Entertainment

This 2004 film stays the crown jewel of superhero cinema. Here’s why it’s nonetheless one of the best

A woman drinks tea with a man in Spider-Man 2.
Sony

It’s been 20 years because the premiere of Sam Raimi’s 2004 superhero sequel, Spider-Man 2, and we will confidently say it’s nonetheless one of the best superhero film ever made. Of course, many worthy comedian ebook variations have come out within the years since, and a few may declare just a few as one of the best superhero film on the market — I can already see many Dark Knight defenders and Avengers: Endgame truthers readying their pitchforks to defend their faves.

However, I imagine it’s simple to say that Spider-Man 2 is one of the best superhero film that’s really a superhero film. Whereas The Dark Knight sacrifices its superhero sensibilities to turn out to be a gritty crime thriller and Endgame sometimes feels extra like a “best hits” compilation than an precise film, Spider-Man 2 wears its comedian ebook banners excessive and proud.

It succeeds with out subverting the style’s expectations or difficult its conventions — quite the opposite, it embraces its sensibilities and operates properly inside its boundaries. The result’s an unadulterated and near-perfect love letter to superhero cinema that honors its supply materials and beloved character like few, if any, superhero motion pictures have. What makes this gem of a film so good? A mixture of parts, absolutely, however I imagine Spider-Man 2 has two essential parts that separate it from its fellow live-action variations.

The energy of a villain within the palm of Molina’s hand

Doctor Octopus smiling while talking in Spider-Man 2.
Sony Pictures Releasing

Perhaps extra so than another movie style, superhero movies need a great villain. Because these tales observe a relatively easy good-versus-evil method, the villain is simply as, if no more, necessary than the hero. Think about all of the titles in rivalry for one of the best superhero film ever — Dark KnightX2: X-Men UnitedEndgameBatman Returns — what have they got in frequent? Precisely! A terrific villain.

As one of the best superhero film on the market, Spider-Man 2 doesn’t disappoint. Its villainy comes from the good and in some way nonetheless Oscar-less Alfred Molina as Doctor Otto Octavius, greatest referred to as Doctor Octopus. As beforehand talked about, the movie sticks to a relatively frequent narrative, portraying Octavius as a typical tragic determine who succumbs to his worst impulses after his spouse, performed by the at all times nice Donna Murphy, is fridged so his story can proceed. Yet, ever the consummate professional, Molina takes what may very simply be an extraordinary villain and turns him into somebody extraordinary.

The power of Molina’s portrayal lies in his relatability. His Doc Ock isn’t unlikable or, dare I say it, menacing; he’s not hateable and even reproachable, and at no level does one really feel the necessity to see him gone. Spider-Man 2 pulls an exquisite feat that seldom different motion pictures get away with — the viewer desires Peter to win with out wanting Otto to lose. And it’s not like Spider-Man 2 treats Ock as something lower than a foul man. Raimi understands that, for a superhero film to work, the road between “right” and “wrong” have to be clearly outlined. Otto’s actions, very like Norman Osborn’s earlier than him, are mistaken — sometimes, they’re additionally evil, but Otto himself just isn’t.

Peter walks away from a trash can in Spider-Man 2.
Sony

By seemingly selecting simplicity, Raimi invitations a pack of fascinating questions concerning the nature of evil and the essence of human nature. They aren’t essentially groundbreaking — certainly, individuals have been asking themselves whether or not true evil exists because the daybreak of time — however they’re necessary to the story’s success. Even extra lovely is the truth that neither Raimi nor Molina ever ask them immediately. Spider-Man 2 doesn’t undertake a moralistic or preachy tone, and at no level do they attempt to flip the story right into a philosophical journey of the self. Yet these points are on the display, plain as day but discreetly flowing in between motion set items and tacky jokes.

