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From my cold black heart, I dance at you!

26 August 2013

I finally got around to seeing The Amazing Spider-Man today. I have to say, I kind of dug it.

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The film’s tagline should have been “It’s not Spiderman 3!”

Seeing a different take on the Spider-Man character made me think of the last time we saw him on the silver screen, and everything that went wrong there. And that got me thinking of the “superhero goes evil” trope, and how badly it’s done.

Sure, the hero will either lose his powers or turn “evil” eventually, just as sure as any sci-fi series that runs long enough will have an episode where one of the main characters has a double. That’s kind of expected. What baffles me is how “evil” is treated in the superhero films. When Spiderman turns evil in Spiderman 3, he doesn’t actually do anything evil. He’s just kind of a dick.

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As illustrated in Fig. 2.

But it’s not just the oft-maligned Tobey Maguire Spiderman who had problems with turning evil (for the record, I thought Tobey did a pretty decent job, large hunks of the third movie aside — and the stuff that kind of blew was hardly his fault). Remember Superman III, all the way back in the far-off 80s? When Superman turned evil, his “crimes” were limited to some mischief and minor property damage. 

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Also, day drinking.

Sure, he straightened the leaning tower of Pisa, and punched a hole in an oil boat, but he fixed both of those before the credits rolled. Basically, he just did what Peter Parker did — he just acted like a dick.

Why is it that superhero movies never have the hero go truly evil? Why, when they return to being good and righteous, don’t they have a body or two on them? Making them minor nuisances doesn’t make for much in the way of redemption… it just means we’re spared some popped collars and terrible dancing.

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It’s really quite hypnotic.

Just once, I’d like to see a superhero movie where the hero turns evil and really commits. I’d love to see Superman toss a cop off a roof and then have to deal with what he’d done when he turns good again. I’d love to see the superhero movie genre tackle that.

Comic books aren’t for kids, and they can explore adult themes and dark alleyways of the soul. So why can’t the movies?

 

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