Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we explore what’s new and old in entertainment.
The year was 2002 and I was excited. For the first time, I was dying to see a new movie and that movie was called “Spider-Man”. You know the movie I’m talking about: it was directed by Sam Raimi and it starred Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. It was also sort of the beginning of our modern era of superhero movies. Of course, superhero movies existed far before 2002. Richard Donner’s “Superman” movies and Tim Burton’s “Batman” movies are iconic. But 2002’s “Spider-Man” brought us to the place where superheroes could just live among us.
So I was 9 years old, I went to see this movie that I was dying to see, and I loved it. I was enamored with the thrill of being able to swing from building to building and I just had a blast with it. Eventually, I bought the DVD and watched the thing countless times. But then “Spider-Man 2” came out, which I liked even better. And then “Batman Begins” came out, and I liked that even better. In 2007, “Spider-Man 3” came out and the wheels sort of fell off the Raimi franchise and, in 2008, “The Dark Knight” came out and blew everything else I’d seen out of the water. I never gave much thought back to that first “Spider-Man” movie again.
But last weekend, I re-watched it for the first time in probably more than a decade, and I brought with it so much baggage from the movies that have come out since that Maguire “Spider-Man” ended his run: 5 more “Spider-Man” movies with different actors in the main role, more “Batman” movies, more “Superman” movies, the rest of the Marvel Universe. And when I re-watched 2002 “Spider-Man”, I still loved it.
What I loved about it this time was what I loved about it when it came out: It’s just fun. It’s sort of cheesy at times, but it still delivers the goods. JK Simmons is great as J. Jonah Jameson, the cranky old newspaper man. The kiss in the rain is of course one of the most iconic movie moments of my lifetime. But the thing I loved the most is how much the movie delights in the web-slinging. Our more modern superhero movies have become so familiar that there is no time to delight in the superpowers because an urgent threat is always coming down on our hero’s head. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe nowadays, there’s no time to do much of anything because they are constantly setting up their next 10 movies. But re-watching “Spider-Man” ‘02, I could so easily remember why I wanted to be Spider-Man at 9, because they make it look so exhilarating. The movie takes the time to take audiences with on the ride from building to building, careening above New York City, like Spider-Man himself.
Sometimes you revisit things you loved as a child and feel disappointed that it doesn’t hold up. In revisiting my favorite movie of 2002, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Thanks, Spider-Man!
I’m Evan Rook.