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Superhero Movies We Still Love: Spider-Man 2

We all need a hero: courageous, self-sacrificing people setting examples for all of us. Spider-Man is easily one of the most iconic superheroes ever created, gracing the pages of comics,  taking multiple forms in TV incantations and his movie series is just getting rebooted, so it is a good time to revisit the definitive Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man 2. Back in 2004, the release of Spider-Man 2 was not just the release of a blockbuster, it was an event. Coming off the back of a popular first movie, it was the first film to break past the $100-million mark in a single weekend. Spider-Man 2 ended up being bigger — what a sequel should be — and a continuation and expansion of the original movie. The heart of Spider-Man 2 is Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) struggle with his double life as a superhero, and just how that would take a toll on someone’s life. It would be a real sacrifice a man would have to make, and to handle dual life alone is nearly impossible. There is real dramatic weight between his own happiness and his call to heroics. It even manifests into actual physical problem as Peter loses his powers. One of the main strengths of Peter Parker as a character is he is relateable, a normal person who has suffered and struggling to balance out his life between work and education and lives saving the world. He is infatuated with a woman who is with engaged to another man on top of it. Stylistically, Spider-Man 2 was an improvement to the first Spider-Man movie, beating out the cheesy elements of the first movie and giving the sequel a more serious, somber tone, while keeping a sense of fun. It was the Spider-Man movie that fans wanted and it respected the tone of the comics, balancing out the personal and the heroic and elements of light and dark. Spider-Man 2 upped its game when in the special effects and action areas. The CGI was improved from the first movie, topped with great cinematography as the camera follows Spider-Man swinging through the Manhattan skyline. The camera flows with the action as it happens, making it easy to follow. The subway train fight is easily one of the best action sequence in a superhero movie ever. Even minor things like Mary Jane’s hair color were improved because it looked more natural. The filmmakers delivered a great new villain in Doctor Octopus, and Alfred Molina gave him a menacing presence that was still sympathetic. It is the strength of the writing, Sam Raimi’s direction and Molina’s performance as they make him a compelling character. Rosemary Harris as Aunt May gave the movie extra gravitas with her sincere performance, a grounded and believable character as Peter’s loving parental figure and only dependable source of advice. Spider-Man 2 is a great example of what audiences want from a blockbuster. It provided the wow moments you would expect in the action sequels but there was actual thought and heart taken with the characters. Character development is central to Spider-Man 2 and it is a movie that can join a select group of sequels that surpass its original.


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