Welcome to another installment of Movies to Show My Son. This is the blog series where I discuss movies I can’t way to show my son in the future. I’ll be covering my own personal experience with the movie, movie and life lessons I hope he will learn, and lastly my concerns about showing said film. This week’s film is Spider-Man 2.
When I think back to when I first saw Spider-Man 2 I become nostalgic for a much simpler time watching movies. Comic book movies were in their infancy and no one was complaining about superhero fatigue. There was just unmitigated excitement for the next big movie we were going to get. I remember even thinking Daredevil was a good movie the first time I saw it just because I was excited to see these characters on the big screen. Also, we were having a pattern where the next movie was always better. X-Men was good but X2: X-Men United raised the game even more. I greatly enjoyed Spider-Man and remember being super amped to finally see Spider-Man 2. From the moment I was able to see the first trailer until I finally bought my ticket I was hyped as could be.
Part of that was because Social Media was not ingrained in our culture like it is today. I was not on Twitter seeing tweets linking to countless articles about anything Spider-Man related. Perhaps I was ignorant to it but there was also a positive atmosphere in general regarding these movies. Today no matter how good or bad a movie is I know I’ll go on Twitter and see people I respect complaining about the most asinine details just because it will garner them some form of attention. It’s like we cannot simply enjoy things anymore because we have become so spoiled and cynical.
As mentioned I was so excited for this movie we bought our tickets well in advanced. We showed up to the theater probably an hour before show time just to stand in line to guarantee a good seat. I cannot remember the last time I actually stood in line at a theater. Even in theaters where you cannot pick your seat ahead of time rarely have lines actually occurred. After endless amounts of previews, it finally started and was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It was the purest form of popcorn entertainment while still being a great movie. Right after I raced outside with my friends to bask in the gift we were just given. It was like watching your favorite football team win the Super Bowl except in this case there was no loser. It gave me that feeling of wanting more of what I just got.
Due to the video game, I got that opportunity without having to spend the limited money I did have on expensive movie tickets. That still ranks as one of my all-time favorite games and I just spent the majority of my time web swinging across New York finding the biggest buildings to jump off of and do insane Spider-Man moves. Just talking about it now makes me want to track it down to try and play it again.
Like most, I was disappointed in Spider-Man 3, but find that its failure has cast a large shadow over this film. People began to reevaluate Spider-Man 2 as if it was not worthy of the praise it received. For me, it still ranks as one of the best superhero movies ever and I cannot wait to show it to my son. Even if by the time he is old enough to watch it Spider-Man gets rebooted a few more times.
Age to Show:
If you go to a Kindergarten classroom chances are you will see a number of Spider-Man backpacks. He has and always will be a character that connects with children of any age. Spider-Man 2 is by no means a kids film but could be enjoyed and appreciated by children around the age of eight. Any younger and some of the bigger plot points may be more difficult to understand.
This will no doubt be the first movie my son ever sees by Sam Raimi. Raimi has a frenetic style I really wish we would see more of outside of movies like Oz the Great and Powerful. Hopefully one day he will return to horror again like he did for the underrated gem Drag Me to Hell. One thing he excels at specifically is making great characters out of unexpected items. In Evil Dead 2 it was Ash’s hand and in Spider-Man 2 it was the mechanical arms that gave Octavius his nickname and powers.
It begins with one of the best scenes of the movie. As doctors are attempting to remove the mechanical arms they come alive and kill everyone in the room. In that scene, Raimi reminded everyone of his horror roots. That scene is a big reason you do not want to show this movie to anyone under the age of eight. I could see anyone younger being traumatized by how unexpectedly violent it becomes. Suddenly their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man movie is one bloody affair.
Outside of causing trauma to youngsters it sets up these arms as more than simple weapons. They have personality and presence. By the way they hang in the air, by the sound effects chosen, and by the way they interact with Doc Ock we see them grow as characters. Something as simple as him using them to take his sunglasses off his face show how familiar and comfortable he has become with them. They are no longer an extension of him rather they are in control. The question becomes why and how that fits into his development as a character, which are pieces that fit into the life lessons you can also learn from this movie.
