Authenticity and the Shelf Life of Things in Pop Culture

Things created in pop culture have a limited shelf life. No matter how good, original and talented the initial creator of something is, over time people will become bored with or indifferent to the thing created.

A friend of mine made the claim that people want more of the same and nothing new. It’s why they keep going back for more and paying for it time and time again. On one hand he’s right. I posted a review of Amazing Spiderman 2 (directed by Marc Webb) and it pales when compared to Spiderman 2 (directed by Sam Raimi.) Raimi took the source material and made a good movie out of it. I’m not sure if Webb has even read a Spiderman comic in his life.

Be that as it may, Spiderman was created back in 1963 as a throw off idea by Stan Lee to put in a monthly comic book called Amazing Fantasy. The 15th issue is where Spiderman first appeared and readers have been entertained by exploits of Spiderman ever since. In the 60s, Lee and Ditko created a teenage character who was dealing with his personal life and trying to balance being a superhero at the same time. This aspect made the character interesting to read and follow along with.

The Raimi Spiderman films, despite their warts and flaws, kept true to that idea of Peter Parker trying to live a normal life despite having amazing powers. I think Webb’s first Spiderman attempt was good but not great. His second film was really lacking. The key question is what was missing? The answer was Peter Parker.

To make Spiderman stories work, they need to be centered around Pete’s life including his problems. Readers and viewers of Spiderman follow along as if we were Pete’s best friends. That concept has kept readers reading for years. How will Pete deal with the Sinister Six while he tries to date MJ/Gwen/Some other girl, pay his rent because Jameson’s been cheating him on pay and give enough attention to his ever dying, but not quite dead, Aunt May.

Amazing Spiderman 2 seemed like it wanted to feature more Spiderman and his antics and skimp on the Peter Parker drama. I was thinking a key way to fix the movie would be if we focused on the “forbidden love” aspect between Gwen and Pete. They know they need to be apart from each other because Spiderman’s life is deadly but they just cant’ help themselves. They’re totally into each other. That would be totally true of teenagers.

We could have watched Gwen and Pete work on solving the mystery of Pete’s parents. There could have been a parallel between Pete and Harry Osbourne as we see their friendship go from something people can relate with to something sinister.

Movies, even superhero ones, need to be about conflict between characters. We need to see the conflict in action.

Case in point: If Spiderman had to contend with Electro as his crazy friend Harry went off the deep end, kidnapped Gwen and flew off. We would have had tension and drama. If we had seen Gwen and Pete grow closer and more intimate, we would have felt the impact much stronger than we did.

AS Hollywood owns the rights to iconic characters, I think we can look forward to more mediocre rehashed reboots and sequels. I think it’s time we see some punk/underground/ up and coming filmmakers turn Hollywood on its head.

This entry was posted in fantasy, heroes, movies, opinion, pop culture, soap boxing, superheroes, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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