Battle Of The Movies: Spider-Man (2002) vs The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Spider-Man Versus Amazing Spider Man

Spider-man is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe! After much speculation, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios have announced a “new Spider-man” will appear first in an upcoming Marvel film within the MCU. After that, Sony will release the next installment of it’s solo Spider-Man franchise on July 28, 2017. According to Forbes, we might see a soft reboot but not another origin story at this point. While we take a moment to let this sink in, now is a good of a time as any to revisit the web-swinger’s previous two origin tales.  

Time to put on your favourite stretchy pants! It’s the battle of the spandex between Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) versus Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). After going head to head in several categories such as Story, Hero and Villain we’ll turn the floor over to the all important people’s decision (that’s you!) for your vote for the best Spidey origin movie.


 Origin Story

In both movies, Peter Parker is bit by a genetically engineered super spider, not a radioactive one.  Spider-Man’s origin story in each movie follows the same formula but Raimi’s version has more nuance.  As a masked cage wrestler trying to win some extra cash to get with the girl he has a crush on, Peter’s arc from using his powers for his own self-interests to becoming a true superhero by helping others in need is clearly defined. 

While Uncle Ben’s death in ASM is also heart breaking, Peter’s conviction to use his powers for the greater good in Raimi’s version is set up better and as a result feels more earned. The untold story of Peter’s parents is supposed to give ASM its own identity but lacked development and largely held over for the 2014 sequel.

Best Origin Story:  Spider-Man (2002)


 Hero

andrew_garfield_amazing_spider_man_2_640x360

Tobey Maguire’s version of Peter Parker is the down on his luck, nerdy underdog. He’s relatable to the average kid which is a key factor why many identified with the Spider-Man comics. However, Maguire’s performance doesn’t embody his character the way Garfield authentically does, even though Maguire’s made a career of playing the wide-eyed, wholesome boy next door using voice over narration to contextualize events. He’s still doing the same shtick in 2013’s The Great Gatsby.

Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker comes across as self-assured from the get go. He’s the Spider-man who’ll taunt his opponents before kicking their butt, an element of the character missing from Maguire’s version. It’s a close call as both incarnations capture Spider-Man’s heroism and the adrenaline pumping thrill of swinging across the city skyline.

Best Actor: Andrew Garfield

Best Friendly Neighbourhood Superhero: Too close to call, flip a coin.


 Villain

goblin-fixed

Oscorps plays a role in both movies, but even more so in ASM. The origin stories of all the villains, including Dr. Curt Connors and even Spider-Man himself in ASM franchise involves this sinister corporation. The supposedly tragic tale of a well-intentioned but flawed geneticist trying to make himself whole wasn’t nearly as compelling as the split-personality, schizophrenic Norman Osborn. Willem Dafoe projects a wily intelligence and becomes increasingly unhinged, giving us a worthy villain to sink our teeth into.

Rhys Ifans’s Lizard is a formidable physical threat but he doesn’t reach super villain status. Green Goblin’s aerial assaults lent itself to grander in-scope action scenes compared to a giant lizard climbing up a tall building which worked for the story but lacked epicness. Despite a connection between Dr. Connors and Peter’s dad, Norman Osborn was much better integrated into the story and with other characters.

Best Villain: Norman Osborn as Green Goblin


Supporting Characters

emma_stone_new_gwen_stacy-wide

The chemistry between Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is the strongest element of ASM franchise and trumps other superhero movie couples such as Batman Begin’s Bruce Wayne & Rachel Dawes and Man Of Steel’s Clark Kent & Lois Lane. Having Stacy learn the identity of Spider-Man also helped the movie by-pass many of the superhero relationship tropes. Peter Parker’s love for Mary Jane as played by Kirsten Dunst was never truly convincing. It’s also glaring how MJ is overused as a damsel in distress which is a disservice to her character.

Both versions of Uncle Ben and Aunt May are endearing but the edge goes to Raimi’s movie where Aunt May was better utilized. On his own merits, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) served the story in ASM as a non-super powered antagonist. But Captain Stacy never stole any scenes like the slanderous, loud-mouthed editor of the Daily Bugle, Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmon).  Harry Osborne has become a major player in ASM franchise so it’s odd there’s not even a name drop or reference to him. James Franco’s breakout movie role wins by default.

Best Love Interest: Emma Frickin’ Stone.

