The Tangled Web of Spider-Man
An Interview with Joe O'Malley of No-Organic-Webshooters.com
By Wil Forbis
When I was kid I was way into Spider-Man. He was, simply put, the coolest superhero around, far outshining such holier-than-thou squares like Captain America or Superman. While the reason for Spider-Man's popularity is often touted to be the fact the he was of the first of the "nerd superheros" created in Stan Lee's successful attempt to revitalize the fortunes of Marvel Comic's during the sixties, to me it was always the costume. Spider-Man was simply a joy to look at, and the costume did a great job of portraying the flash of the comic book, the soap opera personal life of Peter Parker and the endless lineup of tongue in cheek villains that he faced.
Spider-Man is probably the most popular superhero not to have a movie based on his comic book exploits. However, after several false starts, it looks like this situation is soon to be rectified, as director Sam Raimi ("Evil Dead I and II", "Army of Darkness", "A Simple Plan") has taken helm of the Spider-Man film project and is casting as we speak. However, he has announced that he will also be carrying over a plot twist found in early Spider-Man film scripts: the replacement of Spider-Man's mechanical web shooters (the product of Peter Parker's scientific acumen) with a physical mutation brought on by Spider-Man's radioactive origin that will enable him to shoot webs directly from his wrists.
"Big deal," most might think. After all, every superhero brought to the big screen has been altered in some fashion or another. But amongst hard-core Spider-Fans, the subject has brought about significant debate, causing words to fly on Spider-Man message boards everywhere. It even prompted several gentlemen to create No-Organic-Webshooters.com and take the cause of mechanical web shooters to the web (pun intended) by creating an Internet-based petition to be forwarded to Sam Raimi and SONY Entertainment.
It was with great relish (and a little mustard) that I conducted the following interview with Joe O'Malley of No-Organic-Webshooters.com about the Spider-Man film, Sam Raimi, and the wet dreams of a superhero.
Wil: As a lifelong Spider-Man fan myself I think I can understand the ire that fuels an effort like No-Organic-Webshooters.com but I have to ask: Why go to such great lengths to protest the fact that a comic book character isn't being replicated onscreen in tandem with his print version? I imagine some people have told you in so many words to "get a life"?
Joe: To answer your first question, we don't want the character carbon copied onto the screen. We just want to make sure that this isn't screwed up. I've heard of a few other changes (other small changes in the origin, probable costume change) and none of those bother me. It just sounds, from what Raimi's said, that the organics (the flesh web shooters) will have Peter acting differently than he would in the comics. Like he's kind of ashamed of his powers and becomes more withdrawn, which isn't the case. As for people telling us "get a life", yeah, I've gotten that a few times. Less times than you'd think though. I really could care less. People who don't know anything about me telling me to get a life means nothing to me. The site really doesn't take up all that much time, and we couldn't just sit around and bitch and complain about the web shooters and not do anything. So we're doing our best with our hectic schedules (Mark the computer guy at a law firm, Myrt IS Mr. Computer and I'm always trying to get some drawing done). That was a little long winded. Sorry... hehe.
Okay, next question. :)
Wil: Do you feel like you've pretty much lost the battle? It would seem like Raimi is pretty set on going ahead with the whole organic web shooters thing.
Joe: Some Spider-Man fans who frequent our message board say that we should "wait and see the movie" before we judge the organic web shooters. But if we wait that long, it's too late. And if they make a bad movie, then we aren't going to see another Spider-Man movie for a while. Do I feel like we've lost the battle to get the organics out of the movie? We won't know until the movie comes out but it looks like it. And I really don't think that our petition is going to effect that decision much. The people at SONY obviously want organic web shooters and for some reason so does Sam Raimi. So I guess it really doesn't matter what the majority of fans want.
Wil: In reference to the concept of Spider-Man actually creating the web fluid in his body, I understand the original James Cameron script had what's referred to as a "wet dream sequence"? Care to explain?
Joe: That wasn't a bad script for a movie, but it was a bad script for a Spider-Man movie. As for that scene, it was a little weird. Peter wakes up one day and finds himself covered in this white, silky, sticky stuff because apparently his newly formed organic web shooters accidentally went off in the middle of the night. It's a little nasty, and Cameron was OBVIOUSLY going for the "wet dream" effect. But since Raimi's had the script rewritten (from scratch I assume) that scene has since been taken out. That's what I've read anyways.
