The Spider-Man 3 Novelization: A Long-Tongued Taste of What’s to Come

March 30th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I can’t keep myself from reading spoilers. A week or so before Revenge of the Sith came out, I read the comic based on it. I like Runaways member Chase so much that at one point I had to check Wikipedia to make sure he wasn’t the one who died in Runaways #18. I read spoilers for Supernova’s secret identity the day before that issue of 52 came out.

This is no different. The other day I got my hands on the novelization of Spider-Man 3, as written by Peter David. I was a bit wary, as the last time Peter David wrote Venom, this happened:

I’m going to try and stay away from major spoilers, but I may slip here or there. For instance, there’s an excellent scene where Aunt May defeats the Grizzly in a game of beer pong. What I won’t spoil is that she did it blindfolded.

After X-Men 3, I was a little apprehensive. This movie looked like it was going to make the same mistake. There were too many characters. Not only do we get our main cast back, and not only do we get Captain Stacy and Gwen, but we have a total of three villains! And one of those villains is two characters put together! The movie is indeed very busy, with plenty of subplots flying around.

The difference here is that we have a main character, Peter Parker, who centers all the storylines. X-Men 3, being team-based, didn’t have that to fall back on. What Spider-Man 3’s story lacks is a true A-plot. The first movie’s A-plot was Peter becoming Spider-Man and then stopping the Green Goblin, with the B-plots being his relationships with Mary Jane and Harry. In the second one, we had one repetitive A-plot of Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock – which hurt the movie overall – and B-plots in Peter’s whining over being Spider-Man and inability to be there for Mary Jane.

Spider-Man 3’s story somehow just works. The closest thing it has to an A-plot is Peter Parker vs. the black costume. It’s the only one that’s loosely tied in with every other subplot. There’s Peter’s relationship with Harry, his vengeance against the Sandman, his drama with Mary Jane, his rivalry with Eddie Brock and Eddie’s strange little relationship with Gwen Stacy. There’s a reason there were so many trailers. The movie doesn’t really know what it’s about. That’s not such a bad thing.

The story comes across a lot like Marvel’s Annihilation series. All those B-plots move around each other at the same time, funnel together and join up for the final act. And what a final act. Sam Raimi would have to go out of his way to screw this movie up.

Peter Parker’s about the same as we know him. While the second movie was about him shying away from his power, this one is about him embracing it a bit too much. There’s still the problem that as Spider-Man he isn’t as wise-cracking as he’s meant to be, but a lot of that comes from the story. Yes, when he fights the Sandman in his regular duds, he tosses a couple one-liners at him. The rest of the movie, he’s either in a dramatic fight, or the black costume is making him a bit too emotional. I will say I am annoyed by how long it takes for him to actually put on his costume in the first place. Guestimating, I’m going to say it’s past the 15 minute mark.

Mary Jane could be a blemish in the movie. Peter David, who writes way too much detail sometimes, does a good job explaining her motivations. Sadly, a lot of it might be lost in the movie. There are scenes where Mary Jane comes off as a total bitch. I’ll hold off my judgment for the movie to come out, but I don’t expect her story to be the most interesting.

Harry Osborn’s story, on the other hand, looks to be the most interesting. I’m sure you’ve probably seen the footage of the Peter vs. Harry fight that takes place early in the movie. I don’t want to spoil the follow-up to Harry’s defeat, but it opens the doors to so much potential hope and despair that it’s almost hard to watch because you have an idea it’s going in the direction of the latter. Things get even more out of control once the black costume comes into play.

Flint Marko, the Sandman, is played for sympathy for the most part. If you saw the movie trailer based around him, then you know of his past and what he’s capable of. We have a strong use of him here, showing that he is indeed a villain, but with redeeming qualities and possibly even our support. Seeing him here makes me want Marvel to finally get around to countering that stupid retcon John Byrne did ten years ago when he shit on Sandman’s character development.

His origin, which was too 1960’s to ever work in a 2007 movie, is redone and is pulled off quite nicely. All things considered, he looks to be the only relatively sane Spider-Man movie villain there is.

Gwen Stacy and her father do get a lot of play, but they are nothing more than supporting characters. Captain Stacy ranks with Aunt May and Jameson while Gwen is slightly above them. The angry landlord and his wide-eyed daughter also make a return. John Jameson does not. Thank you, Raimi.

There’s a French waiter character who I am certain will be played by Bruce Campbell. We’re in for a treat.

Now onto Eddie Brock. Despite having a closer age to Peter and an eye for Gwen, Eddie’s story here really has nothing to do with Ultimate Venom. It’s more loosely based on his 616 origin, but with plenty of differences. Enough differences to make a fanboy complain about how they raped his/her favorite character. I’m a Venom fanboy, but I’m not that fanboy. I dig what they’ve done with him. It works with the story and makes more sense in the context. As much as I like Eddie in the comics, it’s hard not to scratch your head at the whole Sin Eater thing. Eddie makes a mistake due to police pressure, things go to Hell and he blames Spider-Man for doing his usual batch of goodness? I know we’re supposed to believe Brock is crazy, but it takes a leap to be content with his backstory.

Peter, Harry, MJ and Gwen are all shown to be flawed human beings who are, deep down inside, good people. Eddie is not a good person. He’s not a monster (yet), but he’s just the kind of guy that you would never want to be or want to know. He’s selfish, arrogant, delusional and, as we discover more and more as his story unfolds, very naïve. In truth, he is a tragic character and not all of it is his own fault, but he’s more at fault than he’s willing to admit. His imminent fall from grace (come on, you know this isn’t a spoiler) is indeed deserved.

The symbiote, meanwhile, is the only Spider-Man movie villain who comes across as total and complete evil. It isn’t like in the comics, where the symbiote had no idea it was doing wrong, only to be driven to hate by Parker’s rejection. This living costume has a good idea of what it’s doing. As much as I love the whole symbiote subplot, I’m still a bit perturbed by its existence. Even with men with spider powers, men who turn into living sand and super-strong maniacs on gliders, there’s just something so out of left field about a meteor landing in New York City and its alien passenger finding Peter Parker almost immediately.

People already bitch about how little screen time Venom will get. That’s kind of the point. He doesn’t need screen time. Eddie and the symbiote already get enough of that themselves. Venom is merely flashy closure, allowing Spider-Man a final battle. He’s like that big tentacle thing at the end of Hellboy…

Wait. Maybe I should compare it to a movie that’s actually good.

Venom is merely flashy closure, allowing Spider-Man a final battle. He’s like the true form of General Suitor at the end of Suburban Commando. Yeah, that’s better.

The action will likely be fun. There are a ton of action sequences and fight scenes, without the worry of having to see the same brawl over and over again. Major fights alone, there are five different scenes to look forward to. Several scenes are taken from the comics themselves, including what may be a reference to a certain What If issue.

Peter David did make me roll my eyes when he described Venom’s invisibility to spider-sense:

“Nor, worst of all, did his spider-sense tell him that anything was wrong, because the symbiote was now invisible to his spider-sense. If Eddie Brock had come up to Peter on a subway platform and tried to push him in front of an oncoming train, Peter would never have known about it until it was too late. So it was that Peter Parker went home, feel that he hadn’t accomplished anything the entire day, and unaware that his day was only just beginning.”

If you don’t get it, that train thing is exactly what Eddie Brock did in the comics during his first appearance. Come on, Mr. David. That’s just cheesy.

Wrapping it up, the novelization is a good read and a good look at what should be a good movie. May 4 can’t come fast enough, though with Grindhouse and Aqua Teen Hunger Force waiting for me in the meantime, I can get by. Though thanks to the Sandman, I have a hankering to read through Silver Sable’s series. That’s bad, isn’t it?

I almost forgot. The biggest disappointment? Venom didn’t say shit about eating brains! This movie’s going to suck! Why didn’t they get Brock Lesner to play him and do an entire first act dedicated to the Secret Wars?! And where’s Carnage?!

Oof. I made myself feel dirty just typing that. Sorry.

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4 comments to “The Spider-Man 3 Novelization: A Long-Tongued Taste of What’s to Come”

  1. Marvel did counter that stupid retcon, sort of; In Amazing Spider-Man #453 (#12) there was a backup story by Tom Brevoort and Geof Isherwood that revealed the Sandman’s current switch to evil was not “faking” all along, but the Wizard had kidnapped and brainwashed him. It was referenced as recently as the ongoing Thing book.

  2. I think the Raimi-Venom is a great deception for all that Venom fans. It seems Sam Raimi had an accurate perception about what thing Venom should be for Spiderman Universe. Unfortunately, in its very own creativity, Sam eliminated all the symbolisms that many drawers, despite small changes, knew to preserve.

    GREAT WHITE LOGO IN CHEST. Contrast between white and black means danger, “be careful”, poisson. Just look at the nature, any bug with this color pattern is saying “hey, buddy. Stay away”. Instead, Raimi-Venom has a tiny grey spider, barely visible.

    GREAT TEETH ALWAYS EXPOSED. This means aggression and violence at extreme and permanent. Is not Venom this, always?. Instead, Raimi-Venom has a couple of big lips covering mostly time tiny teeth. Just look at the production photos. I hope he is smiling or yawning all the movie, that’s will be the only way to see that teeth.

    HEIGHT. Size matters. It means power and implicit domination. Instead, Raimi-Venom is almost a dwarf.

    GREAT TONGUE. Sadism and cruelty, they are basic in Venom’s personality. If it has, Raimi-Venom doesn’t shows anything like that.

    After this, any doubt that Raimi-Venom is a great deception?

  3. jordi: great deception of what? what are you talking about?

    good read Gavok


  4. This movie will be great, I’m a french Spider-fan and I hope a good Venom’story