I’m a romantic. The reason why I’m such a romantic is because I’ve watched too many movies; too many movies where the guy was trying to get the girl.
Like in #10 on my list:
Toby McGuire plays a great Peter Parker. He looks the part. Now I’m not saying that Toby McGuire looks like a nerd, but I’m saying that no one else could have done it better. I mean there were other applicants I’m sure. One possibility was Leonardo DiCaprio. Now that to me would have been a mistake, because Leonardo DiCaprio is good in punk/rebel roles (see Titanic and The Departed). He would not have made a good Spider-Man. Casting Leo as Peter Parker would have been like casting Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock . . . wait . . . well, the point is neither of those guys would have worked because they don’t look like nerds. And why do they have to be nerds? Well, Spider-Man is the nerd’s hero. He’s scientific and slightly shy, but he can stand up when the chips are down. And, as most nerd sagas go, it’s all about a girl whose attention you just can’t seem to get even when she lives next door to you. Most if not all nerds can completely relate to that.
On the subject of great character choises, the villain couldn’t have been more of a villain if the actor was anyone but Willem Dafoe. I mean he looks like a goblin. Other actors considered were John Malkovich (maybe) and Nicolas Cage (not even close). The idea of Nicolas Cage as the Green Goblin . . . I shudder to think. And no offense to Mr. Cage . . . he just doesn’t look like a goblin. S’all I’m sayin’. Anyhoo, I love the part where Norman Osborn and the Goblin argue in the mirror. I think Dafoe does a fantastic job in this scene to really show the opposing sides of the character.
The mantra: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. I think it’s unfortunate that Peter Parker had to learn the meaning of this mantra the hard way, but it is one of the things that makes Spider-Man such a great superhero. His conviction comes from facing adversity, and he takes responsibility for the poor choices he made in the beginning. Now the subject of choice is the dividing line between all these superheroes that we love so much and the nemeses that we love to hate. Norman Osborn had power that he wielded irresponsibly, and it transformed him into a psychopathic, murderous, green dude with weird yellow sunglasses in his mask that would open unnecessarily. The Green Goblin was a good nemesis for Spider-Man (though not the arch nemesis) because of the paths they take. One sees the power as an opportunity to gain more power regardless of the personal cost, and the other sees the opportunity of redemption and understands the inevitability of personal cost. That is the selfless sacrifice of a superhero.
Now this is just my opinion, and I don’t know if it was in the script or Mr. Raimi’s idea, but having regular New York civilians get involved in the action on the Queensboro Bridge was a great idea. First of all, it just seems more realistic that people stuck in traffic watching a hero fight a villain would cheer and try to help the good guy. Also, even though it was a bit cliché, I like the feel-good message from the people of New York that is directed not only at the Green Goblin but also at any villain that tries to or might be thinking about trying to bring any sort of destruction and/or general strife back to New York. Basically New Yorkers stick together, America is good, home of comic books and vigilante anti-terrorists stuck in traffic, blah blah, etc. And then Spider-Man jumps on an American flag; the end.
Spoiler Alert. Oh yeah, but there’s one more thing that makes this movie great. He doesn’t get the girl. Now I know what you’re saying (just put your hands down, I’m still typing): Isn’t this supposed to be “all about the girl.” Well, yes, of course it is. But you see I’m just one of those guys that likes the movies to end like you’re not expecting them to. I mean Rocky was a great movie, but it was about being great and fighting the fight. Rocky didn’t have to win to be the man. To me, Rocky was an awesome movie because he didn’t beat Apollo. And to me, Spider-Man is on my list of all-time favorites because in the end, he stays true to the mantra. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Peter Parker realizes that as Spider-Man, the ones he loves will always be in danger. Harry is in pain because he’s lost his father having no idea what a monster he was or how much safer the world is now that he’s been defeated, and to protect him from more pain, Peter does not to tell him the truth. Mary Jane Watson, the girl that Peter has loved since the fourth grade, finds herself in love with Peter after such a traumatic event, and all Peter can do is turn her away, because he thinks it will save her. Trouble is trying to do what’s best for the ones you love isn’t always appreciated. But in this case it is, because it means that there’s room for sequels. At least one good sequel, anyway.