Best Supporting Cast: Spider-Man (2002)


Overall

SPIDER-MAN 3

Disinterested in a reboot so soon after the disappointing Spider-Man 3, I was pleasantly surprised when I caved in and watched ASM.  But other than a contractual obligation and a money-making opportunity for the studio, ASM hasn’t given us a strong reason for retelling Spider-man’s origin story compared to how Christopher Nolan brilliantly rebooted the Dark Knight for the current generation.

The directorial choices and screenplay is stronger in Raimi’s version. There are many more memorable scenes such as Spidey clinging to the ceiling above Norman Osborn while a drop of blood falls to the floor and the dripping wet upside down kiss – yeah that might make some people cringe but it’s become iconic. In comparison, the crane swinging scene in ASM is cheesy though I’ll admit to feeling my heart lift on my first viewing (please go easy on me, I liked it).

Raimi wisely used CGI only when needed which helps his more than decade old movie visually stand up quite well over time. In terms of storytelling and character set up, Raimi’s version covered more ground than ASM without the movie feeling overburdened. Often quoted but never worn out is the lesson that Spider-Man takes to heart … “With great power comes great responsibility”. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My overall choice is: Spider-Man (2002).

• What do you think is the best Spider-Man origin movie?

• Is Maguire or Garfield the superior Spider-Man?

• What do you think about Spider-Man joining the MCU?

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on February 10, 2015, in Comics, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Good analyses here.
    For me, there shouldn’t have been a reboot before the dust was allowed to settle on Spidey 3, so in no hurry to catch ASM.
    2002 has Tobey Maguire, JK Simmons & Willem Dafoe can’t be bettered as a super-villain (not yet anyway)!
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/an-obscure-body-in-the-sk-system/
    Cheers!

    • Thanks a lot! That was my first reaction too when I heard there was going to be an ASM reboot. I didn’t get excited by the ASM trailer and I didn’t bother to see it in theatres. After watching it at home, I actually did like the movie more than I expected. Great to get your thoughts on Spidey and please vote in the poll if you haven’t already.

  2. I think there is one point in which the reboot was vastly superior, and for me, it was an important point: Character development. The new Spider-man was allowed to grow and to change, and the cast was full of characters I liked (Gwen, Captain Stacy, Aunt May…hell, I was heartbroken when I realized that Flash wouldn’t be in the second movie). The original trilogy had Spider-man in a constant loop…it was bascially the same movie in different variations three times.

    • I actually enjoyed the ASM reboot quite a bit, it exceeded my expectations. No matter which franchise I’ll always have a spot for Aunt May and Uncle Ben, there just great characters and it’s hard not to think of how they’ve influenced Peter in his character development. Like you mentioned, Gwen is great too. I’ve heard some rumors that under Marvel’s direction ASM could go back to the high school era so maybe Flash could return too. Great to get your thoughts on Spidey!

      • Well, for me ASM is my favourite Spider-man movie, even over Spider-man 2. And it is really about character development.
        Apparently Marvel wants to concentrate on something other than Peter Parker’s love life for a change. But in any case they want to go young…which is logical. They’ll want a Peter Parker they can keep around in the MCU for 10-15 years witout problems.

  3. I prefer rami’s first two films to either of the amazing spiderman movies.

  4. This is a really close call, and I think the different answers to each category (most of which I agree with) show how tight it is. I’d pick Spider-man, but I wouldn’t argue too much with either choice.

    I do think that it was a bit easier for ASM to reply to what Raimi did. They did a much better job with Mary Jane and with making the characters feel real. On the other hand, the villain was much better from Raimi. This one is close, but of course the second films aren’t even in the same ballpark!

    • I really enjoyed both movies and I can see each movie getting their share of supporters. That’s a really good point about ASM replying to what Raimi did, the original paved the way so to speak.

      For me as well, the easiest category to choose is the best villain. Haha, yeah the second films aren’t comparable. Let’s hope the same is true for the third films ;).

  5. Hard choice! I remember watching ASM and being a bit confused since I was so used to the previous movies and the origins. I would agree with you. I liked 2002 better overall but Andrew Garfield is a better Spider-man; Emma Stone is the better Gwen but why go with the blonde hair when she rocks red hair better than most.
    I like that Spider-man is joining MCU – they’ve done a good job with the super hero movies so far and I would hope they could only improve Spider-man. If this helps stay away from the hatchet job that the X-men movies have become (McAvoy and Fassbender aside), the better for it.

