Thursday, May 17, 2012

Question for the Week of May 14-20: Peter Parker's Hair

How am I supposed to believe that a smart teen - an unpopular nerd - has hair that looks so perfectly-styled?
Today I'm here because of hair and remake-itis. Yes, you read that right. Look at this picture I found while browsing the web, and understand my pain. Seriously, that 'do makes no sense for a teen, much less a straight one, much less a nerd!

Parker is a natural 5'8", but 5'11" with hair.

When I first heard about the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, I cursed out loud. I'm a native New Yorker, so that's not rare, but I was stunned: Sam Raimi is an excellent director, and even if the 3 Spidey films weren't amazing or deep (I liked part 2 a lot), they made a ton of money.

More importantly, I trust Raimi; even when his movies have flaws, they're always respectable works. Although I wasn't thrilled with them at the start, I also grew to like the cast, including Tobey MacGuire and Kirsten Dunst.

While comic-book movies aren't important to me, quality film-making most definitely is. The reboot news seemed like... the opposite of that. Sony decided to ditch a proven director who had some fancy "ïdeas" and just re-start the whole franchise; apparently, the teen market only likes stories about teens. Will they reset this again in 5 years?

Pete, what did you spend on product last month? It's ok to tell us you're gay...
Think about what that means. Every time you watch a movie (most movies, anyway), a certain amount of time is used to establish the characters and set up the plots. The importance of "the origin story" is even greater when it comes to heroic tales; it doesn't matter whether it's Superman or Beowulf, defining the roles is essential.

While some writers & directors handle this material smoothly, it's often seen as "stuff we need but that's keeping us from getting right to the action." As such, a total reboot - rather than replacing the cast - means that we'll have to have sit through, again, the entire "Peter Parker gets powers" sequence. Thanks!

But even worse, it means that everything that happened in the previous 3 films was meaningless - and not just because events in the prior movies are no longer "relevant." Nothing about them was seen as valuable by Sony - save the billion-plus dollars they earned.

And while this is scifi-action and not Hotel Rwanda, it devalues all the effort put into Spiderman Films 1-3, Section A. How will a studio appeal to my emotions if I know they could scrap this director, actor, and 3 storylines - at any time? For no reason involving "quality" or "artistic opinion?"... Is the secret that kids aren't discerning enough to notice this - or that there will always be a fresh batch of kids?

"Spiders bit my bf & I can't stroke his hair!"
The biggest insult is how obvious and typical this is: by restarting the franchise, Sony can keep targeting young kids, the key demographic for the whole Hollywood film industry. It's not just the high school setting - you can see it in the new Spider-Man's ridiculous hair.

This is not like the James Bond reboot with Daniel Craig; the new Casino Royale hit a complete reset button on that franchise, but it made sense. Dr. No was made in 1962, the first of 20 films in its run, and the lead was replaced 4 times. As an action/spy series, it made sense that new action movies put pressure on the producers to update James Bond for the post 2000-era. But Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007! How did that franchise become "less relevant?" (than it already was, naturally)

Unless reincarnation exists, I can't know what goes on inside a teenage girl's mind. However, they seem to like guys with "big" weird hair that obviously takes a lot of time to style. Hence, Robert Pattinson in Twilight. If I were Bella, I'd've assumed the kid I'm crushing on is very gay - at best, maybe freakishly metrosexual; which is hardly the big draw of teen romance, is it?

With great mousse comes great responsibility. Also, great hold.
Look at that picture above. Isn't it just silly? Does Spidey have a hair-dressing sidekick who gives him a little touch-up? Am I supposed to believe that his hair just comes out that way when he takes off his mask? What loser-ific, nerdy teen outcast puts that much effort into his 'do? Not even the ones with girlfriends...

I guess the real issue is that I'm offended by the studio's need to keep Peter Parker in his teen years. This is like the children-Jedi in the Star Wars prequels - you don't need to see someone your age in a movie in order to look up to them. I wanted to be Han Solo, or have Luke's powers, I didn't need kid versions of them to get me emotionally invested.

And I guess the second real reason that I'm so offended and annoyed is that I can believe that a radioactive spider bite would give you super-powers. I just can't believe your hair can be 3+ inches tall, yet a red and blue ski mask fits you like you're bald. This is all so stupid!


  1. 1. I love that your main complaint is his hair.

    2. I'm with you about the reboot. I can't really figure out why they would reboot something that we haven't yet tired of. I wasn't the biggest fan of the "original" Spiderman trilogy (yep, we're going Star Wars lingo on this shit now), but I know Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker. That's it. He created this epic series in his own verse, and I believed it. Completely. Tobey Maguire is not staring in The Great Gatsby come December, Spiderman is. I know this to be true.

    Besides. The whole point of reboots is to take something old and put a new spin on it. 5 years is a baby. It's not old. If someone tried to reboot LOTR, I would put a hammer through their head.

    The real kicker, though, is the reason for the reboot. In my opinion, they realized that everything (from Superheros to super-assasins) has taken a gritty, dark turn, and the Spiderman franchise wants to get in on that. Really? That's like putting a dark spin on Yo Gabba Gabba. When I think of Spiderman, I think of kids' lunch boxes. It'll be very hard for me to take "gritty" Spiderman seriously.

    3. The worst offense of all? I saw the trailer and actually didn't think it was that bad. Crap.

    1. In reverse order:

      3 - Yes, the trailer isn't bad at all. I wish I could forget about the original trilogy (yes, it deserves the SW treatment now), because then I would be stoked for a neat-looking Spidey movie.

      2 - Yes, again, my friend! If they reboot LoTR, I will be your accomplice/alibi.

      Tobey did look a lot like Parker, and he portrayed the stunted/empowered nerd as well as Reeves did at playing Clark Kent. Whatever anyone thinks of the Superman movies, Reeves was a letter-perfect actor for that role.

      I agree on the grittiness, but they're also making him a kid that has a girlfriend - this contrasts with what a friend told me about Spidey: that he's basically what if Charlie Brown actually got to kick that football? Life can't go too well for Brown or Parker, so there must always be a balance to keep him as kind of a "loser."

      So he has a girlfriend from (it looks like) the get-go, because Twilight is popular, and Hunger Games is popular, and those involve troubled teens that are actually in a real relationship.

      I'm sure that raises the appeal for male and female audiences a lot, but it's also cheap shilling for demographics, which offends me. Especially since Raimi was cut out of the series in order to accomplish that. That's the sort of treatment you get when you did a bad job; though Spidey 3 wasn't good, it's not like that franchise was broken (remember Batman & Robin?).

      1 - Yes, the hair really was a sign of all my problems here. It highlights the whole Twilight/modern teen films thing. Thank you for appreciating my snarkiness!


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