This review contains things that you might consider a spoiler. If you are sensitive to those things, I highly recommend watching the movie first than coming back to read this review. If you don’t care about spoilers, I guess you can just keep reading!
When you are having a conversation about movie sequels that are better than the first, a movie that frequently comes up in discussion is Spider-Man 2. When you are having a conversation about the greatest comic-book movie of all time, Spider-Man 2 comes up in the discussion. In fact, if you Google search “The Best Comic Book Movies of all Time” Spider-Man 2 is one of the first three films to show up. I don’t agree with the point that it is better than the first one however, I do agree with the point that it is one of the best comic-book movies of all time.
Besides the Captain America movies and maybe Logan, I don’t think a comic-book movie has nailed a character like they did with Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2. It shows off the perfect Peter Parker in the perfect way. It understands the un-costumed hero better than most of the comic-book movies out there. I just can’t believe how accurate they nailed the character. It’s just astonishing. The best Peter Parker is the Peter Parker when he is just getting pounded to the ground when a chain of bad things keep happening to him so you can see his vulnerability. I don’t think one good thing happens to Peter in this movie. Except for maybe the end. There are so many conflictions that help his character grow and develop. He admits to his Aunt that he was accidentally responsible for the death of Uncle Ben causing contention between the two of them. The girl of his dreams is engaged to someone else. With his friend not knowing that Peter is Spider-Man, his friend wants Spider-Man dead because he feels that he is the one that killed his father (Norman Osbourne) in the first movie. There is just so much material that captures the perfect essence of Peter Parker.
The casting of Alfred Molina has Otto Octavius a.k.a. Doctor Octopus was truly inspired casting. This franchise is batting 100% so far with casting their villains. You meet Octavius when he is just a normal science genius and you go along the journey with him when he slowly turns into a very strong villain. The effects of the extra arms to Doc Ock were impressive. For the most part they were practical and that made a big difference. Some of the best scenes in this movie had Doctor Octopus. There is a scene where he tries to rob a bank and the action is well done. But the better scene is one that takes place on a train. It’s one of my personal favorite action scenes to ever be put on film. It’s the perfect mix of having good action while at the same time developing character. After Spider-Man stops the train from falling of the end of a track, he faints and the people on the train surround him. When the civilians look at the unmasked hero they are shocked that he is just a kid (even though Maguire doesn’t look like a kid, he is supposed to be around 23 years of age in this movie.) One of my favorite lines in this movie is when one of those bystanders say “He is no younger than my kid” referencing unmasked Spider-Man. Further establishing the point that Peter Parker is just a kid that feels responsibility to take care of things that other people can’t do. You just see the care that is in Peter’s eyes. He may not like to do it but he knows he needs to do it. Stan Lee once said that Spider-Man wears a mask to hide his fear from his enemies. Opposed to someone like Black Panther who wears a mask to inflict fear, Spider-Man wears one for the opposite reason. That is made so apparent throughout this movie. It just adds another interesting layer to the character.
There are some things that rubbed me the wrong way. There is a burning building scene where Peter (not Spider-Man) goes in and rescues a child. I can see that they wanted this scene in there to add bravery to Peter Parker but it felt more like a scene that was thrown in there to add more excitement but, ultimately failed. Peter told Mary Jane that he would make her play that she was starring in. The play started at 8’oclock. Peter was late and wasn’t allowed in so he missed the play. MJ was so offended and hurt that Peter didn’t come to that one performance. She was too harsh towards Peter and that bugged me. It’s not like there is never going to be another performance again. He will just go to another showing of it (which he does) and all will be okay. The harshness that MJ gave Peter for not attending the play was unnecessary. That plot point was focused on quite heavily throughout some of the film. Thankfully it wasn’t all of it.
It seems that a lot of people don’t give Toby Maguire the respect he deserves which is a real shame. He does an exceptional job. A near perfect performance. The movie decided to spend more time developing the guy under the mask so we could better appreciate the masked hero. It wouldn’t have worked out as great if Maguire wasn’t playing the web slinger.
Now, the only reason in which I like the first one better is I felt a special charm that I didn’t feel while watching the second one. The first one had more “fun” scenes and more parts that were just reminiscent of my imagination as a child pretending to be Spider-Man. But that is no insult to Spider-Man 2. They are neck and neck. It’s just that special charm about that first one that puts in on top for me. Not by much though.
Just remember if you ever say that Toby Maguire isn’t good as Peter Parker in my presence, I will fight you. Also, the suit looks really good. The Spider-Man 2 suit very well might be my favorite Spidey suit.