Black and white comics on wednesdays are a thing now! (Monday and friday will still be full-colour, but this way I can draw an extra comic a week.)
It’s not often that we get to do a comic that is just three single-panel comics, but man, we’ve written a whole bunch of them about TASM2. We had to organise the various problems with this movie into subheadings while discussing it. We’re not just ragging on the movie, incidentally (although, well, we are); the story and screenplay were apparently cut to shreds in pre-production. So when I say “we’re not just ragging on the movie,” what I actually mean is that we’re actually ragging on the poor studio decisions made by Columbia Pictures.
(They don’t care, though. These movies are making a tonne of cash. But then, so did Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. If they really wanted to clean up, as opposed to making a quick buck, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is proof that you can make both a good film and a billion dollars.)
So, let’s break this annotation down into each of these panels. I kind of have to write three mini-annotations to go with the mini-comics. They’re each about the movie’s… unique comprehension of science. Spoilers ahoy!
1: Harry can’t have Peter’s Spider-blood
It’s pretty much what we say in the comic. Harry is dying, and (for… reasons?) the only thing that can save him is the biological technomagic that gave Spiderman his powers. Peter doesn’t know what his Spider-blood might do to Harry, though, so in the interests of not hurting him, he refuses to give it to him.
The problem with this is, if he doesn’t give him the blood, Harry’s definitely going to die anyway. Also, just because Peter doesn’t know what his blood might do doesn’t mean that it couldn’t just be analysed by… any one of the genetic scientists that Harry employs in his gigantic biological and genetic science research company. That’s like not giving a diabetic the insulin pen you’re holding, because you’re not sure if they can administer it properly, and just ignoring the trained nurse standing right next to them.
Like most of the problems in TASM2, this could have been a really interesting piece of conflict between two characters. Let’s do a rewrite with our imaginations for a second. Imagine, instead, that there was no scientific indication whatsoever that Spiderman’s blood would help Harry, and Harry was just desperate and delusional, trying other treatments that didn’t seem to be working. That way, there’d have been a good chance that Peter’s blood would not only kill Harry, but mess up any potential healing effects of his treatment. Then it would have become a question of whether to indulge Harry and risk hastening his death, or to sink him into deeper misery for the chance of extending his life. That would have made his spiral into villainy all the more poignant, and left Peter with a troubling question without a clear answer – how much of it is his fault?
But of course, instead we got a big plot hole. Like I said, I suspect things like this were a result of the studio hacking at the screenplay in pre-production. (As for why he doesn’t use the research that Kurt Conners did in TASM… I dunno? All they needed was one single line explaining it wasn’t plausible. Apparently there wasn’t a spare six seconds in their two-and-a-half-hour movie to explain away a major plot hole.)
2: The Spider VENOM
They kept name-dropping the word “venom” over and over again throughout the movie, whenever the subject of Harry’s potential cure came up. It was all about using “venom” to heal himself, and how the “venom” will cure him. It really feels like foreshadowing, which is baffling, because of course he turns into the Green Goblin, not the Spiderman villain Venom. I have no idea why they felt the need to hammer that word over and over again throughout Harry’s aforementioned spiral into villainy, but, well, they did.
3: Spiders are immune to electricity?
This one’s just lazy writing that didn’t get caught out. They establish that Electro is capable of shocking people to stop and start their hearts, and that he can channel enough electricity just through a power cable under the road to destroy the electronics in Times Square, blow up cars, and electrocute a whole crowd of people. So when he shocks Peter with the full force of an entire power station… absolutely nothing happens to him?
I mean, smoke literally comes off his body (but leaves his suit perfectly intact for some reason) once during that fight scene. He even wisecracks about it. But beyond that one line, it’s never a thing again. He just takes shock after shock without reacting.
Now, you might argue that he’s Spiderman, he has superpowers, he can withstand a little electricity. (And they do, for… some reason… claim that he has a “healing factor,” but it never really makes sense given what we see of him fighting or being injured.) If that’s the case, though, why would they a) establish that he is hurt by electrocution during the Times Square fight, and b) show him being hurt only once, during the fight, by something that keeps on happening without hurting him at any other point? It’s almost like the writing was inconsistent.
There’s one thing the movie does which I really like in terms of its science, and that’s the scene where Peter hooks up a bunch of batteries to try and test his webshooters. He keeps slowly upping the voltage to test them further, taking precautions with makeshift equipment when it proves dangerous, and does research into the topic online. He’s doing science. Peter Parker is supposed to be a gifted student of science, and I like that they depict it here in a meaningful way (something not done in the Raimi films, if I remember correctly). Okay, the YouTube tutorial he watches contains information that, in-universe, a student as intelligent as he is meant to be would already know, but I can forgive that. They had a good idea, and they delivered it well. I also like that he falls asleep stuck in a corner of the roof with his Spider-powers. It’s almost like a Kate Beaton comic, and it’s a really nice little character moment.
The events we describe actually happen in the movie. Dr. Kafka is a creepy cackling German torturer-scientist stereotype who actually says that first line, and plays the Blue Danube while working. Let me stress that: we haven’t exaggerated the second panel, at all. Those things happen. In a movie made in 2014.
The thing is, Dr. Kafka was actually a character in the comics. She wasn’t German though, and she was also, y’know, a woman. It doesn’t surprise me that a Hollywood movie would pointlessly recast a female role to a male one, but TASM2 has some unusual and interesting back-and-forth with how it portrays women, so I’ll save that topic for a later annotation.
We created Fraulein Rodrigo, a Magellan officer in Ephemeris, as a play on the giggly German torturer-scientist cliché. There’s a justification for it in that context, though, and we play it for laughs as much as we play it straight (which, let’s face it, describes roughly 90% of things in Ephemeris.)
Fun fact about this comic’s production:
I inked almost all the lineart, then when I saved after combining two layers, Photoshop deleted most of the image (not related to the layers, either, just the majority of my lineart). No amount of undoing could get it back, so I had to ink it over again from scratch. I didn’t mention it on the site at the time, but last week I cut my drawing hand by breaking a glass while acting. That made it even more fun to draw a comic twice for no good reason!
Robert and I have now seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2, known in Australia as The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Rise of Electro, because even though that addition doesn’t make much sense, the title apparently wasn’t long and ungainly enough already.
We’ve got so many comics out of this movie. There are so many problems with it, as well as poorly-executed good ideas. It’s fascinating. We’re gonna try and do three per week to get through all of these comics, with one each week in black and white to increase the rapidity of delivery. Criticising this franchise is kind of our thing.