But Spider-Man 2 has often been called the best film in the trilogy. And occasionally, it gets called the best superhero film ever.
|Roger Ebert does not make such statements lightly.|
|"You're welcome, world. Batman would have joined me here, but he's too busy getting rebooted."|
|And bonkers isn't a word I use lightly, either.|
|When Brando puts a bucket on his head, you don’t tell him to remove it. You film the scene anyway.|
I mean, Doctor Octopus was not only one of the most consistent members of the Sinister Six, but his stint as the "Master Planner" nearly killed Aunt May. And let's not forget the time he tried to marry Aunt May to acquire a nuclear plant she inherited. And on top of all that, Ock was the first villain to unmask Spider-Man as Peter Parker. But since Spider-Man had the flu at the time, his heroics were poor enough to convince Ock that Peter was merely a decoy.
|Oh, that JJJ. Always collaborating with villains.|
|And in concept art for the first film's DVD.|
I was lucky enough to track down a copy of it online, and… sweet merciful Thor.. This script would have been terrible.
Basically, young, sexy Dr. Otto Octavius (possibly played by David Duchovny) worked on Project Anansi, which was the experiment that made the “super-spiders” from the first film. Then for almost no reason, he decided to invent robotic tentacles. Then he suddenly develops an obsession with Mary Jane and starts dating her, all the while growing more and more obsessed with his tentacle harness, since it gives him an endorphin high every time he plugs it into himself.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man stole a small chip Otto invented that could potentially remove his spider-powers, and it works! But then Otto goes nuts, fuses with his tentacles, and discovers that without that chip, he’ll die because the tentacles are wrecking his body’s biological functions. Harry Osborn, who gets more and more paranoid (causing Peter to move out), puts a ginormous bounty on Spidey’s head before teaming up with Doc Ock to capture the wallcrawler and remove his spine, which would cure Ock because SCIENCE.
Spidey uses a knife to dig the chip out of his body before going to save Mary Jane from Ock’s clutches, but ends up captured and unmasked. In the end, Doc Ock sacrifices his life instead of performing the corpectomy. And with Harry and MJ discovering Peter’s secret, Harry goes insane...er and vows revenge.
While certain lines of dialogue and certain story beats made it into the final product, most of the conflict came from the fact that Harry, Doc Ock, and even Aunt May are nuts. Seriously, Aunt May dumps cookies in the trash, smashes a plate, and disowns Peter for half the movie.
Understandably, Sam Raimi and screenwriter Alvin Sargent decided to cobble together a script from the best parts of each draft until they had something they were proud of, taking inspiration from the “Spider-Man No More!” story, filtering it through the de-powering arc of Superman II.
From there, actors returned, new actors were hired largely without anything interesting to talk about, and the only actual snag was when it looked like Tobey Maguire would have to be replaced with Jake Gyllenhaal after he injured his back while making Seabiscuit. But in the end, the film’s production went pretty smoothly.
The end result? When the film opened in June of 2004, it made almost $40.5 million dollars its first day, breaking the previous film’s record of $39.4 million. And it also broke The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s record for the highest-grossing Wednesday. After breaking some more records, it wound up earning $373.5 million, making it the second-highest grossing film of 2004 behind Shrek 2.
Critical praise ensued. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes (and the second-best reviewed comic book movie of all time on that site). Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects. AFI’s Film of the Year. Pretty much swept the Saturn Awards. But like anything that earns that much praise, the backlash has been growing in recent years, with people saying it’s overrated, or doesn’t hold up, or even that it was never good. Sounds like as good a reason as any to talk about it.
Coming up in Part 1! Peter Parker: powerless and irresponsible.