    • Good pick! 🙂 Both are actually good choices, but since it’s a fun-spirited battle of the movies I came down clearly on one side haha. Sometimes the first version of things I experience sticks in my head and then it can get jumbled with the second version, like the differences between Game Of Thrones books and show. I can totally understand getting criss-crossed with the original and the reboot; the origin stories are similar but with differences too.

      Emma Stone is a great red head, I’m surprised to learn that she’s a natural blond. But it didn’t look natural in the movie. I think they didn’t want viewers to confuse her with MJ who’s a redhead and wanted to make her identifiable as Gwen. I have confidence in Marvel bringing in Spider-Man. They’ve managed to recast the Hulk and make some adjustments from Edward Norton’s version, they can probably do the same for Spidey.

  6. Hey there good sir, great blog post yo. I was actually going to do a blog post like this back in 2012 or 2013, but in the end I gave up because I didn’t want to join in the online war between Spidey films as there was so much hate for both films (especially a newfound hate for the Raimi films after the release of ASM). Ultimately your final choice would end up being mine too regardless of whether I read this post or not, but I’m glad I read this as you gave compelling arguments for both films and gave good reasons as to why Raimi’s first film is still superior.

    The thing about ASM I don’t hate it, I actually like it, but there are issues that prevented it from being better like: the fact that the origin was retold, the whole untold story was unnecessary and never concluded properly, Doc Connors was ruined when compared to the comics and some of the relationship moments between Peter and Gwen was almost like watching a rom-com. ASM certain had a better senese of realism, a strong leading actor and good practical and visual effects. But when it comes to basic storytelling, action and respecting the source material but updating in a way that works for film, the Raimi film just got it right. It hits all the right emotional beats, the music is gorgeous, the action and CGI is great and while its cheesy and has aged a little, the film still kicks ass in my opinion.

    • Hello to you too! I could imagine there was a lot of back and forth debate on the Spidey films back then. I didn’t watch ASM until after it came out on video so I didn’t follow any of the online wars haha.

      I actually like ASM too. Since this was a fun-spirited battle of the movies, I felt that I shouldn’t be too wishy-washy in my opinion lol. I totally agree about the untold story, the trailers hyped up that angle but it was sort of a side-story (in the sequel). That’s right, I think mentioned in your ASM2 review as well you didn’t care for the rom-com stuff. I usually don’t care for that either but it worked for me. 🙂

      Raimi made a lot of right choices that may seem obvious when looking back. But he got them right on the first try when we’ve seen other comic book movies miss the mark. Not sure happened in the 3rd film though, maybe the studio meddled too much.Great choice for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, Raimi’s version is great!

  7. I actually think Garfield is a pretty meh Peter but a great Spidey. It’s the opposite of Tobey; he’s a meh Spidey, but a great Peter.

    Garfield is like how The CW casts their nerds; good-looking, yet unbelievable nerds. Plus he was using Bing Search at one point.

    I think with Kevin Feige’s involvement, Sony will finally cast the right actor that is balanced as both Peter and the webhead.

    • Garfield just needs to hack something using a Window Tablet like Felicity on Arrow, then he can join the CW club of actors haha. I guess it’s the glasses that’s supposed to signify their nerd cred lol.

      I’m glad to see Feige is involved, I’m curious to see who they will cast as it could give a direction on what they have planned.

  8. Oh hands down the Raimi version wins. Andrew Garfield is ok in the role but overall the direction/writing, etc of the original is superior. There are also some iconic images, such as the upside down kiss while I can hardly remember any scene from the remake. Plus the sequels is even worse it’s laughable.

    • Lots of love for Raimi’s version! The upside down kiss is so memorable, and you’re right there aren’t iconic images like that in ASM. Even the studio knew that the ASM sequel went a few steps in the wrong direction to put it nicely, no wonder they’ve made a deal with Marvel to co-produce the next installments.

  9. Fun post! While I think Raimi’s version has the best storyline, Andrew Garfield is my favorite Spider-Man.

  10. This is a fantastic post, I love the way you give both versions due credit. For me it goes like this:

    1) ASM 1
    2) Spider-man 2
    3) Spider-man
    4) ASM 2
    5) Spider-man 3

  1. Pingback: Swinging into action: Thoughts on Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe | Box Office Buzz

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