Celebrating Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

It’s been a busy few years for Spider-Man cinematically.  Peter Parker swung into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War with Tom Holland wearing the webs.  In 2017 he had his solo MCU debut, Spider-Man: Homecoming.  This April he suited up next to the Avengers and Guardians to battle the Mad Titan and his Black Order in Avengers: Infinity War.  And Friday Sony releases their animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Jake Johnson as Peter Parker – and far more excitingly – Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy!!!  So it’s easy to forget where Spider-Man’s modern movie career began.  We, as a culture, tend to proclaim each new incarnation as “the best [fill-in-the-blank] ever!”  While I enjoy Tom Holland as Spider-Man and I can’t wait to see Into the Spider-Verse, as far as I’m concerned NO ONE’s come close to capturing who Spider-Man really is more than Sam Raimi with Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004).  Even after all this time, his Spider-Man Trilogy can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the MCU. Continue reading

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The Greatest Kraven Story Ever Told

Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for The Amazing Spider-Man #15.  The son of a Russian noble family who fled to America in 1917 in the wake of the February Revolution, Kraven’s self-identity was defined by being a big game hunter.  In an attempt to prove he was the world’s greatest hunter, Kraven became obsessed with defeating Spider-Man.  He hunted the web-head from his creation in ’64 until his death in 1987’s critically acclaimed “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story arc.  As with many comic characters Kraven would ultimately be resurrected, in this case by his family in 2010’s “Grim Hunt” storyline.  In the fifty-four years since his creation, Kraven has featured in some of Spider-Man’s most iconic storylines and stood among the web-slinger’s fiercest foes.  But which is the greatest Kraven story ever told?  To my mind, dear reader, there is only one answer.  (Oh, there will be spoilers, obvs.) Continue reading

The Most Ridiculous Facet of Tony Stark’s Ego (In My Opinion)

It’s no secret, I love me some Iron Man.  Yes, Tony Stark can be a huge tool and our favorite “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” isn’t known for his humility or restraint.  He’s great.  He knows it.  And he’ll happily let you know it too.  However, I maintain Tony’s ego – and his struggle with both the trouble it brings and learning his own limitations – is part of what make him so important as a character.  While I doubt many of us have an ego quite the size of Mr. Stark’s, we all wrestle with ego.  Or at least I do.  So I see parts of myself in Tony Stark as well as lessons I need to learn.  I put a lot of value on that.  However, regardless of the relatability we (or at least I) can find in this particular fault, there is one MASSIVE expression of Tony Stark’s ego that even I find ridiculous.  Continue reading

Mission: Impossible or James Bond? – Why I’m an M:I Kinda Guy

Growing up as an adolescent of the ‘90s the discussion of whether you preferred Mission: Impossible or James Bond for your spy-faring feature films was a resurrected area of pop culture discourse.  In 1995 Pierce Brosnan would debut as James Bond in GoldenEye, the first Bond film in six years, the longest gap ever between films in the franchise (at least as of this writing).  In 1996, Tom Cruise would star as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, the first film adaptation of the TV series that ran from 1966-1973.  I’ve always gotten the sense that James Bond is the more beloved pop culture figure.  He obviously has the wider reach, with a film series spanning fifty-three years and twenty-six films.  But for my money (metaphorically speaking as well as literal money in the form of movie tickets and first VHS (!) then DVD purchases), 007 has nothing on the Impossible Missions Force. Continue reading

The Despicable Deadpool: What’s So Entertaining About Pain?

When I returned to comics in 2015, one of the first trades I read was Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan’s hardcover collection Deadpool (Vol. 1), containing the first twelve issues of their run going back to November 2012.  It was a Christmas gift from Kalie and my first real experience of the Merc with a Mouth, outside of occasionally seeing him as an X-Force villain back in the ‘90s.  I was instantly in love with the character!  Posehn and Duggan’s take became the primary lens through which I view the Regeneratin’ Degenerate.  With The Despicable Deadpool #300, Gerry Duggan ends his five-year run on the title.  Over the years the tales have gotten darker and darker, as he’s broken Wade Wilson to a painful degree.  As I read these stories my heart hurts, and I can’t help but wonder why do we partake in stories where the characters we love are damaged so severely? Continue reading

The Irreplaceable Brilliance of Black Widow

In 2010, Scarlett Johansson brought Natasha Romanoff – the Russian assassin turned S.H.I.E.L.D. super spy turned Avenger, the Black Widow – to life in Iron Man 2.  Since then, she’s appeared in seven different Marvel movies, more than any other Avenger save Iron Man (nine) and Captain America (eight (and the only reason Cap beats her is because he has cameos in TWO films)).  In addition to screen time, I would also argue the Black Widow is more important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, story-wise, than any other Avenger save Tony or Cap.  Despite that, we still have yet to see a Black Widow solo movie.  Yet, as one of the MCU’s richest creations, she’s worthy of serious acclaim.  This piece has been rolling around in my head for some time.  Given Avengers: Infinity War’s release this week has me looking back, getting nostalgic over, and celebrating the MCU, it seemed like the perfect time to finally write it. Continue reading

Lovin’ Loki: When A Villain Evolves

As early news for 2012’s The Avengers began to spread, we learned (much like in the comics) the villain who would unite these heroes for the first time was a familiar face.  Loki Laufeyson had survived his self-imposed fall from the Bifrost at the end of 2011’s Thor and would be leading a Chitauri invasion force to take Earth as his own.  This had two major implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  First, most obviously, it gave the Avengers a reason to form.  Second, it showed the MCU was finally ready to depart from the default/cliché ending to almost every superhero movie ever.  A villain had lived!  This would be a game changer.  In allowing Loki’s character to evolve (over the course of five films by the time Avengers: Infinity War hits), fans have been able to embrace him as Tom Hiddleston has built an engaging, complicated, and evolving character. Continue reading