Wil: Have you seen Sam Raimi's television show, Cleopatra 2525? It seems that Raimi is using the show to test out some of the effects he'll be using in the Spider-Man film. e.g. characters in the series can occasionally stick to walls and have some web shooter type devices that they use to swing around.
Joe: Oh dear lord. Yeah I've seen the show. It's pretty bad. I've only seen one whole episode. If he's using that show as a testing ground for the effects in the Spider-Man movie, let's hope they do a better job for the big screen. But I hear it's been canceled, along with Jack of All Trades (which, thanks to Bruce Campbell and that cute blonde lady, I actually kind of liked).
Wil: Canceled eh? That's too bad. I guess I was one of the seven people who actually watched Cleopatra 2525, and if they can't get at least half of America to watch a show featuring an all female cast running around in skin tight outfits then it wasn't meant to be. And it's always a shame when Bruce Campbell is out of work. He's to Sam Raimi what Kyle MacLachlan is to David Lynch. I'm actually surprised he hasn't been mentioned for any of the roles in the Spider-Man film. He's got enough of that evil glint in his eye that he could make a mean Norman Osborne/Green Goblin.
Joe: Hehe. Sorry. I didn't know you liked the show. But it was pretty bad. :) As far as Bruce Campbell being in the movie, of course he was rumored but nothing came of it. Maybe he'll have a bit part. We'll see. But he would make a good Norman/GG. Turns out Willem Dafoe just got it though.
Wil: I thought the X-Men film did a pretty good job of replicating the characters of the comic book, but it really illustrated one of the difficulties of transferring comics to film, that being the fact the comics have years to really develop their characters into genuine people, whereas films have only a few hours. Do you think it'll even be possible to create a reasonable facsimile of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character onscreen with the limitations of film?
Joe: Yes, I do. The X-Men movie illustrated that it's possible to translate comic characters to the big screen. When I was watching Hugh Jackman, he WAS Wolverine to me. Same with all the rest of the characters. Well most of them anyways.
Wil: Yeah, I have to agree, I thought there was no way they could pull of a decent Wolverine, but he really did a stellar performance. Do you think Hollywood will be able to do as good a job with Spider-Man as they did with, say, Howard the Duck? I mean, that was pretty true to life.
Joe: Howard the Duck? I haven't seen that since I was a kid and if I recall correctly, it wasn't all that good. The trick to making a good movie based on a comic is to filter out all the extra crap and keep the main elements of the character(s). They changed a lot of stuff for the X-Men movie and it turned out pretty good. Really, it's not the change that bothers me. They changed the look of Cyclops' visor, they had a skinny guy playing Magneto, Mystique looked weird as hell, but it all worked because the characters were played well. And the same goes for the Spidey movie. They can change his costume if they want (but they won't come up with a cooler design than the original), have Tobey MacGuire play him (a good choice but he really doesn't look much like Peter) and it will all be fine as long as they keep the core elements of the character. And organic web shooters just aren't Spider-Man, not matter how hard they try to force them down our throats.
Wil: Actually this begs another question: Give us your pick for the actor who should play Spider-Man. I think if Bruce Campbell were twenty years younger and twenty pounds lighter...
Joe: Well for a college age Peter I (for some reason) think Dawson (James Van Der Beek) would be cool. But for a young Peter I didn't have any one in mind until they picked Tobey MacGuire. I think he's a good choice.
Wil: Can you give a run down of the general history of the Spider-Man on film? I can actually recall the Spider-Man television specials from the seventies, where they had one shot of him climbing a building that they used in every show.
Joe: When I little I used to rent the pilot to that show, so I remember it too! Hmm.. a history of Spider-Man on film. In the 60's (I think) he had the original cartoon (which gave birth to the now famous theme song "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does what ever a spider can"). Then there was that live action show (from the 70's). Then in the 80's they had Spider-Man and His Amazing friends with Iceman and Fire Star (I think). Then in the 90's they had the FOX Kids Cartoon. That's about the best I can do from memory. :)
Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.