GQ Magazine defends original Spider-Man trilogy and calls for Raimi, Maguire & co. to return



Tobey Maguire will always be my Spider-Man.

GQ's Scott Meslow has, more or less, stated what I've been saying all these years: The Raimi Spider-Man movies are still the definitive portrayal of the web-slinger on screen. I am watching "Spider-Man: Homecoming" on Wednesday, but I doubt it could ever reach the peak of the freewheeling, and unconstrained by MCU marketing Raimi series. Hell, I also liked "Spider-Man 3." Sure, it overreached a bit with its running time and the lack of Venom, but it certainly retained the heart of the first two movies, something that the money-grabbing Marc Webb movies had none of. Webb's career has been in limbo ever since those movies.

"Spider-Man 2" may still be the most perfect superhero movie of the Marvel universe, Raimi is the guy who came closest to pouring Stan Lee's brains onto the screen. My favorite thing about Raimi's Spider-Man movies? They're the only Superhero movies I can think of that really indulge in the sheer unadorned fun, goofiness of the comic books. "Homecoming" does look likes it's trying to reattain that, but Raimi's films had a campiness about them which felt genuine.

I wrote this about "Spider-Man 2" back in the day:

"After the watchable "Spider-Man" in 2002, director Sam Raimi made the most important and influential Marvel film imaginable: "Spider-Man 2." This was still 4 years away from "The Dark Knight," but the mind-blowing mix of action, humor, heart, character in "Spider-Man 2" changed the game. In Alfred Molina and his Dr. Octoppus villain, superhero movies had their most complex and scariest villain to date. The film also climaxed on an action sequence, atop a moving train, that could surely be considered one of the very best ever shot on celluloid. And, how about that final shot? Mary Jane finally figuring out Spidey's identity by the subtlest of gestures? Raimi perfected the game with this movie, he took everything that came before him and upped the ante at every level. "Spider-Man 2" was considered by many film fans as the best "Superhero ever made." until Nolan changed the game himself with his Batman trilogy."

Here's an excerpt from Meslow's GQ "Spider-Man 3" defense:

"Well, Sam, it’s still true. I do like Spider-Man 3—and 10 years after its original release, I'm still happy to mount a defense of it. As hot takes go, this one is closer to lukewarm. I’m not making the case that Spider-Man 3 is the best superhero movie of all time, or even that it’s the best Spider-Man movie. It's pretty clearly the worst of the ones Raimi made. But I still think Spider-Man 3 has been unfairly overlooked, and criticized for all the wrong reasons. (Honestly, that dancing-in-the-street sequence is a blast.) Much of the movie is good, and the parts that are bad are still interesting. At the very least, I’ll take a compelling mess like Spider-Man 3 over a by-the-numbers retread like the Amazing Spider-Man franchise any day."

Here's my take on the "Amazing Spider-Man" movies: They just weren't good enough. Webb was coming off a highly stylized film debut, "500 days of Summer," which earned good box-office and rave reviews. He had to contend with the fact that Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 2" was THE best depiction of the the web-slinger we had ever seen at the movies or on television. What happened with that 2004 sequel might never be replicated again. It was such a perfect blend of story, effects, performance, and direction. Webb's two movies didn't even come close to touching that masterpiece. They were O.K, but that just wasn't good enough. That's why the Webb reboots felt like money grabs more than any kind of artistic statements.

Here's Webb defending his films: 

It’s hard for me to think about it, in terms of regrets. There are so many things that I’m proud of. There was an ambition with the second movie, in particular. The idea that it’s a superhero that can’t save everybody is something that I’m really proud of. I’m really proud of the ambition of that because it’s an important message, and I believe in that. I believe in what we were after,” he told Collider. “They’re really, really difficult movies to make. They’re complex in ways that people don’t fully understand. They weren’t disasters. But in terms of regrets, I don’t think of it in those terms. I felt really, really fortunate to have that opportunity. That’s a whole other long, in-depth conversation that I probably shouldn’t have publicly. I loved everybody involved. I really did. I didn’t have an adversarial relationship with the studio, at all. There were a lot of very smart people. These are just incredibly complicated movies to make. I am proud of them, in many ways, and I stand by them. I’m certainly not a victim, in that situation.
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