can emerge victorious.

The Dude: Wide-eyed and perpetually bemused Spider-Tobey captured the inherent astonishment and joy in having one's body and purpose transformed into a that of a superhero's. But doe-eyed and perpetually brooding Spider-Andrew communicates the inherent confusion and loss that comes from the same. Let's call it a draw.

The Chick: Spider-Andrew's Gwen Stacy (righteous dame Emma Stone) vs. Spider-Tobey's Mary-Jane Watson (apple-cheeked Kirsten Dunst). Please. Advantage: Spider-Andrew.

The Suit: Spider-Tobey's construction of the iconic red and blue number goes through several, hilarious, renditions. Spider-Andrew sees one lucha libre poster and the rest comes Spandex ex machina. Advantage: Spider-Tobey.

The Fam: Spider-Andrew goes for the big names: Sally Field (Aunt May) and President Josiah Bartlet (Uncle Ben). Spider-Tobey went old school with theatre legend Rosemary Harris as Aunt May and Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben. Advantage: Spider-Andrew, because, well, The West Wing.

The Villain: Spider-Tobey battles real-life Green Goblin lookalike Willem Dafoe, and Spider-Andrew tangles with Rhys Ifans's Lizard. Though I appreciate the Doc Ockian pathos of the Lizard, he looks like the unholy love child of a union between Lord Voldemort, Godzilla, and those creepy fruit with teeth. And I sort of dug the way the Green Goblin's (and Spider-Tobey's) masks rendered their mouths invisible, making their dialogue look comic-booky. Advantage: Spider-Tobey.

The Origin Story: This where Spider-Andrew rocks the mic right. Amazing Spider-Man twins the birth of S-A's superpowers with his quest to understand his own origins--the mysterious work and disappearance of his father. This impulse, to access and therefore process one's own identity, is as powerful as Dr. Curt Connors's (the once and future Lizard) desire to heal himself. Of course the desire to avenge Uncle Ben remains, but this extra element pushes the story beyond one of a radioactive mishap. Advantage: Spider-Andrew.

Stan the Man Cameo: It's only apt that Spidey creator Stan Lee seal this deal. Spider-Tobey's flick cut most of his appearance, leaving him only to pull a girl away from some rubble. Bo-ring. Spider-Andrew gifts the legend with an extended (and hilarious) sequence as an oblivious school librarian. Game, set, and cage match to Spider-Andrew!

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