Commentary: Spider-Man’s Movie Origins Are Too Easy

by Frank Martin

Spider-Man No Way Home brought tons of renewed interest to the first two live-action Spider-Man film franchises. And the two have something very much in common with each other that the newer Spider-Man films do not. They actually bring to life a full Spider-Man origin that the Marvel Cinematic Universe skips over completely. It was a wise move not to rehash Peter’s (Tom Holland) spider bite and Uncle Ben’s death again. Audiences had already seen it twice over. They didn’t need to see it. But upon a re-watch of the first two movies, I noticed a similarity in the unlikely turn of events that led to Peter’s powers.

After decades in comics, Spider-Man has fully entered the collective pop culture consciousness. Even non-comic book fans know who Spider-Man is and know he got his powers through a radioactive spider bite. In recent years, as the atomic age has come to an end, the spider’s radioactivity has shifted to gene editing instead. The films starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield utilize this sci-fi trope in their origins, but each one fails to bring a level of realism to the sequence of events.

First off, in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Peter is on a class field trip when Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) notes that one of the spiders is missing. These spiders probably cost millions of dollars and the revelation that one is gone is met with such relaxed nonchalance — it is startling! What kind of lab is this that a state of the art, genetically mutated spider just vanishes without anybody caring?

Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man has a similar problem. Peter (Garfield) quite easily infiltrates an intern tour of Oscorp. Then he somehow sneaks into a room filled with a whole bunch of genetically mutated spiders. In fact, there are so many they practically rain down on him. And all this happens without any trip up of security in Oscorp, one of the most state of the art facilities in the world.

The thought of a genetically mutated spider getting loose and biting someone is pretty far-fetched to begin with, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be depicted realistically. The first two films handled this topic with such ease that it didn’t sit right. Hopefully, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever tackles Spider-Man’s origin, they will treat it with a bit more realism than what fans have seen in the past.

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