Transforming subtext into textual content with out really declaring it’s a reward few writers have, and conveying what’s there with out placing it into phrases is even rarer for an actor to perform. But Raimi and Molina make it look easy. It’s greater than pure; it’s logical and implicit. Beyond his cool gimmick and putting look, Spider-Man 2‘s Doc Ock is memorable for who he is. Not his plans or his powers or even his lines — he himself commands the attention and incites curiosity. He’s unforgettable by merely being, and that’s an unbelievably spectacular feat that no different comedian ebook villain has pulled off.

‘Lord knows kids like Henry need a hero.’

Aunt May’s Motivational Speech Scene – Spider-Man 2-(2004) Movie Clip Blu-ray HD Sheitla

The second essential facet of Spider-Man 2‘s success is something we rarely see in movies anymore, superhero or otherwise: honesty. In fact, it’s extra than simply plain honesty. Like most different Raimi motion pictures, Spider-Man 2 feels unassuming, as if the person behind it was nonetheless the identical youthful artist who made Evil Dead for 100 bucks and a dream. The scale is bigger, the visible results are excellent, and the hype is actual, however the movie’s core, its soul, may be very a lot grounded in a fundamental, relatable precept.

Look at Aunt May’s now-iconic speech about heroism. There are not any elaborate phrases or fake makes an attempt at a philosophical message; there’s no pageantry or self-importance. Instead, it’s only a kindly outdated lady speaking to her nephew from the guts about why everyone wants somebody to look as much as.

It, in fact, helps that an actress of Rosemary Harris’ caliber is delivering it with all the heat of a loving grandmother subsequent to a cracking fire, however she solely helps exacerbate what’s already there. Spider-Man 2 isn’t afraid to care about its hero as a result of it loves its hero, and perhaps it’s best to, too. There’s nothing mistaken with needing one thing, needing somebody; why else are we right here if to not depend on one another?

Spider-Man crawls on a web in Spider-Man 2.
Sony

This refreshing honesty is in each scene of Spider-Man 2, from Ock’s scenes along with his spouse to Peter’s sophisticated exchanges with Mary Jane. Love is on the middle of this trilogy, and the films by no means fake in any other case. Spider-Man 2 understands the facility of a phrase like “I love you,” and it’s not ashamed of utilizing it.

Because phrases have that means, identical to heroes have that means, and love continues to be what makes the world go spherical. It’s unimaginable that, in a film a few man with spider skills combating a man with mechanical tentacles, love continues to be the chord that ties the whole lot collectively. There’s a heat to Spider-Man 2 that makes it reassuring, a way that compels one to expertise relatively than simply witness.

In an age when motion pictures really feel the should be abrasive and extra cynical, Spider-Man 2 goes the other route. It cares so you possibly can care; it feels so you possibly can really feel. It dares to be the bravest factor anybody may be: weak, emotional, fragile. It takes extra balls to be open than to cover behind layers of CGI and gravitas. In its empathy, Spider-Man 2 finally finds victory.

Go get ’em, tiger

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson looking to the distance in Spider-Man 2.
Sony Pictures Releasing

Spider-Man 2 has all the weather of an awesome film of its style. It has humorous, tacky, and memorable dialogue delivered by a bunch of actors who know precisely what they’re doing. It has a few of the greatest set items the style has ever seen, together with a battle aboard a shifting coaching which may simply be the only best motion sequence within the style’s historical past. It has spectacular CGI that in some way appears higher than most motion pictures launched prior to now yr. And it has all of the Raimi quirks we’ve come to count on from his motion pictures, from a particular comedian ebook visible method to fades, whip cuts, and Bruce Campbell.

But that’s not why Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book movie — relatively, it’s not simply due to that. Instead, Spider-Man 2 reigns supreme as a result of it desires to be a worthy Spider-Man film first and an awesome superhero film second. Like its titular character, Spider-Man 2 desires to do proper by the pleasant neighborhoods of the world. It means to have fun and acknowledge relatively than simply entertain or distract as a result of it understands there’s a little bit of Peter Parker in all of us. And if all of us can care as a lot as Peter does, then maybe there may be hope in any case.

Spider-Man 2 is offered to stream on Disney+.

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