If you were to ask a seven year old girl today which famous character they’d like to be, chances are you’d probably be given a name from Frozen and, if you’re really unlucky, subjected to an impromptu rendition of “Let It Go”. If, however, you were around in the 1980s and happened to ask this particular seven year old girl the same question, the answer you most absolutely, definitely would have gotten would have been Spider-Man. Not that you would have really needed to ask given that I spent the vast majority of my childhood surgically attached to my beloved web-slinging costume, leaping out of trees and doing that weird double pointy-thingy with my hands.
Given that, in the early 1980s, my only exposure to the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man had been through some particularly dodgy cartoons, I’ve never been entirely sure what attracted me to the arachnid ass-kicker. Perhaps it was the thought of being able to swing, unhindered, through the streets while other, non genetically-mutated, people watched dumbfounded from below or perhaps it was the inexplicably cool pointy hand thing he does in order to shoot webs from his wrists, maybe (infinitely more likely) it was just the thought of being able to wear a cool red and blue suit whilst punching bad guys in the face. Whatever the reason, I loved old Spidey and, despite the influx of new and exciting superheroes, he remains one of my favourites.
Inevitably though I outgrew my Spider-Man suit (apart from a brief moment of madness in my twenties when I attempted to fit back into exactly the same suit – the results although documented are not appearing in this article, mainly for reasons of pornography) and, for a while, my interest in the superhero genre waned but, just as I was starting to behave like a grown up and (semi) normal member of the human race, Sam Raimi went and released two brilliant Spider-Man films which reignited my Peter Parker passion.
Tobey Maguire may not have been the most prepossessing chap to look at (especially when he’s crying – dear lord) and he may have been one of the oldest looking teenagers I’ve ever seen but he still made a great Spider-Man and the CGI viewpoint as Spidey swung through New York made my internal seven year old cackle with delight. I’m deliberately not mentioning the third Raimi film partly due to the fact that I’ve been told I’m not allowed to swear in this article, and partly due to my having paid Rekall Inc. to surgically excise it from my memory. Needless to say if you ever want a perfect example of a studio royally shafting a franchise by trying to give the fans what they think they want, look no further than this inexcusable mess of a movie.
I make no mention either of the more recent Andrew Garfield starring Spider-Man movies. Not because they’re awful (I have only seen one, and it was passable) but because I feel that it was way too soon to reboot my favourite character and I had no need to see a new version. At least they’re not planning another reboot soon……oh, wait. Argh.
Also not getting a look in in this article are the multitude of Spideys available in comic-book format, it’s where it all began after all. The only reason I’ve left this format out is due to the fact that I have so far remained immune to the joys of the comic (plus the fact that my husband is a veritable expert with enough to stock a medium sized shop and would mercilessly rip the piss out of me for every mistake I made).
Films and comics aside, Spidey’s popularity is undiminished even with the advent of the Avengers and baby X-Men for today’s seven year-olds to latch onto. I’ve been able to indoctrinate…..introduce my five year old son to the joys of Spidey, even if I did have to prise him away from The Hulk to do so (strangely I do not consider a green mutated giant with anger management issues and a tendency to go beserk and destroy everything a good role model for my only child, despite the apparent similarities in their behaviour). He has his own Spider-Man costume, figures and wallpaper and just the other evening I found myself demonstrating the correct way of doing the pointy hands thingy (he had his hands the wrong way up – the fool).
In my opinion it doesn’t matter who plays the character, how many times they reboot the franchise (sigh) and how impressive the computer trickery gets (yes, we now DO believe that a man can, um, stick to walls and swing about a bit) nothing can beat being a kid, with an infinite imagination and a decent costume jumping out of trees and pretending to shoot spiderwebs at people (you really DO have to be a kid to do this though, people look at you strangely if you try this as a thirty-something, take it from someone who knows). It seems that, despite the best efforts of Hollywood, Peter Parker’s accessible alter-ego is here to stay.
What do you think, is Spider-Man’s appeal as strong as ever or are the reboot ratbags ruining him forever? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter.