By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

‘Spider-Man 2’ Is (Still) The Best Comic Book Movie

It’s hard to remember a time when films that were based on comic books didn’t dominate the industry, especially with the commercial success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, none of that would have been possible without Sam Raimi’s trilogy of “Spider-Man” movies that debuted in the 2000s.

The films were met with acclaim from fans and critics alike for the most part, with “Spider-Man 2” often being seen as the highest point of the trilogy. With the film recently swinging back into theaters to celebrate Columbia Pictures’ 100th anniversary, many have gotten the chance to revisit this old favorite. For this writer, it also re-sparked something that I’ve always known, but never had the chance to vocalize, “Spider-Man 2” is the best comic book movie ever made. 

The bottom line of what makes “Spider-Man 2” the best is actually very simple. It never forgets that it’s a film about people. Sometimes extraordinary people, sure, but it rarely gets so caught up in that fact that it fails to explore who they are. In particular, the duality between Peter Parker and his titular alter-ego, Spider-Man. While the first film establishes why Peter became a spider-themed superhero, this sequel explores the effect it’s had on him and tests his faith in the lessons he learned. 

Tobey Maguire brings his very best to the role, delivering a performance that is campy but also incredibly earnest. Portraying Peter Parker as a true everyman thrust into circumstances beyond his control, his struggles are ours. His love life is in shambles, he can’t make it to his classes or hold down a job and he never has time for the people he cares about, all because there’s always work for Spider-Man to do. These troubles compound throughout the beginning of the film and lead to an extreme crisis of faith, where he begins to lose sight of the idea that with great power must come great responsibility. 

The film fully utilizes the human aspect of Spider-Man, that he isn’t some mythological figure, he’s a guy trying to get his life together burdened by powers he never asked for. He even decides to give up on being Spider-Man halfway through the film, leading to a much better personal life for him. However, what makes this compelling is that Peter is still a hero. 

He continuously finds himself witnessing situations where people need his help, reminding him of the important role he once played. This culminates in a scene where Peter receives some wisdom from Aunt May, who delivers a powerful speech to him about how she “believes there’s a hero in all of us” and effectively reminds him why he became Spider-Man to begin with. 

He has the ability to help people in a way that nobody else can and therefore, he must. All of this is in contrast to the film’s antagonist, Doctor Otto Octavius, portrayed masterfully by Alfred Molina. Octavius, whose science experiment goes wrong, finds himself in a “Jekyll and Hyde”-esque scenario as a good man turned supervillain. The film uses both characters to explore the idea of power and responsible uses of it.

Sam Raimi’s directing style is also a match made in heaven for the character. While some have argued that his style is outdated, the various transitions, extended shots, focus on characters and campy humor all come together to create a truly heartfelt film that’s a pleasure to experience. 

There is no greater example of this than the train scene, which is an action set-piece that depicts the grand return of Spider-Man and his second battle with Octavius. It begins as a fight scene (with stunning choreography, I might add) but then transitions into something completely different as Octavius destroys the train’s emergency brake and flees, leaving Spider-Man to sort the situation out. 

Now it’s a quick-paced and desperate scene where Peter is trying everything he can think of to stop this train before it runs off the tracks, culminating in a powerful moment where he uses his own body to pull the train to a stop, using every ounce of strength he has in him to accomplish this. 

After that, Peter passes out, but is caught by the civilians he just saved before he can fall, who are just as keen to save his life as he was theirs. This beautifully represents Aunt May’s sentiment that there’s “a hero in all of us” from earlier in the film and perfectly encapsulates what the character of Spider-Man is all about, ordinary people doing their best to help one another. 

There is so much to say about “Spider-Man 2” that makes me love it, but even my words don’t do it justice. The best way to understand what makes “Spider-Man 2” the best comic book film ever made is to experience it. So, if you haven’t seen it before, go do it! And if you have, consider a revisit. Truly, Raimi and Maguire’s take on the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler is unmatched. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Observer welcomes feedback and commentary on our stories. We moderate comments to ensure they are relevant and civil, but the content of each comment is the responsibility of its original author. We do not accept comments in languages other than English or which include personal attacks, unprotected speech, vulgarity, promotional material, or statements which are nonsensical or irrelevant to the article being commented upon. You may also consider submitting a letter to the editor or an opinion piece. Click on Contact Us for details.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *