March 8, 2006
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, Randy Savage
Spider-Man went through a long and arduous journey to make a legitimate splash on the big screen. The character was introduced in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, yet he trailed far behind both time-honoured super-heroes such as Superman (1978) and modern warriors like Blade (1998, and check out Blade: Trinity with Triple H). Would the long wait for Spider-Man's big summer movie be worth it?
Yes. Spider-Man is one of the best paced and most effectively structured super-hero movies ever put together, with the only drawback being that it's hampered somewhat by the obligation to tell the straightforward "origin story." You all know that story: Peter Parker (Maguire, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spider-Man to fulfill the responsibility given to someone with super powers. Truth be told, though, give any teenager super powers and, before they dedicate their life to fighting crime, they're going to have some fun. This is how Parker ends up inside a wrestling ring fighting Bonesaw McGraw (Randy Savage, Ready To Rumble, Sting: Moment of Truth) for a cash prize to help the struggling teenager buy a car.
The ultimate significance of Parker's wrestling match is continuous between the film and the story in Amazing Fantasy -- it launches a chain of events that lead to the death of Peter's Uncle Ben and subsequently the true birth of Spider-Man. In the original story, Parker dons blue jeans, a sweatshirt and a mesh mask as simple protection against being embarrassed if he doesn't fare well in the ring.
It's also a blast seeing Spider-Man use his acute senses to escape danger, and perform acrobatic tricks like Hurricane Helms could only dream of. Fighting crime is a noble calling and all, but sometimes one wonders how many screwjob ending could be prevented if someone like Spider-Man took up refereeing. Imagine, a ref who never misses an illegal tag or chokehold behind his back...
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at email@example.com -- SLAM! Wrestling.