On a movie standpoint, it demonstrates how characters can be born from anything. Someone or something does not need to speak in order to have personality and depth. As a feature in the film, it makes you question who the true villain is in this story. Does it make Doc Ock into a sympathetic villain who is nothing but a tool of a monster he can’t control, or is it a cheap way to excuse a character having such a drastic personality shift? That’s not a debate you could probably have with an eight-year-old but it is one that can be brought up as we revisit it when he is older.
With great power comes great responsibility. A line that has been linked to Spider-Man since he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, and one of the best things Stan Lee ever came up with. Spider-Man 2 is an extension of that as it shows what happens when that mantra is not followed. What happens when someone seeks great power without any regard for the reasonability they hold, and those that are negatively impacted because of it.
When we meet Otto Octavius he, by all means, is a good man. He is not out to destroy the world as his intentions are actually good. He hopes to use the technology that he has built to make the world a better place. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions as his desire to achieve his goals overtakes his wiliness to live up to his responsibility. Although he understands the dangers of the tools he is working with he pushes forward despite the warning signs. When the artificial chip protecting him bursts we are left with a man completely void of reasonability and desperate for power and achievement.
The best villains are those that are some sort of reflection of their hero. Batman is a man of order and preparation so the Joker works as his arch nemesis due to his knack for chaos. Here Doc Ock becomes the reflection of Spider-Man. He too was born from tragedy but instead of using that tragedy for a reason to do good he chooses evil. He does not see the failure of his experiment or the death of his wife as his fault. Instead of owning his own mistakes he blames others in this case that blame goes the way of Spider-Man.
What my son can learn is the right and wrong way to respond to your mistakes. You can be a Doc Ock and blame others causing things to only get worse, or you can be a Peter Parker and become an even better person. My son can learn failure is a part of life and even the greatest of us all fail. It does not matter if those mistakes were by accident, by a lack of effort, or a combination of both. It is your reasonability to learn from them and not repeat the same error. That is the great power we have all been given.
I do not have many concerns regarding Spider-Man 2. Even if my son enjoys it on a pure entertainment level I will be happy. When he gets older we can dive deeper into what it all means. As mentioned prior there are some scenes that may be inappropriate for a youngster, but they are few and far between. If anything my biggest concern is in regards to superhero movies in general.
Oddly I feel lucky that I grew up in a time when superhero movies were only a pipe dream. Yes, we had the Superman and the Batman movies but after two installments both those franchises were pretty much done. I never thought we would see characters like Thor or Iron Man in actual movies let alone characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are no limitations on what can be made, and in a way that could lead to a lack of appreciation. That is not even considering when the genre finally overstays its welcome and goes the way of the Western.
More so I worry my son will not be able to have the same level of excitement I did watching Spider-Man 2 for the first time. He won’t need to buy his tickets weeks in advance or stand in line to guarantee a good seat. Heck, with how often it plays on TV it may be difficult to be the first person that actually shows him the movie. That’s not even considering the fact we may have three separate Spider-Man 2’s in only a few years.
The more I think about that complaint the more selfish I realize it is. It’s this idea that my son will need to experience movies the same way I did to properly enjoy them. I did not see Star Wars in theaters and knew most of its secrets prior to watching each movie from start to finish. It did not impact my enjoyment of any of them. Also, I should not try to recreate the excitement I once had. I should give my son the same freedom I had and allow him to grow his fandom in the way he sees fit. Maybe he will even hate superhero movies. GASP! Still, I do not want to force my fandom onto him the same way dads try to live vicariously through their kid’s sports achievements. It is my reasonability to make sure my son feels empowered to enjoy whatever movies he so chooses. As long as he doesn’t think Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie that is we will be fine. There are certain crimes against nature that should not be allowed.