In case you haven’t seen it yet, the new Spider-Man trailer starring the guy who could barely act in The Social Network hit the internet today. In the interest of interest I decided to give it a whirl, despite the fact that the franchise lost me at Spider-Man 2.
Well tickle me shocked and sarcastic when I found myself watching a preview for the origin story of character that everyone already knows the origin of because the origin was in a movie that’s only 9 years old. In case you haven’t heard it, Mr. Salamander and I talked about this on this week’s episode of our radio show. Listen here. But, to summarize, the major flaw with these superhero movies is the demand by the studio that they be cookie-cutters of one another and each new start has include a lengthy re-telling of the origin of the character. It’s not as though you really need to know why they are how they are, just that they are how they are, get me?
But, if you want to claim that that’s how some of the comics are to begin with, I’ll grant you, you’re not far off, but then it comes down to a matter of time management. Superman showed up as Superman in Action Comics in June of 1938. In his initial appearance they spent one of the thirteen pages telling you everything you needed to know about how Kal-El came to Earth. And that was fine! He was Superman. He did awesome stuff you could never hope to do, but were glad to read about, whilst enjoying a phosphate at the Tiny Grocer on the corner.
“But, no, there was an origin!” Sure. Fine. Put it in there. Let’s take Superman’s origin as the blueprint for this new Spider-Man, especially since the last origin story of this character was on the big screen less than a decade ago. Basic math shows that if your superhero movie is two hours long (that’s 120 minutes to those using the metric system), then the origin should take no more than 9.23 minutes using the Superman Origin Formula. We’ll be cool and let them have ten minutes. But, that’s it. Because you don’t need more. Because how they came to be who they are is irrelevant. It’s who they are that’s important.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that in almost every single other kind of movie, you don’t have the origin of how Character X became Character X. The characters just exist, because it’s a contained world that in some way is similar to ours and they are people just like you and me, but nothing like you and me. Daniel Plainview is an oil man and a bastard. So we watch him be an oil man and a bastard. Jack Sparrow is a pirate and he acts like a pirate. Sure, you need to establish some personality, but that’s what the movie is for. Verbal Kint is Keser Soze and we see him be a crook and a bigger crook, but we don’t spend a ton of time explaining why. Yeah, there’s a two minute origin sequence of Soze in The Usual Suspects, but it’s told by an unreliable narrator, so, cancel it! And, note that it’s two minutes long.
This teaser makes it pretty clear that at least 30 minutes of the new Spider-Man is gonna be establishing how he got his powers and blah blah blah. You could ask my Grandma how Spider-Man became Spider-Man and, well, Grandma’s don’t know stuff like that, nor do they need to, but would you like some cookies? They’re fantastic. On second thought, stay away from my Grandma, dork.
So, you tell me, do we really need to see the doof from The Social Network scribbling in his binder while wearing black hoodie, or do we need to see Spider-Man taking on Mysterio at the World’s Fair?