The three pillars of the American superhero, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. Raw power, iron will, and relatablility. Two of which are in the middle of major motion picture trilogies, (The Amazing Spider-Man and the Dark Knight Saga) the third to start one next year (The Man of Steel.)

A lot of people went into to Spider-Man asking, is this going to be Spider-Man’s take on The Dark Knight, and were refreshed when it wasn’t. So I saw the Amazing Spider-Man the other day and can attest. This isn’t the Spider-Man version of The Dark Knight, but it sure was Batman Begins. Let’s review the facts. Spoilers to follow.

Wings of the Bat
Web of the Spider

Both tell the origin story of their iconic hero with a darker tone than the previous film franchise. Both make the origin much more about that character’s relationship with their father. Same premise, different mythology to work with.

Let’s also talk about imagery a bit. Both had their animal motif recurring before they adopted the identity, the bats at Wayne Manor and in Bruce’s nightmares, and the spiders of the Parker’s mysterious research.

Both are sort of initiated after being met with a swarm of the animal. Seeking out an underground cave full of bats was a bit more believable. Wandering into a room full of radioactive spiders a bit too convenient, and atypical, for Spidey. It’s also never revisited, so who knows what happened to the several dozen radioactive spiders that didn’t bite him.

As a departure from the previous film franchises, instead of having the first movie deal with the most iconic villain (Joker and the Green Goblin) we instead get a villain who is important to the characters development as a hero, serving as a mentor, and being familiar with the legacy of the hero’s father.

Ninja Master vs. Science Master

The villans also share parallels with their heroes. Despite training/studying together, they have wildly different ideas on how humanity would best be advanced/protected. The analogous ‘superpowers’ continue to drive home their relationship to their respective hero. Batman and Ra’s are ninjas who play on their opponents’ fears, both Spidey and Lizard were given their abilities through cross species genetics.

The science aspect also brings up the fact that both movies had their share of biological warfare. The fear toxins from Scarecrow, and the Lizard serum. And what better epic conclusion could there be than to race to a central fictional tower where our respective foes would be able to release the chemical into the air infecting the entire city.

You’ll go crazy!
You’ll turn into a Lizard! And then go crazy!

In the aftermath both heroes fully accept their duty as costumed protectors of their city and, in an emotional moment with their respective love interests, they understand that they will always be alone for as long as they continue to serve…until Spider-Man decides throw this out the window two scenes later.

The love interest by the way had been helping them along in their own way throughout the film, including holding on to the cure for the aforementioned chemical weapons at some point and passing it onto a police officer.

Finally we end the film with a stinger to get you excited for the prospect of the most iconic villain (Joker and Green Goblin) making a comeback for the inevitable sequel.

This is now getting into more speculation but if the next Spider Man movie does have Goblin, wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say the parallels will continue when the iconic villain kills the love interest. Joker got Rachel, and we all know what happens when Goblin and Gwen get too close.

Besides once the love interest goes, you’re free to explore other options in the third movie. Selina Kyle for instance. Peter has his choice of either going for Mary Jane or Felicia Hardy next.

One man can’t be loved, the other can’t allow himself to love. Both women would be wise to leave.

Either way, both The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman Begins were pretty good, neither was mindblowing. The Dark Knight on the other hand was mindblowing, and if the next Spider-Man reaches that status, then they’ll have free creative license to do whatever the want for the conclusion.

Hopefully they won’t follow Chris Nolan’s Batman too closely in the future. I’m open to more creativity. We are dealing with two different characters and the movies were different too outside of these factors. The tone of a 17 year old whiz kid can’t be identical to a 30 year old brooding billionaire, and it shouldn’t be.

But instead of developers asking “how do we make the Spider-Man mythos fit into Chris Nolan’s template?” they should let these characters take on lives of their own. I love the Chris Nolan movies, but not every movie should aspire to be that. Look at the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. Amazing superhero films, both critically and at the box office, and it’d be a lot harder to match the parallels to the Dark Knight Saga.

Spider-Man was good, it worked. But Superman I’m hoping you find your own voice and won’t play the Batman card next year.


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